How to Confess Christ

With this post we welcome Jim Pierce to the BJS stable of writers. I have known Jim for years adn have had the pleasure of worshipping with him and his pastor in Seattle while visiting my in-laws. Jim has been with BJS from its inception and is known to many as a sharp, confessional, and provacative commenter on the site. It is a good news/bad news welcome. Jim has decided to shut down his apologetics blogsite down due to an illness in his family that he must attend to. In the meantime, he will be writing for us here at BJS as time allows. Great to have you on board brother!

Pastor Rossow, Editor – The Brothers of John the Steadfast

 

 

St. Paul in AthensI was sitting with a group of fellow Lutheran laymen as we were being led through a study of the Scriptures by our pastor when Matthew 10: 32 was read aloud, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33 ESV). Other versions translate “acknowledges” as “confesses.” No sooner had this scripture been read when the person sitting next to me turned towards me and asked, “How do we confess Christ to unbelievers?” Not only was his important question off topic, but I admit I was taken back a little by the question, since I didn’t have a good pat answer at hand. In response to his query I think I mumbled something like “As Christians we just do” and refocused my attention to our pastor’s teaching. However, I continued to ponder the question, because I didn’t have a satisfactory answer. Today I believe I can give a better answer to my brother in Christ and it would go something along the lines of the following.

Synod President Matthew Harrison tells us in his book Christ Have Mercy that the word confession “…is used in three different ways in the New Testament. The word is a combination of two Greek words; homo (“the same”) and logein (“to say”). To confess means to say the same thing…. When we make a confession of faith (Romans 10:9-10), we say the same thing that God has told us about Himself in His Word” (p. 160). I believe that is the sense of the word “confesses” my interlocutor likely had in mind when he asked how to confess Christ. Confessing Christ before the world is to acknowledge Him. Paul writes to the Romans that those who would be saved “confess with their mouths” that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). As Christians we acknowledge Christ and we can’t help it, since He is our Lord and savior. One of my favorite Scriptures somewhat illustrates this point, “And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled” (Mark 5:19-20). Jesus healed a man whom had been possessed by demons and the man, now set free by Christ, wanted to go wherever Christ was going. However, he was not permitted to do so. Instead, Jesus tells him to go home and tell his friends about the mercy shown to him. The point about going home and telling his friends is significant. As laymen we don’t have to become street preachers in order to be confessors of Christ. We don’t have to become skilled apologists who can overturn every skeptic’s arguments known to mankind, in order to confess Christ. We don’t even have to travel to far away exotic lands to confess what Jesus has done for us (we can go home and tell everyone what mercy Christ has shown to us). We also don’t need to come across like pitchmen for the Lord with bait-n-switch programs or canned church growth methods in order to acknowledge the tender mercies of Christ towards us before others. Many times “telling” is showing our neighbor what mercy Christ has for us and this can often happen as we go about doing our day to day vocations.

The answer to my brother’s excellent question with “we just do” isn’t satisfactory to me, but there is certainly something there to think about especially in light of the fact that as Christians we do good works. Yet, the question is how to confess the faith to unbelievers and I still haven’t offered a good answer. What I can point out is that there is something about acknowledging, or confessing, Christ before all men which requires that we are confessing “the way, the truth, and the life.” In other words, to confess means we are all saying the same thing about Christ and namely the truth.

Confessing the truth about Jesus means that as laymen we must be well catechized in God’s Holy Word and the Lutheran Confessions so that we are saying the same things about Christ to each other and to the world.—In fact, if you are a layman and the congregation you attend doesn’t have a Lutheran Confessions reading group, you could approach your pastor and ask him if he would be willing to start one.—We can’t possibly speak the same things if we don’t know what we as Lutherans confess as true doctrine and thankfully our Lutheran fathers loved to confess the truth of Christ in writing and so we are blessed with the Book of Concord from which we can learn what it means to confess the truth of the Scriptures to others.

So to my dear brother I would respond that how to confess Christ is through diligent preparation in studying the Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions and thereby being ready to give a reason for the hope that is within you as you work daily in your vocations. I have found that the telling part of confessing the faith goes much easier when we understand what we confess as Lutherans.


Comments

How to Confess Christ — 16 Comments

  1. like faithful Bereans on all levels

    Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

  2. Why are you a Lutheran?
    Why are you a Lutheran?
    or, A series of dissertations, explanatory of the doctrines, government, discipline, liturgical economy, distinctive traits, etc., of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States (1843)

    By Benjamin Kurtz, D. D.

    The design of Dr. Kurtz’s book is sufficiently indicated by its title. Those of us who are members of the Lutheran church, will properly appreciate a small work on this subject, calculated alike for the common reader and the more learned inquirer after ecclesiastical truth.

    This book is designed not only for those who desire to learn our “ways,” but for our own people also. Many of them need to be instructed in the faith of their fathers, that they may be more comforted by the truth, and better able to defend themselves against the attacks of proselyting sectarians. This book will furnish them with all they require for this purpose. They as well as those of our people who are well grounded in the faith will find it profitable to loan it to their neighbours of other communions, not with a view of winning them over to the church of the Reformation, but of informing them accurately as to our doctrines and usages.

    We bear an honourable distinctive name, but still we were not baptized in the name of Luther. Christ Jesus crucified is our only hope of salvation. We enjoy invaluable church privileges, but still our system teaches us to exercise the utmost charity towards others. Our economy is so liberal, and evangelical, that it allows us to differ on unessential matters of faith, whilst we are all firmly united in the maintenance of the fundamental and distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel.

    WHY ARE YOU A LUTHERAN?
    “Be ready always to give an answer,* to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

    1 Pet. iii. 15.

    ———————-WARNING!—— 7 MEGABYTE PDF FILE————————

    http://www.lutheransonline.com/lo/847/FSLO-1309999847-111847.pdf

  3. people afraid of sites promoting faithfulness? why? are we not mindful of the 5th and 8th-as well as the rest of God’s commands? do they not apply to all?

  4. Congrats on your first essay Jim Pierce.

    Take it as a badge of honor that I find your statement:

    So to my dear brother I would respond that how to confess Christ is through diligent preparation in studying the Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions and thereby being ready to give a reason for the hope that is within you as you work daily in your vocations.

    As one of the saddest statements that I have read on Steadfast.

    It is why I see the Confessional movement of the Synod, in general, as supporters of the Levite passing by the beaten man on the side of the road. “You have more important things to do! Learn and grow in your faith and then one day, you will be able to help that poor man…”

    I know this is not what you intend, but it simply comes across that way to me. Which makes me sad.

    The so-called Missional position in contrast is: “Our vocation is to proclaim Christ with our mouth to those we encounter. And you don’t have to know the entire Confessions to do so. You simply have to know what Christ has done for you. Put that into words and it will be enough.”

  5. As we proclaim Christ-Truth and the congregation gets smaller does that mean that we stop proclaiming Christ or leave for another with larger membership? I guess Jeremiah would be chided under those conditions and worse.he was! I think!?! Proclamation of Jesus Word and Sacrament (Book of Concord),correct?

  6. @ralph luedtke #8

    Good questions, Mr. Luedtke. The size of a congregation should not effect whether or not the Gospel is being proclaimed, unless of course there is no congregation.

    “Proclamation of Jesus Word and Sacrament (Book of Concord),correct?”

    If I am understanding your question here to mean that the Gospel is proclaimed in its purity and the sacraments are being administered, then you are correct.

  7. @Mark Louderback #6
    Pastor Louderback:
    “I know this is not what you intend, but it simply comes across that way to me. Which makes me sad.”

    I know what you mean… I also often have to struggle with the propensity to read other’s words and actions through the lens of my own predjudices and insecurities. I encourage you to continue your fight against this destructive habit, and practice listening and observing what others say and do for what THEY mean to communicate, after all, as you say, you KNOW that’s not what he was trying to say. As far as I can see, Jim doesn’t say or even imply that one should ignore a neighbor in need or make them wait until we get our confession just right, but rather that we remain steadfast in our stufy of the Word and the confessions so that we become and remain confident in the reason for the joy that is within us and can confess it clearly. At least that’s how I read it through my lens. I could be wrong too. Good luck and God’s grace in your struggle. Respectfully,
    Eric Ramer

  8. how to confess-the Savior? read here and look at the faithful including wives and children of this group and those who continue to sacrifice for HIS glory and truth—-hopefully, that is everyone!

  9. and what do we do when standing for Biblical truth and fellow LCMSers try to make us look foolish and out of touch?

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