1. Confessions emphasize the authority and centrality of the Bible. Many believe confessions undermine the authority of Scripture. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reason for this is because a genuine confession will be grounded in the truth of the Scriptures. Rather than undermine the Scripture’s authority, a confession actually reveals the commitment a particular body of believers or denomination has to the Bible (2 Tim. 3:15-17). This is simply following in line with the saints of old: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
2. Confessions focus on fundamental doctrines. The Bible is a big book. It takes a lifetime to study the depths of its truth. We may greatly profit from those before us who have likewise searched the Scriptures (Job 8:8-10) and sought to delineate its key teachings. Confessions are a wonderful means by which these key biblical truths may be logically compiled, explained with Scripture proofs, and subsequently read, studied, and taught. It is as the apostle Paul said: “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13; emphasis added).
3. Confessions help to promote and maintain church unity. It is a wonderful thing when a congregation can gather together with the same theological convictions (both amongst its leaders and its lay-members). This isn’t to say that there is no room for minor disagreements (there is). The church, afterall, is one body that must seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in truth and peace (Eph. 4:1-6; 2 Jn. 1,2). It is as the apostle Paul wrote to Titus: “To Titus, a true son in our common faith” (Tit. 1:4; emphasis added). In other words, a confession lets a church know what to expect of its leaders and members.
4. Confessions help to guard against error in the church. The beliefs and teachings of a pastor or lay-member may be discerned alongside the confession. This isn’t to say that any confession is our supreme judge, for that alone is reserved for the Scriptures. Confessions, however, provide Scriptural instruction, especially as our forefathers have understood the Scriptures. Jude said: “…I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). It is prideful to think we need not heed what others have said before us. A well-structured and Scripturally grounded confession will do well to guard a congregation from sinking into unbiblical teachings that are nothing more than the result of “the spirit of the age.” It is as the apostle Paul said: “…the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). A church that has no confession or core statement of faith is left vulnerable to all kinds of unbiblical teachings.