LBCF 1689 Reflections (Part 44)



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: “…out of his mere free grace and love…”


God elects his own freely. What is “free grace”? What does it look like? I think one of the most cogent places to see it is in Matthew 20:1-16. In this parable Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a land owner hiring servants to work in his vineyard throughout the span of a day. At the end of the day, the landowner decided to pay each person he’d hired the same wage. The ones who’d worked longer hours were indignant, but were given their previously agreed upon wage. The landowner responded to their ire with: “Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’” Jesus’ intent in this lesson is not to teach proper payroll procedures. The point I’ll draw here is that God (the vineyard owner) can do with his money (grace) whatever he wants to do. He does no one wrong, and all grace is only given out to laborers because he came and hired them.

            Free grace is an unmerited and un-obligatory one. It’s simple. God cannot be obligated to give grace and it still be free. God is no man’s debtor! Scripture is clear on this in its treatment on the nature of the “free” grace of God. It says, “…to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt,” Romans 4:4. If we assume that any of our obedience to the word of God obligates his grace toward us we presume too much. Whatever grace is, it must be freely given from God. This is how the cross of Jesus Christ works. It is a “free” righteousness that God gives. “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,” Romans 4:5.

            What does “love” look like? Look at the cross, Romans 5:6-8. Why did God elect people in it? Look at the cross. If you find a man worthy of that then you have another motivation for God to do it besides his completely joyous love and freely given electing grace. 

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