LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 94

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.




Section 8, paragraph 8b: “…and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation…”


What things and/or enemies did Jesus actually overcome? How did he overcome them?

I’m afraid that in my tradition we often omit Satan in our preaching far too much. The fleshly nature is generally referenced far more. Jesus had to overcome *us* on the Cross. Yes indeed. Our nature itself was hostile to God (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21, etc.). Jesus, however, overcame more than just us. He overcame us, death (a result of sin) and Satan. Each of these areas can be examined individually in great detail in the Scriptures.

Colossians reads that Jesus, “…disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them…” Colossians 2:15. In Revelation 12:10, Satan is referred to as “the accuser of the brethren”. I believe that Scripture teaches that Jesus literally disarmed Satan of his accusatory power through the Cross. That Jesus removed the jurisdiction of the Law whereby Satan rightly accused us of our sins against God. In becoming sin and a curse for the elect (Galatians 3:13) Jesus literally destroyed the case of the prosecution by his own beautiful person. Believers stand on his Ascended life to share his glorious inheritance. Satan was disarmed. This is why Paul writes, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised…” Romans 8:33-35.

Jesus also propitiated the righteous wrath of God. Through some call it pagan (like N.T. Wright) penal substitutionary atonement is essential to a mature gospel. Jesus was cursed by the Father. He offered himself to God, Hebrews 5:7; 9:14, et al). Like the high priests of the Old Covenant, Jesus’ atoning work was a work done to God alone. Salvation is a triune effort. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit accomplished the grace they desired in this glorious dispensation of the New Covenant. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is scandalous. It is outrageous. There is no limit to what God can demand of a person redeemed wholly and completely by grace alone. I like what John Piper said: “The Cross is God’s answer to the outrageous idea that he forgives sinners”. How can God forgive wicked people? You have to understand who died on the Cross, how terrible that death was, and why he did it to even come close to an answer to that question. It is uncomfortably gracious.

Jesus also overcame our carnal nature. We could not ever do it. Romans 8:7. I am a firm and committed monergist. I say grace alone not in a Lutheran (synergistic) way, or in an Arminian (synergistic) way, but in a Reformed Baptist (Calvinistic/monergistic) way. Our carnal nature could not be overcome by our parents or churches in our water baptisms as babies. No! It could not be overcome by our free will cooperation. God must overcome it. He alone can. He alone must. He must give life, not just a mere offer of it. I believe that it is a monergistic truth statement that God, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” Ephesians 2:5. God overcame death both in and over us. He crucified us with Christ, Galatians 2:20, to raise us up anew. We died to the Law in order to be lawfully able to marry again, Romans 7:1-6.

Jesus was truly God. By becoming a man, he was made perfect as the author of salvation for the elect through his life and death (Hebrews 2:9-11). It was in amazing humility (Philippians 2:5-8) that he saved us. Through the union Jesus prayed for in John 17, Christians are eternally united to him and his intercession. His prayers there in John 17, as with all his prayers, were answered. We became one with him. Thank God!

Jesus literally cancelled the debt of sin for all those who come to him in such a way that every believer can admit being worthy of death in hell and yet say to any accuser, “but there is one who died for me who was not worthy of death. He is my plea. Talk to him.” John MacArthur has said in his messages, “God treated Jesus as if he lived your life, and now therefore can treat you as if you lived his”.

I like how the confession uses the term “unsearchable” here. It comes late in the confession. We’re in chapter 8. Despite all of our expansive answers to life and death, God’s grace at times should make us confess that its excellence is both close to us and yet so very far beyond us. In the Book of Romans, St. Paul lays out The Faith in a most robust way. After eleven chapters of the most detailed explanation of that amazing grace he writes: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33.

Here is a theology of the Cross summarized in one of its many great ways. Christians are, “justified…by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness…at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26 (with parts omitted). This is in our hearts and far beyond us!

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