This term at Taste & See on Sunday evenings – and for a good few terms hence – we’re pursuing a series on exploring our faith which we're calling 'Firm Foundations'. We’re using the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith to give shape and depth to exploring the Gospel.
In the preaching we’re taking a passage of Scripture each night which treats the topic set forth by the Confession. So. last night I preached on ‘How does God speak to us Today?’ from Psalm 19 (mainly verse 7). In our study groups we looked at select paragraphs from chapter 1 of the Confession, and worked them through in the light of Psalm 19. We don’t venerate the Confession, but we do recognise that it is the fruit of careful biblical and theological reflection. Spurgeon put it like this:
‘This ancient document is the most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered, but as a means of edification in righteousness. It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. We hold to the humbling truths of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ alone and by faith alone.’
Last night it was great to see young and old getting to grips with what the Confession says about the Word of God. Infallibility and the self-authenticating nature of Scripture are big subjects for our younger attenders; but these issues are vital ones for them to get to grips with. We want to grow oaks through our ministry at Hope, not quick-growing but shallow-rooted striplings.
This old Confession is right up to date. We learn through it how God’s Word is entirely trustworthy, and sufficient. Both are vitally necessary when there’s so little confidence in God’s written Word, and such a tendency for Christians to hunt for their ‘own’ word from the Lord. The Confession teaches us that this Word, breathed by the Spirit, and ministered in the Spirit to our hearts, and more than all we need to live in the Spirit, wise for salvation and ready for every good
Writing at just the same time as the Confession’s authors, Francis Turretin wrote these equally
timeless and important words on the Scriptures, which I quoted on Sunday night:
‘The Holy Spirit by Whom believers should be God-taught does not render the Scriptures less necessary. He is not given to us in order to introduce new revelations, but to impress the written Word on our hearts; so that here the Word must never be separated from the Spirit. The former works objectively, the latter efficiently; the former strikes our ears from without, the latter opens the heart within. The Spirit is the teacher; Scripture is the doctrine which He teaches us.'