As Christians, our faith is rooted in ancient texts that teach eternal truths. The Bible, as the very word of God (1 Tim. 3:16, 17), is our authority in all faith and practice and the source of spiritual nourishment for our souls (Ps. 1; 1 Pet. 2:2.) By it we know who God is and as we receive it by faith we come to know God personally. The word of God comes first, and one of the best helps to keep the word at the center of church life and the Christian life is a confession of faith.
The Westminster Confession, and for us, The 1689 Second London Confession, are beautiful works that will serve us well if we will make the most of them. I'd like to encourage you to buy a copy, download an app, or read one online throughout 2017. Below are three ways to fruitfully engage a confession of faith in this new year.
1. Read it in one sitting
Whether you are familiar or unfamiliar with the confession, sit down and read it through. It won't take that long, and it will help you to get a feel for the way in which it was written, what doctrines and words appear more frequently. Reading it in one sitting will also begin to prepare you for what lies ahead as you work your way through it more carefully during the next 12 months.
2. Read it devotionally
Take some time to schedule out the next year to work your way through the confession not only thoughtfully, but devotionally. What you are reading are not mere propositions, but presentations of life-giving truths that will not only shape your mind but your heart.
There are 32 chapters in the Second London Confession comprised of a total of 138 paragraphs. If you read one paragraph every day, Monday through Friday it would take you less than 28 weeks to thoughtfully read through the entire confession. I recommend that you take a paragraph and compare it with the Scripture references. Get a journal and take some notes. Don't be afraid to mark up your copy of the confession.
I believe this should be supplemental to your daily Bible reading, and should not comprise the whole of your devotional habits.
3. Read it with a friend
Most of us learn well when we learn together. Going through a confession with a friend or a group will not only help you stay on track, but will also assist you in thinking through the content of the confession.
Mark this new year with an old confession. I have found confessions, and the 1689 in particular, to be a valuable resource in my spiritual growth and walk with God.
The 1689 Second London Confession (Book, Online, eBook)
The Westminster Confession of Faith (Book, Online, eBook)