Tom Nettles Interviews Tom Ascol on the 1689 [Founders Journal]

Founders Journal · Summer 2005 · pp. 4-9 has an interview, conducted by Tom Nettles, with Pastor Tom Ascol on the Second London Confession of 1689. It begins:

founders journal summer 2005Start 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.[1]

Pastor Tom Ascol
Pastor Tom Ascol

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.

Dr. Tom Nettles
Dr. Tom Nettles

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?

  • Another idea you would like to cover

 

Read the entire interview.

[HT: @1689_LBCF]

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