Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience (1689)

By S.C. Shaw

The London Baptist Confession of faith is a beautiful and rich confession of the reformed Christian faith. I simply included the scriptures they reference after each section written out. It is a beautiful meditation and devotion time to read through. I pray you are blessed by it and it helps you see the bigness of God, exalt Christ higher and live by the power of the Holy Spirit more each day. There is no perfect and infallible authority except God’s Words revealed in the Bible. But there is much Christians can and should learn from other godly men and women.

Link to full confession: http://founders.org/1689-confession/

Chapter 21 – Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience (In Full) 

The liberty Christ has purchased for believers under the gospel is found in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, and the severity and curse of the law. It also includes their deliverance from this present evil age, bondage to Satan, the dominion of sin, the suffering of afflictions, the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation. In addition, it includes their free access to God and their obedience to him, not from slavish fear but from a childlike love and willing mind.

All these liberties were also enjoyed in their essence by believers under the law. But under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further expanded. They are free from the yoke of the ceremonial law to which the Jewish congregation was subjected; they have greater confidence of access to the throne of grace; and they have a fuller supply of God’s free Spirit than believers under the law usually experienced.

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and he has left it free from human doctrines and commandments that are in any way contrary to his word or not contained in it. So, believing such doctrines, or obeying such commands out of conscience, is a betrayal of true liberty of conscience. Requiring implicit faith or absolute and blind obedience destroys liberty of conscience and reason as well.

Those who use Christian liberty as an excuse to practice any sin or nurture any sinful desire pervert the main objective of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction, and they completely destroy the purpose of Christian liberty. This purpose is that we, having been delivered from the hands of all our enemies, may serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our lives.

 

Chapter 21 – Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience (w/ Scripture) ESV

-The liberty Christ has purchased for believers under the gospel is found in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, and the severity and curse of the law.

(Galatians 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”)

-It also includes their deliverance from this present evil age,

(Galatians 1:4, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,)

-bondage to Satan,

(Acts 26:18, to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’)

-the dominion of sin,

(Romans 8:3, For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,)

-the suffering of afflictions,

(Romans 8:28, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.)

-the fear and sting of death, the victory of the grave,

(1 Corinthians 15:54–57, When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.)

-and everlasting damnation.

(2 Thessalonians 1:10, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.)

-In addition, it includes their free access to God and their obedience to him, not from slavish fear

(Romans 8:15, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”)

-but from a childlike love and willing mind.

(Luke 1:73–75, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.)

(1 John 4:18, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.)

-All these liberties were also enjoyed in their essence by believers under the law.

(Galatians 3:9, So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.)

(Galatians 3:14, so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.)

-But under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further expanded. They are free from the yoke of the ceremonial law to which the Jewish congregation was subjected; they have greater confidence of access to the throne of grace; and they have a fuller supply of God’s free Spirit than believers under the law usually experienced.

(John 7:38-39, Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)

(Hebrews 10:19–21, Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,)

-God alone is Lord of the conscience,

(James 4:12, There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?)

(Romans 14:4, Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.)

-and he has left it free from human doctrines and commandments that are in any way contrary to his word or not contained in it.

(Acts 4:19, But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,)

(Acts 4:29, And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,)

(1 Corinthians 7:23, You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.)

(Matthew 15:9, in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”)

-So, believing such doctrines, or obeying such commands out of conscience, is a betrayal of true liberty of conscience.

(Colossians 2:20, If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations)

(Colossians 2:22-23, (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.)

-Requiring implicit faith or absolute and blind obedience destroys liberty of conscience and reason as well.

(1 Corinthians 3:5, What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.)

(2 Corinthians 1:24, Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.)

-Those who use Christian liberty as an excuse to practice any sin or nurture any sinful desire pervert the main objective of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction,

(Romans 6:1-2, What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?)

-and they completely destroy the purpose of Christian liberty. This purpose is that we, having been delivered from the hands of all our enemies, may serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our lives.

(Galatians 5:13, For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.)

(2 Peter 2:18, For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.)

(2 Peter 2:21, For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.)

Closing.

Please don’t let my word or any mans word be the final word on this. Pick up the bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

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