(Article for publication week of 4-4-2012 AD)
“Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk ye therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). As we are laying the groundwork for our present series on justification, I wish to set before you some historical statements on justification, both for working definitions, and to show where our Christian forefathers have stood in the past.
I now quote from chapter 11 of the Second London Confession of Faith, the ancient confession of the Baptists, adopted in 1677. This chapter is identical to the Westminster Confession of the Presbyterians.
“Section 1. Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in His death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.
“Section 2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.
“Section 3. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of Himself in the blood of His cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf; yet, as much as He was given by the Father for them, and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
“Section 4. God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fulness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them.
“Section 5. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
“Section 6. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.”
If you will call me this week at 601-927-5070, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will send you as many copies of the Old Baptist Confession of Faith that you want. Are you walking in the old paths?