Our Lord Jesus Christ: Believe and Confess
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, February 13, 2011
Copyright © 2011, P. G. Mathew
We live in a country where great religious freedom exists. We can worship plants, animals, humans, or money. We can even worship various gods that are really demons. Paul writes about such gods: "So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords'), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live" (1 Cor. 8:4-6). Then he tells us, "Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons" (1 Cor. 10:19-20). So there is freedom in this country even to worship demons. And, thankfully, there is still freedom to worship the one true and living God-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Romans 10:5-10 speaks about two paths we can take to find salvation from God's just wrath: man's way through human self-righteousness and God's way through faith and confession of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Man's Way of Salvation
Man's way of salvation is the way of all religions and philosophies. Man's way always fails. It is the way of human works of lawkeeping. It is the way of man's super-activity of trying to go to heaven to bring Christ down, and trying to go down to Sheol to bring Christ up from the realm of the dead (Rom. 10:5-10; Deut. 30:12-14).
Man's way is the way of the Pharisee, who thinks he does not need a Savior but relies on his own lawkeeping to save himself. He sees no need for grace. He will not believe in Jesus Christ, who came down from heaven and came up from the grave on the third day according to the Scriptures; who triumphed over death, the devil, and all evil forces of the world; and who accomplished salvation for all who repent and believe on him.
Jesus declared that he is the only way of salvation. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). All other ways bring travelers down where the rich man was taken-down to hell. The way of Christ takes us to heaven, to paradise, to Abraham's bosom, to eternal life (Luke 16.
The only true way of salvation is the way of God's righteousness in Jesus Christ, freely given to us to be received by faith alone. How dare anyone think that he could produce his own righteousness to satisfy the demand of a holy God! All fallen sons of guilty Adam are conceived in sin, born as sinners, and sin daily. God is angry with sinners daily (Ps. 7:11). Such people are always working to save themselves, but their efforts are useless. It is like climbing up on an oiled pole to reach heaven. They are ever sinking down on their way to hell.
In Romans 10:5 Paul quotes Leviticus 18:5: "The man who does these things will live by them." This Old Testament passage was not written to describe a way in which man could save himself by his good works. It was a misunderstanding of Judaism that one could save oneself by keeping the law. To the arrogant sinner, to the Pharisee, and to anyone who thinks that if he will live by keeping the Ten Commandments, God is saying "Go ahead, if you don't want God's free gift of salvation. Try to keep the Ten Commandments to be saved. But realize that you are under sin, under law, under God's wrath, under the devil, and under the penalty of death." Yet the Pharisees tried all their lives to save themselves. Remember the rich young ruler? He knew he was not saved, but he came and asked Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" He even told Jesus that he had kept the Ten Commandments: "All these moral laws I have kept from my youth up. What do I still lack?"
This was also the foolish understanding of Paul the Pharisee. He said, "Concerning the righteousness of the law, [I am] perfect" (Phil. 3:6). In his eyes, he had kept the law perfectly. But God asks such self-righteous Pharisees: "Have you not read, 'Cursed is everyone who does not uphold the words of this law by doing it all laws always perfectly'? Don't you understand that you are a sinner in your thinking, willing, emotions, and every action? The holiness of God will consume you, for he is 'a consuming fire.' The truth is, you are ignorant and arrogant. You have never understood the holy Scriptures." Self-righteous Pharisees have never seen God as Job, Isaiah, and Peter saw him, in his holiness and great majesty (Job 40, 42; Isa. 6; Luke 5).
Read Romans 1:18-3:20 and Romans 8:5-8 to know how wicked a sinner is. He sets his mind always on what his evil nature desires. His mind is death. It is hostile to God. It does not submit to God; it cannot do so. Such a person cannot please God. Yet how many people try to keep God's moral law and accumulate righteousness thinking that they can be saved by it? They do not know that the law given by God is powerless to save them (Rom. 8:3). It only condemns and kills.
The law does not give us eternal life; God gave the law to lead us to grace, to Jesus Christ our Lord, the only Savior. The problem with Pharisees and other sinners is that they are very proud of their performance when they ought to be repenting in dust and ashes for their stinking self-righteousness. They are ignorant of the gift of God's righteousness in Christ. They go about every day to establish their own righteousness. In their arrogance, they refuse to submit to Christ and his free gift of righteousness. They refuse to bow their knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.
Before Paul's spiritual eyes were opened, he too was heaping up his own law-righteousness. He did so in active opposition to the righteousness of God. Every sinner who refuses to believe in Jesus Christ our Lord has God as his archenemy. This warrior God always wins (Exod. 15:3).
Sinners do not see their need for God. The Pelagian1 sinner says, "I don't need God. I am well, healthy, and rich." But the sinner whose eyes have been opened by God says, "I am not healthy. I am not just sick. I am dead, and I need a Savior to raise me from the dead."
Thank God, he raises us from the dead and takes us to heaven to be seated with Christ! He gives us the gifts of true repentance and faith to believe savingly in Jesus. Get rid of man's way of salvation. It never works.
God's Way of Salvation
The law itself did not speak of two ways of salvation. There is only one way of salvation that works, and that is taught throughout the Scriptures.
Moses told the people of Israel: "After the LORD your God has driven [the inhabitants of Canaan] out before you, do not say to yourself, 'The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.' No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Deut. 9:4-5). Later, Moses said: "The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live" (Deut. 30:6). God himself must make us alive and circumcise our hearts. God must regenerate us.
Man has no righteousness in himself; indeed, he is all unrighteousness. But the law of God points us to Jesus, who is the end of the law, the fulfiller of the law unto righteousness to everyone, both Jew and Gentile, who repents and believes in him (Rom. 10:4).
God says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ezek. 36:26-27).
Paul told us of the necessity of a circumcised heart: "A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, performed by the Holy Spirit, not by the written code" (Rom. 2:29). He says elsewhere: "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus and who put no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3). God must save us.
The Bible reveals to us the good news that God saves sinners through his Son. We don't need to do the impossible. In fact, we cannot do it. Christ came down from heaven, lived a perfect life, and was crucified for our sins. He was raised from the dead and has become our bread and water of life.
In Romans 10:8 Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30:14: "No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it." Paul sees "the word" here pointing to Jesus Christ, as does the apostle John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another" (John 1:1, 14, 16).
Stop all efforts toward self-salvation! God has done it all. Christ has accomplished our redemption. The gospel is being preached among us. The word is near us, in our hearts, even in our mouths. Saul of Tarsus was chief of sinners. God saved him and called him to preach the gospel, to bring the word near sinners. He was led by the Holy Spirit to go to Europe. While in Philippi, he went to the riverside, and there was Lydia, a businesswoman from Asia Minor, along with other God-fearers. Paul opened his mouth and preached the gospel. The word was near Lydia, in her heart and her mouth. God opened her heart to respond to the gospel, and she believed and was saved. God also chose from all eternity the jailer of Philippi to salvation. After Paul was beaten up and put into a prison, God performed a miracle. In the middle of the night there was an earthquake and the doors flew open and the prisoners' chains fell off. Seeing these things, the jailer cried out, "What must I do to be saved?" The word was near him and said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."
How amazing are the ways of God! He brings the word of God to us, to our heart and mouth, and then he opens our heart and gives us faith to believe in him that we may be saved.
The word is near you. In the preaching, Jesus Christ is lifted up as crucified, buried, and risen. Isaiah said, "Look to him, all the earth, and be saved" (Isa. 45:22). Jesus said, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life" (John 3:14-15).
Look to Jesus the Messiah, crucified, dead, buried, and risen. Look to him, and he will save you. He said, "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32). The word is near us. It is in our mouths; we have no excuse. Christ the word is near you. The word of faith is near you, the word that demands the response of faith. Believe on him and be saved.
Paul writes, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. . . . He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near" (Eph. 2:13, 17). In the preaching of the gospel, Christ is lifted up for you to look to and be saved.
There is no excuse. When those who were invited refused to come for the feast of salvation, the poor came with gratitude and were saved. God's ministers are preaching the word of peace even now. We must add saving faith to it, that faith which God gives as a free gift. Paul says, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is the gift of God. Faith and repentance are gifts of God. Confession of faith is the gift of God. We only need to receive. Paul also says, "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him" (Phil. 1:29). That tells us faith is a gift. Peter says, "By faith in the name of Jesus this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is the name of Jesus and faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can see" (Acts 3:16).
Repent and believe. What God demands from us in response to the gospel, he also grants to us as gifts. He regenerates us and gives us godly repentance and saving faith. So we read in Romans 10:4, "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." The word is near us. Christ is near us. Salvation is near us. Righteousness is near us. Life and justification are near us. Forgiveness of all our sins is near us.
Forget about self-righteousness; it doesn't work. Only Christ's righteousness works. This is what is promised in the Old Testament: "In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness" (Jer. 23:6). The Lord himself says, "They will say of me, 'In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.' . . . But in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult" (Isa. 45:24a, 25). Again, he says: "Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel" (Isa. 46:12-13). Paul understood this and said, "It is because of him [God the Father] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). He also writes, "He who knew no sin became sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).
God is not going to perform a new miracle so that we may believe. The Pharisees always asked for miracles and signs. Remember the rich man who went to hell? He said, "You know, I have five arrogant and wicked brothers. They never believed in God. But I have an idea. You can send Lazarus to tell them, 'I just came from heaven. I saw your brother in hell, and he wants you to be saved.'" The rich man thought the brothers would believe Lazarus. But what did Abraham say? "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them. . . . If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead" (Luke 16:27-31).
Friends, we should not look for miracles because God has already performed his miracle in Christ by raising him from the dead. Scripture tells us that Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25). This is the gospel of peace.
What Must I Do to Be Saved?
What must I do to be saved? The answer, of course, is to believe and confess our Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul says, "That if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (vv. 9-10).
Believe with all your heart, saying, "I am a vile sinner under the wrath of God. But God loved me from all eternity, giving me grace in Jesus Christ. He became incarnate. This virgin-born Son of God lived a perfect life and died on the cross for my sins. He was buried and physically rose from the dead on the third day, never to die again. He gives me forgiveness of all my sins and freely gives me his righteousness. I receive by faith forgiveness and the righteousness of God. I receive by faith this glorious salvation. I believe in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation from the wrath of God, and from the penalty of sin, the pollution of sin, the power of sin, and, at my death, the presence of sin. By faith, I am united to Christ so that his life, grace, and power may flow into me. He is the vine and I am a branch among his branches. Because he lives, I live also. I fear nothing, not even death. Christ has triumphed over death and the devil. I am in Christ and shall never perish. In Christ I shall ever live in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. I am now a child of God. I am rich. I am an heir of God and co-heir with Jesus Christ. I am invincible. If God is for me, who can destroy me? When I am weak, then I am strong. Yes, I believe in his death for my sins and his resurrection for my justification."
Without belief in this resurrection of Jesus Christ, no one can be saved. If Christ is not risen, we are still in our sins and under God's wrath. But Christ is risen, and we are saved. Christ is risen, and he is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Christ is risen, and so God justifies the ungodly. This we believe with all our heart. Christ is risen, so all his claims about his person and work are true. The risen Christ has triumphed over all evil forces and destroyed death itself by his death. He did this for us, so we can say, "Neither death nor life . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39).
Without faith in the resurrection of Christ, Christianity falls. Without the resurrection, there is no justification. I believe what the Scripture declares: Christ is risen as victor; Christ is risen indeed. I do not need mysticism, subjectivism, sacramentalism, goose bump experiences, charismatic confusion, intercession of saints, or travel to holy sites. (PGM) I believe in Jesus Christ risen from the death. This means his sacrifice for my sins has been accepted by the Father and my sins are all forgiven.
There is no Christianity without the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith has content, and that content is Jesus Christ. We trust in him. Saving faith is not mere mental assent. It is embracing Christ, entrusting ourselves to him.
Listen to Paul: "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day" (2 Tim. 1:12). What do we entrust to him? Our entire life, and he is mighty enough to carry us, save us, and bring us to heaven.
Not only must we believe in Jesus Christ and his virgin birth, miracles, teachings, obedience, vicarious death, and resurrection, but we must also believe it with all our heart. If we so believe, we must confess what we believe. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
The same God who creates faith in our hearts to believe also creates confession. Peter confessed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). The Father created this confession through revelation; Peter did not come up with it himself. Paul writes, "Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus be cursed,' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' [literally, 'Jesus Lord'] except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3). We confess the objective confession, "Jesus Lord," which is the earliest Christian confession. Paul tells us that no one can say, "Jesus Lord," truly except by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. So not only does the Holy Spirit regenerate us and give us the gifts of repentance and faith, but he also enables us to confess with our mouths, "Jesus Lord."
Faith of the heart is confessed with the mouth. Paul says, "I believed; therefore, I have spoken" (2 Cor. 4:13). Faith and confession are linked inseparably. We cannot believe without confessing, that is, without giving witness to Jesus. The risen Christ said, "You shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you and you shall be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8). We cannot be witnesses without confessing, and we cannot confess without the Holy Spirit helping us: "They spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). We cannot confess unless we believe with all our heart that the Lord Jesus is risen from the dead.
When Peter was facing the Sanhedrin, the Holy Spirit came upon him and filled him, and he witnessed to Christ before this powerful body (Acts 4:8). Charles Hodge says, "Those who are ashamed or afraid to confess Christ before men cannot expect to be saved. The want of courage to confess is decisive evidence of the want of heart to believe."2
WHAT WE MUST CONFESS ABOUT JESUS
1) Jesus Is GodDr. C. E. B. Cranfield says, "For Paul, the confession that Jesus is Lord meant the acknowledgement that Jesus shares the name and the nature, the holiness, the authority, the power, majesty, and eternity of the one and only true God."3 Paul says, "We preach not ourselves; we preach Jesus Christ as Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5).
The tetragrammaton, the four letter word pronounced Jehovah or Yahweh, is used six thousand times in Old Testament in reference to God. The Septuagint translates it by the word Kurios. When the New Testament writers used Kurios to refer to Jesus Christ, they were consciously affirming that Jesus is God. IÍsous Kurios means Jesus is God.
Paul clearly tells us, "Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised. Amen" (Rom. 9:5). Jesus is God manifest in the flesh. Paul later says, "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom. 10:13), which is a quotation from Joel 2:32 now applied to Christ. If we call upon Jesus Christ, we will be saved. His word is near us. Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved.
Paul writes, "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11). The Old Testament uses this language to refer to God (Isa. 45:23), but Paul uses it to describe Jesus. No one will be saved unless he confesses with his mouth as the Holy Spirit creates it in his mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord (i.e., that he is God).
Elsewhere Paul says, "Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live" (1 Cor. 8:6). Who is Christ? Paul says, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. . . . For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Col. 1:17-18; 2:9).
So, then the believer must confess, first, that Jesus Christ is Lord, meaning he is God. He is fully God and fully man. In other words, the historical Jesus, who was born of virgin Mary, crucified, dead, buried, and risen, is none other than God himself, the second Person of the Trinity.
2) Jesus Is Lord of All
Not only must we believe, but we must also confess that Jesus Christ has all dominion in heaven and on earth. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Matt. 28:18). Paul writes, "His incomparably great power for us who believe . . . is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:19-23).
Speaking about baptism, Peter says, "It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand-with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him" (1 Pet. 3:21-22). Have you submitted to him? Whether you have or not, he is Lord. John calls him King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). When we say "Jesus is Lord" but refuse to surrender and submit to him and obey him and do what is pleasing to him, we are under a curse.
Jesus Christ is the triumphant victor over all evil: the devil, death, hell, and all evil forces. Paul says, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Col. 2:15).
In the second century, Polycarp, the old bishop of Smyrna, refused to confess Caesar as Lord. As far as Polycarp was concerned, Jesus alone was Lord, and he was killed for his confession. Today many Christians are being killed by the fanatics throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. The days may come when people stone us to death for our confession that Jesus Christ is Lord.
3) Jesus Alone Is Savior
A believer will also confess that Jesus alone is Savior. The angel said, "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). We are saved from our sins, not in our sins. Peter declares, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Paul states, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5). Have you believed in him and confessed him as Lord and Savior? Or are you trying to save yourself? Peter says, "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you. . . . He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Pet. 2:21, 24). We serve a living Savior.
4) Jesus Is the Head of the Church
Believers also confess that Jesus Christ is the head of the church. Jesus said, "On this rock I build my church, and the gates of [hell] will not overcome it" (Matt. 16:18). The church, with all power and authority, is not retreating; it is on the offensive. Jesus also said, "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matt. 18:20). Friends, do you understand that Jesus Christ is in our midst in his spirit? This is his church. Paul writes, "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior" (Eph. 5:23; see also 1:22-23).
5) Jesus Owns Us
We must believe the truth that Jesus, being Lord and God, owns us. He owns our minds, wills, emotions, properties, abilities, strength, education-everything we are and have. He is our only Master; we are his bondslaves, as Paul stated in the opening verse of this epistle: "Paul, a bondslave [Gk. doulos] of Christ Jesus" (Rom. 1:1; author's translation). Jesus is our owner; he bought us with his precious blood. It is not enough to say Jesus is Lord; we must confess, "Jesus is my Lord, my Savior, my King, my Shepherd, my Healer, my God. All I am and all I have belong to him alone, and therefore I submit to him and obey him." Paul received apostleship so that he may call the Gentiles unto the obedience that comes from faith, and we are to obey him immediately, exactly, and joyfully. Do you obey your Master Jesus?
6) Jesus Is the Coming Judge
Believers also confess Jesus as the coming judge. Peter declared, "He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead" (Acts 10:42). Paul said at the Areopagus in Athens, "For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:32). Jesus is coming again to judge all the wicked.
Listen to what Jesus said: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. . . . Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life" (Matt. 25:31-33, 46).
A Call to Confess Christ
Confession is not optional for a Christian. Jesus said, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven" (Matt. 10:32-33). Confess now. Confess before men, especially before unbelievers, that they may hear and believe.
Confess him at home. Confess him at baptism. Confess him in worship. Confess him at work. Confess him at school. Confess before enemies and don't worry if you are persecuted for your confession. Confess when you are tempted. Joseph said, "How . . . could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9). Daniel also confessed when tempted. When Satan tempted Jesus, the Son of God told the devil, "It is written." John writes, "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12:11). Speak about Christ when it matters. Confess in severe trials, which are coming. Muster all the strength that the Holy Spirit will give you to say, "Jesus Christ is Lord." Above all, confess at death, as Paul did: "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:6-8). After making his confession, the apostle walked out and was beheaded. Confess as David Livingstone, a missionary to Africa, did after laboring for many years. When he was about to die, he said, "Build me a hut to die in, for I am going home."4
We must confess the true confession, because there are false confessors in the church. Many people have been received into church membership because of the confession they made, only later to break their word. Of such people the Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men" (Isa. 29:13). Jesus also described them: "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:22-23). And Paul writes, "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good" (Tit. 1:16). John says, "If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth" (1 John 1:6).
Authentic faith and confession save us; but false faith and confession will send us to eternal punishment. We cannot be secret disciples. Jesus said, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). Do not cover your light under a bushel. You are the light of the world. Let your light shine in darkness. For there is no other light in the world.
We are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. Paul states, "For in this hope we were saved" (Rom. 8:24). He also writes, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18). Elsewhere he says, "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" (Rom. 5:9-10). Notice the three tenses of salvation: saved, being saved, and will be saved.
The saved will live a holy life, a life of obedience to God. They are not antinomians; rather, they will prove their repentance and faith by obedience. Christian antinomianism as championed by Lewis Sperry Chafer, Charles C. Ryrie, and Zane C. Hodges,5 professors of Dallas Theological Seminary, is a different gospel.6 But a different gospel cannot save anyone. It is easy believism; it is cheap grace. It is a gospel that demands no repentance, discipleship, or obedience-not even one obedient act.
Antinomianism says, "Let him who stole now steal more; after all, he is saved." It teaches that mere mental assent-an intellectual belief in the facts of the life of Jesus-is all we need for salvation; we do not need to entrust ourselves to Christ. It is a "both/and" philosophy, declaring that one can both live in sin and go to heaven. It says that one can live as the rich man here and as Lazarus in heaven (Luke 16). It allows those who like to sin to adjust their theology by subtracting holy living from the gospel. In fact, it says there is no necessity for regeneration. One can be eternally saved even with a dead faith, or if he or she becomes an apostate. Some Protestants and Catholics even believe in a perverse universalism, saying that everyone without exception is saved. They would say that all people, even people like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, are united to Christ, even though they are unconscious of it.7
Man's way of salvation is a lie. Listen to the godly Robert Haldane, whom God used to bring a revival in Switzerland: "If a man does not confess Christ at the hazard of life, character, property, liberty, and everything dear to him, he has not the faith of Christ."8 Professor John Murray agrees: "Confession without faith would be vain . . . But likewise faith without confession would be shown to be spurious."9
Friends, the word is near you. No one who has read this can say, "I didn't hear it." The word is near you. It is coming to you. Believe and confess our Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.
1 Pelagius (354-420/440 AD) did not believe in the thoroughly fallen nature of man.
2 Charles Hodge, A Commentary on Romans (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1989), 344.
3 C. E. B., Romans: A Shorter Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 259.
4 James M. Boice, Romans, Vol. 3, God and History, Chapters 9-11 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 1211.
5 See Lewis Sperry Chafer, He That Is Spiritual, rev. ed.; Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life; and Zane Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege, Dead Faith: What Is It? and Absolutely Free!
6 See the analysis of this false gospel by Dr. J. M. Boice in, Romans, Vol. 3: God and History, Chapters 9-11 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), pp. 1197-1212.
7 Papal Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, paragraph 14: "Man-every man without any exception whatever-has been redeemed by Christ, and because with man-with each man without any exception whatever-Christ is in a way united, even when man is unaware of it: "Christ, who died and was raised up for all, provides man"-each man and every man- "with the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme calling" (http://www.vatican.va/holyfather/johnpaulii/encyclicals/documents/hfjp-iienc04031979redemptor-hominisen.html)
8 Robert Haldane, Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1996), 508.
9 John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 56.
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Copyright © 2011, P. G. Mathew
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