The importance and relevance of the Westminster Confession (Part 1)

Tonight at our mid-week meeting we kicked off a series on the Westminster Confession of Faith. We tapped into some of Vandixhoorn’s book, ‘Confessing the Faith’ for historical context; we drew from Trueman’s ‘Creedal Imperative’ for insight into why Confessionalism is essential for the well-being of the church and the preservation of the gospel and we began a study on WCF 1.1. We then explored how WCF 1.1 can help us become better at evangelism. It was a lively discussion and we heard some good testimony which demonstrated some of the material we were looking at.

Here are some of the highlights, followed by the study questions.

Carl Trueman

“The pastor who thinks he is being biblical by declaring he has no creed but the Bible may actually, upon reflection, find that his position is more shaped by the modern world than he at first realized.”

“It would be a tragic irony if the rejection of creeds and confessions by so many of those who sincerely wish to be biblically faithful turned out to be not an act of faithfulness but rather an unwitting capitulation to the spirit of the age.”

“Creeds and confessions are, in fact, necessary for the well-being of the church, and that churches that claim not to have them place themselves at a permanent disadvantage when it comes to holding fast to that form of sound words which was so precious to the aging Paul as he advised his young protégé, Timothy. . . The need for creeds and confessions is not just a practical imperative for the church but is also a biblical imperative.”

“A church with a creed or confession has a built-in gospel reality check. It is unlikely to become sidetracked by the peripheral issues of the passing moment; rather it will focus instead on the great theological categories that touch on matters of eternal significance.”

Vandixhoorn

The Westminster assembly (1643-1653)

Two years prior to the gathering of an assembly of theologians in Westminster Abbey (from whence the Westminster Confession of Faith derives its name), a prominent pastor named Edmund Calamy urged the House of Commons to reform the Church of England. . . Calamy urged Parliament to ‘reform the Reformation itself’. It was not until 1643 that Calamy’s modern reformation took shape in the calling of what proved to be the last of the great post-Reformation synods.

The Westminster Confession of Faith traces:

  • the great history of our redemption:
  • the grim realities of the fall,
  • God’s gracious covenants with man,
  • the stunning announcement of salvation,
  • and our sure hope of eternal life—

 

 All these are sketched out in bold but considered strokes. It is because of the clarity of this gospel presentation in all of its parts that the Westminster Confession of Faith finds itself in the first rank of great Christian creeds

Modern Translation of WCF 1.1

Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, to such an extent that men are without excuse, yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of his will which is necessary for salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at various times and in diverse ways, to reveal himself and to declare his will to his church; and afterward— for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and of the world— to commit this revelation wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scripture is most necessary, God’s former ways of revealing his will to his people having ceased.

Scripture Proofs 1.1

a Rom. 2: 14,15; Rom. 1: 19,20; Psa. 19: 1-3; Rom. 1: 32, with Rom. 2: 1. b 1 Cor. 1: 21; 1 Cor. 2: 13,14. c Heb. 1: 1. d Prov. 22: 19-21; Luke 1: 3,4; Rom. 15: 4;

Questions for study

  1. Look up the “scripture proofs” and compare them with WCF 1.1. Do you think the WCF is an accurate summary of these scriptures?
  2. What does WCF: 1.1 teach us about:
  • God?
  • Creation?
  • The Scriptures?
  • Humanity?

    3.
    What does the WCF mean when it says, “Holy Scripture is most necessary, God’s former ways of revealing his will to his people having ceased.” (See Heb: 1.1

4. Do you agree with this part of the WCF? Why/why not?

5. How can WCF 1.1 help us today with:

  • Our relationship with God?
  • Personal discipleship?
  • Evangelism?
  • Guidance?

 

 

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