Confession is Essential to Salvation
When the Word condescended to become like created man, choosing to become even the servant of man (Philippians 2:6-8), He didn’t appear to those of the human race as the “the Dayspring from on high” (Luke 1:78) who left heaven and came to earth. As a man, Jesus appeared in no way different than any other man, having neither beauty nor any other physical characteristic that would distinguish or set Him apart from other humans (Isaiah 53:2, 3). Through the process of the virgin birth, the Word who was God (John 1:1) became the Son of God (Luke 1:35), becoming the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14), and explaining the invisible God of eternity through His visible manifestation in the flesh as “the only begotten God” (John 1:18).
Jesus Christ is absolutely the most unique Person to ever walk the earth. He is identified as the Son of God, because in His body of flesh, His Fatherhood is deity (Matthew 1:18). The term Son of God is not descriptive of Christ as somehow being less than God or subordinate to God in origin or time, but rather, it indicates that, while taking on the flesh of humanity, He remained fully God in every way that God is God (John 10:31-39). While the term is sometimes used to define the relationship which began when He took on a body in the incarnation (Luke 1:33, 35), the term is also used as an expression of character, revealing that those who confessed Him to be the Son of God believed He was a manifestation of God in a human body, e.g., Matthew 14:33; John 1:49.
Jesus also spoke of Himself as the Son of Man more than eighty times as we have record. This title identifies His human nature, because in His body of flesh, His motherhood is humanity. Jesus was not the offspring of a human father, yet He called Himself the Son of Man. In the same manner that the term Son of God does not indicate an inferiority to God or a less-than-God nature, neither does the term Son of Man indicate that He is less than or inferior to man. In other words, the term Son of God meant He was absolute God – not God in a secondary or derived sense as most are apt to believe; likewise, the term Son of Man is used to indicate He was fully human in every way that every man is human.
W. E. Vine commented on the term “Son of Man,” saying, “While it is a messianic title it is evident that the Lord applied it to Himself in a distinctive way, for it indicates more than Messiahship, even universal headship on the part of the One who is Man. It therefore stresses His manhood, manhood of a unique order in comparison with all other men, for He is declared to be of heaven, I Cor. 15:47” (1996, p. 586). His incomparable distinctiveness derives from the dual nature of His Being which came together in the incarnation, i.e., the human and divine nature in one truly unique individual (cf. Matthew 22:41-46).
On the day Christ was baptized, God the Father confessed from heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11). Jesus lived a life of sinless perfection (Hebrews 4:15). After demonstrating the uniqueness of His life before His disciples, Jesus asked them who other men thought He was. The answers they gave suggested some truly great men, but not the greatest. Jesus then turned the question to His own disciples, asking, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). The question was answered by Peter with what has become known as the Great Confession. Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).
This confession was more than Peter acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah. It recognizes the intimate relationship of Christ with deity. Christ made this confession the bedrock foundation of Christianity, stating, “Upon this rock I will build My church” (v. 18). No man can approach God acceptably who fails to confess Christ as the Son of God. Jesus said, “Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32, 33).
Confession of Christ is made a requisite action for all seeking salvation. Christ was condemned to death on the basis of the good confession (Mark 14:62; John 19:7), and Paul later wrote, “Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses. I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession…” (1 Timothy 6:12, 13). Christ was appointed to die when He made the good confession concerning Himself, and likewise, all men, upon making the same good confession, must die to self in order to live with Him (Romans 6:1ff).
The church at Rome was told, “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Confession of Christ with the mouth is made equal in importance to all other acts requisite to salvation. No single act is more important, neither is any act that is specified by Christ and the apostles to be dismissed as unessential. Salvation belongs to those who have become “obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered” (Romans 6:17).
The word “confess” is homologeo, a combination of homos (same), and lego (to speak). Thus the word confess means “to speak the same thing,” or, in other words, “to agree with some person with reference to something.” Regarding salvation, Kenneth Wuest says, “To confess the Lord Jesus means therefore to be in agreement with all that Scripture says about Him, which includes all that the two names imply…The name ‘Jesus’ is the transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew name we know as ‘Jehoshua,’ the latter meaning, ‘Jehovah saves.’ The name ‘Lord’ is kurios which in the Greek version of the Old Testament is used for the august name ‘Jehovah,’ and by its use, implies deity. Thus, to confess Jesus as Lord includes a heart belief in his deity, incarnation, vicarious atonement and bodily resurrection” (1966, Romans 10:9, 10).
The infant church faced many teachings that ran opposed to the doctrine delivered by the apostles; the same as the church today. Even in the very dawn of Christianity, both the deity of Christ and His humanity were coming under attack by uninspired teachers. The Cerenthian and Gnostic heresies denied the possibility of the incarnation, i.e., the union of deity and humanity. These perversions were straightway addressed by the apostles.
In order to distinguish between teachers inspired by the Spirit of God and uninspired men teaching vain philosophies which assaulted the word of truth, John warned, “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it cometh; and now it is in the world already” (1 John 4:2, 3). John went on to say, ““Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15).
Having the inspired and authoritative word of God now in our possession in a written, bound volume, the truth of Christ’s divine nature taking on the human nature is clearly discernible throughout the Scriptures. God has borne witness to the identity of Christ as the Son of God by resurrecting Him from the dead (Romans 1:4), and John says, “The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son” (I John 5:10).
To believe and confess Christ is to obey all that Christ has taught. The gospel of John reveals that “many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42). James explained how even “the demons believe, and shudder” (2:19). When Jesus crossed over the Sea of Galilee to the country of the Gadarenes, the demon possessed man cried out a confession, saying, “What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Luke 8:28).
These passages evince that neither belief alone, nor belief and confession without further acts of obedience constitute hope for salvation. Properly understood, to believe in Christ is not mere mental assent to His existence, but to believe in Christ is to trustfully obey all that He has commanded in order to be saved. To confess Christ is not merely the act of acknowledging Him, but to claim Him; it is to agree with all the Bible says about Him, humbly submitting yourself under His control as Lord of your life. Many desire Jesus Christ to be their Savior, but far fewer seek Him to be Lord of their life.
During the first gospel sermon, Peter told the Jews gathered before him, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). It is impossible to accept Christ as Savior while denying Him the role of Lord over your life. Because of the willingness of the Word to become flesh, humbling Himself to the lowly position of created man, even dying the undeserved death of the cross, Paul says, “Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).
Someday every knee will bow and confess Christ as Lord, but that day will be too late to begin serving Him. The man who was born blind but healed by Jesus did not delay in his obedience. When Christ asked Him if he believed in the Son of Man, the man asked that crucial question – “And who is He…that I may believe?” Jesus identified Himself as the One, and the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he fell down and worshipped Jesus (John 9:1-41). Following His resurrection and the subsequent appearances Jesus made to the apostles, they began to express their belief by worshipping Him (Matthew 28:17). Thomas, although initially doubtful, confessed Christ in the most scriptural sense of the term, lauding Him, “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28).
Confession is essential to salvation. In order to be saved, every man must be willing, like Thomas, to claim Christ as Lord and God. To view Him as less is to blaspheme His holy mission of redemption, and thus consign one’s self to an unthinkable eternity. We should never forget the encouraging words of John: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
Belief in Christ changes the heart; repentance changes the conduct; and confession changes the Lord of your life. Have you relinquished control over your own life by claiming Jesus as both Lord and Christ, confessing Him to be the only begotten Son of God and Savior of mankind? Have you made the ultimate confession before Christ, humbly recognizing Him as: “My Lord and My God”?
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