Central Truth: Confessing the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the very heart of the gospel.
In the last two lessons we have studied the first part of Romans 10:10, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness …” and we have learned what it means to believe with the heart. In these next series of lessons we will look into the second half of this verse, “And with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” to try to gain new insights into the connection of confession with faith.
Very few Christians actually realize the place that confession holds in God’s scheme of things. And it is to be regretted that whenever we use the word “confession,” folks invariably think of confessing sins, weaknesses, and failings. That is the negative side of confession, but there is a positive side. And the Bible has more to say about the positive aspects of confession than the negative.
The dictionary says that to confess means “to acknowledge or to own, to acknowledge faith in.” To confess, according to the dictionary, means to make confession of one’s faults, but it also says it means to make confession of one’s faith.
There are four kinds of confessions spoken of in the New Testament: (1) The teachings of John the Baptist and Jesus regarding confession of sins of the Jews; (2) The confession of the sinner today; (3) The believer’s confession of his sins when he is out of fellowship with God; and (4) The confessing of our faith in God’s Word. In this lesson we will deal with the first two types of confession.
Confession of Sins of the Jews
It is important that we make the distinction between the sins of the Jews under the first covenant, to whom Jesus and John the Baptist were talking, and the sins of the unbeliever today who has never met Christ.
Matthew 3:5, 6
5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
Here we see the picture of God’s covenant people confessing their sins and being baptized by John. This is not Christian baptism. Jesus had not died and risen. John did not baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He baptized only in the name of the Father. They were Jews under the law.
Confession of the Sinner Today
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Notice the words of Jesus in verse 9: “Of sin, because they believe not on me.” Jesus shows us that the sinner will be convicted by the Holy Spirit of but one sin, and that is “because they believe not on me.” How many times have we insisted that the sinner confess all the sins he has ever committed in order to be saved. However, he couldn’t confess all the sins he has ever committed. He couldn’t remember everything he has ever done. The chief confession that the sinner must make is the Lordship of Jesus.
In Acts 19:18 we read, “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.” These were Gentiles. It doesn’t say what they confessed, but it is evident from the verse which follows that they were confessing the magical arts that they were practicing. “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men …” (verse 19). They were not confessing these things to get saved, for they were already saved. They gave them up because they were saved. After they were saved, it was easier to do.
So many times people have gotten the cart before the horse. They tell unsaved people, “You are going to have to quit this and you’re going to have to give up that before you can get saved.” But the main thing is that they accept the Lordship of Jesus. Then those other things will take care of themselves.
There was a family in the last church I pastored in which the wife was saved but the husband wasn’t. When I visited in the home and invited the husband to come to church, he said, “No, I don’t want to come to church because when I do I feel uneasy. I get under conviction. Just this morning my wife asked me why I didn’t give up this and that, and get saved. She doesn’t know it, but for weeks at a time I have tried giving up these things, but I always go back to them. I’ve tried it and failed. There’s no use in my coming to church. I just can’t live it.”
Here is an example of confession in reverse. He was trying to clean up his life, quit all his habits – he was trying to do it all himself – so that he could get saved. But what he should have done was just to confess the Lordship of Jesus. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). Then these other matters will take care of themselves.
The sinner has served Satan. He is guilty of only one sin in the sight of God and that is the rejection of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. God demands that the sinner confess the Lordship of Jesus. To demand that a sinner confess his sins before God can make him a new creature makes no more sense than it would for the governor of a state to say to a convict in prison, “I will parole you if you will confess that you are in prison.” It is a self-evident fact that he is in prison. It is a self-evident fact that the sinner is a child of the devil. What he must confess is the Lordship of Christ. He must be truly sorry for the sins of the past and turn from them, forsaking them completely, and acknowledging his need of a Saviour. Then he must let Jesus dominate his daily life. Confessing the Lordship of Jesus is the very heart of the gospel.
Notice also the words, “Thou shalt confess with thy mouth …” There must be a vocal confession. The lips must frame the words. Confession is not only for our sake, but it is also for the sake of the world around about us and for the sake of Satan who has ruled our life.
While I was conducting a meeting in Dallas, Texas, a number of years ago some men in the church came to me asking prayer for a certain man who still was unsaved, although he had been coming to their early morning prayer services five days a week for six months.
When I met him a few nights later at a special Saturday night Bible class I was conducting especially for the men who worked and couldn’t attend our day sessions, the Lord immediately spoke to my heart and showed me what was the problem. We had a few testimonies in this meeting, and then I asked this man to stand and give his testimony. Startled, he stammered and said, “Why, I can’t. I’m not saved yet.”
Then I asked him to turn in his Bible to Romans 10:9, 10 and read these verses aloud. He read, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt 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.” When I asked him to read the last phrase again, he repeated, “And with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
I said, “Certainly you can’t be saved until you confess. It is with the mouth that confession is made unto salvation, according to the scripture which you have just read. Now stand and confess that you are saved.”
“But I don’t feel that I am saved,” he replied.
“Maybe so,” I said, “but you have been coming to this church very early every morning for six months praying to be saved.”
“Yes, I have repented and prayed, cried and begged God for forgiveness,” he said.
“Then all you lack is standing on this verse,” I said. Then, somewhat reluctantly, he stood and said, “Well, I do believe these verses, that Jesus died for my sins and was raised from the dead, and that God raised him up for my justification. So I just take Him as my Saviour and confess Him as my Lord.” Then he quickly sat down.
To direct attention away from him, I called on another man to testify. Several others testified as well. Glancing back at the other man I noticed his face was just shining with the glory of God. I turned to him and said, “Now would you like to testify again?”
He leaped to his feet and said, “When I made that statement, when I confessed Jesus as my Lord, something happened inside of me,” and he went on to praise the Lord joyfully.
I told him, “Most assuredly something happened to you. Eternal life was imparted to your spirit.”
Confession in Public
Matthew 10:32, 33
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Notice that in these verses Jesus states that our confession must be public. Public confession is really the break with the world. It defines our position. It shows our change of Lordship. The confession of the Lordship of Jesus puts us immediately under His supervision, care, and protection. Before this Satan was our Lord, but now Jesus is our Lord. Not only do we confess this to ourselves and to the world, but we confess it to the devil. In this way we overcome his hold on us and have victory through Jesus.
Memory Text: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10).
Faith in Action: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only ….” (James 1:22).
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