Public Confession of Our Faith

The Elements of Public Worship Part VI

Public Confession of Our Faith

The first part of 1 Timothy 3:16 runs: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion’ (R.S.V). The Apostle then proceeds to quote the hymn in which the mystery of the Gospel is enshrined – a wonderful truth about the Person and place of Jesus Christ, formerly kept secret but now fully revealed by God – and, in this way, to trace the career of the Church’s Lord from His pre-existence, through His incarnate life upon earth, His resurrection and ascension, to His final glory in the Father’s presence.

But his Specimen of Christian hymnody is much more than a canticle, composed to fill a place in services of worship: the hymn of 1 Timothy 3:16 is a clear instance of an early confession of faith by which the Church gave expression to the fundamental facts and truths of the Gospel. The first words, which are quoted above, tell us explicitly: ‘Great indeed, we confess…’ At this point hymns and creeds meet and overlap.” – Ralph P. Martin, Worship in the Early Church

The members of the Apostolic church freely confessed their faith at several points in their worship using creeds. The word creed comes to us from the Latin word credo, meaning “I believe”. Creeds are summaries of Christian doctrine that may be long and complex Confessional documents or the simple confession that “Jesus is Lord” that Paul reminds Timothy of in His exhortation in 1 Timothy 6:11-12: “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Timothy would necessarily have made his “good confession” at his baptism. But it is the duty of Christians not only to confess their faith on their entering the visible Church, but to continue to freely confess and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3) throughout their entire lives.

In keeping the Apostolic practice, we confess our faith publicly in our worship, declaring to all the world what we truly believe the word of God teaches. In that moment we are professing our faith before God and man and solemnly stating that this is the saving truth that we believe, that we are eager to share with world, and that we would be willing to lay down our lives for.


About Andrew Webb

Andrew James Webb, Pastor Providence PCA, Fayetteville NC. Born: July 29, 1969 Rochford, Essex England Education: MA Modern History, St. Andrews University, Fife, Scotland, 1991 M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary, Glenside, PA, 2001 Personal Details: Husband of Joy Webb, Father of Margaret (6), Victor (5), Graham (3) and Isabel (10 Mos.) Secular Work History: Upon graduation from University, I returned to the United States and worked for two Madison Ave Advertising Firms in copy writing and advertising space sales. After moving to Northern Virginia, I went into computing. I worked as a Systems Administrator in Washington D.C. for both the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) (a legal publishing firm,) and the International Republican Institute. Experience: Licensed by Potomac Presbytery, May 1997 and Philadelphia Presbytery in 1999. From 1998 to 2001 I did a three year apprentice/internship under Dr. Mark Herzer while working with the Christ Covenant church plant in Hatboro, PA. Ordained as an RE at Christ Covenant PCA in 2000 and as a TE by Central Carolina in 2001 when I was called to be the Organizing Pastor for Providence PCA Mission, Cross Creek PCA's church plant in Fayetteville, NC (home to Ft. Bragg and Pope Airforce Base). In 2005 when the Providence PCA Particularized I was blessed to be called by the congregation to be their Pastor. Presbytery Committees: Assistance and Membership (Philadelphia), Candidates (Central Carolina), Nominations (Central Carolina) GA Committees: Bills and Overtures, Covenant Theological Seminary Other: I have had a number of my essays on theological topics published including What is the Reformed Doctrine of Divorce? and Five Reasons Not To Go See The Passion of the Christ Why I Don't Have an English Accent: I don't have an English accent because my parents moved to New Jersey when I was six!
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