LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 86

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. 23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. This will be my personal reflections on this beloved written codification of the Christian Faith which is according to a Baptist flavor.




Chapter 8, paragraph 2c: “…so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion; which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and man.”

This confession is in line with the theology of what’s called in history “The Hypostatic Union.” This collection/articulation of the biblical texts necessary for a sound conclusion in extra-biblical theology was the result, in part, of the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451 in modern day Turkey. This articulation of Christology (theology on Christ) has become a bedrock for Christians ever since. Basically, the hypostatic union simply affirms that Jesus is both 100% God and 100% man. A precise understanding of the union of the divine and human natures in The Christ has been at the heart of a great many debates in church history…especially many of the earliest ones. Other debates came later. Others are yet to come. Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:26-27, 30-31, 35, et al). Jesus had no earthly father’s 23 chromosomes yet his mother was 100% human. His mother was not sinless. His Father was. Both Jesus’ divine nature and his human nature are both very important. Maintaining both of these truths have strong effects on numerous other doctrines in the Faith. Failing to uphold either truth consistently can lead to error, even heresy. The Nestorians taught that Jesus was distinctly two separate persons. The Eutychians and the Monophysites (with of course some variations) taught that the nature of Jesus was not divided. That he was either 100% God or 100% man, but not both. The Apollinarians thought that Jesus’ divine nature basically consumed his human nature. The Docetists taught that Jesus really only appeared to be human, but was really just some sort of disembodied spirit. This Docetism was also in accord with the early Gnostic heresies. Many early thinkers, even Christian apologists, most of them being very heavily influenced by Greek philosophy and sometimes sparsely having most books of the New Testament, could not/had no categories to receive the compliment God paid to human flesh by taking it upon himself. That flesh is not inherently sinful. Jesus, being God and yet becoming man was a whole new thought. Amen.

Why does it matter? Why is it upheld in this confession? Well, in biblical theology it becomes clear that there are really only two men in human history. This is especially seen in Pauline theology. There’s 1) Adam and 2) Jesus. Think of these two men as two categories of men. You, reader, are right now in one of these two categories of humanity. There is no third category despite the philosophical ramblings of any perhaps well-meaning synergist. There are other similar distinctions made in humanity like being of darkness or light, sheep or goats, foolish virgins or wise virgins, dead or alive, Jew or Gentile, circumcised or un-circumcised, children of wrath or children of God, etc., but the distinction of those “in Adam” or those “in Christ”, with perhaps only the exception of Jew and Gentile, well includes the reality of the difference between them all. This is because today they’re spiritual distinctions, and not merely lineage or bloodline distinctions such as with Jews and Gentiles. Being either “in Adam” or “in Christ” contains the idea of headship. Federal headship. Who is your “head”? Adam now federally represents all the condemned; Christ now represents all the non-condemned. You’re in one group or the other. Paul said it like this: “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:18-19. Or 1 Corinthians 15:20-22: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” You’re dead if in Adam and alive if in Christ. That’s what it boils down to. Christ’s humanity and Deity directly effects a sound theology on how men can become new creatures in Christ. Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Christ came to redeem men as a man himself. This was the triune God’s plan of the gift of the church to the Son. Christ, as a man, suffered for men. He is 1) as God, the one to whom justice was due for the penalty of sin hence the one who can determine what any payments for it must be. And 2) as a man who truly honored the Law of God in every way able to bridge the gap for men who couldn’t. Where the “first” Adam failed. Jesus, the “Last Adam” did not. Therefore, he gets to share in his triumph of his defeat of death with his elect through the Cross.

The Book of Hebrews puts it beautifully like this in 2:10-18 (NKJV):

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying:

“I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

And again:

“I will put My trust in Him.”

And again:

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Did Christ come and die to save you? I don’t know. Are you a child of God? I don’t know. Do you? My invitation to you is to ask yourself that question seriously and humbly if you must. Your obedient faith is the only practical proof of your election. And no, I don’t mean just when other people are looking. I mean when you’re alone and no one else is around. Is it there that the meditations of your heart please God…and you? I assure you, Jesus’ did! My invitation to you is to consider the reasonability of Christ as the bridge (if you will) that can go between God the Father and you as your mediator himself being both God and man. He never stopped being God, but he laid aside the prerogatives to Godhood for a time for his church. He became like one of us. It’s not about us. It’s about him, yet: “…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” –Paul.

Repent. You will not find a more faithful friend or more sure foundation in any other way. Christ is the God man. He is able to perfectly represent and perfectly redeem fallen men before a holy God.

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