LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 252

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 31. Of the State of Man after Death and of the Resurrection of the Dead. Paragraph 3: “The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honour, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.”
Christianity is not hitched only to the awesome miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but if Jesus did not die and come back to life there is no Christianity. God through Paul expresses it plainly: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:17. So while it’s not the only miracle that matters, it’s certainly at the top of the list. The promise of the Old Covenant is that God would destroy death. The New Covenant shows us how he did it. Through death he defeated death (which came through sin) by the power of a perfect life.

One of the earliest major challenges to the truth as it spread into the western world was Gnosticism. Gnosticism had many forms. One well known part of Gnostic teaching was the belief that flesh was only evil. That a good God would only seek to free us from the shackles of fleshly existence. Christianity challenges that false belief mostly in the person of Christ. Jesus is the most well-rounded, fulfilled, gracious man to ever live. Totally flesh. Born of a woman. The flesh is therefore shown not inherently evil, but only as corrupted in Adam. Corrupted in all those since born by Adam through “natural generation.” By natural birth. Having a mom and a dad. In every single other being ever born other than Jesus who was the only one not born of natural generation. My point: the flesh is not in and of itself evil. There’s an eternal point to all this in God’s plan.

Jesus is called the “first fruit” from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:20. The first fruit comes before the rest of the fruit. Believers are that other fruit. This is exactly why Jesus said of himself and his church: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24. Jesus died and rose to save his people. The end of the Christian’s election is in looking like Jesus. It’s said this way by God’s inspiration in Romans 8:29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Conformity to Christ is the end goal for the redeemed. As he was raised, so shall we be. This is partly why we get water baptized. We express in it that we’re united with Jesus who died and was raised, knowing that we spiritually are now raised, and one day will be physically raised again too.

But the confession affirms that all people, not just the redeemed in Christ, will be raised and reunited to their flesh and soul forever also. The damned will be damned fleshly. In John 5:25 & 28-29 we read, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live….in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” All of us. Adolf Hitler and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. All will be raised. Charles Spurgeon and Adoniram Judson. All will be raised. What exactly we’ll all look like after that isn’t exactly told to us, but we know we’ll all be raised by the mighty command of the God whose strength I think the world’s never yet really seen.

There are and will eternally be fleshly vessels both for honor and for dishonor. God will do it. Romans 9:21-23.

Joseph Pittano

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