Posted by: Terry | December 9, 2009

True Confessional Christianity

I am a follower of Christ. I have determined that Jesus is the promised Messiah and is Lord; I confess that by following him in my life.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 ESV)

There is a process that results in salvation, a person must first come to a place of understanding and acceptance that Jesus is who he said he is, Lord, God, and that he died and came back to life. This is the basic meaning of repentance, “Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” (2 Cor. 5.14-16) The starting point of salvation is to completely change our view of Christ and what he did. Any other view may be religion, but it is not truly following Christ. When we grasp who Jesus is and what he did we are also moved to¬†repentance as we determine that our old life was not right before God; we realize that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Confession is acting on what we believe in profession and practice. We follow Christ because we believe that he is who he said he is and that he died for us, this changes how we talk and live. The early church and some denominations today emphasize baptism as the sign of public confession, as long as we do not make baptism a condition of salvation it is a powerful statement of our intention to change.

Salvation occurs when we come to believe the facts about Jesus enough to confess it in our life. The time from initially being introduced to Jesus and our actual and public confession of that belief may be brief or may take years, but it is at the point of confession that a person is “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV)

This is the essence of true Confessional Christianity. Yet there are many today who define salvation as a journey or process. Their view is clearly stated by Tony Campola in his book “Red Letter Christians”:

We claim that the historical Jesus can be alive and present to each and every person, and that salvation depends on yielding to Him and inviting Him to be a vital, transforming presence in our lives. The same Son of God described in the Apostles’ Creed will spiritually invade any of us who will receive Him (see John 1:12) to initiate in us an ongoing process whereby we are transformed into persons who are increasingly like Him (see 1 John 3:2)

Salvation by this definition is the transforming process whereby a person becomes more like Christ in how they live. Yes the Apostles Creed states that Jesus is the Son of God, but this statement equates salvation with a changed life.

What is missing from Campola’s definition is a clear statement of the need to confess that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, there is a subtle implication of that need, but its vagueness too easily could result in an inaccurate understanding of how one becomes a follower of Christ. Salvation happens at a point in time, there is a time when a person who was not a follower of Christ becomes a follower of Christ, that point of time is when belief moves a person to confession.

There is a popular movement today proclaiming that Christianity is simply realizing how much God loves us and then changing how we live by immersing ourselves in that love. Campola, Peterson, Manning, most of the Emerging Church Movement and the Simple Church Movement have embraced and teach this concept. Yet we must ask, “Are they preaching the true Gospel?”

I fear that there are many people in churches that are active, and attempting to do God-like things that are not Christians. Jesus said that there would be many who said Lord, Lord, but that would not make it to heaven. If we are a party in any way to giving people false hope as to what it means to be saved, then their blood is on our heads.

The admonition to Joshua to “Choose today who you will serve” is just as relevant today. Jesus asked Peter “Who do you say that I am?” and it was upon his confession that Jesus was God that Jesus responded with instructions for the church.

Paul said that he preached Christ and that if we believe and confess we are saved and transferred into the Kingdom of Christ. That was the message 2,000 years ago and it is the message today. We can strive to make it relevant but must never sacrifice the truth.

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Responses

  1. Terry, you have become an excellent writer over these past years. You surely have a true understanding of God’s word and can quite convincingly write your thoughts. May you continue in your work in God’s name.
    Dale


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