You hear the word. You believe what you heard. You repent — making the decision to turn away from sin and follow after Jesus. Are you ready to make your decision known to others? Are you ready to say the words out loud? Will you confess?
Following Jesus is not about secretly believing and going about your merry way. There’s some expectations Jesus has for every person who wants to become His disciple and included in that is confessing Him before others. He makes this clear by saying, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32-33)
What is being confessed? I don’t see anywhere in scripture that gives us the exact words to confess. We have the example of the Ethiopian in Acts 8:37 that confesses that he “[believes] that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” and Romans 10:9 that says to “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus,” and while these scriptures define what confession is all about, there is no specific command on what specifically needs to be said. But there doesn’t need to be. The point is that a person is submitting themselves to belief in the gospel and is choosing to make Jesus the Lord of their life. Whatever needs to be said to convey that message before others is fulfilling what Jesus has commanded when He says to confess.
When is the first confession made to be saved? As soon as you believe and are ready to submit to the gospel. Our religious world has made being saved this formal event that’s done at the convenience of planning a time later where the whole church is together and a big public confession is made. If you read the conversion stories in the book of Acts you will see that this practice is far different from what the first church did. Confessing doesn’t have to be this elaborate ceremony before a big group of people. It’s as simple as confessing before a few people who are there to witness your conversion. If that isn’t the case, then the Ethiopian is in trouble because he definitely didn’t have some elaborate public ceremony to make his confession (Acts 8:35-38).
One thing you may have noticed is that I have not mentioned confessing your sins. While confessing your sins is a form of confession, in regards to initially becoming a Christian, I do not see where scripture instructs us to do that.
But what about 1 John 1:9 that says “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”?
This statement is being made to those who are already in Christ and have the advocacy of Jesus’ blood to cleanse them when they confess their sins. I wouldn’t go as far as to discourage anyone who wanted to confess their sins, but as part of becoming a Christian, there is still one more thing you must do to wash away those sins and get into Christ — be baptized. Simply confessing your sins at this point is not fulfilling what scripture says will be accomplished in baptism. If it did, that would make the purpose of baptism as described in scripture confusing and contradictory. Why would Ananias have told Paul in Acts 22:16 “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord,” if Paul’s sins were already cleansed by confessing them? He wouldn’t have because his statement wouldn’t have made any sense if Paul’s sins were already washed away.
What you must understand is that everything you have done thus far — hear, believe, repent, confess — has brought you to the moment you will officially put on Christ. You have confessed that Jesus is Lord of your life, so it’s time to complete all that He has commanded to become a Christian.
To be saved you must confess, but since you have now proclaimed Jesus as your Lord, will you stop there? Will you take the final step that the Lord Jesus has commanded to get into Him? Will you submit to be baptized to fully receive His grace? Be baptized will be the topic of the next blog post. Stay tuned.