This Sunday, I’ll be preaching the Gospel lesson of the lectionary, Matthew 16:13-20. This is the second of a series of sermons that I am preaching right now called, “Listening to the Good Shepherd” based on John 10. The homiletical thread of this series is that by listening to the Good Shepherd (Jesus) we can have life “more abundantly”. With this in mind, my study this week has been focusing on the importance of Peter’s confession and how confession is important for us as well. Not in the sense of “confession is good for the soul” but confession in the sense of professing: what we believe about Christ, professing our theology (my usage of the word theology doesn’t relate to dogmatics, which can be important, but theology as “what we know or have come to believe about God”). In this sense confession becomes for me sacramental, because one’s confession of the Christ who lives and reigns within is essentially an outward (verbal) manifestation of an inward, spiritual truth.
Paul’s words in Romans 10:9 (TNIV) are interesting:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
He goes on to write in verse 10: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:10 TNIV).
For this discussion I’m pretty much using confession and profession interchangeably.
So why would confession help us to have abundant life and how can we become a “confessing people”?
- The first reason that comes to mind is the salvific component noted in Romans 10:9-10. Anything dealing with salvation is, of course, important.
- Philippians 2:9-11(TNIV) suggests that eventually, all will do it anyway:
- Testifying: an under-emphasized part of our worship services. When I was a kid, I remember attending a friends church one time for a “Testifying (or Testimonial) Service”. The practice of testifying and testimonies if was ever part of some church’s traditions has almost certainly died away. There is something efficacious about sharing in a public way what God has done in and for you and what you believe. Many churches will include in their worship service a professed creed, such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, but these often become unfortunate casualties when worship services are updated and made contemporary. The act of testifying/professing/confessing publicly worships God and can encourage others. It has been a long time since someone said to me, “Can I share my testimony?” “Can I tell you what I believe?” “Can I tell you what I’ve come to know to be true about Jesus Christ?” It is the best way to evangelize non-believers and encourage fellow believers.
These three points bring me back to my earlier statement: confession (profession) is a sacramental act in that it is an outward (verbal) manifestation to an inward, spiritual truth. Confession/Profession of the living Christ saves our souls, places us as part of a heavenly/earthly order that confesses to God, and can be evangelistic or encouraging to others.
A lot of these ideas will be unexpressed in my sermon, but as they were buzzing around my head, I thought I would post them here. Comments are welcome.