Yet so many believers today haven’t been taught this, much less do they believe it! Yet, believers have the tools they need.
The Westminster Confession of Faith …
What is it?
Is it a document that presents cold intellectual faith? Dead Orthodoxy as it seems to some…
Is it a historical artifact that has no relevancy to the pastor or the people of God?
Is it an idol that reformed Christians elevate to a higher standard of authority than the Scriptures?
Or could it be something more? Much more?
The Westminster Confession of Faith has stood the test of time as an example of mature and sober reflection upon the teachings of scripture (and their application to life and culture). For generations “the heads” of systematic theology have followed the outline and teaching of the Confession. It stands as one of the best, if not the best, representation/summation of Christian Doctrine ever produced by the church. As such, it is a fence preserving orthodoxy and thus saving faith. If you, dear reader, are new to the confession, I would exhort you do dive into its riches and be blessed by its thoughtful, lucid, and consistent presentation of the faith.
But perhaps I am preaching to the choir? If that is the case, let me encourage you to look at the Confession with new eyes. With eyes that are looking for the power of this document to serve as the basis by which pastors shepherd the people of God, by which the people of God teach and admonish one another.
Paul writes to the church in Rome:
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.[i]
Paul writes this to believers in general, not to those who are “properly” ordained. Yet so many believers today haven’t been taught this, much less do they believe it! Yet, believers have the tools they need. They have the Spirit of God and they have the Word of God. The Word of God is “living and active”, it discerns the “thoughts and intents of the heart”[ii] If, the Westminster Confession of Faith is a superb summation of the teachings of the Word of God (and I firmly believe that it is!) then it becomes a handbook for believers (ESPECIALLY PASTORS!) to use when they are counseling God’s people. There isn’t a chapter that fails to bring the teaching of the scriptures to bear on the thinking and the behavior of God’s people.
Consider chapter 27 “Of the Sacraments”. Paragraph two states:
There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.[iii]
Picking up on such scriptures as Gen 17:10, Matthew 26:27-28, and Titus 3:5, the confession calls Baptism and Communion “signs”. Think about a sign for a moment…