The Power of the Good Confession
(1 Timothy 6:12-13)
When we hear the word "confession", two situations often come to mind. In one case, people accused of crimes may make confessions of guilt to legal authorities knowing that punishment may still await them but with the hope of receiving lighter sentences. In the second case, we think of the confession of our sins to God. We admit we have done wrong and seek His forgiveness. The Bible speaks of a third kind of confession which is related to but somewhat different than these two.
Jesus made this third kind of confession before Pontius Pilate. Paul added the adjective “good” and called it the "good confession" (1 Timothy 6:12-13). When Pilate said to Jesus "’So, You are a king’", Jesus agreed and answered, "’You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is born of the truth hears my voice’" (John 18:37). The words for confession and confessing are like "same word" and "saying the same." The good confession is like an agreement about something good. Jesus agreed with Pilate's statement about who He was. When we make the good confession we agree with God about who Jesus is: His Son, King of Kings, and the Lord and Saviour of the world. When we come to be immersed in water for the forgiveness of our sins, we make the good confession by agreeing with God that Jesus is His Son.
This good confession has amazing power in four ways. First, Jesus said, "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32). Jesus has promised to confess our names before God in heaven if we will confess Him before others here on earth. Since it is through Christ that we come to God, our confession is part of opening up and building our relationship with Him (Romans 10:8-10). Isn't this how it is in human relationships too? We get to know one another and build relationships by talking to one another and most often it is because of things we agree about that we become closer.
This leads right into the second area where the power of the good confession and confessing our faith work in a wonderful way. That is, in our relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ. When I hear a brother or sister telling me about their faith, or how God, through His Word, prayer and providence, has helped them through a difficult situation, it is encouraging to me. When someone tells me they have noticed something new in the Bible, though they have read over the passage before, it is encouraging. It's not that we don't have fellowship talking about other things. It's just that when we tell each other about our spiritual struggles and victories, our insights into God's Word, and how our faith is growing, we build each other up spiritually in a special way. Confessing our faith to one another is encouraging.
Third, confessing our faith also works powerfully within us as individuals. It is voluntary; it is a choice we make. It comes from our hearts. Before we voice any words, we usually think about them. Making the good confession before others not only builds them up, it is good for us too. It confirms for us what we believe, and the more we do it, the easier it becomes. It reminds us of the solid foundation of our faith and helps us, as Paul told Timothy, "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12). God=s Words define who we are. We must watch our vocabulary and be careful not to dilute our confession. If God’s words are not on our mind, what is? Paul reminded Timothy about his good confession and the eternal life that comes with it.
Finally, the confession of our faith is a light to the lost. How will they believe if they do not hear ( Romans 10:14-17)? How can they agree with God about Jesus if they don't learn about Him through word and example. We talk about things that matter to us. When we have opportunities to talk of Jesus in ways that are appropriate and meaningful to others that don't know Him, they have an opportunity to respond to Him. Some will respond in favour and some against, just like they did when He walked on the earth among people.
What about the risk? There is really no risk in making the good confession to God, His church, and ourselves. We have eternity to gain. Yes, there is some risk in our confession before the lost. It takes courage. We could be rejected, like Jesus often was. In the big picture, however, Jesus confesses us before God so we have everything to gain. It is a wonder of the gospel (the good message) and the good confession that, not only do we find relief from the penalty we deserve, we find that the penalty is gone. Christ took it for us on the cross.
Confessing our faith transforms our relationship with God, encourages His people, builds confidence, and gives the lost an opportunity to hear about Jesus. We can make it with conviction. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. There's power in the good confession. There's power in agreeing with God about who Jesus is!