A Confession of faith is defined as a “formal statement of doctrinal belief ordinarily intended for public avowal by an individual, a group, a congregation, a synod, or a church; confessions are similar to creeds, although usually more extensive. They are especially associated with the churches of the Protestant Reformation. See also creed.”
A quick internet search will find links to confessions of faith from virtually every major denomination on the planet. From the Baptists, to the Westminster and anyone in between that wants to set delineated differences in their doctrinal beliefs or even in significant variations in stylization of worship itself, Confessions of Faith, Creeds and Statements permeate the world of Christendom. Some of these Confessions have come to be based on years or decades of serious debate and honest theological reviews of scripture. Some have been modified over the years to accommodate alternate interpretations or understandings of passages of scripture as new ancient materials have been found. Some have changed for good reasons and some have changed for bad.
While some of these Confessions or Creeds are used to (in part) define Christianity’s dogma, others have been used to enslave followers into a system of belief that leads them away from the truth of scripture. For this reason, while I hold some Confessions useful for their merit, I generally do not generally speaking support the idea of Creeds and Confessions, as there are far too many, and debating to an amicable conclusion the minutiae of each Confession or Creed is quite literally an impossible task, and furthermore, I feel it adds more confusion than it would solve. So while you may hold to a Confession of Faith from your church or denomination – what does it mean to you? You may be able to recite that Confession, but more importantly, are you living it?
A confession of faith, is far more than just partaking of a simple Baptism or repeatedly reciting a Catechism or Creed. It is more than just simply stating ‘I believe in Jesus’. A confession of faith is a LIFE STATEMENT. It’s how you live. A Confession of faith is not just being able to recite that Creed, or even being able to explain it. It’s showing that you believe it in the way that you live your life. It is a practical and very visible expression of our love for God.
If we believe what we confess as out beliefs and putting aside all minor differences in denominations and firmly abiding in the solid tenets of the Christian faith, we must be unwavering where God is unwavering. We must at all time be prepared to support scripture and truth as God has explained it to us in His Word, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, Sola Scriptura – at all times. Charles Spurgeon had this to say about it:
Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example adorn your creed. Above all live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit. Cleave fast to the Word of God which is here mapped out for you.” C. H. Spurgeon
When you confess your faith people notice. Doing good deeds, helping the needy, giving to the homeless shelter, supporting a just cause, or even just regular tithing – these things do not go unnoticed. Those who receive your acts of kindness notice, the church notices your tithing and giving, the family that receives your donated food, they notice, and ultimately, God notices. But really, these are easy things. Yes, they might cost you some money or some time, but they are “feel good” examples. Please do not get me wrong, I’m not saying that these items listed are not worthy, or are not good and right – as they are. But what I am saying is that is is not hard to get yourself to do them. You’re making people feel good, or helping in a very tangible way. God knows this and He is very appreciative I’m sure.
But what if your expression of your confession of faith was harder? What if during a lunch break at work, or at the dinner table at Thanksgiving, someone mentions their support for gay marriage or abortion rights. What then? Will you be equally willing to make your confession of faith then? What if your confession of faith might actually cost you something – like a friendship, or a promotion at work? Then what?
Your confession of faith is many things, but more than anything it is how you show your love for your Creator, by standing against the things of the world and for the things of God. It’s taking a stand, and standing FIRM in the truth if the Word of God even in the face of strong, vocal, or even abusive opposition from people who disagree. It’s standing firm in denying false teachings, and asking people to explain their position – especially when it is unbiblical. A confession of faith is dying to self, setting pride and position aside and standing against the things of the world – come-what-may.
Consider a couple of common issues facing Christians in America today. Abortion and a homosexual lifestyle.
When asked, will you be willing to stand for God and making it clear and in no uncertain terms that abortion is murder? Yes, we must be patient, loving and kind, but we must also be honest, and true to our faith. Christians in this nation have every right to express their thoughts on this issue, and a solemn duty as a Christian to do the same when asked. When confronted with making a declaration one way or another, do not be afraid to confess your faith by sharing that life is precious and that abortion is murder. Scripture also clearly indicates that a homosexual lifestyle is a sin, and that God finds this behavior abhorrent. This expression of God’s will is present in both the Old and New Testament, and permeates scripture.
A confession of faith not only means being able to support your position of faith, it also means not getting upset for being asked to do so – as scripture requires us to do so. This most especially applies to those who self-identify as Christians, but stand against God on many social issues like abortion and gay marriage. If you call yourself a Christian, being able to show a reason for your belief applies to you as well. A confession of faith means not pulling the “don’t judge me” card, the “you’re a racist” card. It means not not using the inflammatory “you’re a bigot”, “God is Love, not hate” or “you’re a homophobe” card hoping to end the conversation because you have been asked by another professing Christian to explain with chapter and verse, how the bible supports your stand on social issues. Be ready to explain yourself. If you cannot, seek assioatance, or ask God for clarification on your heart to the real truth.
For many people their confession ends early of action, and falls short. Some are totally willing to confess these things in front of their pastor or priest, some will confess them in a room of hundreds of others who will confess them with them. They’ll live them out in giving to the poor, needy and hungry, but turn away when it comes to making a defense or answering for one’s faith. Perhaps now you can see why these are the “easy” confessions, perhaps now you can see why Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls this “Cheap Grace”. As a Christian, you need to be able to take your confession a step further. Be prepared, as we instructed, to offer a ‘reason for the hope that is in you’. If you are not yet prepared to do so – get prepared. Ask for help, join a bible study, get plugged in at church, there are lots of ways to build your defense – but it does take action.
In the end, don’t be the Christian who kicks him or herself after the moment thinking, “why didn’t I say…”. Don’t be that Christian that wishes they would have said more or done more. Don’t be that Christian who had an opportunity to make an impact on someone’s life by living out what they believe – but didn’t seize the moment.
(2 Tim. 1:13), to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints”(Jude 3), and to “stand fast with one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel”(Phil. 1:27)