LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 61)

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 which is according to a Baptist flavor.




Chapter 5, Of Divine Providence, paragraph 2: “…yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.”


This is a superb extra-biblical summation of what we do with the problem of sin. If God is sovereign over everything, and he is, then what is his relation to sin? To Satan’s fall, to Adam’s/ours, to the murder this week in such and such place? When the book meets the streets these questions are not to be avoided. Existence as we know it is driven by our desires. Yes, God “could” stop all evil, but that would not be the existence we know now. Still, what’s his relation to the worst of evils? Let’s look to the murder of Jesus. Was it God’s idea? Was it his doing? Was it his plan? Bond Genesis 3:14-15 to Acts 4:25b-28 and it answers it:

“‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”

God’s determined plan. His “providence”. Think of God’s providence like a film director with complete control over the set. Now, follow me here. This is easy to affirm when it’s a comedy, but hard to affirm (we do not want to affirm it) if it’s a drama. I understand as well as others the horrible sufferings in the world. The alternative to a sovereign God, however, is terrifying. The alternative to a sovereign God is satan. Perhaps we’re wise not to speculate too far here. This is why, in a balance of all the Scripture, we speak here of “secondary causes”. What are they?

Secondary causes are you and me. In Acts 4 the secondary causes are named Herod, Pilate, some Gentiles, and some Jews. They were not reading a script. They were not doing anything except what they wanted to do when they condemned Jesus and picked Barabbas (serious imagery there) over him. What Pilate wanted was peace. He was in the end willing to murder Jesus to get it. What the Jewish leaders wanted was their temple. What they did was according to their desires. But, God’s desire (to bring about his own glory in the Son) rode firmly over all. He brought about “his will” through them. He did not “force” them. They could not stop him. In this appears his limitless wisdom! This section is another angle on what was already said here in chapter 3, section 1. I’ll repost it here:

“God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.” This comes from numerous passages like Acts 4:25b-28.

Romans 11:33-36!

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