LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 20).


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 according to a Baptist flavor.





Paragraph 1: “…forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin…”


“But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared,” Psalm 130:4. I’ve always been especially intrigued by this verse. If there was no grace to be had from God then, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” 1 Corinthians 15:32b. The reality of grace displayed in God is why the church seeks Him. If He just forgot about us and left us to our deaths with no hope of pardon we might as well just be sinning to our heart’s insatiable content. And why not? No, there’s grace we don’t want to miss.
     That God is a forgiving God is what breaks us, Romans 2:4. It’s what brings us to repentance both at first and over and over again. To those who love Him God truly is like a Father. Those who do not love Him only have a judge in Him; those adopted and loved by Him have a Father. Not only does God the Father pardon our sins in Jesus; He pardons them eternally. 
     During a Sunday morning message on 20 May 1855, CH Spurgeon was speaking about the full one-time pardon made by Christ for the believer. He says the following: "Bring me the catalogue of my sins," said Luther; and he brought a scroll black and long. "Is that all?" said Luther. "No," said the devil; and he brought yet another. "And now," said the heroic saint of God, "write at the foot of the scroll: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin." That is a full discharge." God fully pardons sinners in Jesus. It is a full pardon for all sins past, present and future. If I didn’t believe this I don’t think I’d have a gospel to preach.
     However one may differentiate between iniquities, transgressions and sin- it’s all pardoned/pardonable. There have been numerous efforts to define transgression, sin and iniquity differently in different schools of thought. I think these writers gave these three terms synonymously to ensure that every category of sin imaginable in the minds of their parishioners was captured whether you’re speaking of direct transgressions of the law, “lesser” crimes, repeated sins, or anything else.  
     There is such a depth to the wisdom of God that we will never understand. I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. I believe that sin was part of the plan for the world. This world IS plan A exactly as it is. There was never a plan B. I do not believe that God was careless and simply sort of, “hoped for the best” in mankind with Adam and Eve. I believe that His plan was to set the stage for the Son to be glorified in the endurance of the cross as the Savior. We see this from the very beginning when God cryptically promises the Son’s future mission in Genesis 3:15. Despite all the depth and mind-boggling realities Scripture paints regarding the depth of God’s plans for humanity, the simple reality is that we are all, each one of us, accountable to God for sin. Because of that, we need a forgiving God if we’re to approach Him.
     I really like the following statement about what sin is from John Piper:

Sin is-
"The glory of God not honored.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savored.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The promises of God not relied upon.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved." – John Piper.

     God forgives sin. This hope and truth is the gateway through which we ALL must approach Him. Whether you’re Adam, Eve, Abraham, David, Saul or us, we need a forgiving God. God has demonstrated Himself to be abundantly merciful. Look to the cross. The following story has been taped inside the cover of my Bible for over a decade: 

“It is recorded of a Chinese emperor that, on being informed that his enemies had raised an insurrection in one of his distant provinces, said to his officers, ‘Come, follow me: and we will quickly destroy them.’ He marched forward and the rebels submitted upon his approach. All now thought that he would take the most signal revenge, but were surprised to see the captain treated with mildness and humanity. ‘How!’ cried the first minister, ‘is this the manner in which you fulfill your promise? Your royal word was given that your enemies should be destroyed; and behold! You have pardoned them all, and even caressed some of them.’ ‘I promised,’ replied the emperor with a generous air, ‘to destroy my enemies. I have fulfilled my word, for see, they are enemies no longer: I have made friends of them.’” –CH Spurgeon.

     This is exactly what God has done in Christ. You are accountable to Him. There's no one better to be accountable to. There's no greater forgivess than that of heaven's! 

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