Very few Christians actually realise the place that confession holds in God's scheme of things. Unfortunately, whenever the word "confession" is used, many invariably think of confessing sins, weaknesses and failures. That is the negative side of confession. There is, however, a positive side of confession, which the Bible has more to say about than the negative. The Penguin English Dictionary defines "confession" not only as a confession of sins, but as a "declaration of faith or creed." That is why true Christianity throughout the centuries has been known as "The Great Confession". The dictionary also defines a "confessor" as "a Christian who has suffered for his faith". The apostles and early fathers of the faith were "bold confessors" of the Word of God. Let us look at five of these "bold confessions."
1. We find the first three denying the King's order to bow down before the golden image. What was the "bold confession" of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego? (Daniel 3:16-18) _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. As a result of the "bold confessions" of their faith, what happened? (Daniel 3:21) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Because of their faith and commitment to God, loving not their lives unto death, what did the Lord do for them? (Daniel 3:24-27) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
4. What did the King say about their "bold confession" of faith? (Daniel 3:28)
As a result of these men's "bold confessions" of faith, God was exalted and glorified; and according to the Scripture, they prospered greatly in the province of Babylon.
5. We find the next man denying the edict of the King, which said that anyone making a petition to any god or man besides the King, was to be thrown to the lions. What was Daniel's "bold confession"? (Daniel 6:10) _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
6. As a result of the "bold confession" of faith, what happened? (Daniel 6:16-17) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
7. Because of Daniel's faith and commitment to God, loving not his life unto death, what did the Lord do for him? (Daniel 6:20-23) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
8. Because of the "bold confession" of Daniel's faith, what was recognised about his God? (Daniel 6:25-27)
So God was glorified and exalted through the faith of Daniel and as it is written in verse 28: "Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian."
9. We find the fifth "bold confessor" of faith boldly proclaiming and confessing the Word of God before the high priest and elders of Israel and the synagogue of the Freedmen. What was the "bold confession" of Stephen? (Acts 7:51-52, 55-56) _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
10. As a result of Stephen's "bold confessions" of faith, what happened? (Acts 7:57-60) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
11. Because of Stephen's faith and commitment to God, loving not his life unto death, what happened? (Acts 7:58,60; 9:15) _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
As a result of Stephen's "bold confession" and his forgiving spirit, a young man named Saul, who was later to become the great apostle Paul, heard the gospel and was released from the sin of murdering Stephen that he might be saved.
We learn here of the great importance and saving quality of forgiveness, which forgiveness can only truly come about as a result of boldly confessing the faith. Very often we only forgive superficially -- with the mind, and not with our whole hearts -- because our whole hearts are not involved in our Christian discipleship.
Bold confession develops our faith and our capacity to really forgive and thus free souls. Very often a person is retarded from coming to the Christian faith because others hold grudges or feel bitterness towards him. Any kind of hatred of hostility towards a living soul has the effect of binding him in his spiritual progression. We are thus accountable for their lack of salvation. This applies to both the living as well as the "dead" (those on the other side of the veil).
12. What blessing did Stephen's interceding for his murderers and his bold confession bring to the world? (Acts 9:11-16) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Your personal act of forgiveness towards another, cultivated through a bold confession of the faith could, like Stephen's, result in the salvation of many people. It is a mistake to think that we are solo missionaries. We work together and more often than not never see the fruits of our work in this life.
The cultivation of faith leads to boldness of faith and the complete conversion of the soul. Complete conversion, which the disciples never really had until after Christ's death and resurrection, leads to the miracle of forgiveness and the multiplication of the love of Christ throughout the world.
13. What does Paul record in Hebrews about the "bold confessions of faith"? (Hebrews 11:33-38) _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
We see that by faith great victories were won for the Kingdom of God, and also by faith men were willing to give their lives for what they believed to be true. This kind of faith is the very essence and heart of the Gospel. It is the kind of faith that agrees with God's Word and stands for it; never backs down, even in the face of death. By this faith, the men of old gained approval from God. This is faith in its maturity.
14. How shall we overcome the enemy? (Revelation 12:11)
Write down the steps you plan to take to become a bold confessor of the faith. What is the difference between "testimony" and "bold confession"? Is it a question of "passive" and "active" witness? What is the difference? Is it enough to simply "befriend" people in order to reach them with the Gospel? Will this be enough to generate the kind of love, faith and forgiveness required of active discipleship? Did Stephen befriend Saul? What excuses have you been making not to be a "bold confessor"? When should one "boldly confess", and when should one not? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Write down and memorise the following Scripture: Revelation 12:11