When Paul wrote his first epistle to the young preacher Timothy, he referred to Timothy’s conversion in the following manner, “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” (1 Tim. 6:12). While Timothy had professed to be a follower of Christ and had testified of his faith and his knowledge of the Christ on several occasions through preaching, Paul is probably specifically discussing the moment when Timothy became a child of God and was added to the church. This most likely happened during Paul’s initial missionary trips to Lystra, Timothy’s hometown (Acts 14 and 16).
Paul also reminded the church of Christ at Rome, “…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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). From this text and other passages it is definitely clear that the Bible teaches that confession of faith in Christ is a prerequisite to salvation. There are also other absolutes required by God which are revealed in the Scriptures, including hearing the word (Rom. 10:14-17), believing in Christ (John 3:16, 8:24), and immersion in the name of Jesus (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).
Paul called Timothy’s profession of faith, “the good confession.” What did he mean by that? And what was this confession exactly? And what did it signify? It was “good” because a confession of faith in Jesus represents a heart that has accepted the truth of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice and which has also been changed by the power of heavenly love to obediently submit to the will of God. This confession involves both an acknowledgement of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and a commitment to service to the Lord for the rest of one’s earthly life. The significance of confessing Christ is that it honors God and glorifies Jesus as the one and only Lord of lords and King of kings – understanding that Jesus alone is the one through whom we can be acceptable to God (John 14:6). It truly is a good confession, a beautiful confession, and a necessary confession!
Recently, through some of our missionaries working in India, I found this statement which I believe is extremely powerful and perhaps best sums up what a biblical confession of faith in Christ really involves:
Confession before baptism in India – “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. I believe that He died, was buried, and resurrected from death. I believe that He built His church and I confess His name and will be faithful unto my death to the Christ and His church.”
The good confession is more than just admitting that we believe in Jesus. It makes us ready for our immersion by which we can be cleansed of all past sins and contact the saving blood of Jesus. It is also a spoken covenant to God by which we put Him in charge and commit ourselves to His kingdom for the rest of our lives. It is not the good confession because it comes from our lips. It is the good confession because God is good in spite of our sin. It is the good confession because it admits that without the blood of Jesus and the love of His cross we are nothing but lost.
“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?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” – Acts 8:36-37