Lawful Oaths and Vows (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 23 – Lawful Oaths and Vows (In Full) 

A lawful oath is an element of religious worship in which a person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgment solemnly calls God to witness what is sworn and to judge the one swearing according to the truth or falsity of it.

People should swear by the name of God alone and only with the utmost holy fear and reverence. Therefore to swear an empty or ill-advised oath by that glorious and awe-inspiring name, or to swear at all by anything else, is sinful and to be abhorred. Yet in weighty and significant matters, an oath is authorized by the Word of God to confirm truth and end all conflict. So a lawful oath should be taken when it is required by legitimate authority in such circumstances.

Whoever takes an oath authorized by the Word of God should consider with due gravity the seriousness of such a weighty act and to affirm nothing in it except what one knows to be true. For the Lord is provoked by ill-advised, false, and empty oaths, and because of them this land mourns.

An oath is to be expressed in the plain and ordinary meaning of the words, without any ambiguity or mental reservation.

A vow must not be made to any creature but to God alone. Vows should be made and performed with the most conscientious care and faithfulness. However, Roman Catholic monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and obedience to monastic rules, are by no means steps to higher perfection. Instead, they are superstitious and sinful snares in which Christians may not entangle themselves.

Chapter 23 – Lawful Oaths and Vows (w/ Scripture) ESV

 -A lawful oath is an element of religious worship in which a person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgment solemnly calls God to witness what is sworn

(Exodus 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.)

(Deuteronomy 10:20, You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.)

(Jeremiah 4:2, and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.”)

-and to judge the one swearing according to the truth or falsity of it.

(2 Chronicles 6:22-23, “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar in this house, then hear from heaven and act and judge your servants, repaying the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness.)

-People should swear by the name of God alone and only with the utmost holy fear and reverence. Therefore to swear an empty or ill-advised oath by that glorious and awe-inspiring name, or to swear at all by anything else, is sinful and to be abhorred.

(Matthew 5:34, But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,)

(Matthew 5:37, Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.)

(James 5:12, But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.)

-Yet in weighty and significant matters, an oath is authorized by the Word of God to confirm truth and end all conflict.

(Hebrews 6:16, For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.)

(2 Corinthians 1:23, But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.)

-So a lawful oath should be taken when it is required by legitimate authority in such circumstances.

(Nehemiah 13:25, And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.)

-Whoever takes an oath authorized by the Word of God should consider with due gravity the seriousness of such a weighty act and to affirm nothing in it except what one knows to be true. For the Lord is provoked by ill-advised, false, and empty oaths, and because of them this land mourns.

(Leviticus 19:12, You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.)

(Jeremiah 23:10, For the land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land mourns, and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. Their course is evil, and their might is not right.)

-An oath is to be expressed in the plain and ordinary meaning of the words, without any ambiguity or mental reservation.

(Psalms 24:4, He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.)

-A vow must not be made to any creature but to God alone. Vows should be made and performed with the most conscientious care and faithfulness.

(Psalms 76:11, Make your vows to the Lord your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared,)

(Genesis 28:20–22, Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”)

-However, Roman Catholic monastical vows of perpetual single life,

(1 Corinthians 7:2, But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.)

(1 Corinthians 7:9, But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.)

-professed poverty,

(Ephesians 4:28, Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.)

-and obedience to monastic rules, are by no means steps to higher perfection. Instead, they are superstitious and sinful snares in which Christians may not entangle themselves.

(Matthew 19:11, But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.)

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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