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Reflections From History & Faith: Profession Without Confession

Contributed by Jeff Olson

Today, church buildings are usually occupied several times a week by many people, some of whom have experienced the new birth, who are a part of the church, the family of God, the Body of Christ. Their conversion was likely expressed through a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, probably a public one. By definition, the word profession means in part, “a declaration.” But another part of this definition includes the phrase, “whether true or false.” So then, a profession can be either true or false and still qualify as a profession. Most of us can probably identify with this. Have any of us ever made a profession which was not true? Of course, but hopefully a profession of faith in Christ was not one of those.

A profession expressing salvation is the beginning of a process which is characterized not only by a lifestyle of professing Jesus Christ but also a lifestyle of confessing Jesus Christ. You may ask; can we profess Christ in exclusion of confessing Christ? Yes, and some of us do. The Apostle Peter is one of the most notable examples of this. He boldly professed Christ on a regular basis but when it came down to where the “rubber meets the road” what happened? Did Peter confess or deny Christ? From Matthew 26:33-35, we know that Peter’s intentions were good but from verses 69-75 we also know that he denied Jesus three times, something he said he would not do and yet did. Peter boldly professed Christ, yet he would not confess Christ when the going got tough, and Jesus knew this would occur; just like He knows each of us better than we know ourselves. As we should see from Peter’s example, confession includes the elements of personal identification, commitment to truth, and sometimes courage – all of which should transcend circumstances and consequences. It is often very easy and convenient to profess our personal beliefs and creeds and to even embellish them with “Christ” or “Christian” or “The Lord” and yet at the same time not confess or identify with the suffering Servant, the crucified Christ, the One who came to serve – not to be served (Romans 10:9-10).

Another excellent example of this can be found in the life of Martin Luther (1483-1546), an Augustinian monk who was instrumental in the Protestant Reformation. Luther, once he found the key that unlocked the redemptive story of the Bible and rediscovered the grace of God, was used by God to challenge the core of false theologies and to open the door for the the written Word of God to be accessible to thousands of people. Luther stated, “If I profess with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.” Exactly! Peter came to understand, as Luther understood, that where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved – where profession is validated or proven hollow.

Profession without confession is often seen in people who talk the talk but don’t or can’t walk the walk, either because they’ve never known God (Titus 1:16) or because their relationship with Him is at best shallow, rendering them disobedient and ineffective (2 Peter 1:5-9). Consequently, both of these conditions have rendered the Church impotent in a potent counterculture. It is far past time that we, like Peter, Martin Luther and others, join on the field of battle for the heart and soul of those around us and for our culture and nation. We must never lose sight that the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47, 2 Chronicles 20:15) and it will be won or lost in great part from the degree to which our profession of Christ and our confession of Christ are not only consistent with one another but one and the same.

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