devotional

01MAY
2022

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 229

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.

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Chapter 26. Of the Church. Paragraph 14b: “…so the churches, when planted by the providence of God, so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it, ought to hold communion among themselves, for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.”

If the Roman Catholic church had sound theology, I’d likely be a Roman Catholic. I had a Catholic friend the other day tell me that he “couldn’t believe that God would leave the world without a church.” He stated this as an apologetic for the idea he’s bought in to that developed in Rome (go figure) beginning mostly in the 5th century AD of the Roman bishop as the head of the visible church on earth. The biblical model does not establish a man in Europe as the head of the church, however, it establishes the Godman on his throne as the head of his worldwide church with believers constituting his visible body in every place we find them. Churches are constituted by God. He didn’t leave the world without one. In every city where there are disciples, pastor/elders will be created. Titus 1:5. This is not funneled through some zip code’s hierarchy; this is the work of God of “the church” in the “churches.” God’s providence plants and maintains them and their on-going fidelity to the truth judges whether or not this is so for each one of them. Nothing else.

I partook of the Lord’s Table just this morning at church. I always look forward to that blessed ordinance. I truly get excited when anticipating it. We’ll get to a historical Baptist talk about the ordinances in a bit in our tour of the confession, but this section is not talking about the Lord’s Table specifically. If you’re like me, when you hear “communion” you think of the Table. “Communion” here is fellowship. It’s about going to church and all that doing so entails. I like what the confession says here about it increasing things like peace, love, and mutual edification. This is what church does. We gather in church to pray, to sing songs of triumph and lament to God, to study, to confess our sins as needed, to teach, to be rebuked and disciplined in life, to be equipped, and to be strengthened to live out our faith more together. This paragraph is telling us why we go to church. Communion here is the idea of fellowship.

It’s clearly the pattern of believers from the start of the New Testament to gather on Sunday for all things of communion. Learning, worshipping, giving financially for the poor and for the work of the church, etc. Acts 2:42, 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2. John received the first installment of the Revelation on a Sunday. Revelation 1:10. Revelation’s parts were to seven churches as representative of all the churches. Revelation 1:4. These are all diverse but locally gathered bodies of believers. Both 1 Corinthians 11 (specifically vv.17-34) and Jude 12 show us the first practices of the people there gathering together in their churches, just to cite two examples. Jesus changed the Sabbath day to Sunday. They gathered together on it. Almost every letter you read in your New Testament was written expressly to churches. Those in fellowship got to hear them read and taught. Those who weren’t in fellowship didn’t. Hebrews 10:25 tells us to go to church. That we’re not to be “abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another” 1 Corinthians 12 and Paul’s explanation of giftings is in the context of a church body like members of one body. I could go on and on. I hope you’re in “communion” in a local church regularly. If you’re not, you’re probably going to hell.

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