For the last couple of weeks we have been talking about why we confess our faith. We have mentioned two reasons so far: because it is a form of oath taking and because it is a form of instruction.
This week we want to note one last reason why we confess our faith. Today I want us to understand that our confession of faith is a means of mutual edification.
In the book of 1st Thessalonians the Apostle Paul has a lengthy discussion of the end times. The Thessalonians were worried about some of their brethren who had passed away. They were wondering “what happens to them?” Paul essentially tells them that they go to be with Jesus and they will come back with him at the resurrection when Jesus comes again.
But at the end of that section Paul says, “Encourage one another with these words.” The Thessalonians were to speak of these things to each other so that they might strengthen one another and console one another in the faith.
That is what we want to happen when we confess our faith together. We want there to be that mutual edification.
Think about it, after a long week of being in the world—perhaps rubbing shoulders with a lot of unbelieving people, maybe even people who are hostile to the faith, what could be better than standing in a room full of people who are confessing the same thing that you believe? That should be a means of encouragement to you to help you face another week.
I will tell you of the most meaningful the Creed has ever been to me. It was on the occasion when a dear saint had passed away. We were standing at the graveside, ready to lay our sister to rest. It was a somber moment as this lady had meant so much to the congregation. She had given an incredible testimony through her battle with cancer and we all had grown to admire her. So, you can imagine that bidding our last farewell was a solemn moment.
We concluded the committal service with all of us reciting the Apostle’s Creed. The sad gray that seemed to overshadow the whole of the proceedings were whisked away as we came to the end of the creed. All together we recited the words, “I believe…in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.” I don’t know if I can speak for everyone there. But I know that, for me, those words were like bright rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds. I walked away from that moment with a renewed feeling that my God was the God of the resurrection. And one day, I would see this dear sister again.
All of this, of course, was because the brethren around me recited the creed together. Even though I was in seminary at the time, and even though I was thoroughly trained the truth of the afterlife—all that was nothing, compared to the encouragement I received through the corporate witness of the believers.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.