By J.L. McKinley
In Matthew 10:32 the Lord told his disciples, “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him I will confess before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.” These words were spoken as Jesus prepared to send out the twelve disciples to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:6). There is no doubt that Christ was speaking in terms of both physical and verbal action in this discourse. A professed child of God can live and act in a manner that would deny Christ better than any word ever could. One’s very con-duct could cause the confession of Christ to be as meaningless as baptism is to someone who is unrepentant. The Lord said in Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Some have questioned whether the good confession should even be a part of the acts of conversion. Is it a step a person must take in order to become a child of God, or is it something one should do as a Christian? Faith and repentance are required be-fore one becomes a Christian, but are also necessary after conversion. Confession must be made before baptism to show that the person believes, but afterward as a form of witness. If a subject will not confess Christ before a congregation of Christians they won’t before a group of infidels. The chief rulers in Israel would not confess their belief in Christ for fear of being cast from the synagogues (John 12:42-43). Paul wrote, “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10).
Peter in Matthew 16:16 made the good confession as did the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:37. Both men made them of their own free will, not a repeating of empty words as some preachers have their subjects do. Some act as if they believe the words in the good confession must be said in a certain order or the baptism will be of no effect. Peter and the eunuch made their confessions from the heart.
When someone is about to be baptized into the Lord’s body, they should be taught to understand the significance of their confession. What is meant when a person says, “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God”? The eunuch affirmed his faith to Philip by the words “I believe.” There is no doubt that the inspired evangelist heard that the Lord said faith was a prerequisite to baptism (Mark 16:16), therefore he asked, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts 8:37). In this study we will look at the significance of the confession and its relation to what Christ has done and continues to do for us today.
“Christ” is the Greek word meaning “anointed.” In the Old Testament there were three classes of servants that were anointed; priests, prophets, and kings. Elisha was anointed a prophet (1 Kings 19:16), as was Aaron a priest (Lev. 8:12), and David a king (2 Sam. 2:4). The Old Testament is full of prophesies of Christ’s filling these positions.
Moses told the children of Israel before their entrance into the promised land that God would raise up a prophet from among them like him (Deut. 18:1 5-18). We who have been baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27), like the Israelites “were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor.10:2), are also on a journey to a promised land and Jesus is our prophet. When I confess Christ, I admit that I do not know all the answers, but rather I need someone to guide me to all truth. In acknowledging him as my Creator and Savior, I deny the wisdom of man with regards to our origin, purpose, and destiny. I refute the theory toward sin that we are only human, and I realize that I was originally created in God’s image but have fallen. By accepting the word of God as my only creed, I am able to dispel the spiritual darkness that has engulfed the truth and lead others to the light.
Psalm 110:4 says that Jesus would be “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” All mankind has fallen into sin (Rom. 3:23; 5:12), and cannot escape the consequences of his iniquities (Rom. 6:23). I confess Christ because he is the only priest who can atone for my sins. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb.9:12). The Levitical priests could not offer a perfect sacrifice because they themselves were imperfect. It was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could be sacrificed to take away man’s sins because animals be-long to God in the first place. “. . . every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10). Only by the blood of his perfect sacrifice will I be able to stand justified before Jehovah who cannot look upon iniquity (Hab. 1:16).
The Bible says that this same priest and prophet will reign as king. “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever” (Isa. 9:7). By confessing Christ I proclaim that the kingdom has been established and Christ is now in power. In my submission to his Lordship, I put myself under his ordinances, and by faith I “try” to follow the example he set before me. Man cannot walk in his own steps without going astray (Isa. 53:6).
New Testament History
Hebrews 1:1-3 tells us of the threefold work of Christ. “God . . .hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (vv. 2-3). We see by the Scriptures that Jesus is fulfilling all three positions for us, all we need to do is recognize and put our faith in him.
In Matthew 16:13-19 the Lord took his disciples into the idolatrous city of Caesarea Philippi among the pagan gods and put them to the test. “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” Their response shows us that men two thou-sand years ago are no different than men today. Instead of believing Jesus was the Messiah, whose coming had been prophesied for centuries, they chose to believe the ridiculous. Today men refuse to believe in God, the only obvious explanation for our existence, in exchange for the belief that we are all a product of evolution. Some act as if not accepting God’s existence will cancel our appointment with destiny. “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10).
Then Jesus asks ” . . . whom say ye that I am?” Peter answers, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” As they stood in the shadows of Philippian’s pagan god “Paneas,” Peter recognized the difference between the gods who were only alive within the vain imaginations of men, and the one living God called Jehovah. In his response Pe-ter confessed what the Lord wanted to hear.
People are quick to proclaim their allegiance to entertainers and athletes, while Jesus, the sweetest name of all, is a source of embarrassment or humor. While paying homage to their human idols they forget they too will one day be bound by the chains of death. Christ, who arose from the dead to crush the head of Satan and conquer death is worthy of all praise (Rev. 5:12). Those who are in the spotlight do not desire the well-being of their worshipers, but would rather the people give them their money, then leave them alone. While the Lord may expect our total devotion, he will never disappoint us or leave us destitute (Heb. 13:5). “He is our help and our shield” (Ps. 33:20). While the rich and famous of this world can’t even save themselves, Christ can save “them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). He is our “help in a time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
When Christians understand what exactly it means to confess Christ it will become more than mere words. Just as he fulfills our every physical need, he wants to fulfill our spiritual need. The wall of iniquity that has separated man from his God has one door. Jesus said, “If any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9).
Guardian of Truth XLI: 21 p. 13-14
November 6, 1997