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“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).

OPENNESS, TRANSPARENCY, DISCLOSURE. These are words with a very high social value these days. We tend to see them positively (at least as far as other people’s conduct is concerned).

But what about openness with regard to our religious convictions, especially those that might get us into trouble if they were publicly known? When we might be persecuted for our beliefs, we often find it convenient to be quiet about them. And perhaps even more than persecution, we fear social disapproval and ostracism. As the world becomes increasingly secular, religious beliefs of any kind will come to be viewed as contemptible. Whatever other religious people may do, how is a Christian to deal with this pressure?

Well, the gospel is clear on this point. Jesus said, “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). Openly acknowledging that we are the Lord’s people is a part of our faith in Him. We cannot hide our identity and still expect that He will acknowledge us on the Judgment Day.

In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul reminded Timothy that he had made “the good confession.” Surely the verbal confession that Jesus is Lord is a good confession — the best of all possible acknowledgements that a person could make. And it is a required part of becoming a Christian. “With the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:10).

But to confess Christ goes beyond merely saying the words “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” We must truly believe those words — and they must be confessed in our deeds as well as our words. We can’t have Jesus as our “Savior” without obeying Him as our “Lord.” And in the end, doing that may require the greatest courage of all: confessing by our actions that we have accepted His lordship — both when it is convenient and when it is not.

“One of the greatest errors in the church today is the artificial distinction we have created between accepting Christ as Savior and confessing Him as Lord. We have made two experiences of it, but the New Testament makes them one” (Vance Havner).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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