LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part Two.

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.






  "Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diversified manners to reveal Himself, and to declare (that) His will unto His church;3 and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now completed."

One thing I’ve come to love about Reformed confessions like this is their wonderful focus on the church as a whole from the start to the finish of life as we know it. The Bible is a progressive revelation or metanarrative. I can summarize what these terms mean to me with just two verses read in order: Exodus 3:13 and John 14:9. It is a very theologically accurate statement to now call Abraham a brother or father, Romans 4:16. Christ has made this possible; we’re all of one spiritual body, Ephesians 2:15, one church.

    This term sundry is a very odd word to us today, but it’s really just a synonym for diversified used just after. This whole idea found here simply echo Hebrews 1:1. God has revealed things as He saw fit in very diverse ways. God has appeared in burning bushes, dreams, visions, crops, winds, etc. He once let a donkey speak its mind. He’s been talkative and silent, forceful and gentle, cryptic and basic. God has revealed Himself in diverse ways at diverse times. Our day is no different. Sometimes He revealed Himself by hiding Himself.

     This section of the confession goes on to reflect on the great privilege of our day. These writers understood the privilege of having a Bible, and they rejoiced in it. Part of me is still so corrupted by the fake showmanship and shallow emotionalism of our day that I tend to shrink from what I’m about to say lest I play the hypocrite, but folks, we have a Bible. The greatest times of my life have been found with it. We have almost a million words to reveal God to us if we’re in Christ. Oh, I know that righteousness is a fruit which takes much longer to ripen than that attained in the instant gratifications we’ve become so accustomed to, but those 66 books are from the Spirit Himself and they reveal more to us, in more detail, with more certainty than ever was possible before. This was God’s design. It’s like phases in military operations that culminate in one desired end event with the cross as its decisive action. God’s plan advanced perfectly in phases to bring us along just as He willed. With the epistles now given to announce His wonderful judgment, love and grace, we await the end of all things with eager anticipation. We call these phases things like, “The times of patriarchs.” These were men (speaking spirits like Adam) to whom solemn promises were made by a God of His word (The speaking and living Spirit). We might call another phase: “of judges.” We have prophetic phases, kings, silent phases, and miracle phases interwoven, etc.

     Despite my conviction of the surpassing greatness of our day to those before, I’m always fascinated when I read the book of Acts and see thousands converted in a day without a Bible. I go into a panic thinking, “But how ever did they agree confessionally? There was no written code yet. What chaos!” But it was God doing the saving all along. This is still the fact. People aren’t saved, “Because they have a Bible.” People are saved because God still saves. We just have the privilege of having more intelligence on grace in our day than any did before. The Bible was fully and finally codified into our 27 New Testament books and 39 Old Testament books in A.D. 367. Since then we’ve only multiplied fewer reasons to not be excited about our God. Faith is more powerful when by the indwelling Spirit than by sight any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

     We live in a time that far surpasses what was before. The Spirit lifts the word in our hearts above all controversy. The word is active. These writers understood that we’re not at a disadvantage because God is no longer shaking the foundations when we pray, Acts 4:31. We have His word. It’s not that God couldn’t do what He did before; it’s that we’re so fickle we’d forget what all those sundry works before were to give way to if He did. If men could get their fleeces wet or dry as before then the lifelong principles that give such a strength that such signs would not be needed would never be known. Oh, God still gives revelations and visions, they just come through His word.

     Though I most certainly rejoice in the privilege of my Bible I’m honored to bow my head and remember that in the end, the truths of Hebrews 1:1, and those mentioned here in my favorite confession, will too be but other sundry ways in the grand scheme. It is God that remains the constant as He wills. 

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