Around 100 years ago, Abraham Kuyper wrote a book for those wishing to make public profession of faith in a Reformed church. The book is called The Implications of Public Confession. In this short book, Kuyper discusses the relationship of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. He also talks about children praying, believing, repenting, and confessing the doctrines of grace. Kuyper mentions what confession is and what a confessing church sounds like in unison. This is a book worth getting – I think there are a few used ones on Amazon for around $10. Here’s one paragraph from the book that I appreciate.
“Your confession of your Savior and Lord before the congregation must include a confession of your personal wretchedness. A confession which desires Jesus but which is not characterized by a profound conviction of personal sin and guilt is false. Paul would call that a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Indeed, it would be a weak and flimsy confession. That is self-evident. Why a Redeemer if there be no need for redemption? How yearn for a Savior except there be a consciousness of the bonds of death? And again, why should you seek the Physician if you do not sense that your soul is sick?”
“Yes, there should be a consciousness, a poignant, painful consciousness of personal sin and guilt. That does not mean that you must have the full and profound consciousness of your depravity in the moment you say ‘yes’ before the congregation. Those who profess the necessity of that, drift toward emotionalism and depart from the meaning of the Word of God. But it is unequivocally true that he who confesses his Savior must confess his wretchedness also. He must, to a degree and in a way appropriate to his age and experience, fully sense that he is lost, and that therefore he, together with all God’s children, is taking refuge under the Savior’s wings.”
Abraham Kuyper, The Implications of Public Confession, p. 28.
“This is the gist of his commentary: God has brought his salvation near to us, in Christ. We do not have to ‘climb the heavenly steeps’ to procure it, for Christ has come down with it; we do not need to ‘plumb the lowest deeps’ for it, for Christ has risen from the dead to make it secure to us. It is here, present and available; what we are called upon to do is to accept it by inward faith – believing in our hearts that God raise him from the dead – and to acknowledge him aloud as Lord. The saving faith is resurrection faith: ‘if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain.’ (2 Cor. xv.17). And the confession of Christ is public confession: ‘Jesus is Lord’ is the earliest, as it remains the sufficient, Christian creed.”
“Those who put their faith in Christ for salvation have as their encouragement the assurance of Isaiah xxviii.16 (already quoted in ix.33): those who commit themselves to Christ will never be ‘let down.’”
“This righteousness which God imparts is open without distinction to all men and women of faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. His saving mercy is lavished without discrimination or restriction: all who call on him will receive it. At an earlier stage in Paul’s argument the words ‘There is no difference’ had a grim sound, because they convicted Jew and Gentile together of sin against God and incapacity to win his acceptance by personal effort or desert; now the same words have a joyful sound, because they proclaim to Jew and Gentile together that the gates of God’s mercy stand wide open for their entrance, that his free pardon is assured in Christ to all who claim it by faith.”
These quotes can be found on page 202 of Bruce’s excellent Romans commentary (in the Tyndale series). If you don’t have this one, get it! I’d even recommend it for laypeople who want to do their own study of Romans. You can find older copies of it used on Amazon for less than $5 shipped to your door.