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Why doesn't confessing the name of Christ save you?

A Bible Perspective

Main Idea

Salvation from being cast into hell is through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16). There are some 200 passages of the Bible that state this. Some churches however falsely incorporate into the gospel a number of other steps. One of these is stating that a person needs to confess Jesus before other people before they are saved. There is no doubt that a saved person wants to, desires to and ought to confess the name of Jesus to the world – this is a Christian's responsibility, but this act does not save him or her.

The Context of the Bible

The greatest mistake of users of the Bible is to take verses out of context. Indeed, having verses in some ways blinds people to the truth – they were not added by the original authors, and other for convenience, do not belong in the Cannon of God. One must fully understand why the verse is written and where it fits into the entire chapter, book and Canon of Scripture.

Salvation is by faith alone

There are more than 150 Bible passages that attest to the fact that one needs only to believe (or trust) on Jesus to be saved, which was the only way of salvation from the beginning of time.

Abraham was saved because he believed God (Genesis 15:6)

Nicodemus is told that whoever believed in God will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Jesus assured the Jews that whoever heard his word and believed in God (the one who sent Jesus to this world), has (note the tense) everlasting life (John 5:24)

The Jews wanted a sign of the coming Messianic Kingdom, which is yet to come. They also wanted to know what they should do to be saved – asking about what work they should do; Jesus states that the work of God is believing in Jesus Christ, whom God had sent (John 6:29).  A little later he reiterates to the Jews that the one who believers in Jesus has everlasting life (John 6:47). Again note the continuous present tense of 'has eternal life' – it was current at the time, it still is current.

The reason why the Holy Spirit had to be sent was because of unbelief. The Holy Spirit would convict the world of "sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment of sin", necessary because people were unsaved – unsaved because they did not believe Jesus (John 16:8-9).

An entire book of the Bible is devoted to the theme of salvation through faith – John writes that his Gospel was written sothat "you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:30, 31).

Paul tells the Romans that the power of the gospel of Christ comes for anyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

The Ephesian Church is told they are saved only through grace and that comes from believing in God – adding anything or doing anything else leads to boasting (Ephesians 2:8-9), and God hates the proud boastful person (Proverbs 8:9,10; Amos 6:8).

When a gentile asks an Apostle how to be saved he is told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and he would be saved (Acts 16:30-31). Note there was NO other thing this man need do which would lead to him and his family being saved.

The purpose of humans is to please God; to worship him. This can only be done with faith – indeed it is impossible to please God in any way without faith (Hebrews 11:6).

What about verses that speak of confessing the name of Jesus?

Matthew 10:32

Churches unfortunately do not distinguish the dispensation of the church age (age of grace) from that those preceding it, suggesting the church has the blessings (but not cursing's, strangely) that were promised Israel. This is poor teaching at best and apostasy at worse.

From Matthew chapter 1 through to Matthew 12:24 Jesus is trying to get Israel to accept him as their Messiah and King (e.g. Matthew 3:1, 2; 4:17; 10:5-8; see also John 1:10-13). In Chapter 10 he is speaking to his Israeli disciples (Note the context – these are Old Testament followers of Christ, essentially Jews; the Church is not mentioned until chapter 16). The disciples are being sent to Nation Israel. Indeed they were expressly forbidden to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5). Furthermore, they were not proclaiming salvation, but the fact the Messiah had come and the kingdom was at hand! 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand' (Matthew 10:7). If Israel had accepted Christ he would be ruling from Jerusalem this day in a vastly different world – but God knowing their hearts had a far better, and perfect plan.

The role of Israel was, and will be, to evangelise the world – which they will do far more effectively than the Church has ever done (See Matthew 28:28, and Revelation 7). This they can only do by proclaiming his name (see below).

Verse 32 cannot be about salvation – the disciples were already saved at this point and it was to disciples that Jesus is speaking (a point missed by too many evangelists). The verse is about the reward in heaven they would receive in doing this work for their Messiah – their name will be acknowledged before the Lord God Almighty (and indeed it was – their names are forever embedded in the Canon of Scripture which will never pass away).

Overall, this chapter, and verse 32 in particular, is not about being saved, but the act of the saved one carrying out the works of God.

Romans 10:9,10

Perhaps this is one passage that is taken out of context above all others. Romans chapters 9 – 11 is all about Israel, and Israel alone. Paul answers the question after proving that salvation is by faith alone; "since Israel appears to have been lost or put aside, because the promises, promised to them by God had not come to fruition, how can we Christians possibly trust God"? These chapters in Romans proves that the promises to Israel have only temporarily been suspended because they had rejected Jesus as Messiah (Matthew 12:24), but in time a remnant of Israel will be saved and inherit land, seed and blessing as promised them in the Old Testament (Romans 11:25-27 etc.). When will this occur? The Messiah had come as their king, ready to set up the Messianic Kingdom, but was rejected. The Bible is very clear – Jesus will return (and reign from Jerusalem) when Israel proclaims His name.

We know this because Paul quotes verses from the prophets who say this! In verse 13 of the same chapter Paul writes, quoting Joel: For "whoever calls on the name of the lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13. The verse comes from:

And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls. Joel 2:32

Therefore, it is clear that verses 9 & 10 of chapter 10 is about Nation Israel who will confess that Jesus Christ is the Messiah (something Jews are emphatic is not true at this moment in time) and afterward they will receive the blessings of the covenant promised them. Prior to this they need to believe in the name of the Messiah. This is the same message proclaimed by Jesus in Matthew chapter 23 (see Matt 23:37-39).

Furthermore, verse 9 and 10 can NEVER be taken alone – it stands in context of Paul speaking to Nation Israel (Romans 10:1) about the fact righteousness is attained through faith (Romans 4:5; 10:4).

Other reasons why confession of the name of Jesus does not save you

The Bible gives examples of people who did not confess Jesus but had faith in Him and were saved. In John 12:42, out of fear, certain Jews believed in Him but did not speak about this (did not confess Him). One such Jew was Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but out of fear, was one in secret (John 19:38).

If one is required to confess the name of Jesus to other people, as some would have, many would now be in Hades awaiting judgement. The dying who believe in Christ while alone on their death bed would not be saved – yet they are. And what about those who cannot speak, or who are oppressed (in war zones, in Islamic prisons etc.) – yet the Bible is clear, all these can be saved by believing in Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah!

What about you?

David L Simon (31 July 2016)
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