Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 13, 1955

Confessing That Jesus Is God's Son

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

The Apostle John writes that "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God." (1 John 4:15.) No alien or sinner can be described as abiding in God and having God abiding in him, hence, this language is to be applied to a saved person. It follows, of course, that the ones described as having God abiding in them and they in Him are worthy of approval and endorsement of every child of God. This number here embraces every one (whosoever) that "shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God." It is then proper to fellowship everyone that shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God. The problem that presents itself is how to determine who qualifies under this requirement.

Those who stand identified with the apostate body, that came into existence with the forming of missionary societies and the use of instruments of music in the worship, having removed the "ancient landmarks" in the matters of work and worship have progressed to the point of rejecting also the conditions of salvation as essential. The divine requirements for church membership are scorned as legalistic and out of harmony with the spirit of Christianity. Open membership is widely practiced. When called upon to justify their attitude and practice by the scriptures, they will cite such statements as the above and assert that they are in harmony with this scriptural teaching in fellowshipping all who claim to confess that Jesus is God's Son. These people need to learn that John's meaning is a far different thing than the meaning which they have attempted to attach to the passage, or better, they need to learn John's meaning and rely on that and quit perverting the scriptures in their efforts to justify their boasted liberal spirit.

Merely claiming with the mouth that Jesus is God's Son falls short of filling the bill. To acknowledge with the lips the divinity and authority of Christ is inadequate for Christ says, "Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21.) John says, "Whosoever shall confess — " while Christ says, "Not everyone that saith — ." It is apparent when we consider these two scriptures together, that merely "saying" with the lips is not "confessing that Jesus is the Son of God."

This same Apostle John conditions our abiding in God and His abiding in us on keeping His commandments "and he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him and he in him." (1 John 3:24.) Why attach more significance or rely more fully on 1 John 4:15 than 1 John 3:24? Is anyone ready to say that one requires more than the other? This would make God a respecter of persons for those who decided to have God's favor on the basis of 1 John 4:15 would do so simply by confessing with the mouth that Jesus is the Son of God while those who took 1 John 3:24 would have to obey the commandments of God, which commandments embrace more than confessing "with the mouth." Such treatment of the scriptures has resulted in the confusion which prevails in denominationalism today.

But notice another statement by the same writer. 1 John 4:16b, "God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him." This passage requires nothing more nor less than 1 John 4:15. Yet love requires the keeping of God's commandments. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments ...." (1 John 5:3.) The "abiding in love" which assures one that he abides in God and God in him, is the keeping of God's commandments.

Christ has required more than lip service, in order for us to have fellowship with him and the Father. John wrote that the design of his writing was that ye also may have fellowship with us." (1 John 1:3.) His fellowship he declares was "with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ." This fellowship is enjoyed by walking in the light, "but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1; 7.) To claim fellowship with God on any other basis, than walking in the light, is to be guilty of lying. We have fellowship with God and Christ by walking in the light. All who are in fellowship with God and Christ are in fellowship with one another.

God does not abide in, have fellowship, with the sinner; only with those cleansed by the blood of Christ. Divine fellowship and cleansing are enjoyed by those and only those who walk in the light.

But what is involved in confessing that "Jesus is the Son of God"? We have already learned from studying Matthew 7:21 in connection with 1 John 4:15 that "saying Lord, Lord" is not "confessing that Jesus is the Son of God." We note that in addition to a verbal acknowledgment (saying Lord, Lord) the Lord required Doing "the will of my Father who is in heaven." Confessing that Jesus is the Son of God involves submission to the Son of God — obedience to the commandments of Jesus. If he is acknowledged as God's Son, then his word must be regarded as divinely authoritative. It cannot be appraised by human wisdom, judged by worldly taste. No part can be scorned or lightly regarded. It is the divine will. The principle lesson taught in the transfiguration is that Jesus is the Son of God and must be heard. (Matt. 17:5.) To fail to hear Jesus is to fail to hear the "beloved Son" in whom God is "well pleased."

Confessing that Jesus is a good man, great teacher, etc., as many Jews and even infidels do, does not mean that they accept his will any more than their worldly wisdom approves. But when one confesses that Jesus is the approved Son of God, he binds himself to implicit obedience; he "hears hint." Failure to hear him in practice gives the lie to the lip confession of feigned faith. When a person says that he believes that Jesus is the Son of God, he refuses to hear Christ by being baptized for the remission of sins, (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38) he by his disobedience denies what his lips have confessed.