Confessing the Faith
NCW 21, July 1995
Q. Why is it so important for new converts to make a public confession before they can be baptised and become Church members? There are people like myself who find speaking in public really hard. Isn't just living a Christian life enough?
The act of public confession is very important for many reasons even though it may be hard for an introvert or one not accustomed to speaking in front of alot of people. Making a public confession of faith is, as one Christian writer put it, "nailing one's colours to the mast" of the ship which is our life. It is a declaration of independence from the world and of an new citizenship in heaven. It is a renouncement of the world system and a signal to those who we know in the world that we can no longer be regarded as men or women of the world any longer -- we belong to a new family which obeys different rules.
There is no such thing as a closet Christian -- Christianity is public. But there is another much more vital reason for making a public confession of faith because there is a promise vitally tied up to it. For the moment we make public confession we receive our call to eternal life! Paul says to Timothy:
As we make a public confession we take hold of eternal life -- not before! It is at that moment that we confess before believers and unbelievers that eternal life enters us in a complete way. Receiving Jesus as Saviour privately is the first step to receiving eternal life but the completion does not properly come until we make a sincere and good confession before people. Paul goes on to say that we are to confess as Jesus confessed before Pilate (v.13ff).
"But you, O man of God, shun these things [controversy, envy, wrangling, slander, base suspicions, perpetual contention, money, love of money, etc.] and go after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called as you made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Tim.6:11-12, RBV).
The act of true confession empowers us with divine life. It renews us. Confession of Christ before others is greatly approved of by the Lord and wins great blessings from Him. Dare we not receive the fullness of eternal life by failing to confess? Who would wish to miss such a blessing, selfish though that appeal might seem. More importantly, God expects it of us. And if He expects it of us, what right do we have to refuse especially when it costs us so little compared to the price Christ had to pay to make that eternal life available in the first place.
Therefore I urge you not to miss this vital step in your spiritual sanctification. This cannot be a mechanical confession, moreover, but must come from the heart -- it must be "good", otherwise it is a plastic confession of no value whatsoever. If God expects you to do something and you feel unable to, remember that He will empower you to do what you cannot do in your own strength. Trust Him. And once you have tasted the sheer delight of making a good confession, you will wish to do it over and over again. It is, in a way, the beginning of a life of confession -- of witnessing -- of what God in Christ has done for us. I would even go so far as to say that a Christian who has never made a public confession has not become a complete Christian and has stagnated in his spiritual growth.
This page was created on 2 May 1998
Last updated on 2 May 1998
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