A Confessing Church
These last few weeks we have been considering who we are as All Nations Baptist Church. This week we will consider the first of three things we do- we confess the gospel of Christ.
Who are we?
We are and seek to be a simple, local, faithful Church
What do we do?
We confess the gospel of Christ, grow in the Lord, and go out into the world.
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:16
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
When someone asks you, ‘What do you do?’ you usually say an action of movement. Whether it is, ‘I manufacture railroad track maintenance equipment’ or ‘I chase my children around,’ or ‘I write computer code.’ There is an active component to what we do. So when the first thing we do as a church is ‘confess’ I am sure someone might think I’m a bit off. No really, we should make disciples or no really, we should do ministry to the poor. We are primed to want to do something when our first action ought to be something that is actionless in a way (I know confess is a sort of action). We confess. We confess the gospel of Christ. When someone joins a new church, what is the work that they have done to be a part of that church? Their work is a response to the work of God in their lives, and it is summarized simply by the word, ‘Confession.’
In order to be a faithful church we must learn to be joyfully content in finding our greatest work in confessing the gospel of Christ. This doesn’t mean that we ought to do nothing else, but it does mean that we have to have our priorities set straight. If we are so concerned about other good things and neglect this fundamental act of the Christian church, we will not enter into the kingdom. However, if we neglect the demands of our confession on our actions, we also will not enter the kingdom. The confession calls us to devotion to our God and moral purity in our lives. You see, the fruit of the confession displays the heart of the confessor.
What is the confession? It is easy to think of confession as a thing Catholics do in booths to priests. It could also be easy for us to think of it simply in terms of confessing our sin. However, in a more traditional sense, a confession is a declaration of basic Christian doctrine. In other words it is the explanation and proclamation of our belief, and at the heart of this belief is the way of salvation, brought by our triune God as explained in the Holy Scriptures. Our doctrinal statement as a church is our confession. It declares the essential pieces of the gospel. To be a faithful church, we must get our teaching right. This is why Paul can charge Timothy, the lead elder in Ephesus, to keep a close watch on himself and his doctrine. As one of the lead teachers in Ephesus, he had better take care to proclaim what accords with the word of God and the exposition of the gospel as told through the apostles. In guarding this doctrine, he is guarding the confession of the whole church.
And we see that in Colossians 1 Paul is super concerned to proclaim Christ. Jesus Christ and his work as the center of our confession. If we do not confess Christ and his work rightly, we confess a false gospel. But when we confess the true gospel, we are equipping the church to grow and become mature. Paul’s prayer, Timothy’s prayer, your church’s pastor’s prayer is that in proclaiming Jesus Christ and him crucified, we might present you mature in Christ through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Finally, we see in Ephesians 6 how the work of the Christian primarily is to stand: when we think of battle, we think of taking the offensive, of columns of troops moving this way and that and of various schemes to attack and defeat the enemy. You could think of the famous movie depictions of battles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Most team sports have very similar but more simplistic moves. We could think of the famous ‘flying V’ in Mighty Ducks. This attack/offensive formation led the team to victory. But the Christian church’s main move is to stand; to stand firm on the confession of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In our confession, we remind ourselves why we are a church and Christians, but our confession also teaches us what we ought to share with the world.
May we never shy away from boldy confessing this gospel.