Necessity of Public Confession
June 7th, 1964 @ 7:30 PM
NECESSARY PUBLIC CONFESSION
Dr. W.A. Criswell
6-7-64 7:30 p.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor making an evening appeal. Not to follow the course of the program or the sermon suggested; turning aside from it in prayer, and looking to God, that the Lord will bless the appeal that we now make.
In the tenth chapter of the Book of Romans, would you turn? Beginning at verse 9 and reading through verse 13, and sharing your Bible with your neighbor; the Book of Romans chapter 10, beginning at verse 9, reading through verse 13, all of us reading it out loud together. Romans 10, beginning at verse 9, reading it together:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
This is a very definite and studied theological and practical word from the inspired apostle Paul: how we become a Christian, and how we become a disciple of Christ. There is no such thing in the Word of God as a secret, clandestine, ashamed Christian, saved person, disciple of Jesus. He does not exist. Our Lord Himself said, “Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I deny before My Father which is in heaven” [Matthew 10:32-33].
The open, public avowal of our commitment to Christ is a concomitant of the salvation God gives us. That’s what it is. That’s how it works. That’s how we respond. When a man is saved, that’s what he does. And without it, he’s not saved, and he’s not a Christian, and he’s not a child of God.
In a pastorate, in the little town was the storekeeper and a man who was lost. And I prayed for him, and visited him, and talked to him out of the Book, and pled with him to give his soul to Jesus. Upon a day when I was preaching in the church, down the aisle he came, one of the most victorious responses I have ever experienced in my ministry; that man came, took my hand, and he said, “Young pastor, today I give my heart in faith to Jesus, and I take Him as my Savior.”
You know how I said, “Ah, glory to God. And thank the Lord. And this is a great hour.” And then I said, “Now you be seated here until I can present you to the congregation and you be received for baptism.”
He said, “Oh, no. Oh, no, not that. Not that.” He said, “I’ve just come forward to give my heart to Jesus and to be a Christian. Now I’m going back to my seat.”
I said, “You’re going back to your seat?”
“Yes,” he said, “I’m returning to my seat.”
“Well,” I said, I said, “You can’t do that! You must stay here and you must make that confession of faith before the congregation, and you must be received for baptism.”
“Oh no,” he said. He said, “All the years of my life I have said, ‘I will never sit there on the front seat,’ and I have said, ‘and I will never be baptized.’” Now he said, “I’m giving my heart to Jesus, and I’m asking the Lord to forgive me of my sins, and I’m taking Him as my Savior, but I’m going back to my seat.”
And I said to him, “You go back to your seat, and you will return a lost man. You can’t be saved and go back to your seat. If you don’t stay here at the front of this church, and if you don’t confess your faith in the Lord, and if you don’t openly avow that commitment to Christ, you can’t be saved.”
“Well,” he said, “I’m not going to stay.”
“Well,” I said, “You go back and you’re going back a lost man.” Took a lot of courage to say that, because that is a difficult theology. Man’s not saved by coming down an aisle, a man’s not saved by sitting on any front seat, a man’s not saved by being baptized, but according to the Word of God, a man is never saved unless he’s willing to make that open and public commitment of Christ [Romans 10:9-10].
When he turned and started back, I never felt—O God, I never felt so in despair in my life. And after he’d gone about three or four paces, he turned around and looked at me, and broke down; broke down, began to cry, came back to me, took me by the hand, and he said, “Preacher, I’ve made a great mistake. I’ve made a great mistake. I’m not right. I’m not right, and I know I’m not right! But,” he said, “Now I go all the way, and I’m staying. I’ll sit on this seat where I said I would never sit, and I’ll be baptized as I said I would never be baptized.” And I presented him to the church, and he made a marvelous confession, and I baptized him. And the last time I heard of that man he was the president of the Brotherhood in that association and made a great leader and a great Christian.
I’m just trying to say to you that a concomitant, a corollary, an inweaving, a part of what it is to be saved, is an open public commitment of your life to Jesus. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that He lives, that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart one believeth unto righteousness, the God kind, a saving righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” [Romans 10:9-10].
Now to the book of my life, may I take one other experience of that out of a multitude, because I live in this kind of a world. There came to me—to my room where I was preaching in a revival meeting; I was in bed—there came to my room a young man and pounded on the door, and I let him in. And he apologized, of course, for coming at such an unearthly hour, but he said, “I, I’m in an agony. I’m in an agony, and I’ve got to settle this tonight, and so I’ve come.”
“Well,” I said, “if I can help, fellow, I’m glad you’ve come.”
Well, this is what he said. He said, “My father was a Christian, and when he died, he called all of the children around him, and he turned to me. I was the only one lost, and he turned to me and he said, ‘Son, before my eyes close in death, son, I want to see you give your heart to Jesus and be a Christian. Son, for your old dad’s sake before he dies, won’t you kneel here by the side of the bed and give your heart to Jesus? Please, son. Let me die knowing I’ll see my boy in heaven. Please, son.’”
And the boy said to me, the young man said to me, “I knelt by the side of my father’s bed, and with his hand on my head, I gave my heart to Jesus, and I meant it, and I went all the way with the Lord in my soul. But,” he said, “after the death of my father and in these days that have passed,” he said, “I’ve tried to live right, and I’ve struggled to do right, and I’ve tried to overcome, but,” he said, “I’m defeated on every hand. And I don’t know what’s the matter, and I’ve come to you in despair. You tell me what to do.”
“Why,” I said, “fellow, I never had such a simple, simple answer to give a young man in my life. I never did. This is the easiest question I’ve ever been asked. Did you ever make a confession publicly of your faith in the Lord? Did you?”
He said, “No. It was just such an intimate and sacred thing with my father and the family. I just never did.”
“Well,” I said, “were you ever baptized? And did you ever join yourself openly to the disciples of Christ?”
He said, “No. No, I never did.” He said, “All of this has just been the commitment in my heart.”
“Well,” I said, “you can’t serve God like that, and you can’t honor the Lord like that. When a man gives his heart to Jesus, he must openly, publicly avow it, and the rest of the days of his life, if it costs him his life, he must be an open, public, unashamed disciple of Jesus.”
“If thou shall confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart, thou shall be saved. For with the heart we believe unto a God kind of righteousness; and with the mouth [confession] is made unto salvation” [Romans 10:9-10].
“Now,” I said, “You get down here by my side, and let’s pray. And not only commit your life to Jesus in your soul and heart, but let’s tell the Lord you’re going to tell the congregation, and the world, and men and angels, and then be baptized and follow the Lord openly all the rest of the days of your life.” We prayed. He did that. He made his confession before the congregation. The pastor baptized him, and the last time I heard of that young man, he had grown to be a pillar and a foundation stone in the building of the household of faith and the church of God.
“Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it” [Ephesians 5:25], and we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13]. And we’re baptized in the waters of baptism into that open, public acclaim of our committal of life to Jesus [Acts 2:38]. Let the whole world see it; we live and we die in the faith of the Lord [Romans 14:8]. That’s what it is to be saved. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13].
I may think about Him, I may write books about Him, I may even preach about Him, may sing about Him, may privately confess to Jesus my sins and ask Him to forgive me and come into my heart as Savior, but if I’m ever to be a Christian, I must openly, publicly unashamedly call upon His name. “Lord, a poor lost sinner, here I stand before men and angels asking Jesus to save me,” and when I do, I become a child of God [John 1:12; Romans 10:13].
That’s our appeal to your heart tonight. While we sing this song of invitation, in the throng, in the balcony round, somebody you; the press of people on this lower floor, a family you; as the Spirit of God shall lead in the way, shall say the word, shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now. Make it now. Some of you may have felt in your soul a call of God to a full-time service to Jesus, but you’ve never publicly avowed it. You’ll never be strong in that commitment until you do. Do it tonight. Do it tonight. If you live in this city and you love this church, come and be with us, openly associated with the family and the communion and the people of this beloved congregation. If in your heart you want to be saved, “O God, I don’t want to die lost. Whether God shall call me today or tomorrow, Lord, I want to be ready. I want to be a Christian. I want to love Thee in my soul.” If God has called you [1 Corinthians 1:9] and given you the gift of repentance and faith [2 Timothy 2:25-26], then come, take Jesus as your Savior and openly, publicly confess His name unto that great and enduring and eternal salvation [Romans 10:9-10]. Do it tonight. Do it tonight. As the Spirit of God shall whisper the word and make the appeal to your soul, come tonight; make it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.