What do you believe? Are you a Christian? How do you articulate what you believe to others? Can you define clearly the truth of the gospel and hold fast to it in the midst of criticism? These are all valid questions that each of us should ask ourselves. There is great value in experience and actually walking in the way of Christ. It’s what all of his followers are expected to do. We are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. But we cannot be doers of that which we do not know. Knowing the word and doing what it says are like diet and exercise. You can excercise for hours, but if you are not taking in the proper nutrients your body needs, your exercise will lack the fuel required for it to be done properly. In the same way, we take the time to study and know what the doctrines of the Bible are so that we would be able to properly live by them. This brings me to the point. We will be going through the 1689 Confession of Faith on this blog for the forseeable future. We will take it a section at a time and break down its contents that we might be sharpened in our knowledge of the doctrines of the Bible. You can find and read the confession here, and I encourage you to do so.
WHY A CONFESSION?
I know some may think, “Why do we need to read something like this? Isn’t it just something men have put together? Why not just read our Bibles?” It’s understandable why one would think this, and thus I think it is necessary to clarify some things. Creeds and confessions are NOT and NEVER will be a replacement for reading the Scriptures. God has graciously given us his Word, and I would argue that there is no greater treasure we have on this earth. Never stop seeking him in his Word. The purpose of this confession is not to replace the Scriptures, but rather it is to clearly lay out the doctrines found in them. You will notice after each paragraph there are many references to the Scriptures, and they are there for us to read and understand why the doctrines are defined the way that they are.
WHAT IF I DON’T AGREE WITH THE CONFESSION?
These doctrines can be very weighty, and some of them may challenge your thinking on several things that you thought you had all figured out. So what should you do if you feel this tension start to develop in you? Take a deep breath. Pray. And seek the Lord in his word, especially using the referenced passages. It is a healthy thing to wrestle with the doctrines of Scripture. If you have questions or want to further discuss some of the things in the confession, reach out to us (your pastors) and we would be happy to meet with you and walk through these things together. We all should have a healthy understanding that this document is not inerrant, but the Scriptures are. That is not to say that we believe there are major errors in the 1689. It seems to us there are not, otherwise we would not be walking through it with you.
WHY IS THIS BENEFICIAL FOR OUR CHURCH?
How is it helpful for our church to walk through this confession? Well, besides the wrestling together mentioned above, it is also helpful because it brings us closer together in unity. When we can confess what we believe together, we are able to better live out what we believe together also. The gospel-driven community that we want to thrive at the Hill Church is helped by having unity in our doctrine. Confessions and creeds are tools meant to help us do just that. That is why we have a statement of faith that our covenant members must confess, which can be found here. Unity around the Word is what we seek, and going through this confession is a tool that will help us come together. The Word itself is what we believe, but many have taken it out of context and twisted it to mean something that it does not. That is why we need confessions, creeds, and statements of faith. Not because they replace the Word in any way, but because they help us clearly define the doctrines found within it.