LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part Six.


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 according to a Baptist flavor.




Paragraph 5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.


     Much in this paragraph is self-explanatory and would not be given much aid in my short time here. It is the overarching truth that I feel prompted these Christians to write what they did here that I’ll reflect on.

     In Mark 4:3-8 Jesus gave the world what’s commonly called, “The Parable of the Sower.” The words or teachings of God are represented as seeds. Note: they are external to us. The different kinds of soils and soil interaction with the seed represent different kinds of people (vs. 15). After Jesus taught this parable His disciples came and asked Him what He was talking about (vs. 10). His response to them indicates a heavy emphasis for the truth or teaching contained in this one parable. Jesus asked them in reply: “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” Vs. 13. Here we see that somehow understanding this parable becomes a key to understanding all the rest of His parables. The key is that the truth of it, of all truth, must be, “Given to you” as it was given to them and to all who would be born again along with them in the not too distant future. That’s what it means to be, “Prepared soil” producing a measure of crop. To understand truth, in the “full persuasion” of which this confession speaks, is to be born again. You can assimilate facts without being born again. You can respect the gospel in some inferior way without being saved. You can be amazed by studying the complexities and inter-relations of the biblical writers, but salvation is wholly of the Lord. This is what paragraph 5 of the confession is talking about.

     Men cannot be “taught into” the kingdom by methodologies. They cannot be coerced into true repentance by men. We can only bear witness to truth. We are not the truth. We sow seed, but its “growth” is wholly the work of the process of life between seed and soil. We can make arguments. We should give apologetics. This is sowing seed. We should sow as much seed as often as we can into the hearts of men. We must plow with the law, sow with the truth, water with grace and aerate with mercy, yes. We must do all this diligently (Luke 17:10) but under such noble truths as shown here in the confession that we are completely powerless as to the spiritual power behind spiritual life.

     I liken it to the raising of my right arm. I can raise it at will, but I do not know how it happens. Men can apply voltage and get measurable amperage, but we do not know how the electrons move. We can only theorize. I can prepare the soil of a man’s heart with the weapons of this warfare, but I cannot make my enemy surrender. God alone can. In truth, God only teaches His children. If a man is to be persuaded that the word of God is truth it will only be because that man has God as his Father. This is the work of the Holy Spirit Himself.

     God does this today through His spoken word. It is a message communicated from the message. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:18. It is a message. If you are being saved by it, its truth has been given to you; if it is foolishness to you, then it has not been given to you. The whole of the Bible is only believed because God makes it real in our hearts. Ultimately, this must be our prayer. We do not hope in the soil. We hope in the seed, and in the one who makes it grow.  


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