LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 189

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 22. Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day. Paragraph 2a: “Religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creatures…”


I love precision in theology. This short phrase in the confession is very precise. Christianity is trinitarian monotheism. Without exception, learned Christians affirm the biblical revelation that God is triune. Jesus taught us this all too well. God is a three-part being and he alone deserves our worship. Every attribute that makes God God are shared by the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Here in the confession all three persons are named and are then referred to as “him.” This is purposeful and proper. Christians rarely need clarity on why they worship the Father or the Spirit. God has seen fit to make that more explicit. Passages like John 1:1 (and man more) delineate the ontological unity between the Father and Son unlike other verses do for all three members of the Trinity. It’s in understanding the Holy Spirit that a focus can often help us see the full picture of who God is better. God has in some ways hidden this for his church. He loves to reveal it. The Holy Spirit reveals the triune God like only a good tune can when a song’s words also hit the soul. God moves his people and he does so in truth.


There are many ways God establishes himself while on earth. Jesus showed men how to live with a God above to a new level. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) reveals more about what it means to be a son or daughter of God than the entire rest of the Bible. If revelation were a time of day, Jesus is the sun at noon. He not only showed mankind a life impeccable, but he also came to empower others to do so by truth and then Spirit himself. After the Messianic Secret period had fully ended, Jesus in his Ascension shows us the current position of God the Son in his restored and exalted excellence. He now has the name above all others–Jesus the Christ. The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John shows us this current last days reality in vivid ways. One of the inescapable proofs for the Deity of Jesus while he was on earth is that he never denied worship. Let’s look at one clear example in John 9. Jesus had healed a man born blind, but because of the way Jesus healed him, the man didn’t know who Jesus was. We then see a follow up encounter between them in 9:35-39. Jesus asked: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. And Jesus…” did not stop him or correct his impropriety. Men and angels (i.e. anything not God) sharply reminded people to never worship them. Yet Jesus did not forbid this. Why would God forbid true worship? To worship the Son of Man is most proper. Cf. Daniel 7:13-14. This is just one of the times this happened in Jesus’ ministry. The wise men also worshiped the toddler Jesus, the disciples worshiped him on the sea and at other times, and even strangers who’d seen his mighty works worshiped him. Jesus taught the world the triune nature of God. That he (Jesus) is God almighty is not unclear. He revealed it. One need only John 16 to see the Trinity then made clear. Jesus reveals the trinity.


So how do we worship the triune God? We can sometimes forget that God, as one, is always glorified. An awesome attribute of God is that it seems each member is more zealous for the glory of the others than for himself. Humility in this triune love is not exclusive to Jesus. Both the Father and the Son are zealous to glorify the Spirit. And every time any member of the trinity is glorified each is glorified. We’ve always sought to glory in this as the church. The Nicene Creed said, “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and life-giver, who proceeds from the Father and the Son: who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.” Hence the Spirit himself never truly takes a behind the scenes role…even in seeking the glory of the Son above his own. He has equal authority or initiative, but he does not speak from it. John 16:12-15. God the Father, however, is no less glorified when the Son is glorified (or vice versa) than when any other member of the Godhead is glorified. The Holy Spirit accessible and indwelt is the ultimate fulfillment of the promises of Jesus. Only God himself could be such a thing. All that the New Covenant brings to God’s elect is summarized in that he gives us the Holy Spirit. He gives his own access to a fully restored or reconciled relationship with the triune God. We know it and we have it in Jesus’ name. The birth of Christianity is in fact as follows: “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” Acts 2:33. This was when the Holy Spirit himself came to the church to fulfill it all. This New Covenant could only happen as it is by the abiding mediation of the now glorified Son of God post his earthly incarnation. Jesus had to propitiate wrath to make this peace possible. The New Covenant could not be in effect until the triune God accomplished it through the Cross. John 16:7; Hebrews 8:1-2. Cf. Ephesians 1:13; Hebrews 10:19-22; 2 Corinthians 3:6, etc. In the earthly work of Jesus from ~5BC to AD30, Jesus united the entire world in himself. All of God’s promises in him came to be for God’s people by Jesus’ works. Day one to day last, for those of us in the valley of the shadow of death, is united by the first and the last. “In Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:14. Jesus unites you to everything God has done. He reveals God.


Angels do not get worshiped. Nor does anything else created. Mere men do not get worshiped. Jesus, the eternal God, however, is fully worthy of worship. He knew it. Do you? Those to whom he revealed himself knew this full well. And we still do today. Blessings!!!


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