Ukraine Mission - Outreach To Reformed Churches in Ukraine

Reformed Christian

The Legitimacy and Use of Confessions of Faith  by Dr. Robert Martin
(The following is an excerpt from the conclusion of Dr. Martin's booklet.)

Modern Christianity is awash in a flood of doctrinal relativity. Satan and his forces love the imprecision and ambiguity which are rampant in our day. Spurgeon observed in his day, “The arch-enemy of truth has invited us to level our walls and take away our fenced cities.” One wonders what Spurgeon would say, were he alive today and could see how far the downgrade has gone.

Those of us who love these old standards have the duty of earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. We should not surrender our confessions without a fight. As Spurgeon said, speaking of the importance of confessions, “Weapons which are offensive to our enemies should never be allowed to rust.” The great reformed confessions were hammered out on the anvil of conflict for the faith and they have flown as banners wherever the battle for truth has raged. Where men have abandoned these statements of biblical religion, where latitudinarian opinions have reigned, the cause of God and truth has suffered greatly.

An unwillingness to define with precision the faith that it professes to believe is a symptom that something is desperately wrong with a church and its leadership. It is impossible for such a church to function as “the pillar and ground of the truth,” for it is unwilling to define or defend the truth which it professes to hold. The reality of the current situation is that it is not so much the confessions as the churches that are on trial in our day.

Alongside of our appreciation for the great reformed confessions, we must remember that each generation must ground its faith in the Bible. People’s faith must not be. rooted only in an allegiance to the confession. In our churches we must seek to make followers of Christ, not just Baptists, or Presbyterians, or Reformed. The confession must not become simply a tradition held without personal conviction rooted in the Word of God. As Professor Murray observed, “When any generation is content to rely upon its theological heritage and refuses to explore for itself the riches of divine revelation, then declension is already under way and heterodoxy will be the lot of the succeeding generation.”

The question of honesty comes into view when we address the issue of confessions of faith. Both for churches and for individuals, subscription to a confession ought to be an act marked by moral integrity and truthfulness. Who would dispute the premise that a church should be faithful to its published standards or that a man should be what he says that he is? Yet sadly many churches have departed from their confession while still claiming adherence to the old standards. And many ministers claim allegiance to their church’s Confession, when in truth they object to (or have serious mental reservations about) particular articles of faith.

When a church departs from the old paths, if it will not return, let it publicly disavow its confession. While it may grieve us to see such defection from truth, and though the enemies of truth may seize the opportunity to slander and rail, surely it is better and more honest than for the church to continue in hypocrisy.

And what is true of corporate life is also true of personal honesty. Samuel Miller argued that subscribing to a creed is a solemn transaction “which ought to be entered upon with much deep deliberation and humble prayer; and in which, if a man be bound to be sincere in any thing, he is bound to be honest to his God, honest to himself, and honest to the church which he joins.”  Miller goes on to say, “For myself, I know of no transaction, in which insincerity is more justly chargeable with the dreadful sin of ‘lying to the Holy Ghost,’ than in this.”

In closing I must appeal to pastors. Most of us affirmed adherence to a confession before hands were laid on us. Brethren, we are under solemn obligation before God to walk in the unity of faith in the congregations in which we labor. If we cannot do this honestly, if our views change substantially, we should withdraw and find a group to which we can join ourselves without duplicity. If we are unwilling to do this, we are no longer blameless and without reproach; and, therefore, we are disqualified for the ministry.

One Soul Would Be Full Reward For All Our Labor

“If there existed only one man or woman who did not love the Savior, and if that person lived among the wilds of Siberia, and if it were necessary that all the millions of believers on the face of the earth should journey there, and every one of them plead with him to come to Jesus before he could be converted, it would be well worth all the zeal, labor, and expense. If we had to preach to thousands year after year, and never rescued but one soul, that one soul would be full reward for all our labor, for a soul is of countless price.”

                                                                  - Charles Spurgeon
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