2006-08-23 - The Lord Jesus Christ
Over the last few weeks we've been examining what it means for Jesus to be called 'Lord' and 'Christ' and what it means to 'believe' that he is those things. Today, I'd like to examine another word to add to this set of thoughts: confess.
As a child, I learned confessing isn't usually a good thing. If I fessed up to something, I'd get into trouble for it. Confessing meant getting some punishment. And in the legal realm (plea bargains aside), we see that same thought process applies - confession equals pending punishment. Therefore confessing isn't something we like to do but confessing in the Christian since of the word has almost the opposite effect.
Romans 10:9-11 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. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
In Christianity, confession equals salvation or escape from punishment. The word confess really means just to profess or declare something not necessarily confessing to some wrong doing. In this verse, we aren't told directly to confess of any wrongdoing, or sin. We are told to declare that Jesus is Lord if we want to be saved. But it's in the saving, or more precisely - in the need of being saved, that we see a confession of wrong doing. By confessing that Jesus is Lord to be saved we also confess that we can't save ourselves and the Bible tells us that we can't save ourselves because of sin. We must confess that sin is some thing which we cannot overcome on our own. And ultimately in the confessing we must recognize the need for a Christ to save us from that sin as well. Indeed Phillipians 2:11 tells us one day everyone will declare that Jesus is the Christ and the Lord.
Looking at this passage, we see the word confess in both verses 9 and 10. In both cases it is the same Greek word, homologeo. In verse 9 a tense known as the aorist tense is used which has no indication of past, present, or future. Although it's rendered in the past tense in English, an ongoing carrying on of the act of confessing would best represent the aorist tense. We do not just confess him as Lord and Christ one time but rather that declaration is to be something that continually guides our action. In addition, the mood of the word is subjunctive, or conditional. If you confess then you will be saved. Whether we confess or not is totally up to us but God won't do his part unless we do ours. In verse 10 though, homologeo is in indicative present tense. It is a simple statement of fact. Confess now and you will be saved. I believe the two tenses to be deliberate. There must be like in verse 10 a defining definite moment at which we decide to declare Jesus to be Christ and Lord but that moment requires a commitment to a lifetime of acknowledging him to be Christ and Lord.
Have you acknowledged that Jesus is both Christ and Lord? Do you honor that acknowledgement each day? In the end, we will all confess him as the Lord Jesus Christ; but acknowledging at last that he is God and that he could have, and should have been, our Savior won't have the same effect as having known him as God and Savior all along.
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted