LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 227

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 13: “No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church.”
The first thing that came to mind here is that one must first be a church member for this to be true of them. Members are invited to meditate upon this. Like so many things regarding life in Jesus’ church, this is not for someone who’s just been coming to the church for a month or so. This is for committed members. Pastors should not be worried about meeting the needs of casual attenders. I know they’d like to, but their time is for their flock, not passersby.

I support formal church membership entirely. It is about commitment and agreement toward a common end, our mutual sanctification in God’s unified body. There is structure to church. It isn’t just about relationship. No way. Anyone who has understood membership and prayed toward that end, I pray, will understand why these kinds of things are said in the confession here.

Note that there have been works commanded here and obeyed. It’s presumed here that church leaders are instructing members what to do according to principles in the text. See Matthew 5:23-24; Luke 17:4; Galatians 6:1. Members are exhorted to endure correction and not to sever ties in the church. The discipline is for building up, not tearing down. Example: if a husband sins against a wife in pornography and she brings it to the elders, perhaps he’s banned from the internet for six months. His willingness to submit is evidence that his heart is right before God. He shouldn’t be quick to leave the church. He may be embarrassed. He may be disgraced or even removed from something for a time, but he’s not to leave. What that reproved man needs to fight to understand is that the elders feel no less love toward him. If they do, they’re to fight that too. They all need to pray that they would not view him as “that sin” or he them as “my judges.” They want to see him sanctified by the discipline that fosters repentance. If he’s repentant toward God, he’ll be willing to do certain things to make things right. He’ll stay off the web. He’ll be accountable to his wife and his church as unto God. The hearts of his leaders will be warmed toward him in all this, as will his wife’s if they’re in God. It’s working through sin that we all grow. We all know it. So, if you need help, get it. If a pastor thinks less of you for it, God will reveal to him where his sin is by it.
Do the works as you’re told. Stay away from that. Read this. Pray. Fast. Endure. Whatever. Don’t leave! If you’re in this unto eternity in Christ, why would you? Is it not sin they’re addressing in you? If it’s not, explain to them why. If it is, then why would you not want it purged from you? They’re there to help in that. All of this is to be done in love and kindness.

Everyone should deal with each other in absolute discretion. Absolute respect for privacy. There are so many false converts among us. The world itself may see. We must be careful to not give what’s holy to the dogs in gossip and slander. Someone’s sins (and everybody has them) is always to be dealt with on a need-to-know-basis. If it rises to the level of the church, there’s great wisdom in the multitude of counselors.

Stick with a church. It will stick with you. It will work out. Be strong. Be submissive. Be humble. Be long-looking. Whether you’re in leadership or in the laity, it’s the same.

Joseph Pittano

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