devotional

26SEP
2014

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part Five.

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 according to a Baptist flavor.

 

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CHAPTER 1

OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Paragraph 4. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, depends not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.

     All believers know that there are some things men simply cannot teach other men. I am enjoying a Bible study right now with a number of Soldiers. I just finished a short 1 John interlude time of apologetics to talk about how the Bible was written and assembled. I repeated the refrain that I cannot prove Scripture true, but I can prove its accuracy and historically reliability. These confessional writers understood that the ultimate authority of the Bible isn’t, “What a man or a church says it is,” but that its ultimate authority is from its author- God. Notice they didn’t say that the Bible’s authority partly relies on God, and partly on us. No, they say rightly that it depends “wholly” upon God.

     John Piper once talked on what I might call, “The teacher’s frustration.” He spoke about John Calvin’s comments about putting on a tongue to taste something sweet. If you put honey on your tongue and can’t tell that it’s sweet then sorry, I can’t do anything else for you. If you cannot perceive the “sweetness” of the word of God, repent (put on a tongue) and you will know its sweetness. Outside that I cannot help you. I can only tell you that I trust in God alone that His word is what He says it is. I don’t trust my church for this. We all just trust in God for this.

     The Psalmist writes: “My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times,” Psalm 119:20. When such is a true, behind-closed-doors well founded confession there is no greater sweetness ever to flood a soul! The word of God alone produces such sweetness. God brings this. It alone produces such marvelous riches of life, and life eternal. We confess we are helpless to open the eyes of the blind, but we know a God who is not helpless. We know a God who will open the eyes of many more blind men, and has opened the eyes of His elect since the start. We preach and we teach to participate in that harvest. We confess His word in full authority because it is Him we profess to know and love.

     This is written in the confession because we need to affirm this in every generation. “We” are not the end of authority as Christians. Not at all! God is. We merely bear witness to His authority as He calls us to, Luke 17:10. It is to Him we should ultimately appeal in our prayers and even our conversations with others. It is He alone that gives sight and hearing. We should treat His word that way. We should deliver it knowing that if God chooses, He will change a soul with it instantly. So often we can fall victim to thinking, or at least somewhat believing, that we can “talk” people into the kingdom. We can’t! It’s not our fine arguments that win souls. It is a miracle when a man is born again, and not even the greatest of Apostles wielded such power. What we do is share the message. We cannot raise the spiritually dead…even if God once gave some mere men the ability raise the physically dead. God has relegated that miracle unto Himself alone. It is a miracle that I esteem the Bible as the word of God. It is the same for anyone. I want to appeal to God for them because of this.

     What I view this paragraph as is the proper identification of God alone being the one who can truly make the Scriptures make sense. When men hear God speak it is through His word. When He does that something changes. The word is elevated. We will contribute all we can as witnesses to it, but God alone truly makes His word active and alive. He alone, ultimately, is the truth teller and the truth maker in the hearts and minds of individuals.

     God did not discover truth. He is not like us. He is truth. There is so much of this we will not understand until the next life, but God does not adhere to something outside Himself; He is truth. He did not stumble upon a tablet of writing that changed His life. No one taught Him truth. Isaiah knew this and asked:

“Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding? Isaiah 40:13-14. Answer: no one!

     What this means is that no office or man can serve as the ultimate appeal for the authority of the Bible. We can and should confess the word all day long, but in the end, it is God alone to whom we owe thanks for our esteem of His word. We should learn to communicate it, and work to understand it, but God alone is the final authority to whom we point men. God alone is why we believe His word. 

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