LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 235

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 28. Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Paragraph 2: “These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.”

I am separating from the military next year after nearly 26 years total time in it for many reasons. The principal one is that I desperately wish to be more involved in the lives of God’s people in the context of my local church. I am a firm believer in the local church. I crave its acceptance and love in what I pray is a holy and healthy manner. It’s in the local church that God has ordained for his people to principally come to know him throughout the ages. 1 Timothy 3:15; Titus 1:5; Ephesians 1:22; 3:10; 3:21. In the church then, we have the establishment of pastors and deacons. Elder and pastor are the same role. These offices are exclusive to men, of course. Pastor and teacher also are ordained, though I see teaching as something part of, yet separate from, preaching in the strictest sense. Both men and women are called to teach in their churches. One distinction between preaching and teaching I’d say is in the nature of the conveyance of ideas. Preaching is more dogmatic, while teaching is more inductive. In teaching, we seek to establish the preaching. Preaching needn’t be established all along the way. Teaching is the working out of the church in its people and preaching is the after-shower enjoyment of the work over the lifetime of its members. Teaching is a part of preaching and vice versa, but I think there are strong differences in the lives of the people in nearly every setting. Teaching is a bit more like loading the canon; preaching is more like firing it. Teaching instructs more while preaching calls to action. Again, there are of course overlaps. If a man teaches in the pulpit instead of preaches, his preaching is insufficient. A solid preacher loves the word over his people. Solid teaching shows the people why they should love it. Again, this is not a sharp distinction in office. Some preachers are more teachers, and some teachers are more preachers. Amen.

In any case, those qualified to administer the ordinances of the church should be those doing it. But this doesn’t mean in my opinion that only the established and recognized pastor/elders in a church alone can serve the Lord’s Table or baptize believers. No, a disciple might be best baptized, for example, by the one discipling him or her most closely. Any known teacher in the church may lead the congregation to partake of the blessed Table. We are all, men and women, ministers of the Gospel of Christ and if the pastors/elders in our churches recognize that in us, then at their discretion, anyone qualified can administer certain things such as the ordinances. It should typically be the elders in the church doing these things, that’s fitting, but I’d argue that there are exceptions. Not every work in the church is relegated to the offices of the church whereby only certain men are qualified to perform.

We should never allow for mere zeal to govern who executes the ordinances of the church. No, it’s only those qualified to do so who should. It’s not just that someone loves Jesus, it’s that they’re qualified to serve as his representatives and thus as representatives of a local fellowship. Time is no sure qualifier in and of itself.

This is part of 1 Corinthians 14:40 and how: “All things must be done properly and in an orderly way.” The church worships its Lord in its prescribed order or not at all. We have liberty, but clearly established left and right limits. Consider the exactitude of the Levitical Law as your guide in church. God is no less particular in his appointments in Christ today than he was with Aaron’s line then. In fact, I’d say it’s far more particular. Jesus made a way to worship him in the church. It’s necessary outlines made sufficiently clear in Scripture for every denomination of the body. That way is narrow, specific, but it leads to life, life in us, life in our homes, life in our nation, and life in our churches as well.

Joseph Pittano

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