Confessing the Faith
To Believe is to Dive In
There is no more important question to be able to answer in this life than this one: "Am I saved?" Sadly, it is asked so often by Christians without a real appreciation of its true substance that it has almost become a worn cliché - there are people who say they are saved who are most assuredly not saved at all because they are not following God's rule book, the Bible. To illustrate my point let me give you an example.
Let us imagine that Joe does something seriously wrong. He bashes Fred on the head with a big stick and seriously hurts him. He afterwards deeply regrets what he has done, feels bad about it, and feels guilty in his heart. He says to himself and to God in his heart that what he did was wrong and feels bad. The question then is: has he completely repented? Has he made right what he did wrong? The answer, as we all know, is: No, he has not done everything he should have done - he has not gone to Joe and confessed his error. And that is what I want to talk about today in replation to salvation: the act of confession because as you will see it is vitally important.
The apostle Paul wrote: "...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" (Rom.10:9, NIV).
Believing in your heart that a sin is wrong or that Yah'shua (Jesus) is your Saviour is indeed vitally important, but until you have confessed it with your mouth your repentance or salvation is not complete. The act of speaking - of confession - is essential and we shall now find out why.
Imagine that you are about to marry. You take your intended spouse to the wedding ceremony and the required witnesses. You stand before the altar ready to take your vows. In your heart you want to marry your girl, and she wants to marry you, making a life-long committment. The officiator asks: "Do you, Joe, take Mary to be your lawfully wedded wife?" Joes says he does in his heart but doesn't open his mouth. He continues: "Do you, Mary, take Joe to be your lawfully wedded husband." In her heart she says yes but her lips remain still. Have they entered into a covenant? Of course not! The officiator has no idea if Joe and Mary are serious about their committment and the witnesses are entirely useless because they haven't witnessed anything. Unless they are dumb, in which case they need to write their confession, or deaf, in which case the officiator needs to write his question down, or both, in which case they need to use braile or some other form of communication, there is no way that they can enter into a covenant. They are, quite simply, not married!
Let's take another example. You go to a job interview. Your new prospective employers are happy with your application and offer you a job. They then discuss salary with you. "Mr.Brown", they ask, "are you happy to accept an annual salary of $100,000?" You sit there in silence though you say "yes" in your heart. They put a contract before you to sign but you do not sign it because you feel that saying "yes" in your heart is good enough. Not only could they change your salary but they could fire you from your job whenever they wanted to. There was no agreement!
These days most agreements are sealed by signing legal documents. Somebody's word isn't good enough because so many people are liars, unless there are witnesses (though they could bear false witness too). But in God's eyes our word is our bond. What that means is that we are held accountable for every word we speak. Anciently written contracts weren't made because it was generally understood that if a man said he would do something in the presence of witnesses that this was legally binding. Keeping one's word was always a matter of the greatest honour such that some people would die for it.
The fact that keeping your word in today's evil society doesn't mean much doesn't mean that it ceases to be important for Yahweh. Quite the contrary, even if people today in the West don't keep their word any longer, God most certainly does. Just as a marriage is not valid in God's eyes before he couple have verbally confessed their intention to be married for the rest of their lives in the presence of two witnesses, so a person who is able to speak who does not publically confess his belief in Christ before two or more witnesses (assuming they are available - if he converts in the Sahara Desert with no-one else around and then dies, then this would be an exception to the rule), then that person is not saved.
Now I repeat what the apostle Paul said: "...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" (Rom.10:9, NIV). Notice he makes the point of saying "confess with your mouth". To be sure, the heart has a vitally important part to play, and arguably the most important part, but without that verbal confession, you are not a Christian, and more than you are married if you refuse to say "yes" to marrying Joe or Mary. God will hold you accountable no matter what you may think about the matter because He is the law-giver, not you.
I know of a man who was shown in vision many souls who believed in Christ but who never confessed Him with their lips who were in hell. He was shocked by what he saw, presuming that belief was enough. But the Lord taught Him that He meant what He wrote in His Word, the Bible - that nothing in His Word is superfluous. Paul could not have put it plainer: to be saved you must believe with your heart and confess with your mouth. It's as simple as that.
Well, we have seen in the examples of the marriage ceremony and the salary offer of the practical necessity of verbal confession. Why is it important? Because we cannot see into another's heart even though sometimes we may discern that they mean the opposite of what they are apparently conveying. So, if God can see into our hearts - which He can - surely just believing is enough?
This would indeed be an accurate observation but it lacks two important things. Firstly, we live in a society of other human beings. It is important that others know, in the case of marriage for example, that a couple are married and protected by God's Promises in the Ten Commandments - that marriage is sacred and that any intrusion will not only be vigorously opposed but that we know we can call upon like-minded believers to defend our marriage. All true Christians are under a covenant to defend the marriages of others who have entered into true covenants. You see, the marriage contract affects everyone. Thus fellow Christians have an obligation to defend my marriage against intruders. If they don't know I am married, they have no obligation. So long as there are those two witnesses, and they in their turn have witnessed to others that we are married, then that contract is legally binding in the human community. Similarly, written contracts are (or ought to be) defended by the law.
So there is the aspect of the community. A marriage contract is legally binding within the community of true believers. It affects all of us. Thus if I am held accountable before God to defend all marriage, no matter who's.
But there's a second reason why verbal contracts are vitally important and in some ways more important. And it concerns our adversary the devil, or Satan. Satan can only act against us if we break certain rules that God has established. If a Christian is obeying a commandment, Satan cannot touch that person. He has no legal right to interfere. If a Christian refuses to confess with his mouth before witnesses that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Christ, then Satan can say: "God, Joe has not obeyed your commandment to make verbal confession. He has disobeyed you. According to the laws which You have created this removes Your protection from him and I am entitled to break in to his life and cause mischief, even to denying him salvation." And when Satan says this, God cannot object because Joe has given Satan legal rights to attack him. I repeat, most soberly, that if you disobey a commandment, Yahweh cannot fulfill the promises that attach to obedience to that commandment, and Satan has a free hand. So even if you believe in your heart, and God knows you believe, unless you make verbal confession before witnesses, Satan has the right to deny your being saved! Mark that well: Satan can say: "Joe cannot claim your salvation because he disobeyed Your Word." And God will not be able to do anything about it, because were He to ignore His own laws, the universe would collapse.
Let me give one example of the consequences of disobedience to a commandment will do to you. One of the ten commandments reads: "Honour your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord God is giving you" (Ex.20:12, NIV). This is what is called a commandment with a promise: if we honour our parents we will live long in the land God has given us. Well, Israel disobeyed that commandment and gave Satan the legal right to send in armies from foreign nations to attack, destroy and enslave the people - first the Assyrians and then the Babylonians, though Iserael was harrassed by many other nations too. As soon as God's people disobeyed, the wall of protection was gone.
So, let me again read to you what Paul said but this time I want to read you the next verse too: "...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" (Rom.10:9-10, NIV). Note this well: we believe and are justified with our heart, but we are saved only when we confess with out mouths.
Now at this point I need to explain something what it actually means to "believe", and to do that I am going to quote from the Applified Version of the Bible which explains a little more what the Greek word we translate as "believe" actually means: "...if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Ibid., v.9, Amp.Ver.).
To believe is not simply to accept the fact that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Messiah (Christ) who saves, for even the devil and his demonic angels do that (James 2:19), but it is to adhere to, to trust in, and to rely on the truth. In short, it means that we believe everything that God has said and they we earnestly seek to obey His commandments. It means more than passive faioth - it means active reliance on Christ, trusting Him completely by letting Him be the Lord of our life. Notice one of the key elements that Paul mentions is that we must genuinely believe that God raised Christ from the dead. A belief in the physical resurrection - an historical event in time - is an unconditonal must.
To fail to confess that Yah'shua (Jesus) is our Lord and Saviour in public is not to lead a life of faith but a life of hiding. It is to lead a double life, for without making a verbal confession, no-one will ever know who we are and assume that we are not true believers and, if they are unbelievers, assume that we are unbelievers also. In short, they will believe that we do not believe we are saved. And they will be right! When a person fails to confess Yah'shua (Jesus) as Lord and Saviour they ae admitting in their hearts that they are afraid of what the world thinks about them, and in so doing are sending out a very clear signal that they do not trust in God's ability to care for and protect them. There are no secret believers. So long as the verbal confession has not been made, that person is not saved and Satan has legal ground to claim him as belonging to him. There are no closet Christians, only those who know they ought to be saved but refuse to be because of fear.
Now the word "believe" does not mean a once only event, of accepting that Yah'shua (Jesus) is who He claims to be, and then forgetting about it. It is not just a single action in a moment of time but is a continuing action. To believe means to always believe; to trust means to always trust; to adhere to the truth means to always adhere to the truth as a moment by moment committment into eternity. To believe in Christ is therefore to continue believing in Christ. It's common sense, really. If you decide that smoking is wrong, you don't think it is wrong one moment and then forget it the next. It's a conviction that you continue to hold.
Now let me read verse 10 again in the Amplified Version because there were perhaps one or two words which you didn't understand. I'll read verse 9 again also:
"...if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses - declares openly and speaks out freely his faith - and confirms [his] salvation" (Ibid., v.9, Amp.Ver.).
In the same way that a person who truly believes continues to believe after the first moment of his conviction, so a person who makes his first public confession continues to confess the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) in everything he does. In short, he will be a witness of his Lord. Now this doesn't mean that our lives - the way we live - is the witness of Christ we bring to the world (important though that is), but rather the main witness we have consists of verbally confessing to others that Yah'shua (Jesus) is our Saviour and Lord. Confession is a continuous thing, beginning with out first confession (which is our first public witness and a condition of being saved, denying Satan power over us) and our continuing confession as we see seek to share the Good News with others.
I would imagine that these two verses are perhaps two of the most powerful statements in Scripture because in them God makes a complete claim on the lives of those who believe the truth about His Son. To be a Christian is neither a secret or a part-time profession - it demands everything of us. You cannot be a secret or a part-time Christian anymore than you can be a secret or a party-time Prime Minister of a country. You are a representative of the Truth all your life. You become an ambassador for God.
At this point it is not uncommon for many people who are young in spirit to recoil in fear. Many times I have heard the excuse, "Oh, I'm not good enough to be a Christian" or "I can't possibly do all that God wants of me". But these are not valid. For one thing, being a Christian is a very easy thing indeed. In the two verses I have been quoting Paul says it all. To begin with, he says that salvation is, in its essence, not so much what we do but whether we are truly trusting. A small child can do very little for itself and relies on its parents for so many things. It is the same with a Christian. In our own power there is little we can do to be the kind of holy person that God expects of us, because it simply isn't in us. But that's the whole point: all we need is obtained from trusting in Christ. Furthermore, let me underline again what Paul says about what it is to be justified, that is, to be declared righteous and acceptable to God. I repeat: "For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God)" (Ibid, v.10a, AMp.Ver.). It is not so much what you have done or are doing that makes you right with God, but the fact that you are fully and completely trusting in him.
It's exactly at this point that people miss out what the Christian faith is all about. They believe that they cannot be a Christian, or that God cannot accept them as saved and belonging to Himm, unless they are perfect and living all the commandments to the letter. To be saved is to be actively trusting - relying on - Christ. Obedience is the act of worship of a saved person and, ultimately, perfection is the result. Being perfect does not save us - perfection is the ultimate reward because perfection is what brings us complete release and happiness. To claim that a person must be pefect before he can be a Christian is the same as telling a child he must be a mature adult before he can be a human! But nevertheless that child must continue to trust.
Similarly, young Christians must continue to trust in Christ as they grow and mature in Him. The important thing is active trust and active confession. That is all that saves! That is all that makes a person a genuine born-again, saved believer! Not a one-off confession or a momentary belief, but a continuing confession and belief. Listen to the promise that Paul gives in the next verse to those who will do this:
"---No man who believes in Him - who adheres to, relies on and trusts Him - will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed" (Ibid., v.11, Amp.Ver. cp Is.28:16; 49:23; Jer.17:7; Ps.34:22).
"..faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ, the Messiah [Himself]" (v.17).
Do you see how it works? We believe, we confess, and we help others believe by confessing our faith to them. It's like a chain letter, except this chain letter leads to eternal life for those who actively join it. We don't have to be masterful theologians to witness...
False religion teaches that we must be perfect to please God. True religion teaches that we must actively trust in the one Messiah, Yah'shua (Jesus) to make us perfect gradually through our obedience to the commandments, and to help others do the same by confessing the Saviour to others that they might actively believe too. Every Christian is a missionary, every Christian a lay preacher. He doesn't have to be a scholar - all he has to do is teach the simple, basic facts and let Christ do the rest. There are Elders, Pastors, Evangelists and others whose call is to go deeper into the faith, answer difficult questions, etc. It is Christ who does the work - we are merely His mouthpieces.
This page was created on 26 January 2001
Last updated on 26 January 2001
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