Cross Points 7/24

The Good Confession

You’ve probably seen it many times and said the words yourself when you went forward to become a Christian during a worship service.  The minister asks you, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?”  The person responds with, “Yes, I believe that!” or some similar words.  We refer to this in Christian Church circles as “the good confession.”

Jesus had said, “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges (confesses) me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8, 9).  The Apostle Paul had added later, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  So, this idea of confessing Jesus is a big deal.  But do we properly understand it?

We usually think of “the good confession” as what the Apostle Peter said when Jesus asked who he was at Caesarea Philippi.  You’ll recall that Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16).  That’s is where we get our words often used in the confession we request when someone becomes a Christian.  But is that the good confession?

Interestingly, when the Apostle Paul writes to his apprentice Timothy, he uses the phrase “good confession” in his letter.  Listen to his words: “Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession…” (I Timothy 6:12).  So, Timothy made the “good confession” and it was what Jesus said before Pontius Pilate.  How is that different from what the Apostle Peter said?  What did Jesus confess before Pilate?

If you look in the gospel accounts of Jesus before Pontius Pilate, you find Pilate asking Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  In each case Jesus confesses that he is (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 18).  So, what Paul calls the “good confession” is not that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, but that Jesus is King!  Certainly, we need to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, but when we confess him as King of our lives, that puts a different spin on it.  Instead of just being something we believe, it becomes something that we actively are pursuing; Jesus as our Lord, as our King, we are his disciple!

That needs to be true for each of us.  There is nothing wrong with asking a new convert if they believe Jesus is the Messiah, God’s only begotten Son, but the demonstration of faith needed is for them to confess him as King, to walk as his disciple, to say it initially, but then to practice it continually!

So, the question for you and me becomes: What confession is active for us as individuals?  Is it merely a mental belief exercise, but not involving much otherwise, or are we active disciples living and changing as we learn of his ways, making our faith known, worshipping him as king through how we live?

Cross Point: “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).