devotional

22AUG
2014

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part One.

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.

23 Aug 14  

CHAPTER 1

OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Paragraph 1.  The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, 1 although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary unto salvation.

     It’s been very well said, and there’s a reason why written confessions almost always begin with a statement about the word of God as source, that it’s been said that if anyone gets this point, isn’t everything else just footnotes? If I can get into a person’s converted mind just how much it is true that the Bible alone must become that primary reference point to them, then everything it discusses just becomes a matter of time and study. This is everything. Of all cardinal doctrines, this one simply must, as unto us mortals, reign supreme. It is from this river we call Scripture that all the faithful lap up all truth. From it we bathe in Trinity, justification, Resurrection, Christology, and all the rest. Many terms in creeds we do well to define. Most here are pretty self-explanatory. There is one term here that often needs definition for each of us.

     “Sufficiency”- The Bible’s 66 books are not everything ever written on Jesus or on God the Father from history. They are everything God wanted in a collection. What they are is everything we need to know. The Bible lacks nothing man must know about that which he must know. It is wholly sufficient therefore. It is God’s complete plan of redemption and explains from where we’ve come, why we’re here, where we’re going, etc. This is a brief, but I pray a sufficient definition of sufficiency.

     The next part, pt. 1, is a proper and careful address of the reality of what is often called in theology, “Natural revelation” and its distinction from what's called, “Special revelation.” I could biblically sum up what comes to mind for me on natural revelation in two passages: Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20-22. There is that we can learn simply from what may be called the sciences, or just from our own carnal, fallen, from-the-womb faculties. That which we can learn from these things would all fall under natural revelation. This is what David refers to here in Psalm 19, and what Paul almost certainly has in mind, at least in part, in Romans 1-2 when he says that even fallen men are inexcusable for in an ignorant profession of. Just look around you. This world screams of its Creator. You cannot have a painting without a painter, and you cannot have a world without a Creator. This is simply natural reason. You don't need the Bible to know this, you just need a sound mind. This is to be contrasted, in almost every way, with special revelation. This is what the creed refers to in the last part of the last sentence above. There is knowledge that is needed to be saved that one cannot get from the natural sciences. This is linked to the non-profitability of the flesh, John 6:63, et al. You must have the written word of God for special revelation. Today we are privileged to call this the Bible, but God has been vocal, even in natural revelation right alongside the special, from the start, Acts 14:17. The Bible is the only special revelation there is. You will not learn of Jesus’ sacrificial death for sin or His subsequent Resurrection from observing the stars. God plants His word in the heart through its verbal and ultimately written medium. God the Holy Spirit alone can make that delivered word active, but salvation comes through the message alone, Romans 10:14-15. That message of Jesus and Him crucified is special revelation. You can learn enough to be inexcusable about certain things from creation, conscience, and other means, but you need the message of the cross preached in order to be saved from your sin.

     In this very first paragraph then, of which the whole of it has not yet even been cited or commented on, we have enough to delve into perhaps hundreds of individual passages about the sovereignty of God in His word, the Bible. We have 66 books alone from which we can know God in this special, infallible, sufficient, and certain way. These confession writers knew this. God's word is external to us, and in no way comes from “inside” us. As it’s preached and heard it is like seed planted in soil, Mark 4. If God has opened your heart to His word, I pray it is a daily treasure to you. If you are in Christ, He, and it, are at work inside of you. Work out its truths in your life. It is not only that which you need to be saved, it is also that sole source which can make you, “Wise according to salvation,” complete or perfect in that salvation. 2 Timothy 3:15-17.  

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