I Believe

In our RBIPT (Reformed Baptist Institute of Pastoral Training) class, we were given assigned reading. One of it is Robert Paul Martin’s Introduction to A modern exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith by Sam Waldron (plus the 2nd chapter and Benjamin Bedome‘s exposition of the Baptist Catechism, questions 7-10). This introduction is about the The legitimacy and Use of Confessions. Then on Jan 30, 2021, I attended Reformed Talk PH, a ministry of Dasmariñas Community of Life Church, and they talked about creeds and confessions with the title, This Is Our Truth: The Church’s Duty to Confess her Faith (Note: featured image above is from this table talk).

Here are the things that I learned from my readings and the table talk on Creeds and Confessions (by the way, our church and I personally subscribe to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of faith):

1. A Confession is a faithful expression or execution of the Church’s divinely appointed duty

The thesis presented to us during the table talk was “The composition of creeds and confessions is a faithful execution of the Church’ divinely assigned duty to keep, uphold, teach, and proclaim God’s truth.” The church is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim 3:15). She alone carries this unique duty on earth appointed by her Master. Faithfulness to this task necessarily demands publication of confessions which we have witnessed throughout the 2000 years of the Christian faith (See here for the summaries of 13 historic creeds and confessions).

I remember when my wife asked her former pastor whether they believe in Arminianism or Calvinism. She was shocked when her pastor said that she simply needed to combine them together and that’s their doctrine of salvation.

We need to confess our faith, without a public confession for the members to read and see for themselves, they are left at the whim of their leaders who invent doctrines that may seem to fit what they wanted to believe without careful study. Confessions and creeds are indispensable in carrying out the church’s duty, and the New Testament is full of various confessions (1 John 4:2-3, Rom. 10:9-17, 1 Tim. 3:16, Matt. 16:16, Phil. 2:5–11, Deut. 6:4).

2. A Confession is a public affirmation of the truth expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture

The speaker, my friend, John Madrid provided a working definition of the confession, “A creed or confession is a restatement through human words of the sound doctrines of Scripture necessary for salvation and the well-being of the church. A creed has a valid authority in the church only by the virtue of those doctrines it contains that are taught from Scripture itself.”

Contrary to the common of objection of some as presented by Robert Martin that the confessions of faith “undermine the sole [and ultimate] authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice”, we maintain that they are affirmations of the truth contained in the Scriptures. The very first paragraph of the 1689 LBCF even states that “the Holy Scripture is the only, sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience…”

We affirm and proclaim the truth expressed in the confessions so long as they are faithful to the Scriptures. We profess without reservation that the ultimate ground of the Christian’s faith and practice is the Bible, not our confessions of faith.

With creeds and confessions, the congregation is instructed, the teaching task is more robust, members are informed, the church is guarded from damning errors, the truth is defended, the fellowship is maintained, and Christian knowledge is promoted.

3. A Confession is a peaceful proclamation of unity given to the body of Christ

Creeds and confessions are not made primarily to divide, though they are tools for discriminating truth from error. The church is mandated to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3). Robert Martin points out that “a confession aids in the protection of a church’s unity and in the preservation of its peace.” Preservation of peace and unity necessarily entails effort to define the truth that the church upholds based on the clear teaching of the Word of God.

This is one of the marks of the true church of Christ. She has unity within, and a confession enables the people of God to walk and labor together in harmony with those who hold a common confession. It is unimaginable that those who believe that Christ is a lesser god to have true and peaceful fellowship with those who believe in the One God who eternally exists in three co-equal Divine Persons.

4. A Confession is a manifestation of the historical continuity of the faith once for all delivered to the saints

A confession of faith also links us to the historicity of what we believe. We are not the first ones who studied the Bible. That’s why most of the errors and heresy that we see from some churches today are revivals of false doctrines since they hold to what we call Biblicism or Nuda Scriptura, they cry “No creed but the Bible”, and it is just the Bible and me under a tree. They rejected God’s provision and preservation of truth through faithful men whom He raised to battle heresies throughout the history of Christendom. Indeed, it can be rightly said, “Shut off the creed and the Christian world would fill up with heresy unsuspected and uncorrected, but none the less deadly (B.H. Caroll).”

With creeds and confessions, the congregation is instructed, the teaching task is more robust, members are informed, the church is guarded from damning errors, the truth is defended, the fellowship is maintained, and Christian knowledge is promoted. A church with little creed is a church with a little life. The power and usefulness of the church is increased when we have agreement in more doctrines, expressed in and through confessions.

What is your church’s confession?

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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