LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 112

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. This will be my personal reflections on this beloved written codification of the Christian Faith which is according to a Baptist flavor.




Section 11, paragraph 2b: “…yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”

If there was one question I hope to get when doing a Q&A session anywhere it’s about the relationship between works and grace. I just love the beautiful harmony of the subject. I know that many of my fathers, literally in the Faith, have failed to reconcile what all of Scripture says on the matter. I now have the distinct advantage of their failures to help me now try to do what’s right on the subject. The question that usually arises in Christian circles is the reconciliation of James and Paul and their teachings on the nature of faith and works. I find them to be entirely harmonious. Other do not. In other circles, some may accuse Paul of contradicting Jesus (and other Scripture writers) in his [Paul’s] alleged “grace-alone” novelty.

The issue inevitably comes down to whether or not Jesus’ righteousness is alone sufficient to pardon and sanctify a person.

The conclusion that I live to defend is that God’s saving grace always produces fruit in the elect. Ephesians 2:1-10 is all I need (though not at all all I have) to roundly affirm that God’s grace always drives us to good works. His grace always, given time, brings forth many evidences. Titus 3:3-7 does the exact same thing in hammering home a grace that leads to works. Works are so much the evidence of grace that without them it becomes the evidence of the lack of both. Grace is the foundation, and that being a grace without our help or works. Then. Only then. Then comes the works befitting or accompanying grace. Works never merit the grace that must precede them.

Regarding a salvation by grace through faith alone, Abraham, and what he found with God, is our primary model for grace in Christ because Paul is very specific and leaves nothing to question. In Romans 4, Paul goes to great lengths for his Jewish and Gentile readers to go back to the primary patriarch of Israel and to show that he was “credited righteousness” prior to anything he did in response. Paul shows us what grace alone looks like in Abraham to make many profound and fundamental theological points. God’s “crediting of righteousness” to Abraham in Genesis 15 is likened by Paul to a full pardon of the ungodly, to one whose sin will not be taken into account, and to one who is given a grace not at all as what is due to him, etc., in the same glorious chapter’s treatment. The Apostle James then, who also knows of Abraham well, in the second chapter of his glorious letter (yes Luther, glorious) comes along and communicates to his recipients that a faith without evidence is no faith at all. That a faith without evidence is not at all Abrahamic. That Abraham went to offer up his son as commanded roughly 26 years after first entering into covenant with Yahweh because he was a believer. The promises to Abraham are reiterated at that point, but were clearly instituted unilaterally nearly three decades prior. We cannot miss this point. Abraham was saved by God’s electing grace. There was no works. The symbolism of the animal sacrifice and Abraham’s slumber beside God’s passage through them, though not directly cited by Paul in Romans 4, is monumental. God made a covenant promise to Abraham that Abraham could understand. Do you? Do you understand what Paul’s so on about in Romans 4? Does a crediting of righteousness not move your soul toward good works? Because he was regenerated, Abraham obeyed God. Not perfectly, but it was the desire of his heart. He was a sinner that God came to and changed. He then followed…as would be expected. Sound like anyone you know? It should sound like every Christian in your life.

The justified tax collector who went down to his house justified in Luke 18:13-14 was not to live ungodly. Like him, the great test we’re all given who have received God’s grace is that we would conduct ourselves in a many worthy of it.

It’s simple. We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. To confuse this can be deadly because to confuse this robs God and exalts man. To confuse this makes the Cross an assistance, and not one’s salvation. Faith worketh. If God the Holy Spirit is not working in you to bear fruit, you’re not a Christian.


2 responses to “LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 112”

  1. Ralph says:

    A great examination!

  2. Joseph Pittano says:

    Thanks. God bless!

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