Pastor I.O.Odewale

Memory Verse: ‘…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ – Romans 10:9-10.

In the first part of this article, our focus was centred on confession as the confessing of sins and offences. In this second part we want to discuss confession as a declaration or a statement of one’s religious beliefs.

It is a common practice in all Christian denomination to have a comprehensive document that contains their articles of faith or beliefs. New converts are sometimes required to memorize these beliefs and recite them publicly during the inauguration of new members in the church or the denomination concerned. In some churches the recitation of the Creed (beliefs of the church) every Sunday during worship is made compulsory. It becomes an institutionalized aspect of the worship. There is no doubt that when a person has a strong belief on something he is always willing to confess and defend it publicly.

Today, many Christians shy away from making a public confession of their faith when it is required of them to do so. Could this be due to the fear of persecution or lack of conviction in what they pretend to believe? The truth is that some of us are too modest in their approach to Christianity to engage in public confession of their faith lest they offend the people of other faiths. But Jesus told His followers past and present: ‘… I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God (Lk.12:8-9). When a Christian keeps silent when the name of Jesus is being maligned, he has denied the Saviour who died to save him.
When Jesus said that He would confess those who confess Him in the presence of the angels of heaven, what is the significance of this? The clue to this statement is found in what He told His disciples about the gathering of the elect at the end of time: ‘And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Mt.24:31). Thus, those who Jesus confesses before His angels will be marked down as the elect of God when they come to gather the elect from the surface of the earth. Those He denies that He ever knew will also be marked down by the angels and they will never make the mistake to gather them with the elect; but they will be reserved for everlasting fire.

There could be no doubt that the lack of conviction in what they believe and the fear of persecution drive many Christians away from a public confession of their faith. We have already mentioned the fear of not wanting to hurt other people’s feeling especially those of other faiths. But this fear also emanates from their inadequate knowledge of what their faith consists of. When a Christian is ignorant of the basic doctrines of his faith, what confession can he make if it is demanded of him? The problem is that there are many nominal Christians, or call them, church-goers around who make church-going a routine or who just go there for other reasons than to know the Holy Scriptures which are able to make them wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2Tim.3:15). Some don’t even have a bible and those who have, do not form the habit of reading them. What kind of confession of Christ or their faith can such people make when they are faced with the situation where they have to defend their faith? No one can defend effectively what he does not know. In fact, the fear of what to say has shut up the mouths of many Christians when they should speak openly and defend the faith they have in Christ.

The fear of persecution is another bugbear that drives away many Christians from witnessing openly for Christ. But such people forget the blessing Jesus promised those who are persecuted because of the gospel. He told His followers: ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you’ (Mt.5:10-12). Also Jesus told them: ‘Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt.10:27-28). And we should remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ (2Tim.1:7).
This brings us to another reason mentioned above that prevents us from confessing Christ openly; this is lack of conviction in our beliefs. Many Christians have not recognised the special nature or appeal of their religion in comparison with other religions. Where a Christian believes that every religion leads to God and every way leads to the same destination, that is, the kingdom of God, he has not seen the difference between his religion (Christianity) and other religions. It also means that such a Christian is not convinced about the claims of his religion over other religions and as such he cannot speak categorically in its support. Jesus told His disciples: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (Jn.14:6). This is one of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. It is the reason for following Jesus. Until one is convinced about his religion he cannot confess it openly and much more, be ready to suffer or die for it. We could see the boldness and the zeal with which the early apostles preached the resurrection of Jesus and how many of them suffered for it. On occasions Peter told the feared Jewish religious authorities who asked them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men. And we are His (Christ’s) witnesses to these things (i.e. the resurrection of Jesus, His teaching and miracles), and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him. (Acts 5:29,32).

Remember that it is only the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to a believer after he has heard the word of God (Jn.16:8-11). It is Him who anoints the word of God into his heart and in so doing convicts him of his sins and convinces him of the righteousness and the truth of the word of God. The Holy Spirit works in tandem with the word of God. Until we dig deep into the word of God and we are born again into the family of God and filled with the Holy Spirit, we will not have the boldness to witness for Christ or confess Him openly; and we will have nothing to confess about our faith.
We deny Jesus in many ways. When we fail to champion His cause because we fear opposition, we deny Him. When we fail to defend Him when His name is being maligned and blasphemed, we deny Him. When we hide our Christian identity, we deny Him. But when we champion His cause in the midst of opposition, when we defend Him (in a peaceful way of course) when people try to ridicule Him, when we correct the misconceptions people have about Him and we preach His word boldly, and when we own up publicly that we are Christians and openly display our Christian identity, then, we have confessed our faith in Christ. According to His word, He, in return, will confess us before His angels in heaven.

It is good to take stock of our Christian life. Are you afraid to confess Jesus Christ openly? Have you been hiding your identity as a Christian? If your answer is ‘Yes’, know that you are not yet a Christian. You will need to go back to the cross of Christ, dip yourself in the pool of blood that flowed down from His veins, carry your cross and begin to follow Him. May the truth of this message transform your Christian life. Amen.

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