Bible Study on Confession


If one is going to be saved, and have the hope of going to heaven, confession is just as essential as hearing the word, having faith, repenting of past sins, and being baptized.

In Romans 10.13, we read that "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."  As you continue to read down through the chapter, you learn that you cannot call on the name of the Lord if you have never heard of the Lord.  According to verse 17, when you hear the word of God with a good and honest heart, it produces faith.  This tells us that hearing is essential to salvation.  


Confession
A Contextual Study of Romans 10.1-13

As you read the first section of Romans 13, you learn that confession is an essential part of your being saved.  If you want to be saved, you must confess the name of Jesus.


Romans 10.1-3:  A Word of Condemnation

As you read the first three verses of Romans 10, you will notice that this passage begins with a word of condemnation. 

Romans 10.1:  “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”

Paul wrote that his desire and prayer for Israel is that they may be saved.  The implication is that Israel was not saved.  If Israel was not saved, then they were in a state of condemnation.  The passage begins by saying that the Jews were condemned. 

Romans 10.2:  “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”

They had a zeal for God.  They were religious and very passionate about their religion.  However, it was not the right kind of religion.  It was not a religion that was based on the knowledge of God’s word.  Therefore, they were condemned. 

Romans 10.3:  “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”

They were ignorant of what God says you have to do to be made right.  They created their own ideas of what they had to do to be made right.  Therefore, they were not doing what God says.  As a result they are in a state of condemnation.

It is so important to note that these verses end with the possibility of salvation.  At the end of this passage, Paul writes, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”  (Rom. 10.13).   Is that not intriguing?  In this passage we learn…

  • Romans 10.1-3:  These were people who were in a state of condemnation.
  • Romans 10.13:  These were people who had the possibility of obtaining salvation. 
  • In between verses 3 and 13 we learn what is essential for salvation, and confession is one of those essentials.

 --Sidebar--

Salvation does not come from a man-made religion.  That was the problem with the Jews in the New Testament times.  They were trying to write their own rules.  That’s why Paul wrote in Romans 10.2“I bear them witness that though they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 

When we keep reading it says in Romans 10.3 that they were “seeking to establish their own righteousness.”  They made up their own rules.   As a result of making up their own rules, “they did not submit to the righteousness of God.”  They did not submit to the laws that God established.   Instead they had established a man-made religion.  They held up their own man-made commandments and said that this is what you have to do to become righteous.  In doing so they ignored the system that God established.  They were seeking to be right with God by establishing their own set of rules.      

Please do not miss this!  Two-thousand years have passed and in our society and culture nothing has changed.  We live in a world where man is still seeking to be right with God by the invention of his own rules.  We live in a country where we have more than 250 different churches that teach different and contradictory doctrines, different ways to get to heaven, and they all claim to belong to Christ.  They all claim to follow the Bible which is impossible because if they all did, they would not have contradictory teachings. 

Here were people who were living by a system of righteousness that they established themselves, and to them Paul says, “My heart’s desire and prayer for Israel is that they may be saved.”  The point is implied that even though they were religious, they were not saved.

Salvation does not come by doing what you think is right.  It comes by doing what God says is right. 



Romans 10.4-8:  From Condemnation to Salvation

Let’s make some observations so that we can see what these verses say are essential for the obtaining of salvation.

Romans 10.4:  “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Ultimately, being made right with God comes only and exclusively in Christ.     

Romans 10.5:  “For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them.”

If you want to be made right by the Law of Moses, you are required to keep all of the Law perfectly.  However, it is impossible to keep the law perfectly without the possibility of mistake.  

If you comply to the Law of Moses, then you are obligated to keep it perfectly.  Why?  The Law of Moses was a system that required perfect obedience.  If you made even one mistake, you were lost because the Law of Moses did not provide for the forgiveness of sins.  (Heb. 10.1,2)

The problem with being made right by the Law of Moses is that no one kept the law perfectly.  The psalmist said “there is none righteous, no not one.”  (Ps. 14.1), a point that Paul made earlier in the book of Romans  (Rom. 3.10-18).

The only One who succeeded at perfect law-keeping was Jesus Christ, which is why He was the perfect sacrifice as a lamb without blemish. 

Romans 10.6,7  “But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, 'Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”

In contrast to being made right by the Law of Moses, being made right by faith in Christ is different.  It is a much simpler system.  You are made right with God not because you complied perfectly to the law of Moses, but because you believed in Jesus and that faith moved you to obey the commands of God. 

The system of perfect compliance under the law of Moses was impossible.  The system of faith is a system where you are made righteous by believing in Jesus.  When you believe in Jesus, you do what He says.  This righteousness that comes by faith in Christ is much more simple. 

  • Romans 10.6:  “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven…”  You and I cannot go up into heaven and find Christ and bring Him down to us.  If that is what was necessary for salvation then salvation would be out of reach.  It would be requiring something that was impossible.
  • Romans 10.7:  “Who will ascend into the abyss…”  Even if we could transmigrate into the realm of the dead, the Hadean world, we wouldn’t find him there, because remember that His soul was not left in Hades.  It would be impossible to go down into the Hadean world and find Christ and bring Him back to us.  If that is what was necessary for salvation, then salvation would be out of reach.
  • Salvation through Christ is not out of reach, so we are not to say these things in our hearts.

Romans 10.8:  “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach)”

Here is the point:  Salvation obtained through Christ is not impossible to obtain.  It is not out of reach.  It is simple.  It is easy by comparison.  It is near you.  It is within your grasp.  Salvation, being made right with God, does not come from a man-made system and it does not come from the Law of Moses, a system in which you are required to be in perfect compliance without ever making a mistake.  Salvation obtained through faith in Christ is simple and reachable. 

What is this faith in Christ?  Paul writes that it is “the word of faith which we preach”  This faith in Christ that Paul preached is the gospel  (1 Cor. 15.1). 

In Romans 1.15, Paul wrote, “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.”  The very next verse he wrote, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes”  (Rom. 10.16).  Here in Romans 10 he says that this gospel, this word of faith that was preached to you is simple and within your grasp.

There is this good news message that is not based on a man-made system where you make your own rules.  It is not based on a system where you must keep the law perfectly without ever making a mistake.  So what it is based on?  What is this message of the gospel? 


Romans 10.9,10:  The Gospel Includes Belief and Confession

Romans 10.9:  “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.”

The message of the gospel, the word of faith is simple and within my grasp.  When you hear this message and submit to the conditions of this gospel, it results in your going from being condemned to being saved.  Contained within this word of faith is the command to “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.”  If you do those things, “you will be saved.”  That’s what verse 9 tells us. 

That does not mean that when you come to the point where you accept Jesus into your heart and verbally claim Him as my Lord, then you are saved.  That is the way so many interpret this verse, but that is not what it means.  In fact, the very next verse explains what it actually means.

Romans 10.10:  “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Did you notice that verse 10 begins with the word “for”?  The word “for’ connects this thought with the previous verse. 

This is an extremely important point that this writer makes. 

  • Romans 10.10:  “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness…”  The word translated as believe is in a form that describes an ongoing action.  If one continually lives a life of faith then he will obtain righteousness.  You must continually live in obedience to the commands of God because your faith leads you to obedience.
  • Romans 10.10:  “…and confession is made…”  Here is another important point.  It does not mean that you come to a point where you make a one-time confession, and then you never verbally acknowledge Him again.  It also is in the form that describes an ongoing action.  Confession must continuously be made. 

You come to the point where you believe in Jesus, and that initial belief begins to take you down a road where you continually believe as you live in compliance to His commands.  You come to the point when you verbally confess the name of Jesus, and then by virtue of your life of faith you continually confess His name. 

When you do those two things, you will be saved.  That is what must be done in order to be right with God and to have salvation:  Believe, and keep on believing.  Confess, and keep on confessing.

When we talk about the plan of salvation, the Bible says that you have to hear the word, believe in Jesus, and repent of your sins.  When we come to what the Bible says about confession as part of the plan of salvation, it does not mean that you stand up and before a group of people and say, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”  That’s part of it, but that’s just the beginning.

Confession is a verbal confession that is followed by a life in which you confess the name of Jesus by all that you do and all that you say. 


The Definition of Confession

How does the Bible define “confession”?  Let’s really dig into the Bible and find out what the Bible means when it uses the word “confession”


Confession in the Original Language

In the original Greek language in which the Bible was written, the word “confession” comes from the Greek word “homologeo”.  It is actually two different Greek words put together.

  • Homo: this is a Greek word that means “same”  Same sex marriage is a big topic today.  Homosexual means same sex.  Homo means the same.
  • Logeo:  The original form of the word is logos meaning “word”.  Logeo means “to speak”. 
  • Put those two words together and you have homologeo.  Literally, “to speak the same thing.”

Let’s illustrate it this way.

John 9.22:  “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.”  The parents did not want to answer the Jews concerning their son who had been healed of blindness.  Why?  The Jews had already decided that if anyone said the same thing that others said regarding Jesus, they would be thrown out of the synagogue. 

John 12.42:  “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue”   There were some who were not going to say what others said about Jesus even though they believed it. 

Confession is to speak the same things that others are saying. 

 

Two Kinds of Confession

There are two ways that you can confess.  We can confess verbally, and we can confess by our actions.


1.  Verbal Confession

In 1 John 4.1-3, the writer says that every spirit that says the same thing that God says about Jesus (confesses) is of God and every spirit that does not say the same thing that God says about Jesus (confesses) is not of God.  To confess is to speak in a way that in agreement with God in reference to Christ.  It is verbal.

There is another way to confess, not only with our words, but also with our actions.


2.  Confession as a Lifestyle

Consider the text of Matthew 10.32,33.

Matthew 10.32,33:  “Therefore 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.”

This isn't just talking about verbal confession.  There is much more going on than just standing up in front of people and saying that you believe in Jesus as the Christ. 

 According to the context we read that there are going to be those who will rise up against you even within your own house  (v.21)  You will be hated  (v. 22).  You will be persecuted  (v. 23).  In spite of all the persecution, Jesus says to speak and preach what He tells you to say  (v. 26).  Do not fear them.  (vs. 25,27,31).  God’s watching over you  (vs. 28-30). 

Verse 31:  “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men…”  What you are reading about is not just an occasional verbal acknowledgment of Christ, but a lifestyle.  These were people who were standing up for Christ even though they were abused, hated, and persecuted.  They are standing up for the cause of Christ, and they were doing it without fear.  And in doing so, they were confessing Jesus. 

They were saying that Jesus Christ is the center of their lives and will be the center of their lives no matter what others do to them.       

Confession is saying the same thing about Jesus that God says about Jesus both verbally and by our lifestyle.  And let’s be reminded that according to Romans 10, this is essential for you and I going to heaven.


Examples of Confession

     There are three examples of individuals confessing Jesus that will help us to understand the concept of confession.


Example of Timothy and Jesus

In  1 Timothy 6 we find in these verses two individuals making a verbal confession saying the same thing that God says about Jesus being the Son of God.

  • 1 Timothy 6.12:  “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  Young Timothy had verbalized his faith in Jesus as the Son of God, and had done so in a way that many witnesses heard and saw him do it.
  • 1 Timothy 6.13:  “I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate”  Did you know that Jesus, Himself confessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate?  When did He do that?  When we go back to the end of the gospel of Luke we find Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate.  The whole multitude brought Jesus to Pilate and accused Him of claiming to be the Christ, King of the Jews.  In reference to this accusation, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “It is as you say…”  Jesus said the same thing about Himself that God said about Him.  He said that He was the Christ, the King of the Jews.  (Luke 23.2,3)

Timothy verbally confessed that Jesus is the Christ before many witnesses.  Christ verbally confessed that He is the Christ before Pontius Pilate.


The Example of Paul

There is an example of someone confessing that Jesus is the Christ by his life.  Paul did not call it a confession, but you cannot help but conclude that his actions told the world what he believes about Christ.

  • Philippians 1.21:  “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Christ was magnified in the life of Paul (v. 20).  When others saw Paul, they saw Christ.  And by his life the world knew that he believed that Jesus was the Christ.
  • Galatians 2.20:  “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Again, when others saw Paul, they saw Christ living in Him.  And from this, they knew he believed that Jesus was the Christ.
  • Colossians 3.4:  “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”  Do not allow yourself to be told that Jesus needs to be first in your life.  He does not need to be first in your life.  He needs to be your life!  When Paul lived his life, it was screaming to others, Jesus is Christ.


Have You Confessed the Name of Christ?

There needs to be a verbal confession when one becomes a Christian.  We believe in the Bible.  We believe in doing what the Bible says.  And we believe that if God tells us to do something, and He tells us how to do it, we do it the way He tells us.  And when we find examples in the Bible of others doing it, and they are approved by God when they do it, then we know that we also should do it.

Consider Acts 8. We are introduced to a man whose name is not given.  We know his nationality.  According to Acts 8.27, he is Ethiopian.  We know his occupation.  Also in Acts 8.27, he is described as the treasurer of Candace the Queen of the Ethiopians.

He was on his way home from worshiping in Jerusalem implying that he was likely a proselyte.  As he was on his way home, he was reading the Old Testament from the book of Isaiah.  But he did not understand what he was reading.  (Acts 8.27-29)

Acts 8.30.31:  “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’  And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.”

Acts 8.35:  “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”  The Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53.  Philip started from that passage and began to preach about Jesus. 

Acts 8.36:  “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’” 

They came to some water and the Ethiopian wanted to be baptized.  How did he know about baptism?  Philip preached Jesus to him.  You can’t preach Jesus without also preaching baptism.  You cannot tell someone how to get to heaven without included the command to baptize.

Acts 8.37:  “Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’…”   Philip answered that if he believed with all his heart, he could be baptized.  If you have a faith that accepts who Jesus is and it moves you to do what God says you have to do, then you can be baptized.

Acts 8.37:  “…And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”  The Ethiopian verbally spoke.  And when he made that verbal confession, the chariot was stopped and Philip baptized him.

He was baptized.  But prior to his being baptized he came to the point when he believed in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God based on the preaching of Philip from Isaiah 53. 

     That faith moved him to want to obey the command of God to be baptized.  But before he did that he had to change the way he thought in reference to Jesus and then he verbally confessed his faith before Philip.  This was a verbal confession that preceded him being baptized. 

     When you hear the word of God, you learn about Jesus.  You learn that Jesus is the Son of God demonstrated by the miracles that He performed.  You learn that this Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.  You learn that Jesus ascended back to the Father, and that tells you that Jesus is both Lord and Christ.  When you believe in Jesus by accepting the fact that He is the Christ, and moved by your faith to do what God says you must do in order to be saved, you will find that you must repent of my sins, and you must confess the name of Jesus before others.   That’s the confession you read about in the Bible.



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