1689 Confession Survey: A Guide for Teaching through the Confession in 12 Lessons

The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith is a rather large confession, containing 32 chapters or articles, and 160 paragraphs.  While this certainly helps to advance soundness in the faith, it proves to be a challenge when it comes to actually teaching through it.  For instance, if you taught through one paragraph at a time, that’s 160 lessons during a period of 160 weeks (assuming one lesson per week).  That means you would complete your 1689 teaching series in a little over three years!  If you taught through two paragraphs a lesson you would cut that time in half, but that’s still a long time.

So, what could you do to still teach the entire Confession to your congregation, yet do so in a much shorter period?  My simple solution: give a survey of the entire Confession in twelve 1-hour lessons.[1]  That’s only about 3 months, as opposed to 1-3 years!  Think of it as your Old Testament and New Testament Survey courses you took, or are taking, in school.  A survey course doesn’t take you through all the details of every single chapter in the Testaments.  Rather, it focuses on the key themes, key events, key passages, key problems, etc.  The purpose is to give you an overview of the Testaments, providing a foundation upon which the student can engage in more thorough, in-depth study on their own.  That’s what I’m arguing for here.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have periods of extended, in-depth study of the Confession.  We should.  In fact, I’m currently engaged in this with my church.  However, on a practical level, a 1689 Confession Survey course would allow church leaders and lay-teachers to cover the main doctrinal and practical teachings of the Confession in a shorter period of time.  This is something that could be done once a year!

The following is an example 1689 Confession Survey outline that I came up with.  This is tentative, and I do appreciate any feedback.

Lesson 1: The Holy Scriptures (Chapter 1)

Lesson 2: The Attributes of God & the Trinity (Chapter 2)

Lesson 3: God & Creation (Chapters 3-5)

Lesson 4: Man & Sin (Chapter 6)

Lesson 5: The Covenant of Grace & Jesus Christ (Chapters 7-8)

Lesson 6: Doctrines of Grace (Chapters 9-18)

Lesson 7: Law & Gospel (Chapters 19-20)

Lesson 8: Christian Living & Religious Worship (Chapters 21-23)

Lesson 9: Society & the Home (Chapters 24-25)

Lesson 10: Church Life (Chapters 26-27)

Lesson 11: The Ordinances (Chapters 28-30)

Lesson 12: The Final Judgment (Chapters 31-32)

I know what you’re thinking, “How can you possibly teach on God’s attributes and the Trinity in one lesson?!  Or on the Church (15 paragraphs in the Confession) in one lesson?!  Or the Covenant of Grace and Jesus Christ in one lesson?!”.  The point is to simply touch on key points and key Scriptures – enough to familiarize the congregation with the content of the Confession and aid them in more in-depth study that they can do in their home, with their family.  However, another option, if you don’t like this one, is to spend six months (24 lessons) going over the Confession; just double each lesson, allowing for a little more in-depth study.  The choice is yours, and you can modify it as you see fit.  This is simply an idea and an example.

[1] Obviously, more time for each lesson would be ideal, but Sunday school classes and Wednesday evening services are typically about 1-hour long.  If you have a 5-minute introduction and 10-minute Q/A at the end of the lesson, that leaves you 45-minutes for the body of the lesson.


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