Why Do We Do What We Do in Worship? #10 - The Confession of Faith
Why Do We Do What We Do In Worship?
#10 — The Confession of Faith
Just as the gospel shapes the individual life of a Christian, so also it should fashion the corporate life of the church and in particular the corporate worship of the church. And because we are prone to forget the good news of what God has done for us, corporate worship, in both form and content, should point us to the gospel.
While a public profession of faith formally unites a person into the membership of the church, confessing our common faith on a weekly basis causes us to remember that the Christian life, in addition to being a life of ongoing repentance, is a life of continuing to believe and trust in the Triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Here at Grace and Peace we use confessions of faith that are biblically derived and affirm what Christians have historically believed. Confessions or creeds are summary statements of belief (Latin, credo = I believe), and they have been used by Christians for centuries as a means of both learning and expressing their faith.
We use well known ecumenical (that is, relating to the worldwide church) statements of faith from the time of the early church such as the Apostles’ Creed (3rd century) and the Nicene Creed (4th century) as well as catechisms and confessions of faith from the time of the Protestant Reformation such as the Heidelberg Catechism (16th century) and the Westminster Confession of Faith (17th century).
Now you may be thinking, “Isn’t reciting a creed or confession of faith just an act of superfluous tradition?” That may well be the case if you do not believe what you are saying and are just “going through the motions”. However, if you really do believe what you are saying then participating in a corporate confession of faith is a tremendous means of strengthening your faith by focusing your thoughts on the true nature of God and his gospel as made known in the Bible.
You may also be familiar with expressions such as “No creed but Christ” or “No creed but the Bible”. These appear to be reasonable statements, but further reflection leads us to ask questions such as “What do we believe about Jesus?” and “What do we believe the Bible teaches?” Thus confessions of faith, while subordinate to and under the authority of the Bible, are vitally important by helping us understand what we believe the Bible teaches about things such as man, sin, salvation, and the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Finally, a public confession of faith helps to keep us humble and prevent what C. S. Lewis termed, “Chronological snobbery”. It helps us to remember that the church is not just located in our time and place but in all times and in all places. As G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “I will not call it [Christianity] my philosophy; for I did not make it . . . It made me.” Publically confessing the historic Christian faith in worship reminds us that we have been given the faith that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).