LBCF 1689 Reflections (Part 43)



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 5: “…hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory…”


It may be helpful to you for me to speak on “The Corporate View” of election tonight because of that view’s emphasis on the Bible passage that the LBCF writers had in mind here when they penned this sentence. This confession was written long before the codification of the corporate view. The corporate view is perhaps the third leading explanation today of the Bible’s necessity for each believing body to define the doctrine of eternal predestination. It follows the Reformed view and the Arminian view, and has gained ground in Arminian/Wesleyan circles today. It is not a proper view in the end, but of course, like all Christian views, it has its merits. The view does uphold that God has “elected” his church from before the foundation of the world. The corporate view sees election as God’s election of a group in Christ, but not an election of specific individuals unto salvation. Picture a crowd of people whose faces are blurred until they choose to believe. That’s a picture of how God sees his elect from eternity past. He knows they’ll be there, but he doesn’t choose them specifically. The best way I know to describe it is with an analogy. Let’s imagine that this “election” is the building of a great ship that can hold billions of people. God simply has the door open. Anyone, of their own freedom, can enter the ship. God then elects all those who would be found on the ship in the end, but he did not elect “them” in the beginning. The view’s champions laud it as being heavily Christocentric. To me, it’s just another denial of Scripture.

     In Ephesians 1:4-5 we read what the LBCF writers were on about: “…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” The passage says he chose “us.” Us. Who are the “us” in view? Answer: the Ephesian Christians who first received this letter from the Apostle, and every other believer who would read it since. We are to be personally comforted by this that God knew us personally and chose us. Once you remove the “us” as a personal comfort to the saved reader you strip the Scripture of its comforting glory. This is why the corporate view of election is a total dog’s breakfast. I will link the power of the truth of the necessarily personal “us” component of Ephesians 1:4 to just one other passage to prove why corporate election is just another man-centered twisting of the clarity of the Bible because sinful men cannot believe in a sovereign God. I’ll link it to Romans 8:29-30. Romans 8:29-30 is also literally as clear as it can be that God’s election, whatever else it is, is a very personal one. God knew the people that he chose intimately. He had to. The Lamb’s book was populated from the foundation of the world, Luke 10:20; Revelation 17:8, et al. The Romans verses: “Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” This is God’s eternal election given even in the ordo salutis (the order of it all). The “whom” God foreknew personally here in Romans are the exact same brood, without exception, as the “us” that we have referenced in Ephesians 1:4. The “whom” = “us” = comfort for those who love God sincerely in every generation. Marvel away, but be comforted, saint. Reading Ephesians 1:4 is as if you’d just picked up a manuscript handed down through the millennia unchanged that had your name and social security number written in it saying God knew you from before the foundation of the world and he chose you for salvation. The moment you make this impersonal or “corporate” is the moment you just high jacked it from Paul’s intent! If a reader in Ephesus was to get a hold of the Romans epistle he or she was to be as personally encouraged by each letter. God does not elect in any other way than personally.

     This affirmation in the creed is to remind each reader that in Christ alone we have our hope. Jesus is the only reason anyone can have hope of not being condemned for sin. The stress of the verse that God chose “us”…“in him” reminds us that it’s Jesus who is our hope. He is our blessed hope. It’s because of him and his work on the cross that we’re chosen at all. If you love Jesus, and are a good tree, Matthew 7:17-18, then we can personally receive strength in this and marvel at God’s choosing us in Jesus for it. We’ve been chosen for glory. We’re encouraged to seek after that glory, Romans 2:7. We’re told to contend for that glory like someone running to win a crown at the end of a race, 1 Corinthians 9:24. This race, however, is not won by a single victor, Hebrews 12:22-23. This race requires the runners to help each other, Philippians 2:4. This race is won by Jesus, the one who hands out all the trophies, Hebrews 9:12.

     The LBCF of 1689, along with any solid confession, would have each reader personally comforted that God knew you in every detail yet he chose you. You needn’t hide from him. He knows you even better than you do, man. He knows your sin…yet he chose you. What a kind God! What a forgiving God! Maturity means loving the grace of shame, fear and guilt when we sin, but never doubting that God is no divorcee. The more we understand election and God’s choosing of us, the more we can jettison self-righteousness and be truly free to pursue Jesus rightly in the Spirit of God and thankfulness, Ephesians 5:17-21.

     Perfecting holiness is partly in knowing that we’ve been personally chosen in Christ and for Christ in order to love doing so forever!


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