LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 186

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 21. Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience. Paragraph 3: “They who upon pretense of Christian liberty do practice any sin, or cherish any sinful lust, as they do thereby pervert the main design of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction, so they wholly destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives.”


God demands holiness from his people. And supplies it as such. I’d be complimented if people were to hear me, at times, preaching a Gospel so free that God requires nothing from us to accomplish it that I’d be confused with a non-Lordship salvation heretic. At other times, in preaching other texts, I’d be insulted if anyone missed from me the requirement of works from all Christians. I’d hope other people might then even accuse me of teaching a salvation by works. There is no contradiction in the texts, but I’d hope a solid exegesis of several places would illumine the contradictions in my listeners as it has in me. The truths of grace and works fight back to back not face to face.


To loosely quote Calvin: “I dare not believe in a salvation by works, but I also would not dare to proclaim one without them.” I love how God puts his witnesses back to back on this matter to fight against both self-righteousness and laziness. Such is the full counsel of God.


There are perhaps a hundred verses I could cite to support what they’re masterfully stating here in the confession. What I’m certain of is that Jesus can only provide a perfect peace to one he saves! It is a peace that must entirely pardon or else to use the phrase “peace between God and men” is a sham. Romans 5:1-2. I need this kind of a grace. Nothing else will do. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a scandalous proposition to those from whom its glory is hidden by sin. A total forgiveness! Full reconciliation with God?! A forgiveness that covers all of one’s sins past, today and tomorrow?! All for nothing owed?! No strings attached?! No tit for tat?! We can do nothing, we need do nothing?! We need only to believe?! We dare not assume merit?! “What’s the catch?” right? There are many truths that link hands to show us a justification by faith alone in the Bible. One is the knowledge of sin. Another is the certainty that God alone deserves the thanks for our salvation…because of our sin. The word “alone” is demanded by these justification truths exactly as much as it’s true that Christ is Lord “alone” even if the word isn’t added.


But such glorious Cross-centered truths can become a snare to the unregenerate. And perhaps even, for a time at least, the immature (or young) regenerate. If we’re totally pardoned by God then why do anything? What does it matter if I go and enjoy this sin or that? What if I neglect God’s word and true faith? I’m pardoned anyway, right? Such thinking is not good, and simply cannot be shown to reflect the mature heart attitude of a child of God. It doesn’t reflect the freedom of the Christian. Do you believe that Jesus actually already set you free from sin? Thus do you hope to enter heaven? Reader, “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3. We’ve been set free for this great hope.


It isn’t liberty that sends us out sinning. It’s sinning that denies us our liberty. Don’t loiter on your heavenly journey, reader. Work today while the sun is still shinning. God says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10.


Such a cry is the food of the regenerate and spiritually liberated heart!

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