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What makes a "statement of faith" important?

Updated: Jul 2

A culture's beliefs often change over time. Just consider how radically our culture's thinking has changed in the last 20 years over topics such as smart phones, skinny jeans, or even homosexuality. What is culturally acceptable today could be condemned tomorrow. Even among professing, bible-believing Christians - those who claim that the unchanging word of God is their authority - the beliefs about what the Bible teaches tend to shift and adapt to the culture around them. Because of these shifting beliefs, churches throughout history have held onto the importance of written statements of faith. From the Nicene Creed, to the London Confession, to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, there has been an agreement not only of foundational beliefs but also of the importance of explicitly stating those beliefs.

However, the idea of a statement of faith is often consider boring and unnecessary today. Why not just go listen to a few sermons to see what a church believes or just have a conversation with a pastor? Those are both excellent steps, but believers should first and foremost begin with a church's statement of faith, because I often would go back to change a phrase from my sermon or conversation. But a statement of faith is a lasting, succinct, and clear statement of belief not just of the pastor but of the entire church.

So, if you are looking for a local church, spend some time in their statement of faith, and if you are already a member of Lakeside or another healthy church, get reacquainted with your statement of faith. Ours is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BF&M2000). I am sure that it could be improved upon; however, it is a wonderful summary of our foundational beliefs that gives clarity to the truth we unify around while also creating space for disagreement in less foundational areas. Maybe some of you have never even read the BF&M2000. If that's the case, please go read it today!

Because of the importance of this document, we are going to begin a series of blog posts where we will walk through the 18 different articles and unpack the different verses on topics such as Salvation, the Church, and the family. We hope this series will help you grow not only in your knowledge of our church's beliefs, but also in your firm conviction of scriptural truth.

Appropriately, the first article begins with our beliefs on Scripture. It states,

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

This article highlights the truth that God is the author of Scripture (2 Tim 3:15-17) and so by implication, the Bible is perfect, without error, true, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct and creeds should be tried (including the BF&M2000). If our beliefs on scripture are shaken, then all other beliefs will falter.

So, if the Bible is so important, why not just have it be our statement of faith? Yes, the Bible is our final authority for what is right and wrong, true and false. However, people often interpret the Bible to say VERY different things and a statement of faith clarifies those differences. Lakeside Baptist has different beliefs than the Episcopal church down the road, and our statement of faith clarifies how we differ and scripturally, why we differ. The statement of faith also proudly and unwaveringly states core beliefs that are being culturally attacked or questioned. By this statement of faith, we place our flag in the sand so that all can see where we truly stand.

But just believing truth alone is not the only goal of the scriptures or the statement of faith. Instead, it is ultimately to worship Christ, "who is the focus of divine revelation". All of scripture points to Christ (Luke 24:44-46), and similarly, all of the BF&M2000 should lead you to worship Christ who saved us and who calls us to love and follow him in every area of our life.

So, I would encourage you to come back each week to learn more about these truths in our statement of faith. I personally have been helped by them as I search for a clear summary of truths on baptism, the Christian family, or salvation. The truths recorded in our statement of faith unite us in a way far deeper than our preferences. These different topics shape our view of the world, and these different biblical beliefs lead us to know and worship our great Savior!

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