Creeds and Confessions in the Biblical Text

Deuteronomy 6:4

While John 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Bible, it is fair to say that in the Old Testament, the most well-known words are found in what the Jews call the Sh’ma, found in Deuteronomy 6:4. There in English we read these words, “Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” This is nothing less than a creed for the people of Israel that was recited daily. It clearly affirms mono-theism – the belief in one God.

Jesus quotes the Sh’ma in Mark 12 (v.29):

28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;



Even in our own day, one Jewish theological website refers to the Sh’ma as “the centerpiece of the daily morning and evening prayer services and is considered by some the most essential prayer in all of Judaism. An affirmation of God’s singularity and kingship, its daily recitation is regarded by traditionally observant Jews as a biblical commandment… It is recited at the climactic moment of the final prayer of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and traditionally as the last words before death. Traditionally, it is recited with the hand placed over the eyes.”

Through the many centuries of Israel’s history, the regular, repetitive reciting of the Sh’ma has kept many generations of Jews away from the gross idolatry that surrounded them. That was not always the case, of course, and yet this creed was used to keep Israel distinct and separate as God’s people.

Romans 10:9

When we come to the New Testament, Romans 10:9 outlines a simple creed of the early church – “Jesus is Lord.” The verse reads, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…”

To get the full impact of what this entails we need to understand something about what it meant to live in the Roman Empire in the first century.

The Romans were polytheists, believing in many gods and all people in the Empire, without exception, had to acknowledge the divine nature of the Emperor, Caesar. There was an affirmation to affirm – two simple words, “Kaiser Kurios” which meant “Caesar is Lord.” As and when demanded, this creed had to be affirmed by all under Roman rule. Not to say this could well mean instant death. Many Christians were fed to the lions and wild animals in the Coliseum in Rome because of their stubborn, heroic refusal to recite this simple affirmation to Caesar.

This scenario is so foreign to us in our day and time that perhaps I have to spell it out so that we all grasp the true reality of all this. As they entered the dreaded arena, the Christians had only to say two words and they could live: “Kaiser Kurios” – “Caesar is Lord”. Instead they proclaimed, “Iesous ho Kurios” or “Jesus is Lord”, and paid for the privilege with their blood.

Story after story could be told of the brave Christians who, under the certain threat of death, would not renounce their Master, men and women who would not bow their knee to Caesar, acknowledging him as a god. Instead, they confessed the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It therefore meant something… really meant something, to recite this early creed.

1 Corinthians 12:3

This is the historical background for the statement in 1 Corinthians 12:3 – “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” This early creed “Jesus is Lord” was therefore supremely precious to the people of God. Allegiance to the creed was a matter of life and death. The Christians would rather die than, by their words, renounce Jesus Christ.

This confession of the Lord Jesus was admittedly basic and it is very evident that as Christians grew in their knowledge of God and of Scripture, so their creeds and confessions expanded and grew, and over time, became more broad and comprehensive. As novel (new) ideas and heresies spread in and around the church, the true Christians needed to expand the vocabulary of their creeds in order to stem the tide of the false doctrines.

1 Corinthians 8:6

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, affirms the monotheistic foundation of the Sh’ma while also acknowledging the full deity of Christ. Jesus is the Lord, Creator and Sustainer of all things.

“There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” – 1 Corinthians 8:6

Ephesians 4:4,5

Here we see a confession that affirms our unity in Christ between Jews and Gentiles.

The Apostle Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

While physical differences remain in that males remain males, females remain females, and the ethnic distinctions of Jew and Gentile and color still exist, the dividing wall of hostility between them has been broken down and abolished forever (Ephesians 2:11-18). Though we are not all not identical, we are all one in Christ Jesus. While there are still Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, no division between these two groups should exist in the church. We are united in Christ.

1 Timothy 3:15

Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3 were a confessional statement against the raging heresies of the day, as well as an affirmation of the truth:

“By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:

He (God) who was revealed in the flesh,

Was vindicated in the Spirit,

Seen by angels,

Proclaimed among the nations,

Believed on in the world,

Taken up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16

Concerning this verse, Pastor Tom Hicks writes, “This confession was written as the church faced a number of additional heresies, including Gnosticism, Asceticism and Paganism. It confronted these newer heresies even as it also confronted the older errors of Judaism. We learn from this that the older errors don’t go away, which is why the church must keep adding to its confession. The church needed to confess that Christ is Lord, contrary to Judaism. It needed to declare the full humanity of Christ over and against Gnosticism. It needed to affirm the sufficiency of Christ’s work to save, contrary to Asceticism. And it needed to confess that God is one, over and against the polytheism of Paganism.”

From the Garden of Eden to our own day, truth has always been under attack. Throughout Israel’s history and through to the time of the early Church, God has used the short creeds and confessions found in Scripture as a means to keep the faithful sound in doctrine.

Preaching & Liturgy Together

“When we think of the Protestant Reformation, we immediately think of the act of Biblical preaching as the means whereby the Gospel was established in the life of the Church. While a very true statement, it is not a complete one.

It was when not only idolatry and falsehood were removed from the worship service, but when in its place, Biblical, Gospel truth shaped the week by week liturgy (order of worship) of the Church, that the people truly ‘got the message.’

Each time the people gathered to worship God, with on purpose thought behind it, each element of the Reformed worship service was intentionally devised to reveal both Law and Gospel – the reality and consequences of our sin and the perfect work of the perfect Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, the common people were able to gain a fuller and growing comprehension of the greatness of their salvation, and even more importantly, the greatness of their Savior God.

In the power of the Holy Spirit, the two together: preaching and liturgy (order of worship) brought Reformation in the Church.”

– John Samson

An Overview of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

In this audio recording, Pastor John provides an overview summary of the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) as well as an explanation of its place in the life of King’s Church.

The Reformed Worship Service

The Reformed Worship Service: Why we do what we do in church.

The Doctrines of Grace (Lecture/Interview Series)

Here is the now completed series of B.R.I.D.G.E. Ministries (Laredo, Texas) podcasts covering the doctrines of grace (the so called TULIP acrostic). I was very privileged to be a part. I believe the series will be a great blessing and richly informative to those who listen to it. – Pastor John

1. The Sovereignty of God – Dr. John Frame

2. Total Depravity – Pastor Jeff Durbin, Apologia Church, Tempe, AZ

3. Unconditional Election – Pastor John Samson, King’s Church, Peoria, AZ

4. Limited Atonement – Dr. James White, Alpha & Omega Ministries

5. Irresistible Grace – Dr. Tim Trumper, former professor at Westminster Theological Seminary and the founder of From His Fullness Ministries

6. Perseverance of the Saints – Dr. Joel Beeke, President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and founder/editor of Reformation Heritage Books

The Five Solas Book Now in Audio and Ebook

Pastor John’s newest book “The Five Solas – Standing Together Alone” is available in paperback at this link and in audio and eBook form here. In this short (2 minute, 24 second) video he explains the reason for writing the book:


Sola Scriptura: The Bible is the sole written divine revelation and alone can bind the conscience of believers absolutely.

Sola Gratia: Our salvation rests solely on the work of God’s grace for us.

Sola Fide: Justification is by faith alone. The merit of Christ, imputed to us by faith, is the sole ground of our acceptance by God, by which our sins are remitted, and imputed to Christ.

Solus Christus: Christ is the only mediator through Whose work we are redeemed.

Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone belongs the glory.


Please join with us in prayer as we seek to have the book published in Spanish.



Beyond Doubt!

This recording is a project I have been working on for quite some time, seeking to answer the question, “How can we know the Bible is the word of God?”

The Central Act Of Worship In The Church

Transcript of The Dividing Line. March 6, 2018 at the 9:00 minute mark, Dr. James White.

“I believe very, very strongly that the central act of worship of the Church is the full and careful and balanced ministry of the word of God to the people of God, gathered together to hear what God has to say. So meaningful, sound, solid exegesis – everything we do before and after – if there is anything after – is simply meant to heighten and to prepare us, to put us in the proper frame of mind to be obedient and to have hearing ears. Anything that we put into that worship service that closes our ears, distracts us, in any way shuts down our ability to hear the word is wrong – it is going the wrong direction. And the most important thing that a shepherd of the sheep can do is to faithfully communicate not just the part of the message you think is all fire important but if you really believe that all scripture (not just some) but all scripture is theopneustos (God breathed) then you need to deliver all of it… all of it. And that means covering some stuff that ain’t going to make people see gold-dust coming out of the ceiling. I mean there is some tough stuff to handle – there is some difficult stuff in there. And that means there are going to be services that are highly instructional, there are going to be services that are incredibly uplifting, there are going to be services that do bring you into the very presence of God in heaven and there are others that absolutely smack you down into the dirt, when you realize how much of God’s grace you take for granted, and how few of the duties are ours we actually pursue with the proper zeal of redeemed people. In other words, it is going to be balanced. And the balance is determined not by us but by what is found in the Scriptures given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – that canon of Scripture God has given to us – that… that is where our balance is to be found.”

Why Do We Primarily Use The English Standard Version At Kings Church?

Pastor John Samson Here at King’s Church we recommend the English Standard Version of the Bible and it is the one most frequently used in our services. I say this for two main reasons; the first being that it can be very confusing if we have the different words in front of us in our […]

Is Grace ‘Amazing’ To You?

The Bible does not merely show sinners to be undeserving, but as ill-deserving. So often we are inclined to think of ourselves, prior to our salvation, as in some sense “neutral” in the sight of God. We are willing to admit that we have done nothing to deserve His favor, but this is entirely insufficient as a background to the understanding of divine grace. It is not simply that we do not deserve grace: we do deserve hell!

Grace is stripped of its meaning when it is merely thought of as a “good business decision” on God’s part. I am referring here to the mistaken idea that God saw our “worth” and decided that the high price was indeed right, and that He would pay the necessary expense to bring us safely to heaven. No, a thousand times, no! That’s not grace at all. That’s just a good business deal!

Grace is seen in this – while we were wretches; while we were sinners, shaking our fists at God, hating God, defying God in thought, word and deed – every single one of us; God did something ridiculous – paying an outlandish and scandalous price to redeem us (the blood of His beloved Son). This was not because He calculated it all out and thought it was a good investment on His part; that we were “worth it.” No, God was motivated by His radical, amazing, abundant and all conquering love alone, as He set about saving a people for Himself. There was nothing of intrinsic worth in the creatures He redeemed. Any worth we had was entirely borrowed from the God who made us in His image.

I find that all of us really need to get this in our bloodstream, so to speak, before grace can be fully appreciated. At times, we are far too quick to talk of God’s remedy for sin before we have described and firmly established our terrible plight before a holy and just God. Fallen humanity is not to be thought of as merely helpless, but as openly hostile toward God. It is one thing to be without a God-approved righteousness. It is altogether another thing to be wholly unrighteous and deserving of divine wrath. It is, then, against the background of having been at one time the enemies of God that divine grace is to be portrayed, for “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10).

Grace is sovereign and free. Although God is gracious in His eternal being, He need not be gracious or shower His grace upon anyone. Think about it – though many angels had fallen into sin, no plan was ever initiated to rescue even one of these angels from the fierce wrath of God. Yet, the angels of God surrounding the throne are still singing “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.” In the heavenly courts, there is not even a hint of injustice in any of this. Why? Because God is never obligated to show mercy to any of His creatures. No injustice takes place when justice is administrated! If God was ever obliged to show mercy, we would not be speaking of mercy at all, but of justice.

Grace is not to be thought of as in any sense dependent upon our merit or demerit. This may be expressed in two ways. As said above, in the first place, grace stops being grace if God is compelled to give it. But more than this, grace treats a person without the slightest reference to merit whatsoever, but solely according to the good pleasure of God. Since grace is a gift, no work is to be performed, no offering made, to repay God for His favor.