Larry Kirkpatrick

A Positive Place on the Web for the Third Angel's Message

Commitment in an Age of Noncommitment

Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

God is blessing His Church with new members today. The baptism toward the end of this service will be a public witness to heart commitment. The watery grave will open, down into it the person will go, then out of the grave she will come as in resurrection to life. Faith in Christ is expressed in action. Christ will be confessed.

The Bible idea of "confession" is no longer common. We need a refresher course. The culture surrounding us is one in which people confess to very little. Opinions are offered freely, but not usually confession as in the Bible sense.

Confession Higher than Life or Death

To confess is to "acknowledge," implying a change of conviction or a change in conduct by the person confessing.

First Timothy 6:12 shows that our confession is made in the presence of witnesses:

"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."

This is an interesting idea, because Paul's very next line says that Jesus made the "good confession" before Pontius Pilate. Yet Jesus said very little to Pilate. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record that Jesus confirmed to Pilate that He was the King of the Jews, but that He then refused to respond to further charges. The gospel of John outlines a further discussion between Pilate and Jesus. Jesus tells Pilate His kingdom is not of this world.

Here is Jesus arraigned before the authorities and surrounded by a mob. He persists in His beliefs and His commitment to His out-of-this-world kingdom. The good confession wasn't a major theological discourse or a series of theological claims but faithfulness to reality in the face of death. Jesus was committed to His Father's will and refused to bend.

Confession a Group-setting Thing

Confession is a group thing. In our day, the only religion that's normally accepted is the "private" kind. But to make a Christian confession is to share your moral convictions about your relation to Jesus with other people. Jesus' life was given on the cross for you and I and for every other human being. Eternal life or death is decided for every individual person. We have to talk about it. We seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to share our Christian experience with others in a way that doesn't testify to them counter to Christ's purpose for them.

I hope you were listening. I did not say share our "spiritual" experience with them, or our "mystical" experience. We are to share our Christian experience with others.

Confession of Jesus

This is why Hebrews 3:1 reminds us that Jesus is the object of our confession:

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession."

It is cliched but still true: it's all about Jesus. Without Jesus there is nothing. One is to be baptized into Jesus' death, not into a list or into a club. Do you notice how when someone becomes a member of the Church, they are made a member subject to their baptism? The candidate for church membership states their agreement with the biblical beliefs of the Church, but the voting into membership is distinct from the baptism. This is because the life and death of Jesus is the core and not a list of beliefs.

But it is intolerably narrow to be committed to Jesus as Lord. Politically correct diversity can't go there, and so committment to a specific individual has been replaced by inclusiveness and spirituality.

Spirituality isn't anything. Don't be deceived. We are designed as and by nature, spiritual beings, we have a moral component. We exist in a universe of right and wrong and we have an awareness that right and wrong exist and we are granted by God an awareness that we should be right and not wrong.

Don't forget, even the devil is, or at least, was, spiritual. But it's not enough to be aware of right and wrong; I must choose the right. It's not enough to be what the devil is, aware of right and wrong, and choosing the wrong.

To declare oneself spiritual is the same as admitting one is a moral fence-sitter. But someone who chooses, really intentionally, unequivically, chooses Jesus is no fence-sitter. You are making a choice for the right, for Jesus, for agreement with God's Ten Commandment Law. In an antimorality culture you are choosing the acknowledge that there is right and wrong and that you align with this reality, you align with Jesus, you choose unselfish, responsible life in community with others, in contrast to selfish, irresponsible life in alienation from others. It doesn't mean you are arbitrarily choosing to go along with structures of death around us, but that you choose to follow Jesus and His analysis of how to be human, how to live not bondaged to the doctrines and teachings of man.

Our Confession and Jesus' Confession

Jesus said,

Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

Our choice to receive Jesus' life and death for us means our choice to emulate Him, be like Him. We stand for the truths He has transmitted into the world of the prince of the power of the air. We are with Jesus in His invasion of this world, His otherness toward this world, His contradiction to this world. He's not trying to break this world. It is already broken. He's laboring to save people out of this world, and when we confess Christ we are saying also that we adopt His mission.

When we become Christians, we do not enter a place of safety. We're not signing up to wait at the gate for the flight to heaven. We are enlisting definitely in Jesus' invasion of this world. We're signing up to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. There will be a sword.

Jesus promises to confess you before the Father. He will sustain and build you, He will be faithful to you.

But what about the latter part of Jesus' statement? What about denying Jesus?

We should not deny Jesus. Peter denied Him but Jesus forgave him and restored him. All the disciples fled when Jesus was crucified but they later returned (except Judas). We should not forget the parable of the two laborers in Matthew 21:28-32. A father goes to his two sons and asks them to work in the field. One says he will and then does not, while the other tells the father he will not, but then repents and goes and works in the field. Jesus asks His hearers: which one did the will of the father? The answer is, not the one who claimed he would but then did not, but the one who at first was disrespectful but who repented and did what his father asked.

Jesus tells His hearers that tax collectors and prostitutes, the lowest people in that culture, would go to heaven, rather than the self-satisfied and indifferent. The difference was that the tax collectors and prostitutes who heard Jesus speak of the kingdom repented and became part of the otherworldly kingdom. But while too many of His hearers were deeply integrated, built into the world they lived in, and that when they saw the tax collectors and prostitutes turn to Jesus, they "did not even feel remorse afterward" and believe Jesus.

They were unmoved by Jesus, uninterested in His kingdom, were satisfied to be part of the selfish kingdom of Satan, and showed it by refusing to be interested.

God wants you to make an intentional decision to be identified with Jesus and His kingdom. You may wobble and falter sometimes as you are growing. You will be assaulted by Satan and you will struggle at times to keep your connection right with Jesus. Don't lose hope. Don't be discouraged as you seek to grow into the kingdom. God will help you.

Holding on Tight to Your Confession

This leads naturally to Hebrews 4:14.

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession."

Our confession of Christ is something we need to hold on to. We are combining with Jesus. The act of confession places one in harmony with Jesus. It means to unite with God's statement of what is right and wrong, and Jesus is His ultimate statement of what is right and what is wrong. We are uniting in a statement someone else already made. God tells us what right and wrong is and we agree with Him in that. Our confession is the expression of a conviction of heart.

When we confess Jesus we make public acknowledgment of fidelity to God, and to the truth through which God is revealed. It is a declaration of unqualified confidence in Jesus, and surrender to His service. "Confession" stands for everything contained in the Christian religion.

Right after the passage about confession in Hebrews 4:14, the author of Hebrews speaks of the power and help that is available to the believer through Jesus. We need that power and help. On our own we would utterly fail.

I don't normally put trust in our words. Our own promises are like ropes of sand, so much so that the Bible repeatedly speaks of people as being like the grass that withers under the summer heat.

But there are two kinds of words: regular words and performative words. A performative word is like in a wedding when the minister says "I now pronounce you husband and wife." Then there is a marriage.

The same is true of other statements. "You are under arrest" is an enacting statement. "I forgive you" is a performative statement. "You're fired" is a performative statement.

When we confess Christ we are making a performative statement, we are declaring that we belong to Him and His kingdom, we are holding fast our confession, we are identifying with Christ.


In an age of cheap commitment where little if anything is deemed worthy of dying or living for, the Christian confesses Christ.

We make our confession in the presence of witnesses. We confess our union with Jesus. We stand with Jesus for that which is morally right; we agree with God's reality. Our confession of Christ opens the way for His confession of us. We accept Him as King and He accepts us into His royal family. We hold fast our confession in Him and His kingdom.

Christianity is not a t-shirt you can put on and take off from day to day. It is a way of living, a personal relation to the Creator and redeemer God. If we refuse to identify with Jesus we deny Him before men. If we confess Him we align with Him and His purpose for us through thick and thin Jesus is mine and I am His.

There is a lot of "thin" coming. How kind and merciful and unearned is the privilege of confessing Him. Sing a hymn or two now while we put on our robes and enter the water for the baptism.


Deer Park WA SDA 2017-09-30