This week I want to highlight another significant reason why we confess our faith from week to week. Part of the reason we do it is for pedagogical reasons. That is to say, we recite the creeds and confessions for the purpose of instruction.
In his first letter Paul told Timothy to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” And on the basis of this we recognize that one of the main purposes of worship is to edify the believers through education in sound doctrine. That is exactly what happens with our confession of faith. We are taking time to highlight the essential truths of our faith so that we all might know what we believe.
We can think of it this way too: The Bible instructs us to “instruct and admonish one another” by “singing songs, hymns and spiritual songs.” When we recite the creed—or as we sing it, as we do from time to time—we are allowing the Holy Spirit to use us in instructing and admonishing one another.
Let me give you one example of how this was once driven home to me. A few years back my niece came and spent a few weeks with us over the summer. Up to that point she had had very little, if any, exposure to Christian teaching. But that summer she attended church with us each week. And each week as a part of our service, we recited the Apostle’s Creed. We didn’t think much of it. It was simply something we did week to week. We only came to see the significance of it later when we happened to have a conversation with her about Christmas.
You see, she had never even heard the Christmas story. For her, Christmas was about Santa Claus and presents. But we had the opportunity to talk about how it was really about the birth of Jesus. She then surprised us by saying, “You mean that whole ‘born of a virgin’ thing?” We were surprised that she made the connection. We were even more surprised that of all things, she got it from the Creed.
That of course, gave rise to a further discussion about the gospel. But right there we had a new perspective of how important the creed was in our services. The Spirit of God was using it to impart a solid understanding of the essential truths of the Christian faith.
This is a great good example of why we confess our faith. It builds greater understanding of the faith. It may be for someone who is un-churched or visiting, or perhaps the constant repetition is helping to ingrain it in our young people who might not get much else out of the service. Or maybe it is you. Maybe it is used to simply remind you of some of the great truths of Scripture.
Whatever the case may be, the Spirit uses it to impart knowledge and understanding regarding our faith and our God.