Why We Are Advocates of Historic Confessions of Faith

We have produced several resources to encourage churches and families to embrace a historic confession of faith of the quality of the Westminster Confession of Faith or the 1689 London Baptist Confession. We have delivered lectures, directed specifically of church leaders and fathers on the confession called, “Foundations in Sound Doctrine,” produced a 32 session DVD set designed for families called, Family Foundations in Sound Doctrine and packaged a full set of resources for learning from these confessions in this set.

We have based our resources on the London Baptist Confession of 1689 as an example for how we might understand confessions in general. This confession is a deep mine, filled with the everlasting treasuries of redemption. It reveals God to us. It helps us to think like Christians. It summarizes vast resources of wisdom from heaven. This is why the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 is a wonderful resource for churches and families. There is no greater blessing to the human soul, to the family, to the church, and to the state than when minds are filled up with the riches of the knowledge of God.

A Strategic Purpose 

In the introduction to this confession, the authors appeal to heads of households to teach these things of sound doctrine to their families. In the following section entitled “Letter to the Reader,” you will notice how they appeal to “begin at home” and to remember that so much “decay of religion” can be traced to a father’s neglect of family worship and instruction. They condemn heads of families who do not train, instruct, and catechize. They warn that their children’s blood will be on their hands. This is why the authors of this confession intended that it be a tool to be used in families. The authors of this confession clearly understood and promoted the role of the family in upholding sound doctrine. God has given these confessions of faith, not only to churches and individuals, but also to families to use to instruct children in sound doctrine. Our prayer is that your family will enjoy many happy hours of learning, growing, and rejoicing in the wisdom of God that springs from every sentence of this confession.

A Time of Doctrinal Confusion

We live in a time of doctrinal confusion. Even a basic knowledge of God, as displayed in this confession, is unknown to most Christians. The average churchgoer seems completely disconnected from clear thinking about God. As a result church people are fuzzy on the Gospel and brain dead on the Law. This confession clears the confusion.

Basic Theology?

Most people alive today would consider this confession a course in advanced theology. On the contrary, when it was penned, it was thought to be a basic theology that even children could understand. This shows how far we have slipped in modern times, and it should wake us up to the urgency of bringing the whole counsel of God to the rising generation.

How Important Are Confessions?

It is critical to determine the importance of confessions. Confessions are not equivalent to the Bible, nor do they take the place of it. Rather, they systematize the overall teaching of the Bible in an orderly fashion in order to answer various questions that Christians need to have answered.

Scripture is the foundation of all doctrine, and the Second London Baptist Confession has its foundation in Scripture alone. Paul declares that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). What you find in the confession is an exposition of Scripture on the categories that it presents. Confessions are simply summaries of “sound words” spoken of in 2 Timothy 1:13-14. Paul says, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words.” One way we do that is by explaining them in confessional form.

Protection from Fads and Movements

This confession has proven its value in the fact that it is a time- tested creed. It’s not new. Why is that important? One reason is we’re part of a flow of history. When we come up with our own creeds, we’re saying that we’re doing something new. We’re saying that we’re striking out on our own, when in fact, we really ought to be appealing to historic Christian doctrine. Enduring doctrinal statements are very important, because they keep us from fads and movements. They protect us from being “carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14).

Who Embraced This Confession?

While this was the confession of Baptist Puritans, it did not die with them. It was embraced by preachers like Charles H. Spurgeon, John Bunyan, John Gill; theologians like John A. Broadus and B. H. Carroll; Baptist missionaries like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, and Lottie Moon; Southern Baptist founders like Basil Manly, Sr., W. B. Johnson,    R. B. C. Howell, P. H. Mell, James P. Boyce, and John L. Dagg. When you embrace this confession, you join the ranks of a long line of saints who have embraced this confession.

How Important Is Doctrinal Knowledge?

It would be a mistake to think that all we have to do is know the facts contained in this confession. Knowing doctrine should never be an end in itself, but rather, a means to an end. But does that mean that knowledge should not be a goal? Of course not! Knowledge should also be a goal. Just because knowledge is not the ultimate end does not mean that it should not be a goal. We should set ourselves to the goal of knowing God.

Sound Doctrine Can Be Useless

The modern church suffers from such a severe case of doctrine phobia that there are many who consider doctrine to be useless. There are many reasons people are afraid of doctrine. For example, an emphasis on doctrine can produce an empty, dead, perfunctory orthodoxy. We all have known people who have fat heads and skinny hearts. They are brainiacs without love. It is easy enough to have heads full of information but little transformation. J. C. Ryle stated, “Sound Protestant and evangelical doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life.”b The fact that cold hearts for God can exist in a body with a full head of doctrine should not lead us to avoid doctrine.

But doctrine is not useless. The famous preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon declared to his church that the value of this confession is that it makes you fit for controversy, faith, edification, and righteousness. It is the place where the younger members of the church will find a compass. He says:

This little volume is not issued as an authoritative rule, or code of faith, whereby you are to be fettered, but as an assistance to you in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. Here the younger members of our church will have a body of divinity in small compass, and by means of the scriptural proofs, will be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them. 

Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient Gospel of martyrs, confessors, reformers, and saints. Above all, it is the Truth of God against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example recommend your creed. Above all, live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit. Cleave fast to the Word of God, which is here mapped out to you.c

The Worst and Best of Times

The worst times in history are always characterized by one thing, everyone does “what is right in his own eyes” ( Judg. 21:25). In contrast, the best times in history are characterized by “people who know their God” and therefore are “strong, and carry out great exploits” (Dan. 11:32). The difference is in knowing God – truly knowing Him. And you cannot know Him without knowing about Him. That is what this confession can help you to do.

This confession is a treasure chest of the doctrines of the Christian faith. It was written for families. It was written for churches. It keeps you from fads. It protects you from being “tossed…about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). It helps you to guard what has been committed to you (1 Tim. 6:20). It is personal training in the whole counsel of God. It is a guide for family instruction. It is a preserver of church unity. It is a training tool for young people. It is a standard for quelling controversy in the church. I commend it to you for the acquisition of treasure and the adoration of God and the happiness they bring.