A Little Time With The 1689: Day 258

Day 258

Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.

Chapter 21, Paragraph 2.

“….So that to Believe such Doctrines, or obey such Commands out of Conscience, is to betray true liberty of Conscience; and the requiring of an implicit Faith, and absolute and blind Obedience, is to destroy Liberty of Conscience, and Reason also.

Scripture Lookup

Colossians 2:20,22,23

1 Corinthians 3:5

2 Corinthians 1:24

Reflection

 

The modern evangelical woman is the target of so much “Biblical” advice. Just consider some popular topics: working vs. staying at home, having a great marriage, raising godly children, celebrating holidays (sometimes through embracing Lent or Advent), and various lifestyle choices (“essential oils! social media! sustainable, natural…whatever!”) There is an opinion to go with every part of a believer’s life.

Now seeking advice is not wrong: “Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22) We see someone who seems to have something we want, whether it be a happy family, a successful career, or a nice pair of shoes. We look to them for advice, and they share it. But it is just the advice of men and women. Their “steps”, “guidelines”, or “how-tos” are not commands of God.

The subtle pressure to conform with whatever manifestation cultural Christianity takes on is nonetheless strong. You may grind your own grain to grow in godliness one year, only to find grain out of the diet altogether the next. When such advice is given, we have to ask ourselves: who is the Lawgiver? God alone determines how we are to obey Him. If anyone tells you that you should obey a certain doctrine, make sure that it is defended from Scripture. Don’t take famous so-and-so’s word for it – “to the law and to the testimony” (Isaiah 8:20)!

 

When we are in a position to  give instruction, we must not bind another’s conscience with our own commands. It’s always thrilling when someone asks for advice, for it implies they think you contain some wisdom. In our zeal, we may place a burden on someone, rather than persuading them from Scripture that this is so. We may even go so far as to require blind obedience to our traditions. Without making a case from Scripture, we deny the reasoning ability of our brother and sister in Christ. The Holy Spirit utilizes the Word to enable the believer to obey God’s commands. Let us not stand in the way of His work, but point our fellow believers to Scripture.

With all the pressure thrown upon Christian women to make every aspect of their lives “missional”, it is high time this doctrine of Christian liberty was once again proclaimed. Believer, you are free from the doctrines and commandments of mere humans. You are answerable to God alone. Pursue His commands diligently, and be settled in your own mind (Romans 14:5).

Questions to Consider

  • Are you searching the Scriptures to see what God has commanded? Are you pointing others to Scripture when they seek your advice?
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A Little Time With The 1689: Day 257

Day 257

Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.

Chapter 21, Paragraph 2.

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or not contained in it.…”

Scripture Lookup

James 4:12

Rom. 14:4

Acts 4:19,29

1 Corinthians 7:23

Matthew 15:9

Reflection

Who sets the standard? Who makes the rules that we are to follow? Whose commands ought we to obey?

God alone sets that standard we are to follow. Through Christ alone has our liberty been purchased, and it is to Him alone that we owe our allegiance. As our Savior, Judge, and Lawgiver, God has the prerogative to declare what laws we are to obey.

There is no obligation to obey any other command that is not found in Scripture, or that contradicts Scripture. This is freedom of conscience. Such a freedom should be held most dearly especially by those who align themselves with the Particular Baptists of the past. Such brothers and sisters were persecuted for refusing to observe certain practices, convicted that such practices were not commanded by God. Is it necessary to baptize the children of believers? Baptists do not find such a doctrine contained within Scripture, and may even argue that such a practice is contrary to Scripture. We are therefore freed from following a tradition of men. Other traditions and practices warrant examination as well: are we humbugs if we don’t celebrate Christmas? There are many traditions that upon second thought are not found in Scripture, and have no obligation upon the Christian.

However, such a freedom does not mean that we just flippantly tell others “You’re not the boss of me!” whenever we hear something we don’t like. We have a charge to know what is commanded in God’s word. Studying the Scriptures to see what is commanded should be a characteristic of every believer. Careful consideration should inform our consciences, so we may clearly say that we do not find such commands in Scripture.

Questions to Consider

  • Are there any traditions of men that you have felt obligated to obey?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 256

Day 256

Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.

Chapter 21, Paragraph 1.

“….All which were common also to believers under the law for the substance of them; but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of a ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected, and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.

Scripture Lookup

Galatians 3;9,14

John 7:38,39

Hebrews 10:19-21

Reflection

The freedoms that Christ purchased for His people are for all of His people. Throughout history, every elect believer has received the liberties procured for them by Christ: freedom from the guilt of sin, freedom from bondage to Satan, freedom from everlasting damnation, and so on. Believers before the coming of Christ also enjoyed such liberty. They did not have to fear condemnation, or the curse of the Law, for they had faith in the One that was to come.

Although the price of Redemption was not actually paid by Christ, till after his Incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the Elect in all ages successively… (LBCF 8.3)

While both Old and New Testament believers partake of the liberties Christ has purchased, those believers on this side of the cross have been given a fuller extent of those liberties. The ceremonial law is no longer binding on believers, as the One to whom it pointed has come. Old Testament saints, however, were still to sacrifice constantly for sin, obeying the commands of God. Through Christ’s intercession, we can boldly approach the throne with a greater confidence than those saints that lived before Him. While believers in the Old Testament also were regenerated, the intricate knowledge of regeneration, and the work of Spirit, were not as clear to them. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, and that truth is revealed to a greater extent to Christians through God’s Word:

The whole Counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own Glory, Man’s Salvation, Faith and Life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture…” (LBCF 1.6)

Our union in Christ enables believers from all epochs to share every spiritual blessing in common. Yet the fullness of time has come, and we now see in greater part the glory of salvation through Christ. Old Testament saints need not be pitied, but we should rejoice that much more in our deeper liberty through Christ.

Questions to Consider

  • What do Christians have in common with Old Testament saints? What do we have that is different?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 255

Day 255

Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.

Chapter 21, Paragraph 1.

“…as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind….

Scripture Lookup

Romans 8:15

Luke 1:73-75

1 John 4:18

Reflection

Fear.

As sinners, we have much to fear. Fear of condemnation, fear of the Law, fear of this evil world, fear of future torment. As believers, through our union with Christ, we need not fear those things any more. He took our condemnation. He fulfilled the Law. He defeated evil. We are safe from harm when we are found in Him.

Freed from such a miserable state of being and a horrific future, do we now cower in fear before God? Certainly we ought to be humbled and awe-struck at His very being. But do we need to be apprehensive when approaching Him? Will He turn angry with us when we fail?

Look at who God is. Almighty, all-knowing, everywhere present and holy, yet also most loving and abundant in goodness. This God sent His Son, who lowered Himself and took on human flesh. He endured the terror of this evil world. He suffered the wrath due to our sin. He died so that we may live. In rescuing us, Christ has drawn us so closely to Himself that when God looks at us, He sees Christ’s righteousness as ours. Nothing hinders us from accessing God.

Purchasing for us the freedom to access God, Christ has also procured for us the desire to access God. When we are regenerated, we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to will and do that which is pleasing to God. Enlightened by Him as to His will, we wish to obey Him, and freely act to do so. Knowing the love the Father has lavished on us, we do not need to fearfully obey Him. We are free to obey Him.

 Questions to Consider

  • What motivates your actions: love of God, or fear of Him?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 254

Day 254

Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.

Chapter 21, Paragraph 1.

“…from the Evil of Afflictions; the Fear, and Sting of death, the Victory of the Grave, and Everlasting Damnation:…”

Scripture Lookup

Romans 8:28
1 Corinthians 15:54-57
2 Thessalonians 1:10

Reflection

Christ has purchased liberty for His people. Through our union with Christ, we receive multiple freedoms upon regeneration. Among these are:

  • freedom from the evil of afflictions,
  • freedom from the fear and sting of death,
  • freedom from the victory of the grave, and
  • freedom from everlasting damnation.

Those who are in Christ no longer experience the evil of afflictions. This may puzzle some readers. Don’t Christians still endure afflictions? How are we free from such pain and hardship? It is not the affliction from which we are freed, but the evil of afflictions. “…after a most special manner [the Providence of God] taketh care of his Church, and disposeth of all things to the good thereof.” (LBCF 5.7)

The same objection may be made of freedom of the fear of death as of the evil of afflictions. “I still fear death – why am I not free from the fear of it?” Dying is unnatural. Death is an enemy. But for the Christian, it is a defeated enemy. Its sting is removed. While we may be apprehensive concerning death, we are not terrified by it.

Our death is not a satisfaction for our sins, but the abolishing of sin and our passage into everlasting life.

-Hercules Collins, An Orthodox Catechism

Death will never be victorious over the Christian. Through Christ we have freedom from the grave’s victory. Life is ours – eternally! “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Those outside of Christ will receive everlasting damnation. Such torment and condemnation is without end. Believer, Christ has freed you from this!

 

 Questions to Consider

  • When you think of afflictions and death, how do you react? Are you reminded of Christ, or do you retreat in fear?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 253

Day 253

Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.

Chapter 21, Paragraph 1.

The Liberty which Christ hath purchased for Believers under the Gospel, consists in their freedom from the guilt of Sin, the condemning wrath of God, the Rigour and Curse of the Law; and in their being delivered from this present evil World, Bondage to Satan, and Dominion of Sin;…”

Scripture Lookup

Galatians 3:13
Galatians 1:4
Acts 26:18
Romans 8:3

 

Reflection

Freedom! Christ has bought freedom for His people. Through His life, death , and resurrection, Christ has secured liberties for believers, bestowed upon them when they are regenerated. “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) What are the liberties that believers enjoy?

Because of Christ, believers have:

  • freedom from the guilt of sin. No longer do we have to stand condemned because of our status as corrupted humans. Christ has paid the penalty for our sin.
  • freedom from the condemning wrath of God. The suffering Christ endured on the cross will never be felt by us. Ever.
  • freedom from the rigour of the Law. Because Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law on our behalf, we do not have to live up to the law for salvation.
  • freedom from the curse of the Law. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'” (Galatians 3:13) Death is not a curse for the believer, for Christ has removed its sting.
  • deliverance from this present world. However much it beckons us to join, Christ has set us free from its imprisonment.
  • deliverance from bondage to Satan. As the hymn states, “The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him…” Christ has freed us from Satan’s tyranny. We are His subjects now, never again to be ruled by the devil.
  • deliverance from the dominion of sin. Christ has set us free; we are no longer slaves to sin.  “…through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome…” (LBCF 14.3) Because of Christ, we no longer need to succumb to sin.

And this is not all!

The liberty we have because of Christ is immense and vast. Praise Him for all He has done!

 Questions to Consider

  • Christian, are you living in light of the freed Christ has bestowed upon you?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 252

Day 252

Of the Gospel, and of the extent of the Grace thereof.

Chapter 20, Paragraph 4.

Although the gospel be the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and is, as such, abundantly sufficient thereunto; yet that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is moreover necessary an effectual insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul, for the producing in them a new spiritual life; without which no other means will effect their conversion unto God.”

Scripture Lookup

 

Psalm 110:3

1 Corinthians 2:14

Ephesians 1:19,20

John 6:44

2 Corinthians 4:4,6

Reflection

You can ask nicely. You can plead. You can beg. You can put on the biggest light-and-music spectacular ever recorded. All of those may move men to tears or evoke emphatic commitments to change. Without the declaration of the Gospel, none of that will convert a sinner. The message of Christ, and His mediatorial work on behalf of sinners, must be present. There can be no salvation without it.

The declaration of the Gospel cannot work on its own, though. The Holy Spirit must quicken and renew the sinner, enabling her to will that which is offered in the Gospel. If the Spirit does not regenerate someone, then they are still dead in their trespasses and sins. No amount of preaching the Gospel will effect change without the work of the Spirit.

Is the word & the Spirit enough to bring about regeneration? The actions of many churches say “No.” Money needs to be spent. Programs have to be in place. Look at how many attend flashy churches compared to “plainer” ones, and it appears the Holy Spirit needs a boost. Scripture tells us otherwise. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that changes hearts. The growth of the church in the New Testament was not due to the great music or children’s program. So no matter what you may lack in money or pizazz, declare the Word boldly. The Spirit will convert those that are His, when He sees fit.

Questions to Consider

  • Are you intimidated to share the Gospel? Why?