Setting A Banner

“We need a banner because of the truth…”
Charles Spurgeon

Throughout history people have used banners, pennants, and flags to identify them­selves. Whether for an individual, a nation, an army, or even a college, a banner said, “This is who I am.” When his church reprinted The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Spurgeon compared the Confession to a banner. The church set its standard down, and said this is who we are. It wasn’t the only time Spurgeon used the comparison.1

The church of Christ displays its banners for distinction’s sake...The church unfurls her ensign to the breeze that all may know whose she is and whom she serves…Every Christian church should know what it believes, and publicly avow what it maintains…Whatever the doctrines of the gospel may be to the rest of mankind, let them be your glory and boast. Display your banners, and let those banners be such as the church of old carried.”

The word standard was first a military term for a flag or object used as a rallying point “because the flag was fixed to a pole or spear and stuck in the ground to stand upright.” The word was standhard, and obviously, it combined the words stand and hard, “literally ‘stand fast or firm.'”2 Comparing a confession of faith to a banner, the standard used for a rallying point, is the best analogy I’ve ever seen. It echoes Martin Luther’s words at the Diet of Worms in 1521, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God…Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.”

In his prophecy of the coming Messiah, Isaiah says that He will be our banner and our standard. The Lord Jesus is our rallying point. A confession of faith should not be only a gathering together of doctrinal positions, but rather a confession of this is what I believe. These are not mere facts I acknowledge, but rather this is what I rest my life upon.

In that day
the Rod of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples;
the nations will rally to him.
And his place of rest will be glorious.
Isaiah 11:103
And He will lift up a standard for the nations
And assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
Isaiah 11:12

By necessity my confession of faith is lengthy, and rather than put it here in the post, and have the home page say it’s going to take you 30 minutes or so to read it which could be discouraging, This post is found with it as My Confession of Faith in the navigation menu in the header under My Witness, and you can read it in sections as you have time. It’s taken largely from one written in 1992 for a church pastored by Mike Braun. My husband served on the committee of men who worked with Mike to compose it. I have added to it from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which can be found online with Scripture citations. I may edit it from time to time if I find clarity is needed. It is obviously not exhaustive. My goal was to lay out the basics of my beliefs regarding Christian faith and practice. If you’ve read many of my posts, my beliefs will soon become evident, but I decided to summarize specifics so that anyone reading would be able to understand the beliefs that undergird what I write.

“Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all, it is “the truth of God”, against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example adorn your creed. Above all live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit. Cleave fast to the Word of God.”
Charles Spurgeon

Chi Rho: “formed by superimposing the first two (capital) letters—chi and rho (ΧΡ)—of the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christos).” (CC BY-SA 3.0).
1Banner of Truth Trust takes its name from Spurgeon’s commentary on Psalm 60 in his Treasury of David.
2Online Etymology Dictionary: standard. Retrieved 08-14-2021.
3Translation: John Calvin, Isaiah: The Crossway Classic Commentaries, Series editors, Alistair McGrath and J. I. Packer (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL: 2000) 108.
The Hebrew word, nēs, is translated as banner by Calvin in Isaiah 11:10, and as standard in the NASB 1995 update. “In the OT, nēs generally means a rallying point or standard which drew people together for some common action or for the communication of important information.” I used two translations to point out that it’s translated by various words: “signal pole, standard, ensign, banner, sign, sail.” Marvin R. Wilson, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Volume 2, R. Laird Harris, ed., Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K Waltke, assoc. eds. (Moody Press, Chicago IL:  1980) 583.

Further reading:
What is a Confession of Faith?: Some Quotations

Copyright ©2021 Iwana Carpenter

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