Puritan Gems

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Elements Of Reformed Worship #3

The Confession of Faith

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

Reformed Worship is Confessional. In today's "do-it-yours-own-way" church environment, one may wonder about the importance of confessional worship. Confessional worship serves as a reminder of the gospel, as well as clarifies what the church believes.

Paul was addressing the above passage to Christians. He was writing "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:" (1 Corinthians 1:2). Yet even though they were Christians, Paul saw a need to "remind" them of the gospel that they received. Furthermore, Paul also received it. The gospel is not a human invention, but it is that which is received and passed on to others. As such, a biblical confession of faith is invaluable.

The corporate confession of faith is also an answer to the question, "Christian, what do you believe?" The confession of faith identifies who we are, and separates those who do not believe. As such, confessions of faith are a great tool to guard against errant doctrine. It is quite possible to sit in many churches today for months without knowing exactly what the saints there actually believe. The confessions of faith make clear what the Christian believes, and is to be professed corporately in public worship.

"The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says,"Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." (Romans 10:8-11)

The Church has a vast and rich collection of confessions of faith that have been passed on to us by saints of the past, and we should not hesitate to use all or part of them as corporate confessions in our worship. Some of the best and most popular are as follows:

The Apostle's Creed

The Nicene Creed

The Athanasian Creed

The Council of Chalcedon

The Heidelberg Catechism

The Belgic Confession

The Westminster Confession

Recommended Reading: With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship by Hart and Muether


Les said...

Thanks for this series. Every congregation could use a heavy dose of this teaching. So called Reformed Worship these days too often looks nothing like this. Many of them have never even heard of the Apostle's Creed and couldn't tell you what that church confession of faith even is.

Puritan Lad said...

Thanks Les. In addition, proper worship is a subject that few Christians consider today. The idea that God does not approve of any type of worship is foreign to them.

August said...

PL, I really like this series. However, even though you titled it as Reformed Worship, it would be equally valid as Biblical Worship, a novel concept for most churches today.

Puritan Lad said...

Correct. When it comes to how we worship God, it seems that the last thing that people consider is the question, "What does God like?"