I am currently teaching a comparative study of London Baptist Confession of Faith (LBCF) with Westminster Confession of Faith during our Sunday school hour. I’ve been having rich experiences both preparing for the class and lively discussions during the class. The following are my highlighted points and comments from last night when we covered Chapters XX to XXII:
LBCF – Chapter XX: Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace Thereof
Point 2 makes a clear distinction between the special revelation and natural revelation, and then it points out the superiority and sufficiency of Scripture over the inferiority of natural revelation. Here’s a case in point: “This promise of Christ, and salvation by him, is revealed only by the Word of God.” That means God exclusively chose to unfold the hidden wonders of the gospel through the only means of God’s revealed word. And this has several important implications. For instance, God did not choose to reveal his redemptive gospel through interpretative dance, drama, or any other means but the word. Apart from clear expositions of Scripture Christ and the gospel cannot be heard.
Now notice the inferiority of the natural revelation: “Neither do the works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, make discovery of Christ.”
Point 3 once again reminds us the primacy of preaching, since it is God’s chosen means in getting the gospel to peoples of various nations: “the preaching of the gospel has been granted unto persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it.”
LBCF – Chapter XXI: Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
Ultimately Scripture is the highest court in regards to faith and living. However, there are areas where it is opened (liberality) to one’s conscience – (e.g., having wine once in a while with meals, going to movies, listening to secular music, etc.). And this is where controversies lie amongst many well-meaning folks. If not careful, it easily falls into one of two camps – legalism or liberalism (antinomianism).
Since our conscience can be self-deceived (been tainted with sin), this is where community of God’s covenant people is extremely helpful in discussing and discerning issues.
LBCF – Chapter XXII: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
The first statement of Point 1 begins with the function of natural revelation, that is, it sheds “light” on the fact that God exists: “The light of nature shews that there is a God.” In fact the natural revelation illuminates on the reality that God has lordship and sovereignty over all of his creations. It further reveals that God is just, good, and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might.
However, the problem with natural revelation is that it is insufficient in revealing what God wants in how he is to be worshipped. This is where the Scripture proves once again of its superiority and sufficiency over natural revelation. Unlike natural revelation, the special revelation, namely the Bible, both explicitly and implicitly reveals what is expected and how God is to be worshipped. This single truth shatters much of erroneous notions and questionable applications that are seen in many churches today. For instance, what nonsense to think and say “God doesn’t care how we worship as long as we worship Him with sincerity.” This is why LBCF states: “But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself.” That means we don’t set the policy and procedure in how we worship; instead it is God who instituted what is the acceptable way of worshipping him. The fact that there is “the acceptable way of worshipping the true God” clearly implies that there is also the wrong way(s) of worshipping him. That is why Point 1 states “that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.” This is what theologians call “the regulative principle of worship.” It simply means do what God prescribes and don’t do what he didn’t prescribe. So where do so-called interpretive dancing, skits, burning candles, drawing pictures, woman preaching, and so on fit into worship service? They don’t.