A Compelling Case for a Confession of Faith – Part 1

A Compelling Case for a Confession of Faith – Part 1

Every Local Church’s Duty

In Ephesians 6:14, Paul instructs the church at Ephesus to gird themselves with truth. Similarly, 1 Timothy 3:15 calls the church the pillar and buttress of the truth.

It is the church’s job to:

1. Protect the truth – the truth has enemies. Chief of which is Satan and his lies.

2. Promote the truth – the church is not just on the defensive. We are storming the gates of hell and proclaiming the truth of God in Christ.

3. Perpetuate the truth – the church in each generation is responsible pass on the truth to the next generation.

In order to accomplish these sacred duties, our triune God has given the church a Book. A Book that we affirm is the inerrant, infallible, necessary, clear, authoritative, and sufficient Word of the living God. This Book has been attacked. It has been confiscated. It has been burned. It has been torn to pieces. And yet, here it remains today.

With that being said, let me share a little quote here and see if you agree with it: “Our appeal is to the Bible for Truth.”

I agree wholeheartedly with this quote at face value, but there is a grave problem. This quote actually comes from a book written in 1946 seeking to defend the false religion of the Jehovah Witnesses. Thus, the problem. Both the Baptist and the Jehovah Witness appeal to the Scriptures as their final authority.

Now, this does not give us a problem for the Bible. Men’s misuse of the Bible is not a problem of the Bible, but a problem of fallen man. This, then, is where I will make the case for a confession of faith.

A confession of faith is meant to be a servant of the Bible. It is subservient to the Bible and seeks to point us to the Bible and say, essentially, “We are not only saying the Bible is the highest authority here but also that we are not ashamed to actually say in writing what we believe this Book teaches.”

So, a confession of faith is simply man’s attempt to say, “Here is what we confess the Bible teaches.” The Bible ultimately needs no defender. It is, as they say, the anvil that has broken many hammers. But a confession of faith is saying to the world, “When we gird ourselves with truth, this is what we mean by truth. This is what we believe the Bible says.”

Spurgeon once preached, “Whatever we find in this Book, that we are to state.” And so, this is what a confessional church seeks to do. We lay out our doctrine. We confess these truths. And we don’t just give vague or nuanced positions, but rather stand for what it is we believe the Scriptures teach.

A Simple Reality

Truthfully, a confession of faith is not a necessity so much as it is just a reality. That is, everyone believes something about the Bible. You can write down what you believe, or you can choose not to write it down, but it doesn’t change the fact that you confess something about the Bible.

So, to reject a confession of faith denies reality. Thus, a confessional church acknowledges this reality and says, “we are going to actually own this and articulate what we believe instead of pretending that we don’t have beliefs about the Bible.”

With that said, let me give you 4 problems with rejecting a confession of faith:

1. It denies reality – as mentioned, everyone believes something about the Bible. To say something like “No Creed but the Bible!” is actually, a creedal statement. To say you don’t like confessions of faith is to pretend as though you don’t have already have a confession of faith. But you do. Everyone has a set of beliefs.

So, to reject a confession of faith denies reality. Thus, a confessional church acknowledges this reality and says, “we are going to actually own this and articulate what we believe instead of pretending that we don’t have beliefs about the Bible.”

2. It is Historical Snobbery – that is, it says in the 21st century we are smarter than everyone else in history and we don’t need them.

3. It is an adoption of hyper-individuality. In essence, it says well, all that matters is what I personally believe, and I don’t need to confess truth along with the church.

4. It ignores our present condition –

We live in a world today, an American culture I should say, that is apostatizing before our eyes. We are watching the SBC, the largest once staunchly conservative evangelical denomination, drift before our eyes.

We are watching the phenomenon of what people call “deconstructing” from the faith, people who claim they grew up evangelical, but now are walking away from the faith or embracing all sorts of unbiblical things to add to Christianity.

Who could look at this current state and say, “What we need today is less truth. Less clarity. Less precision.”?  It is foolish to look at our present condition and to say we just need to keep making the tent bigger to let more people in. No! All this has done is play right into the Evil One’s hands.

Thus, it is every local church’s responsibility before God to gird ourselves with truth. We must protect the truth, promote the truth, and perpetuate the truth until Jesus returns for His Bride.

Serving Not Shaping

A good confession of faith is merely a servant to the Scriptures. A biblical confession of faith does not shape the Bible, but serves it. Don’t press these analogies too far, but let me give a couple of illustrations:

1. If the Bible is a delicious steak, a good confession of faith is a plate, knife, and fork. It helps serve the steak. It helps digest the steak. It does not add to or stand in authority over the steak.

2. If the Bible is gold, a good confession of faith is a chest to carry it in. It helps pass the gold on from one generation to the next. It helps keep nefarious characters from trying to scuff up or steal or harm the gold in some way. The chest serves the gold. It does not add value to it.

Ultimately, what a good confession of faith does is help us use the truth rightly in order stand against the Evil One’s lies.

So far, we’ve covered introductory issues on why ever local church should have a confession of faith. In the next post, I’ll give you 5 positive reasons for a local church to have a good confession.

Allen S. Nelson IV is the pastor of Perryville Second Baptist Church in Perryville, AR, where he resides with his wife Stephanie, and their 5 children. Allen is the author of From Death to Life: How Salvation Works and Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness . His other titles include blogger, rookie podcaster, and occasional conference speaker. Most importantly, he is a recipient of the undeserved grace of God.
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