|"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven" - Matthew 10:32|
THE "GOOD CONFESSION" AND THE PLAN OF SALVATION
THE NEW TESTAMENT word translated "confession" (homologia) is properly defined as "acknowledgement or admission." Seeing that God requires confession as a condition of pardon from past alien sins, it is therefore essential that one properly understand the truth regarding such, for without the truth, one cannot be made free from sin nor enjoy fellowship with God (John 8:32). The1ate T. W. Brents correctly stated:
"It is generally admitted that some sort of a confession of some- thing should be made by every one at sometime prior to admission to the church of God; but what this confession is, how and when it should be made, and its office in the plan of salvation, are questions which have greatly perplexed those who have spoken and written concerning them for the last three hundred years." (T.W. Brents, The Gospel Plan of Salvation, p. 249).
Due to the fact that truth has not only been revealed but is also knowable and thus can be practiced in our personal lives, it is very important that we, through the proper study of the scriptures, KNOW THE TRUTH concerning the good confession and the plan of salvation.
THE GOOD CONFESSION IS MADE REGARDING JESUS CHRIST
In writing to the young evangelist Timothy, the apostle Paul stated the importance of the good confession:
"But thou, 0 man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (I Timothy 6:11-14).
To the brethren in Rome Paul wrote:
"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" (Romans 10:9).
Nowhere in the New Testament does God require the alien sinner to confess his feelings, sins or " personal experience" with Christ. The confession That God requires for salvation from past alien sins is the acknowledgement or admission of the truth regarding the deity of Jesus Christ. To fail in making such a confession results in disobedience to the gospel and places one under the wrath of God (II Thessalonians 1:7-9).
THIS CONFESSION IS MADE WITH THE MOUTH
It is not enough to know that the good confession is made regarding the deity of Jesus Christ. The scriptures each that such a confession MUST be made with the mouth and is UNTO salvation: " For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). The relationship of the good confession to God's plan of salvation serves as an unanswerable argument against the acceptance of denominational baptism. There are those among our number who contend that just as long as one understands that baptism " is for the remission of sins" one may scripturally renounce denominational error, make a public confession of sin and based upon repentance of the past be identified with the true churches of Christ. While certainly it is the case that one MUST understand that water baptism is for the remission of past alien sins, it is also the case that one must know such prior to being baptized, and that such a baptism is contingent upon one's confession of faith in thedeity of Jesus Christ.
Mr. J. M. Pendleton, noted baptist preacher of the nineteenth century, and a leading light of the Landmark Baptist movement, which later through the efforts of Ben. M. Bogard developed into the American Baptist Association, stated:
"In accordance with the first way, persons wishing to unite with a church give an account of the dealings of God with their souls, and state the 'reason of the hope that is in them;' whereupon, if in judgment of the church they 'have passed from death unto life,' they are by vote of the church recognized as candidates for baptism, with the understanding that when baptized they will be entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership."
When an individual has not confessed Christ as required in the New Testament he has not been scripturally baptized regardless how much truth he may understand about baptism. Brethren, are we ready to affirm that the only condition of salvation is water baptism for the remission of. sins? The doctrine of " baptism only" is just as false as is the doctrine " faith only," yet such a doctrine must follow as a logical consequence of affirming that one may be scripturally baptized without making the good confession!
NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLES OF THE GOOD CONFESSION
When studying the total context of New Testament teaching regarding the good confession, one will conclude that the confession is a particular truth that is acknowledged or admitted, not a particular formula of words. Several years ago a personal friend of this writer, while doing the work of a local preacher in western Kentucky, was engaged in visiting with several individuals at the close of a Lord's Day evening worship assembly. During the course of his conversation one particular individual expressed that he for a very long period of time, " had believed that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God." He also stated that he had repented of his sins and desired within the hour to be " baptized into Christ." Upon hearing of this individual's faith in the Lord and realizing of his sincere desire to obey the gospel, this preacher immediately assisted this gentleman in baptism, only to be sternly rebuked by a brother in Christ for " not TAKING the man's confession." This brother actually insisted that this individual had not received valid baptism! Let us remember that the good confession is not that which is TAKEN it is that which is MADE! When truth is replaced with tradition, false concepts are sure to follow. The fact that the good confession is a particular truth that is to be acknowledged or admitted is demonstrated by the following New Testament examples:
The confession of NATHANAEL as recorded by John:
"Nathanael answered and saith unto him, rabbi, though art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel" (John 1:49). Guy N. Woods commented: "Nathanael's faith blossomed and fruited and he not only acknowledged our Lord's deity - a truth he had just now come to realize - but also he saw in Jesus the fulfillment of Israel's hopes and yearning for a king and kingdom..." (Guy N. Woods, A Commentary on the Gospel According to John, p. 47).
The confession of MARTHA as recorded by John:
"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world" (John 11:25-27).
J. W. McGarvey stated, regarding this passage:
"She could only say she believed it, for Lazarus had believed in Jesus and yet he had died. So evading the question, she confessed her faith. Believing him, she accepted whatever he might say..." (J. W. McGarvey, The Fourfold Gospel, p. 52'3). "She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."
The confession of PETER recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke:
"And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). "And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ" (Mark 8:9).
"He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God" (Luke 9:20). The good confession is a divine fact not a mere opinion! Such a confession embraces two specific propositions: (1) The office of Jesus - the Christ and (2) The deity of Jesus - the Son of God. The Christhood of Jesus implies his humanity, for as such he was a son of David.
The confession of the ETHIOPIAN NOBLEMAN:
" And Philip 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" (Acts 8:37).
It is very unfortunate that a great many textual critics have denied the validity of verse 37 appearing in the text of Acts chapter 8. The argument is made that verse 37 is not found in Papyrus 45, 47, Aleph, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus or Ephraem; it is not found in the Minuscules 33, 81, 614 and various ancient versions. J. W. McGarvey made a very untimely remark in stating:
"In regard to scarcely any reading are the textual critics more unanimously agreed, or on better manuscript evidence, than the rejection of this verse as an interpolation." (J. W. McGarvey, New Commentary on Acts, p. 159).
In response to the modernist attacks upon the validity of Acts 8:37, this writer makes the following response:
First, it is an unproven assumption that the Westcott-Hort text is the superior text over that of the Received Text. The late British New Testament scholar John W. Burgon has set forth arguments that have never been answered regarding the superiority of the Received Text - the text from which the King James Version was translated. Such evidence is open for examination in Burgon's noted work, The Revision Revised. We highly recommend it for your study!
Second, Acts 8:37 is clearly alluded to by Iranaeus who was active from 170-210 A.D. well before the earliest manuscripts were copied. Also, Cyprian, who died in 258 A.D., apparently quoted this verse well before the earliest manuscripts were copied.
Third, by what line of reasoning should external evidence take precedence over that of internal evidence regarding the criticism of ANY text of the Bible? T. W. Brents stated the matter in this particular fashion:
"Are we to believe that Philip said nothing in answer to the question? And yet the eunuch commanded the chariot to be still- that both got out of it and went down into the water in silence. Can any sane man believe it? Is there not a perceivable blank which the sense requires to be filled with just such language as we find in the verse in question?" (T. W. Brents, The Gospel Plan of Salvation, pp. 251-253)
To this particular statement of T. W. Brents this writer says AMEN!
REASONS FOR MAKING THE GOOD CONFESSION
When we confess Christ we concur with God's divine oracle
of affirmation as recorded in Matthew 13-14,15-17 and Matthew
17:1-3,4-5. We are to speak as the oracles of God (I Peter 4:11),
yet one cannot so speak without acknowledging the deity of
We must confess Christ because that good confession cost the life of our Lord for the sins of humanity (I Timothy 6:11, 12, 13, 14).
The good confession is the very foundation upon which the church of Christ has been built (Matthew 16:16-18).
The good confession will one day be made by all of humanity either unto eternal life or eternal death (Philippines 2:5-8,9-11). As a penitent believer, when one confesses Christ and is baptized for the remission of sins and continues to confess Christ daily in faithfulness, he will, on the final day, make the confession of eternal life. If one rejects Christ in this life and stands before Christ in judgment in the state of rejection he will make the confession of eternal death (Revelation 20:11-12 ,13-15).
It has been the purpose of this article to note:
The good confession is made regarding Jesus Christ.
This confession is made with the mouth.
New Testament examples of the good confession.
Reasons for making the good confession.
May we never minimize nor neglect so great a confession!