LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 117

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 12: “All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father…”


Notice all the active verb tenses here in the confession reflecting God’s activity in it all.

Only someone that’s been born again can truly be called a son or daughter of God. Becoming a son or daughter of God is always in every instance a matter of adoption. Adam and Eve died spiritually in SIN, and we in them, thus losing our natural status as children of the Spirit. Becoming a child of God ever since is a reality of spiritual re-birth. No matter how young someone is, if anyone becomes a son or daughter of God it’s through God’s adopting them. Adoption is really another term for regeneration. The term does help us bring to mind some unique facets of God’s work in salvation, but it’s basically a synonymous term with being born again. It’s what God does in our lives that leads to our willing repentance and faith. It’s also what we grow up into understanding. Our adoption shows how we children who were once not the sons and daughters of God have become such by the gift of faith. Adoption is a spiritual reality that comes to affect everything about us. It’s as legal as changing one’s name. It’s the process where a person’s citizenship is changed from earth to heaven by the work of an adoptive parent.

The truth that all people on earth are *not* children of God comes awkwardly to many today, even to many who believe in Jesus. God is the creator of mankind. He made mankind in his image. So, when you tell people that not all people are children of God their reactions often quickly show a massive lack of a grasp of the full counsel of God. Being created does not equal sonship. Romans 5 (et al) shows the change in our position in creation from children of Adam to children of God/children in Christ. In Galatians 4:1-7, with heavy reflection on the history of the nation of Israel, Paul likens adoption to a maturity of understanding granted by God to those who have faith in Christ.

There are many privileges to sonship. The children of God come into an inheritance more valuable than we’re made to fully understand in the Bible. God’s children are not treated as unwanted step-kids, but as blessed children. God disciplines his own kids, cf. Hebrews 12:5-11. And true children can never stop being true children. This is a reality spoken of in theology as “preservation” or “perseverance”. Who God saves God keeps (we’ll get to this in section 17).

Everything Christians receive in God through Christ comes as a result of their adoption, 2 Corinthians 1:19-20. It’s by adoption that we receive it all. God bought our adoption on the Cross. It’s the legal red tape our sin bureucrasized dealt with to make wretches his treasure. I like the term “vouchsafed” here. God has granted us something. He condescended to reveal it.

This section of the confession incorporates teaching from all over the Bible, but could have come out of 1 Peter 1:3-9 almost entirely alone: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

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