LBCF 1689 Reflections (Part 39)


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 Christ faith which is according to a Baptist flavor.




Chapter 3, paragraph 4: “These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.”


Even only certain angels were predestined to life. Satan, and those who fell with him, was/were not predestined to life. If you read the Book of Revelation you see a rather large host assembled around God’s throne in chapters four and five. This is a host comprised of the elders of the church, the angels, and the redeemed. We know that this number includes all of the church because the angels were not redeemed, “…out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,” Revelation 5:9. This is a number of creatures to the tune of, “…ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,” Revelation 5:11. That’s a Bible writer’s way of expressing that it’s a number of people far too large for him to count. Remember, back then their national debt wasn’t as big as ours so they didn’t have a number for millions or billions. It’s not too large for God to count, however. He knows the exact number, and every name.

            In Revelation, we see God’s precise numbering in reference to martyrs as well. There’s a point in the book where they cry out to God for justice. Scripture says, “A white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed,” Revelation 6:11. We’re not given any numbers here, but we’re told that God does in fact have a precise number of martyrs known to him.

            The certainty reflected here in the confession is based upon the certain predestining work of God. God is not willing that any of his elect should perish, 2 Peter 3:9. In every generation there are the elect. Until their full number is gathered at last the world will continue. It’s absurd to assert that God is not willing that the non-elect perish. The number of those God will redeem is known only to him. He does not share it, but it is fixed. It cannot change because it has all been determined already, Ephesians 1:3-6. No matter what system of theology you hold to in the Faith, unless you’re an open theist clown, God is omniscient and he knows all things perfectly. This is why they assert here that this number does not fluctuate, Romans 8:29-30.

            This should give the church great confidence in evangelism. We will be successful because God will gather his sheep together. It’s an innumerable host he’s gathering, as well as, in my theology, every baby that has died. He’s chosen our preaching to save those who believe, but that makes it no less certain in the end. Preach. Preach and know that you’re at work in his harvest. He’s already shown us the size of the harvest in Scripture. It’s huge. I can’t wait to see it.  


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