LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 116

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 6: “The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.”


Men and women in the Old Covenant didn’t know the name “Jesus” until Gabriel first revealed it to Mary, but they did know fully the grace of Jesus. They knew Yahweh’s grace. They called on the triune God’s grace. Every point here in section 11 highlights how God’s salvation has in fact always been in Christ alone. How it’s always been on his behalf alone. The section helps us see that salvation’s election, basis, calling, application, discipline, preservation, etc. has always been by Yahweh’s grace alone. It was not the performance of the nation of Israel, nor any mere mortal in that nation, that brought about anyone’s salvation! Cf. Romans 9:29. God saved his elect in and around Israel on credit. Christ came and paid for everyone’s salvation and God now saves on debit. Jesus paid it all. All to him we owe.


There’s always been heretics trying to pit the “Old Testament god” against the “New Testament God.” Whether it’s Marcion or Andy Stanley, the church must wage the good war that there’s no such bifurcation needed. God’s requirements of man may change, but God himself does not. Malachi 3:6 is something we should all memorize. “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” Romans 9:29 is a parallel way of saying what God said through Malachi. God’s way of saving men has not changed. We know this in as much depth as we do today from a study of God’s New Covenant.


You have to have a big Gospel to see God’s justification throughout the Bible. Hint: there’s no other Gospel. God justifies men today just as he did Noah—by mercy. The inscripturated unfolding of that mercy continued from the days the Lord first began to give his canon until the last of the 66 books were penned, but one point regarding our salvation from start to finish was shown to be the same. It was that due to the fallen nature of all mankind in Adam, it is only God’s mercy that saves us from the righteous judgment we all incur by sinning. God’s mercy becomes fully known only in Jesus Christ. Cf. 2 Timothy 1:10.


Paul’s main point in Romans 4 is the sweeping doctrine of justification by faith alone. It’s final verses are cited here with the LBCF, along with Galatians, as prima facie evidence for this doctrine’s far-reaching certainty. The chapter ends with the following summation: “Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:22-25 (words bolded mine).


What Paul establishes in the chapter is magnificent.

What he establishes in all his works is.

I am so passionate for men to grasp this justification!


What Paul does here to explain the justification Christ brought through his Cross is to show that the mercy God gave even to Abraham was based upon the anticipation of that Cross work always planned to come much later. What Paul does is show that the Hebrew religion was a justification always by a gift of the imputation of righteousness. His citations and redundant reflections in the chapter make it impossible to miss the necessary point that men are saved, just like Abraham, without any works. That they have always therefore been saved by God’s unmerited grace alone. That the crediting of righteousness was always apart from anyone’s works. This is no contradiction to anything else in the Bible! Post Pentecost, Paul reaches far back from his own day, back beyond Moses to Abraham who long preceded Moses. He shows that God did not “renegotiate” his promises to Abraham and his “Seed” through the giving the Law which came much later. That instead, the Law was added principally to make the promise of grace alone surer in the hearts of the elect. I’d also like to add that another oft-overlooked purpose of the Law was to showcase the perfect righteousness of the Son.


The Scriptures teach that God saves, and that he does so for his own glory in a way that kills all boasting in the saved. Despite all the works we’re commanded to obey, we, just like those given the Law long before us with Moses, are shown by God’s glories that we can only be saved by mercy. I hope this doctrine frees you to love the kind of demanded obedience God says it begets. God’s way of justification has always been by grace alone through faith alone. We’ve just come to understand it more fully after Jesus came.


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