According to Romans 10:17, belief comes only when one first hears the gospel. Based upon that belief, one will then repent of any sin he or she has committed. The next step in the gospel plan of salvation is to confess Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of all. One must first understand the nature of Christ, follow the biblical examples set forth concerning confession, and understand why confession is necessary in order for one to be saved. In Matthew 16, there is recorded the institution of the church. Christ asked Peter who he believed Him to be and Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). While it is true that Peter confessed who he believed Jesus to be that day, this example may not be the best example for an authority to confess Christ today. There are, however, many other biblical principles, examples, and commands which show confession to be a necessary step in the gospel plan of salvation.
First, one must make sure not to confuse the confession of sin that is sometimes necessary and the confession which is the point of interest in this article — the confession of salvation. It is true that Christians make mistakes and commit sin from time to time in their individual lives. The way to take care of such is to confess it and repent and request forgiveness of it. This, however, is not to be confused with confessing Christ to be the Son of God or accepting Christ as a personal savior.
From John 1:1, one can appropriately conclude that Jesus Christ is eternal in nature. In Philippians 2, one learns of Christ and His nature. He was equal to God and humbled himself to come to earth and spend time (a lifetime) among men. He even subjected himself to dying as men die and in His case a cruel death indeed — the death of the cross. Why did He do this? Philippians 2:10-11 provides a good answer: “…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The point Paul was making is clear: Jesus was God in the flesh (He is Deity) and every tongue should confess it. Is it essential to spiritual salvation? “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 10:8-9). Paul said, “…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” (Romans 10:9).
There are also biblical examples showing some to confess Jesus as part of the gospel plan of salvation. The most notable might be the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. In verses 36-37, one sees the eunuch clearly confessing Christ: “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”
What is confession? It is simply standing up and proclaiming who Christ is? What is involved in making the confession? No doubt, a part of it is verbal in nature. Such was the case with the Ethiopian eunuch. Part of confession is for salvation as was the case again with the Ethiopian eunuch. Yet, in Acts 24, Paul is before the governor and makes an interesting statement: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” Confession is more than simply saying Christ is the Son of God. It is living a life that shows that belief. Confession is more than mere words. It is also actions. The actions one puts forth show whether he or she believes Christ to be the Son of God or not.
In this sense, confession is more than cognitive belief or the statement of cognitive belief. After all, if one believes in God, he might not be any better than the devils. James said, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!” Mark 3:11 says, “And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, ‘You are the Son of God.’” The devils and unclean spirits believed in one God and even believed Christ to be the Son of God but their cognitive belief and even their verbal statement of it did not save them. And it will not save anyone today. Confession is both said and lived. Paul confessed and continued to confess Christ to be the Son of God. The eunuch confessed Christ to be the Son of God and then changed His life accordingly. The writer of Hebrews said, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14). Thus, confession must be kept or lived in life. The writer of Hebrews makes this point again in Hebrews 10:23 and then goes on to show that one way the Christian can keep his or her confession is by faithful attendance (Hebrews 10:25).
Finally, confession is a choice but only in this lifetime. The Bible teaches that all will come before the judgment seat of God one day. All will have to give an account of the deeds done in this life. Romans 14:10-12 says, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” The goal of each person should thus be to make sure that he or she does not wait until it is everlastingly too late to make the good confession.
Of course, this is not all there is to one spiritual salvation. As seen in this article, one must hear, believe, and repent of his or her sins. The Bible also teaches baptism and faithful living to be essential to salvation (Acts 2:38; 14:22).
Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Have you stated it verbally? Do the actions you put forth in life show such to be the case?
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