“Today…”*, Make Your Confession Sure.
Hey, ho, marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Exhausted, depleted from running the Godly, good, and a-blessing-to-others race? Welcome. Sit. Relax.
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth, pure doctrine of the Bible
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment
The Big, Historical, Awesome Confessions, Catechisms of the Faith
In preparation for writing The Training Table this week I read, re-read some great Protestant Confessions, Catechisms of the Faith. It’s a highly rewarding, feast-fulfilling thing to do—and do over regularly.
As I read and marinated in these amazing documents and tenets of the faith, I thought of what “Confession” means; how The Great Confessions have, by and large, fallen into disuse and “dis-memberment” for many audience-congregants of the Western church; how any particular Confession of the Faith includes a smaller, more abbreviated version used for the purpose of “catechizing” [to instruct orally by means of questions and answers, especially in Christian doctrine] born-again adults and youth of the church for the purpose of discipleship; how I wrote a 28-part series, in a similar vein, about The Planks of the Faith, and lastly, how vital it is to piece together our own, personal confession of our faith—our story, and the circumstances and time when we came to a repenetant and saving faith in Jesus Christ a Savior and Lord.
Please read, or at least skim, peruse… these historic church documents and outstanding articulations of the faith—they are indeed a feast of and for the born-again AND desperately needy, seeking, teachable, and maturing heart!
The Nicene Creed, by the First Council of Nicaea, 325
The Westminster Confession of Faith, by The Assembly of the Divines, 1646
The Heidelberg Catechism, by Zacharius Ursinus, others, 1563
The Scottish Confession of Faith (1560), by John Knox, 1560
A Puritan Catechism, by Charles Spurgeon, 1855
The Canons of Dordt, [an exposition on the five points of doctrine in dispute. The five points of Calvinism], by The National Synod, 1618-19
CATECHISM FOR YOUNG CHILDREN, an introduction to the Westminster Shorter Catechism
The “A” and “My” of Making a Confession
A confession, by definition… a) “acknowledgment; avowal; admission “a formal, usually written, acknowledgment of guilt by a person accused of a crime”, b) “Also called ‘a confession of faith’: A formal and public profession of belief and acceptance of doctrines; as part of telling of one’s conversion; as before being admitted to church membership”
a) Confession of Sin: So what does confession actually look like? Here are a few pointers:
“Confession is specific. Like most things in life and in the Christian life in particular, speaking in specifics is superior to speaking in generalities. We commit specific sins and need to confess them specifically. Consider, for example, someone who struggles with feelings of jealousy. Praying “I confess that I am a jealous person” is less specific than praying “I confess that I am jealous of the talents You have given to someone else.”
Confess the consequences. True confession involves looking not just at the sin we commit but also at how this sin has affected us. It is more than an admission of guilt but is a process of soul-searching to see where sin has taken root in our lives. So we need to search our souls and then confess not only the sin but also the effects of the sin. “I confess that I am jealous of the talents you have given to someone else” is a good place to start, but praying “I confess I am jealous of the talents you have given someone else, and this makes me resentful towards You for not blessing me in this way. It also damages my relationship towards this person” shows that I have searched my soul and seen how my sin has affected me.
Confession precedes forgiveness. Confession leads us to ask for forgiveness. Confessing leads us to fall on our faces before God, literally or figuratively, to ask for forgiveness. A confession is not, in itself, enough. In our court system a criminal may plead guilty for a misdeed, but this does not necessarily indicate that he is sorry for what he has done. Similarly we need to ask God for His forgiveness, not just confess our sins to Him.
Confession before someone we have harmed. There may be times where our sin requires us to confess and ask forgiveness from someone our sin has affected. One must be careful with this because there are times when our sin should remain only between ourselves and God, especially if revealing it to others would only hurt them and damage relationships.
Confession before Men. At times it may be wise to confess our sins before a friend or other trusted individual. This person can then pray with us, pray for us, and help us believe in God’s assurance of forgiveness.
Having confessed and asked for forgiveness, we have God’s assurance that He has forgiven us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” We need to believe in this promise, believing that our sins have been paid for by Christ. Naturally, our reaction should now be one of joy as we thank God for allowing Christ to take our sin upon Himself. Finally, having confessed to Him and having thanked Him for forgiveness, we can pour out our requests to Him, asking that He would help us turn from our sin and become more and more like His Son.” (Tim Challis)
b) The Confession of the Saved: Crossing over the divide, chasm between unbelief and belief (1 John 1:9; Psalm 51; James 5:16; Hebrews 9:14) is an event that is akin to the magnitude of the story of Creation itself (Genesis 1,2). Yes, it’s that big: Because it’s RE-creation on the scale of being brought back from the dead; or, put another way, how the Trinity worked together to bring everything out of nothing “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1:1-2). When God, the Bible, promises, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ezekiel 11:17-21), it is indeed NOT a metaphor, hyperbole, or Hallmark Card sentiment: It’s true! And either IS, or CAN BE, true of you!
“When it comes to race, ‘issues of race,’ or all of humanity and people groups, the Bible from front to back is clear: God defines all of humanity as being in one or another race of people: those who believe and those who do not. So, as an example, when it comes to allowing or prohibting an ‘interracial marriage’, God’s design and desire is that both people are Christians… of the same ‘race’… equally yoked… color has no bearing on it.” (Pastor Tim Keller)
So what is your own, personal, infinitely-intimate confession of faith?
“But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved…” (Romans 10:9).
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
Know Your Story…
—The Before and After of Your Faith—
And All the Details of Your Life Will Take Their Rightful Place!
“Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV)
Please do not go another day without recollecting, writing out your story, and your confession of faith, Beloved of God: God’s deepest desire if that He [Father, Son, Holy Spirit] be glorified by His most gracious Plan of Redemption… IN YOU. In your loved ones. In those whom God providentially places in your life.
What is your “BC—before Christ—Story”? What is your “after Christ”, conversion story?
How does it relate to the love, truth, ironies, and details God has ordained just for you?
Have you worked on “the big narrative” of your story? As well as “the elevator speech” version?
Do you get up in the morning excited about how God is going to provide you as many chances as you want to tell your story, confession, testimony?
Do those whom God has placed closest to you know all the details of the above? In not, why not?
Please do not let the world’s ways, the flesh [your sin], or the devil entice you to delay, Beloved! There has never been a time where more people need your story—and how God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit radically rescued you to offer your confession of the faith.
Hope to see you at the Training Table the next time we sup together… in order to be spiritually fed, encouraged, stretched, and strengthened, to serve,
To Be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future, by Dan Allender