LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 231

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 27. Of the Communion of Saints. Paragraph 1a: “All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and faith, although they are not made thereby one person with him, have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory…”
Baptism into Christ is a baptism done by God the Holy Spirit. It is “by his Spirit” we’re born again, born from above. Our water baptisms come along to unite our minds and neighbors to our confidence in it.

There is that line we confess in the Apostle’s Creed that says, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints…” Note the small “c” in “catholic.” We in Christ should not imagine to profess any desired union with today’s Roman Catholic Church here. This is instead that glorious body we confess as the worldwide church in all generations that Jesus did not leave his people without. Many Catholics have indeed shared in it as well. We also do not hereby request the intercession of the saints of the church triumphant, but we remember them, of course. The “communion of saints” we profess is that cloud of witnesses under which we all live each day. It’s God’s people. It’s the so-called “roll call of faith” we see in Hebrews 11. The likes of Matthew, Isaiah, Peter, Lydia, Simeon, Lazarus, Samson, etc. All of us share in the body of Christ who are “united to Christ…by his Spirit” as the confession says.

What a glorious company! I doubt a month goes by where the image of a table that stretches further than my eye can see isn’t some aid to me in my ministry. This is the table of God’s righteous ones wherewith I sit. We all speak the same language. We all dine right next to Christ. It transcends time and geography. It’s Chick-Fil-A catered. I have nothing new to say in this world. I have the same glorious, Resurrected, reigning King’s message to preach…just like all of them. We are all dining at the same table in God.
The line that reads, “…although they are not made thereby one person with him” is intriguing. Why say this? The verses cited don’t shed light on this part very much. Perhaps it’s to combat the tendency of the ancient perversion of what was sometimes called deification. Some simply used the term in a way synonymous and harmonious with glorification. Others used it falsely as the idea that glorification is taken as an elevation to godhood. But we are not Latter Day Saints in any way! The Bible speaks of glorification in amazing ways, but no Christian ever becomes God. I believe their words here are meant simply to remind us of this. There is the Creator…and then all of his creation…and the two are forever different. A famous rotunda painting by Brumidi in 1865 in Washington, D.C. is called the “Apotheosis of George Washington.” It shows Washington being ascended and esteemed. I personally see it as a stylized respect, not a blasphemy. But this is not the Christian message.

Christians must share in everything of Christ to share in anything of Christ. Part of what this means is “no Cross no Crown” as one writer once said wisely. Romans 8:16-17 is what they’re on about here: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” “If we suffer with him” we’re on our way to being glorified with him. If we don’t, we’re not.

Every believer in the church shares in this same hope in Christ (1 John 3:3) and it’s an amount never diminished in even an infinite distribution. We will never become God, or even a god, but we’re brought closer and closer to God in conformity to the Godman, Jesus the Christ.

Joseph Pittano

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