A confessional church should have a shape that it is seeking for its people to be conformed to. One of the beautiful aspects of the historic confessions is that they have stood the test of time. They do not leave people at the mercy of theological fads or dynamic leaders. There’s a maturity to the theological reflection found in the confessions that inoculates us from some of the theological errors that surround us.
Second, a confession provides protection for church members. A confession says what is required for membership; it shows what is and what isn’t a case for discipline; it gives criteria by which to hold elders accountable; it provides boundary markers for theological reflection. The confession becomes a method of expressing pastoral care. It shows us the path of theological maturity and so enables pastors and elders to shepherd and encourage members along that path of discipleship but also allows for rebuke and exhortation when those members go astray.
Third, holding a confession allows us to have meaningful unity with like-minded churches all over the world and down through history. Although the Reformed confessions might vary in the way they express themselves, the major doctrines of grace professed in them are the same.
Fourth, a confession of faith gives members tools to live in, think about, and critique a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to the gospel. The questions that we are being asked today demand fuller, deeper theological reflection. As we go to these Reformed confessions that summarize the teaching of Scripture, we will find ourselves being equipped more and more to give a reason for the hope that is within us.