Christ’s will as revealed in Scripture is the pattern for the church, and Nehemiah Coxe unfolds aspects of that pattern that relate to church leadership. “The edification and beauty of the Church is much concerned in her order, not such an order as superstition will dictate, or litigious nicety contend for, but such as sets her in a conformity with Christ’s will; and particularly the filling up of the offices which He has appointed, with persons duly qualified for the administration of them, and the regular acting both of officers and members in their respective positions.”
Start by telling us how long your church has used the 1689 Confession.
Since 1989 Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida has been guided by a commitment to the 1689 (Second London) Confession of Faith. We adopted that confession as a detailed expression of our doctrinal commitments as a church and for the purpose of guiding us in the selection of officers, teachers and other leaders in the church. We use the edition that is published by the elders of Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, PA, but also allow for the use of the Carey edition, entitled A Faith to Confess. This latter edition employs modern language and is more easily read by some.
How does using a confession of faith benefit a church body?
A church can receive great benefit from properly using a (or more than one) confession of faith. By adopting a confession of faith a clear statement is made that on certain matters of faith and practice the church is pre-committed. That is, the church declares, “We are not looking for truth in these areas, we believe that we have found the truth of God’s Word on these subjects and this is what our views are.” This kind of pre-commitment is very useful in times of doctrinal uncertainty or controversy. If some members come to convictions that are contrary to the church’s confession, then those members can be addressed on the basis of what the church has previously stated to be its views. Further, those seeking to join the church have in the confession a clear declaration of what can be expected in the preaching and teaching ministry.
A good confession can help promote the unity of the church. Opinions are not all equally valid and where there exists in a church a common commitment to a list of doctrinal convictions, those views that deviate from or contradict that commitment can be readily recognized and addressed. No church can long survive if it must continually reevaluate each and every doctrine when at once it is questioned.
A good confession can also help a church grow spiritually. Such a confession represents the collective wisdom of trusted teachers. It can prove to be a great source of instruction for those who are committed to understanding and applying biblical truth. A confession serves as a reminder of what God has taught others whose lives and views we respect. It can be consulted as a guide in Bible study, or can actually provide an outline for a doctrinal study of the Word.
What are the doctrinal strengths of the Second London Confession [2LC]?
The doctrinal strengths of the 2LC are seen in the comprehensiveness of its thirty-two chapters. Matters related to the heart of salvation are addressed in detail in at least twelve of those chapters, covering everything from “God’s Covenant” (chapter 7) to the “Assurance of Grace and Salvation” (chapter 18).
In addition to these soteriological chapters, the confession also treats matters related to the life and health of a local church. Twelve chapters address the Bible’s teachings on the law, gospel, Christian liberty, worship, the Sabbath, oaths, civil government, marriage, the church, communion of the saints and the ordinances (chapters 19–30).
In addition, chapters on authority (1), the nature and sovereignty of God (2–5), sin (5) and last things (31, 32) are included. All of these subjects are important to the spiritual vitality of individual believers and churches. As a believer grows in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, these are matters that he will discover he must develop opinions and perhaps even convictions on. It is very helpful for a local church to state plainly its position on these matters. Members can expect the teaching and preaching ministries of the church to be within these confessional boundaries. The confession can also be used as an excellent tool for the systematic study of biblical doctrines. The insights of those who have gone before us and whose testimonies have proven faithful are invaluable aids in study and growth…
The rest contain answers to the following questions:
Do you think that the length of the articles is helpful or confusing?
How does it serve in the process of a person becoming a church member?
Do pastors/elders relate differently to the 2LC than those members that are not so called?
How does it serve in the educational process of the church?
How does it serve in the discipline of the church?
How is it related to biblical exposition in the church?
This year marks the 325th anniversary of the 1689 Second London Confession of Faith. In recognition of the impact this confession has played in our history and its significance for our future, we restarted our podcasts [RSS | iTunes] to highlight this standard of confessional Reformed Baptists.
We began with three podcasts focusing upon the purpose of the 1689…
In these three podcasts we attempt to set forth the purpose for the publication of the 1689 London Confession of Faith. The spirit of this document cannot be separated from its content. It was the purpose of these English Baptists to show our unity with the catholic Church and our distinctions as Baptists within the universal visible Church.
In this episode, we will begin examining the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. Instead of beginning with its historical background or content, we will begin by looking at the reasons it was drafted to be used as the basis of the London association of Credobaptist churches. Their intent, purpose and the nature of the document is revealed in its Preface to the Reader. If we are going to recover true confessionalism, it must include the purpose and not just the content. In other words, we must recover the spirit of the confession along with the letter of the confession.
[Purpose 1: To set forth the Reformed Baptist principles.]
James Brown Jr. is a pastor at Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity, a 1689 London Baptist church plant in Mooresville, Indiana. He is an ordained Baptist minister who has served Independent and Southern Baptist Churches in Indiana and Georgia since 1998.
James is a Gulf War veteran having served in the United States Marine Corps. He and his wife, Sonya, have 8 children and 1 grandchild.
…we respond a portion of a video (Here) put up by Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church. Anderson is well known on the internet for his anti-Calvinism rants, KJV Onlyism, and for the famous incident wherein he was tazed by border agents. In his recent video he says that Calvinism is Satanic and that Calvinists are perverts.
We are joined on this broadcast with our good friend, John Samson. John is the pastor of King’s Church (www.kingschurchaz.com) and is the author of the book, ‘Twelve What Abouts: Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election’. John speaks with us about the nature of man, God’s sovereignty, and a host of other issues.
The internet is buzzing with talk about the interview/discussion between Steven Anderson (Faithful Word Baptist Church) and Dr. James White (Alpha & Omega Ministries). Dr. James White wrote the book, “The King James Only Controversy”. Steven Anderson is a King James Version Onlyist and was interviewing Dr. White for his film on the subject. The entirety of the video (over 2-hours) was recently posted on YouTube and is available for everyone to see.
Dr. White gives us an excellent discussion about the transmission of the text of the New Testament, how we know that God has been faithful in preserving His Word, and how KJV Onlyism is inconsistent and needs to be rejected.
” I am always blessed by the faithful contributions which come in from our congregations. But perhaps there is an area where our giving could be increased…”
After giving a personal story James Renihan concludes:
Pastors, do you encourage your men to consider the gospel ministry? Do you spend personal time with them and encourage them to pray about this? Do your elders likewise seek to press this matter upon your young men? Do they urge these men to consider the possibility of Christ’s call? And what about your people? Do they esteem ministers? Will they rejoice when one of their own gives himself to serve the Lord in the ministry? I am convinced that our churches must place a higher priority on cultivating their men for service in the church.
It happened again last week. On Thanksgiving morning I received an email from a friend of a friend. The first line read, “It appears I am being forced out of my pastorate.” The story that unfolded in the rest of that email and upon further inquiry is filled with themes that are tragically too common…
“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” (1 Timothy 5:19-21, NKJV).
Several years ago I preached a message with the same title as this article to the church I serve in Cape Coral. When I mentioned my intentions to a pastor friend, he said, “Tom, haven’t you heard that you never put a loaded gun into the hand of your enemy?” My response then remains my conviction now. First, I do not consider the church I serve to be my enemy. Far from it. Though some individuals from time-to-time have positioned themselves as my enemies, the church as a whole has been and remains the body of Christ and therefore a wonderful means of grace in my life. When a pastor starts viewing the church as his enemy it is a sure sign that he has outlived his usefulness to that congregation.
Secondly, in the sense in which my friend meant it, church members already have a gun. As one who is charged with the responsibility to lead and nurture the flock of God, I want to do everything I can to make sure that it is loaded with the proper ammunition and fired in a right direction.
Even the pastor who rejects any form of congregational government must face the fact that the members have a huge say in his tenure. Regardless of formal suffrage policies, all church members vote in two ways: with their feet and their pocketbooks. Many ministers who have never been officially dismissed have nevertheless been forced out of office by the withdrawal of support by the members.
The pastor-church relationship is a sensitive and vitally important issue. The proper dissolution of that relationship in difficult circumstances needs to be carefully considered in the light of biblical teachings…
Thabiti Anyabwile explains how, upon not getting “his way” in an elder vote, “a member questioned me about something they found problematic with the church […] They knew my preferences and would not accept “the elders have decided” as an answer. They wanted to know why I hadn’t pushed a certain change–a good change.”
It was good for me to “lose” the vote to my fellow elders. In fact, it wasn’t a loss at all but a victory over my own ever-present pride, a victory for the leadership of my fellow elders, a victory over Satan’s use of good things to tempt us into evil things, and a victory for the entire church in protection against a future tyrant who will not listen to or submit to anything or anyone but his own desires. That’s what bothered me. This sheep hadn’t seen these victories–nor had I seen them until Tuesday morning– and was unintentionally tempting me to the destruction of the leadership and potentially the church. All with an appeal to something good that I desired.
I wish I had had the presence of mind to look the member in the eye and kindly say something like, “You do realize you’re asking me to disobey the elders, don’t you?” I would hope a well-placed question like that would signal that I, too, am accountable to the elders as a whole. I would hope a question like that would signal to the member that they should not contemplate rebelling against spiritual leadership. Rather, we should submit our desires–especially our good desires–to the leading of the Lord through the leadership of the elders as a whole. Submission isn’t submission until we’re denying ourselves something we want, giving up one good alternative in favor of another good option we wouldn’t choose for ourselves.
Ninety-nine percent of after church conversations are filled with laughter, loving concern and encouraging conversation. It’s the one percent that tests our Christian character and our leadership skill. We’re not only shepherding the sheep in those moments; we should also be tending our own hearts.