LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 219

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. These are my personal reflections on this beloved historic Particular Baptist confession of the Christian Faith.


Chapter 26. Of the Church. Paragraph 6a: “The members of these churches are saints by calling, visibly manifesting and evidencing (in and by their profession and walking) their obedience unto that call of Christ…”

Happy New Year 2022!

Can you take upon yourself the title “saint”? Think about that. Are you a saint? I hope so. It’s a humbling title, but one of great honor. If you don’t like the title, or if you respond to it by saying something like “no way,” but Jesus is your Savior it’s likely just that you don’t understand where the title comes from. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect or sinless. It has nothing to do with any formal ceremonies from any religious tradition. If you’re not born again, the title cannot apply to you. If you are born again, however, you’re a saint, and called by God to live as one. Paul’s letters address all the members of the churches in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi and Colossae as “saints.” All of them. Not just the leaders, everyone. See Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2. The epistle to Timothy, Hebrews, Philemon and Jude speak of the works of women and others toward all the “saints” showing the common use of the term to address all the members of the various households of faith with which they interacted. See 1 Timothy 5:10; Philemon 1:5, 7; Hebrews 6:10; 13:24. There’s a lot more like this throughout the text. Christians are called saints everywhere in God’s inspired word.

So, what’s a saint? The epistles lay the foundation of our understanding of it. Simply put, a saint is a son or daughter of God. Saints are those adopted by God into the family of faith. When Jesus said, “…unless your righteousness far surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew 5:20 he hints at the righteousness he came to bring his own in the New Covenant. Christians enter the kingdom in Christ actually having a righteousness greater than the fake one of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. They enter heaven by having the righteousness of Christ. Sainthood is evidenced by all the addresses cited in the epistles above but is made doctrinally certain for us in the doctrine of imputation. Christians are imputationists. The term accurately connotes a reality. Imputation is the truth of God crediting entirely the perfect righteousness of Jesus to everyone who believes the Gospel. Hebrews 10:14, et al. When one possesses that perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, they’re clothed with his righteousness, the righteousness of saints. Think of it like a dollar debt forgiven fully…and then some. If sin would cost you $40,000,000,000.00 at your judgment, the Gospel is Jesus crediting God your $40,000,000,000.00 today thus releasing the debt in full. His righteousness also, however, credits you a favor with God that could be seen as depositing to you another $80,000,000,000.00 in your account on top of that $40,000,000,000.00. In other words, Jesus doesn’t just “bring us into the black.” The Gospel sets us in complete liberty with God and covers all of our sin past, present and future. This is the position of the saints.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. The Father and the Spirit imputed the sins of the elect to Jesus on the Cross, and the elect, in their lives ever since, have his righteousness credited to them. It goes both ways.

Saints bear saintly fruit. There are far too many passages that could be cited here. The saints are not just those who “claim” that they’re saints. Here’s how saints learn to talk: “…I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18. The fruit is the works. God has ordained works for believers to do. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. Just after one of the most incredible statements on God’s free grace we have in the epistles, Paul tells his audience: “This statement is trustworthy; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and beneficial for people.” Titus 3:8. Christ leads his saints in their lives. Their works and fruit purify their faith and “save them” in that way that they perfect their love as a sort of consummation.

It’s the Christian’s dutiful joy to obey God. They’re called to do so, and so they do.

Joseph Pittano

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