Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 12, 1959
NUMBER 27, PAGE 1,9b-11b

The Good Confession

John W. Wilson, San Bernardino, California

The purpose of this brief article is to set forth truth from God's word on the confession. Before one can receive the right baptism he must make the right confession and before the right confession can be made one must know the Bible teaching on the subject.

Faith Must Be Right

For the confession to be made in sincerity the heart must be right in faith. We must believe Jesus Christ to be God's Son, (Acts 8:37.) This faith comes by "hearing the word of the gospel," (Acts 15:7.) Only what is in the heart can be honestly confessed. "Out of the heart are the issues of life," (Prov. 4:23.) And, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." (Prov. 23:7.) "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness," (Rom. 10:10.)

What Is To Be Confessed

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.. ." (Rom. 10:9,10.)

This passage clearly shows that the confession to be made is that which is first believed in the heart. The confession is made with the mouth, but from the heart. If the faith in the heart is wrong then the confession with the mouth cannot be right. Let us suppose that a sinner is taught that he can be saved by faith only. Now this is false for the Bible says we are not justified by faith only, (Jas. 2:24.) But, being taught this error, and believing himself to be saved at the point of faith, what confession does he make? In becoming a member of the Baptist Church he confesses, "I believe that God has for Christ's sake pardoned my sins." Such a confession is nowhere found in the Bible, and the only thing closely resembling it is not a confession at all, but a statement made by one already baptized. This ldnd of confession is therefore not scriptural. Not being scriptural, it must be unscriptural. Why did this sinner make the wrong confession? His teaching was wrong, his faith was wrong, and he could not make the right confession. Hence, the right confession requires the right faith and the right faith requires the right teaching, the word of God. "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37.) This must be taught, this must be believed, and this must be confessed in order to be saved. This is what must be confessed.

Who Should Make It

Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mk. 16:15,16.) Salvation is for every lost soul in all the world. But faith is required, and repentance is required, (Acts 17:30.) The believer who has repented is also required to confess with the mouth that which he believes in his heart, (Rom. 10:9,10.) We have already learned that one must be taught by the word of God that Jesus is the Son of God, in order to believe it; and we have also learned that one must confess what he has been taught to believe — that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Since infants cannot be taught, they cannot make the good confession. Neither can the idiot, the insane, or the demented. These then are not under the command. There are some who will not believe, (Acts 2:13), and certainly will not make the confession. Then Jesus spake of some who did believe, but said, "Because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John 12:32,43.) If we do not love God more than we love men we would not make the confession if we could, and we could not if we would, and it would not do us any good if we did.

Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 10:32.) Everyone who wishes to be presented to the Father above by Christ as one of his own should confess him before men. The number to be confessed before God in heaven is limited to the number that confesses Christ before men on earth. This should settle the question as to who should make the confession. If you are a mature responsible person and wish to be named before God in heaven, you should confess Christ.

Why Make It

1. Because God's word commands it, (Matt. 10:32): We dare not minimize any command of God, for we read, "Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city," (Rev. 22:14.) Entering the city of God depends upon doing the commandments of God. All who obey not the gospel will be punished with an everlasting punishment, (2 Thess. 1:7-9). The confession is one of God's commands.

2. Because it is unto salvation, (Rom. 10:10): We have already read, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." The confession is one of the steps in the path that must be walked in coming into at saved state or relationship. It is unto salvation. The preposition "unto" looks forward. Confession looks toward, leads in the direction of, salvation.

3. Because without it we will be denied before God (Matt. 10:33): If you will read Matthew 10:23 you will see that Jesus will deny before God those who deny him before men. If we fail to make the confession here, he will deny us there.

These are three reasons which should impress us as to why the confession should be made. God commands it, it is unto salvation, and without it we will be denied before God in heaven. Why make it? Indeed! Why not make it? In the face of God's command, the promise that it is unto our salvation, and the awful threat of being denied before God for failure to make it, who that wants to go to heaven would object to making it? Friend, have you confessed him? Then why not confess the sweetest name that ever graced the lips of men?

Why Some Leave Out In view of what you have already read you may be surprised to know that some preachers leave the confession out of the plan of salvation. The argument is made that since God knows what is in the heart it is unnecessary for the sinner to make the confession with the mouth. This argument, if true, would do away with prayer on the part of the Christian. God also knows what is in the heart of the Christian. He knows what we need before we ask him, (Matt. 6:8), but he still commands us to ask. It is also argued that since the sinner requests baptism, this is evidence to the preacher of his faith and the confession with the mouth is not needed. Will you read Acts 8:35-40 Here we have an inspired evangelist preaching Jesus unto a lost sinner. "And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, see here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Surely this question indicated to Philip that the eunuch believed what had been preached. But this did not make the confession unnecessary, for we read, "And Phillip said, if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God." Upon this confession Philip baptized him; upon nothing more, nothing less, and certainly nothing else in the way of a confession, can one be baptized by Divine authority. But we are told by some that verse 37, the verse containing the confession, is not in the American Standard Version of the Bible. This is true, and I have that version before me as I write this. But I see they add a footnote which reads, "Some ancient authorities insert, wholly or in part, ver. 37." They then quote the confession the eunuch made. You will also notice that this same version inserts a footnote on Mk. 16 which reads, "The two oldest Greek manuscripts and some other authorities, omit from ver. 9 to the end." It is a fact that the same two old Greek manuscripts which omit ver. 9 to the end of Mark 16, also omit all of Revelation chapter 20. But it is easy to see that these passages belong in the text, and they are in many other old manuscripts. If we omit verse 37 of Acts 8, the sense of the narrative is broken. Besides, as we have already seen, other passages command the confession. Any position that must resort to casting doubt upon scripture to sustain it is indeed hard-pressed. The objection to the confession is such a position. But we are told again that the confession is to be made by those who are already saved, and not by the lost. While it is true that Christians must not deny Christ, indeed must continue to confess him, this does not prove that alien sinners are not required to make the confession. Christians must believe — continue in faith, and repent of sins, but this does not prove that these commands are not enjoined upon the alien sinner. In fact, it is admitted that they are binding. Then why not the confession? We are reminded that Matt. 10:32 was spoken to the disciples, and we are told that it does not apply to the lost. May we also point out that Mk. 16:16 was spoken to the disciples. Does this not apply to the lost? Observe that Matt. 10:32 says, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men . . ." That seems to be broad enough to include the lost. While the disciples were to continue to confess him and never to deny him, they were also to convert the lost. One step the lost would have to take in being saved was also to confess him.

The argument is made that Rom. 10:9,10 was written to the church at Rome, therefore the confession there applies to Christians. But what about Romans chapter 6; does the baptism there apply to Christians? Surely not, for baptism is for the remission of sins of those not yet in the church, (Acts 2:38.) Furthermore, baptism is into the one body which is the church, (I Cor. 12:13, Eph. 1:22,23.) If we will read Romans 10, we shall notice that the confession there is to be made as a part of the plan of God for calling on the name of the Lord. "Whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Rom. 10:13.) Peter quoted this same passage from Joel 2:30, in Acts 2:21, and applied it to the lost outside the church. The contention that Rom. 10:9,10 applies to the church, or to those in the church, is wrong. This confession is to be made with the mouth and is unto salvation. The Christian is already saved. They reply to this by telling us that the salvation in Rom. 10:9,10 is the same as that in I Pet. 1:9, which reads, "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." Obviously here Peter refers to the salvation of Christians in heaven. But we have already seen that the salvation in Rom. 10:9,10 is the same as the salvation contemplated in Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, which was addressed to those not in the church. The position that leaves the confession out of the plan of salvation is false.

Some agree that they must in some way be convinced of the faith of a sinner before they would baptize him, but contend that such faith could be made known in many ways. Yes, but why not let it be made known in the one way recorded in the Bible? Why not let the person desiring to obey God in baptism make the confession with the mouth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? I would not baptize a man who would not make this confession, and no man on earth could scripturally baptize such a person.

Friend, if you did not confess Christ before men before you were baptized, you were not scripturally baptized. You are yet in your sins.

Those who leave the confession out of the plan of salvation tell us that I Tim .6:12 refers to the time Timothy was in prison and not to the time he became a Christian. But we notice that Timothy made the good confession before many witnesses when he was called. We are called by the gospel to be saved. (2 Thess. 2:14) Therefore, Timothy made the good confession to be saved. Man is required to hear the gospel, (Acts 15:7); believe it, (Acts 16:31); Repent, (Acts 17:30); confess Christ, (Acts 8:37); and be baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of sins, (Acts 2:38). To leave the confession out is to change the plan of salvation. God will curse any who changes the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:8,9).

When To Make It

When we come to a knowledge of the truth through the gospel of Christ, we ought to be ready and willing to take an open stand on the Lord's side. In the open, vocal, and public confession of our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God we make known our faith and announce our stand. We pledge our allegiance to him and to his cause. We indicate our willingness to stand up in a wicked world and be counted on the Lord's side. The time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that name, for we read, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:9-11.) This confession will be made to the glory of God, but will not be made to our salvation unless we make it in this life. Since every tongue must confess Christ some day, it seems to me that we should be willing and anxious to do so now that we might be saved. The confession must be made before men that our name might be confessed before God. Therefore, it must be made while we live among men here on this earth, (Matt. 10:32.) It must be made before we can be baptized, (Acts 8:37,38.) Since Jesus said, "lie that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," (Mk. 16:16), we must be baptized to be saved. But since we must confess Christ before we can be baptized, it follows that we must confess Christ before we can be saved. When should we make the confession? The answer is clear: when we want to be saved.

There are four things subject to man that must be changed, or converted before man can be saved Man's heart, life, allegiance, and relationship must all be changed. Our heart is changed by faith. The unbelieving heart is changed to a believing heart by the gospel. (Rom. 10:17.) Our life is changed as a fruit of repentance, (Matt. 3:8.) Our relationship is changed in baptism, (I Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:27.) In these passages we learn that we are baptized into Christ, and into his Body which is his church or kingdom. This changes our citizenship. We are thus delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son, (Col. 1:13.) But only in confession is our allegiance changed.

When an alien wishes to become an American citizen he must, among other things, "Pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, etc." In this pledge or oath of allegiance he renounces his former citizenship and pledges his faith in, and loyalty to, this government.

When one becomes a citizen of the kingdom of Christ, he too must make a complete break with his former life and relationship. His heart, life, allegiance, and relationship are all changed, and in the confession he makes the announcement public. Are we ready for this complete change? Nothing less will save us. "If thou believeth with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God," (Acts 8:37.)

This, then, is the good confession. Should we be ashamed to make it? Indeed! Should we not be both afraid and ashamed not to make it?