LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 222.

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 8: “A particular church, gathered and completely organized according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members; and the officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church (so called and gathered), for the peculiar administration of ordinances, and execution of power or duty, which he intrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the world, are bishops or elders, and deacons.”

First, notice that the last paragraph’s “according to his mind declared in his word” and this paragraph’s “according to the mind of Christ” are one in the same. When Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that the Corinthians had “the mind of Christ” it is that in their understanding of that divine text they had access to, they by the Spirit knew what all friends can know of Jesus’ works in their lives. John 15:14-15. His word is his mind insofar as he’s chosen to reveal it. Deuteronomy 29:29.

A church’s members are the flock, the sheep, the fold, the wheat. It’s for them that pastor/teachers and deacons are called and equipped to serve. A church’s leaders are above their people in role and also beneath them in role. They’re servant leaders. They’re shepherds, not CEOs, who are our true pastors. Their office is most definitely authoritative, but they’re also just other more qualified teachers and partakers of the glorious grace of the Cross. 1 Peter 5:1; Philippians 1:7.

In any local church body, its people are a part of God’s confirmation of a pastoral calling. When the people see and hear the wisdom of God in a man’s life, God will use it to qualify him for those positions fit only for such men in the church. Women also will be seen and assume proper roles of teaching in the church apart from the roles of such officers.
Ministers give watch for the doctrine and thus the worship of the church. They’re to be appointed without haste. For many preachers, an appointment too soon to the role of pastor/elder would be their downfall. New believers, no matter their enthusiasm or giftings, should never be appointed as pastors! 1Timothy 3:6 reads that a pastor should be called: “not [as] a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into condemnation incurred by the devil.” Churches should not make pastors into devils. This is a good rule. So, if you’re a young man studying for a pastorate, don’t be too quick to assume any roles. This is the mind of Christ.

There are two regular ordinances to be performed by the church’s recognized and properly qualified officers. By its pastors or elders here called bishops or elders with the help of their deacons. There is water baptism to be administered to those who are the professed members of the body of Christ. There is also the Lord’s Table which is to be administered, of course, to the same. We’re shown this thousands of times in Acts and in the prescription of the church. This is the mind of Christ. Pastors and elders will qualify participants for these works to ensure they’re being properly esteemed both in them and before the whole of the flock as well.

The disciples functioned as deacons, but I believe the sure genesis of the deaconate is in Acts 6. The church was growing. So were the needs of the people that could be met by any smart member of the church. So, verses 2-4 read: “So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Instead, brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The deaconate is for qualified men of great esteem. Deacons have high honor but are servants of the church under its pastor/elder/teachers. 1 Timothy 3 reads: “Those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” These men have high honor in their role and are by it qualified for future appointment.

This is it in the church. There is nothing higher than a local church’s pastors and deacons. Anyone creating anything higher is going beyond the text. There may be some reasons to, but at the end of the day it’s the local churches God has established to operate independently in him.
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Joseph Pittano

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