This is the third part of a four-part series answering the question, “what must I do to be saved.” In part one, we looked at the first expectation that God has for mankind’s reconciliation to Him. We established that faith is critical to salvation – but we also established that simply believing is not all that God expects of us (Js. 2:19). In the second installment, we examined the expectation of repentance – a changing of one’s mind that leads to a change in action as evidence of one’s belief. In this installment we will consider God’s expectation of confession. In the final week we will look at God’s expectations of water baptism.
The Necessity and Meaning of Confession
In the cases of faith and repentance, their necessity was clearly revealed in scripture (Heb. 11:6; Lk. 13:3) – the concept of confession is no different. Jesus explicitly states, “whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32). At the day of judgment, Jesus will stand before the Father as our advocate, pleading our case and confessing our name before the Father as one that belongs to Him (1 Jn. 2:1). Sadly, those that never confess will not have this blessing as Jesus says that those who are not of his fold will be told these chilling words: “depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
What exactly is meant by the expectation of confession? Some in the religious world have distorted this expectation and have placed the burden upon others that they must confess all of their sins to another person before they can be in a right relationship with God. Though there is value in confessing shortcomings to others that they might pray for you (Js. 5:16), this is not the connotation of confession that herein is in view. Rather, the type of confession that is at hand is the open mouth confession that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. Paul clearly spells this out when he says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). What’s more is that this is not a private affair – instead, it’s in the presence of others. One that confesses Christ will have counted the cost and will confidently declare His Lordship before others (Matt. 10:32; 1 Tim. 6:12). Genuine discipleship necessitates genuine confession. The alternative is to be declared as one who is “not of God” (1 John 4:2,3).
The Constancy of Confession
The author of Hebrews wrote to a group of Christians who were beginning to wonder if they had made the right choice and seemed to be drifting away from their confession of Christ. Toward the end of the letter, the author makes the plea to these Christians to “hold fast the confession of [their] hope without wavering” (Heb. 10:23). The idea is that just as faith and repentance demand continual participation, so too does confession in the hope of Jesus Christ. Confession is not just a one-time action that happens before one enters a right relationship with God and then ceases, thereafter. Rather, the mark of a genuine Christian is that they continue to make the Great Confession despite the circumstances or persecution or doubt they may be experiencing. Ultimately, both our mouths and our lives should be a constant refrain of our hope in Jesus.
The Final Confessions
The irony is that though one may choose not to make the Good Confession now on Earth, at the Day of Judgment, the Apostle Paul says that “every knee will bow…[and] every tongue will confess…” (Romans 14:11). There will be no denying Him on that eternal day. His glory and deity will be unquestionable and indisputable. All people should make that Good Confession now, before it’s everlastingly too late.