Who is a Christian? And what do we Confess?
Who is a Christian?
Since the earliest days of the Christian church, Christians have sought to define the boundaries of the Christian faith. St. Paul in his New Testament writings had numerous warnings to Christians to avoid error in doctrine and practice, and to shun false teachers.
A tenet of the "Reformed" faith is that we Christians should always be reforming, that is, sharpening our understanding of biblical truth. In that vein, we here suggest a new confession and recommitment statement for review by our readers. The list of Bible verses at the end of the statement would be good to look up as well!
Confession and Recommitment
I believe in one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- I believe in God the Father Almighty—maker of heaven and earth, perfectly holy, omniscient of even our secret sins, whose justice being so perfect that He cannot overlook our sins, whose wrath is poured out like fire against rebellion, yet is slow to anger and abounding in love.
- I believe in Jesus Christ—the only son of God, being of one divine substance with the Father, very God of very God. He is the image of the invisible God, being before all things, and in whom all things hold together. Yet, Jesus—being also truly human—was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried--to receive the punishment for the sins of the whole world. On the third day he bodily rose from the dead as prophesied in the Scriptures and confirmed by over 500 witnesses and many other infallible proofs. This is the gospel to which we hold fast by which men are saved from God’s condemnation unto eternal life. Jesus is the light of the world and is the sole mediator between God and men. There is no other name under heaven by which one may be saved.
- I believe in the Holy Spirit—who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who is the eternal Spirit of God that hovered over the waters at creation, and who teaches and guides us today. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that God convicts us, renews us, regenerates us, empowers us, and saves us. Along with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is worshipped and glorified.
Through my conscience and the law comes the knowledge of sin, and I confess that I have indeed sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I have broken the Ten Commandments in thought, word, and deed; I have failed to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength—and failed to love my neighbor as myself. I have left undone, unsaid, and unthought those things which I ought—being too often in a state of denial of my failings before God. I am thus guilty and deserving of God’s temporal and eternal punishment—my guilt separating me my Creator.
Yet through Christ’s sinless life, his sacrificial death on the cross, and finished work of salvation at his Parousia, I thankfully rejoice that God has reconciled me to Him. While yet being a sinner, God loved me enough to provide a perfect substitute in Jesus. Christ, being a ransom for all who believe, by his wounds I have been healed and God’s judgment satisfied. Being in Christ, I am a new creation. I repent of my sins and accept the gift of eternal life offered to whoever receives and believes in Christ. By God’s grace—through a living faith—I put my trust in Christ as my Savior and Master. I acknowledge that Christ is the only way to reconcile to God the Father. I embrace the church universal and consider all to be my Christian brothers and sisters who
- believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, confessing Him as their personal Savior (and by necessity accept the total truthfulness and supreme authority of the Bible),
- repent of their sins (thus acknowledging and forsaking their sins), and
- surrender one's life to Jesus as Lord, seeking to conform their lives to the will of God (as best they understand God’s will and their duty).
As mysterious as these things may seem to the worldly man, I confess that they are objectively and historically true. In light of these truths, I
- surrender my life to serving God and my fellow man,
- commit to searching the Scriptures upon which I rely for truth,
- commit to proclaiming biblical truth to those around me,
- commit to being salt and light to my community,
- commit to taking every thought captive to Christ,
- commit to preparing myself to give an answer for the hope that I have, and
- commit to making disciples of all nations.
The earth and everything in it belongs to God. May I not concede to my sinful desires and the humanist enemies of Christianity any area of life—including the family, science, history, ethics, philosophy, education, the arts, economics, law, or government—relying on the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
Dear God, your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live. Create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Notes: taken from The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, also Genesis 1:2, Leviticus 17:11, Numbers 14:18, Joshua 2:11, Psalm 24:1, 51:1-12, 90:7-8, Psalm 119, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Isaiah 59:2, Micah 7:19, Nahum 1, Matthew 5, Matthew 6:9-10, Matthew 26:28, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 13:3, Luke 21:22, 28, 32; John 1:1-18, John 3:1-20, John 8:12, John 14:26, John 16:1-15, John 19:30, Acts 1:1-8, Acts 4:12, Acts 17:11, Romans 1, Romans 3, Romans 5:1, 2, 5, 10, 19, Romans 8:9-11, 26, Romans 13:1-4, Romans 15:6, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28, 2 Corinthians 4:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Galatians 5:18, 22, 23, Ephesians 2:1-10, Ephesians 3:16, Ephesians 6:10-18, Colossians 1:15-23, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, 2 Timothy 3:16, Titus 3:4-7, Hebrews 1:1-4, Hebrews 2:13, Hebrews 7:23-26, Hebrews 9:13-14,22,27,28, James 2, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 1:3-9; 1 Peter 3:15, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 1, 1 John 5:5-13, and other biblical texts.
This Creedal Confession and Recommitment is meant to retain the flavor of the historic creeds and confessions while clarifying with today’s English. It elevates the Bible and draws specifically on the language of Scripture itself. Of note in this statement is its pronouncement of the unique Christian teaching on sin and need for a savior, offers an apologetic so that all will understand that the Christian faith is not mere blind faith, and it encourages a deeper understanding of what it means to live a Christian life. It seeks to remind us of our duties as Christians while refuting legalism and its opposite—antinomianism or cheap grace. It seeks to address and clarify common confusion as to just what the gospel actually is. The document avoids details of doctrines for which there is disagreement even among conservatives. And it seeks to promote Christian unity, thus fully embracing the broader Christian community as required by Scripture, while refuting error of cultic sects or other non-biblical groups.
See also our Faith Facts article Cults, Heresises, and Heterodoxies.
Do you recognize the symbol at the beginning of the article? It is the Chi-Rho (pronounced "KEE-roe"), one of the symbols used by the early Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two letters of the word "Christ" in Greek, chi (X) and rho (P).
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