1 JNO 4:15
INTRO: During His time on this earth Jesus once said, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven" (Mt 10:32). From that point forward through the New Testament the idea and subject of confessing Christ is heard often. Most of us here have been baptized into Christ. Prior to our being baptized, we made the confession of our belief that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the same confession the Ethiopian man made in Acts 8:37. Indeed, "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom 10:10). In scripture, however, the word "confess" (and its forms) has various facets. When I read the text for today's thoughts some weeks ago, I realized that there may be a need to look into this subject.
I. FOR EXAMPLE, SOME WHO CONFESS HIM HAVE NO ETERNAL HOPE
A. Mk 3:11 - Unclean spirits "confessed" Him to be the Son of God
1. but unclean spirits, demons of the Devil's world, do not have hope!
2. Jas 2:19 - "the devils also believe, and tremble"
3. their belief, their confession was most assuredly of no eternal benefit
B. Mt 7:21 - Not all people acknowledging Him religiously have hope
1. this is, I think, a piece of information which is not very palatable to many
2. but Jesus made it very plain ... just calling Him "Lord" is not enough
3. my concern is not with demons, but it is very much with the many, many good people who refer to Him as Lord ... but who are not truly confessing Him
C. So, 1 Jno 4:15 is not to be "universally" applied
1. there is more, apparently, to confessing Christ than acknowledgment
2. it's that "more" which needs our attention in our relationship to/with Him
3. that "more" will make the difference between heaven and hell (put bluntly)
II. WHAT IS CONFESSING CHRIST? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DO SO?
A. Yes, there is the verbal confession prerequisite to baptism
1. Acts 8:35-38 - note that his confession of belief led him further
2. 1 Tim 6:12 - suggests the time when Timothy made this same confession
3. Rom 10:10 - this verbal confession is essential as ones faith progresses
4. but this verbal confession must lead further - for as James reminded us, even the devils believe and may "confess" that belief ... but there is no effect
B. And think back to Mt 7:21-23
1. here were religious people, people who apparently acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God
2. shock of shocks ... Jesus called them workers of iniquity!
3. the problem? the right words were there ... and religion was there
4. but "confession" must involve obedience to God's revealed will - "he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven"
C. Is there a sense in which baptism is "confession"?
1. Acts 22:16 - "...calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 4:12)
2. there is most assuredly an acknowledgment in baptism of ones faith and trust in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice ... the benefits of which are received in baptism
3. so, one might confess with his mouth but fail to confess in this obedience
4. such a failure would most assuredly fall under stipulation of Mt 7:21
III. WHAT KEEPS PEOPLE FROM TRULY CONFESSING CHRIST?
A. Many, many people are very religious
1. and I have no doubt of the sincerity of many in their professions
2. yet, there seems to be some hesitation, or resistance, to taking that sincerity to the level of searching the scriptures for the way of truth
3. in fact, some of us may fall into this "category" of people!
B. Can fear keep people from truly confessing Christ?
1. Jno 12:42 - "fear" certainly kept some then from confessing Him
2. fear of what others might think, say or do?
3. I really do believe that "fear" (of one thing or another) keeps many people from confessing Christ in obedience and in the manner of their lives - who wants to be labeled as "radical", or "narrow", or "foolish"?
C. Can ignorance keep people from truly confessing Christ?
1. 1 Tim 1:12,13 - "ignorance" kept him from confessing Christ
2. but is ignorance an acceptable excuse for going on without confessing?
3. we must find ways to encourage people (ourselves?) to gain the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions regarding our faith -and future
CLOSE: Until one can take his confession of belief in Jesus into the realm of real life decisions and commitment, he is really in no better situation than the demons of whom we read in the New Testament. That may sound harsh. But dear friends, it is a fact. And I wonder this morning if each of us present has determined to make the way we live our lives consistent with our confession that Jesus is the Son of God?
Cecil A. Hutson
03 September 2006
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)