The Good Confession
Text: I Timothy 6:6-16
I. We all have heard of the five steps of salvation, even though there are really more than five steps. Five just makes it easier to remember.
A. Today we are going to focus on confession.
B. Exactly what is to be confessed? How is it to be confessed? When are we to confess?
II. Some confuse what is meant by confession with a confession of sin
A. Confessing our sins to God is necessary - I John 1:9
1. But it is not what we are talking about
B. We are to confess our faults to Christians we trust to get prayers, help, and guidance - James 5:16
1. But again, it is not what we are talking about
C. In our reading, Timothy made the good confession before many witnesses - I Timothy 6:12
D. Paul connected this to the good confession of Christ before Pilate - I Timothy 6:13
III. Examples of confession
A. Jesus - John 18:33-37
1. Jesus agrees that he is a king, but it was more than that.
2. He was a king who pre-existed his birth, who came into this world to bear witness to the truth.
3. Luke’s account points out that Pilate’s question resulted from the Jews charging that Jesus claimed to be the Christ, a king - Luke 23:1-3
4. Their charge came from their own trial of Jesus - Matthew 26:63-64
a. Here Jesus agreed that he was the Christ, the Son of God, and he had the right to sit in judgment on these judges.
B. Peter’s - Matthew 16:16
1. The Christ, the Son of the living God
C. Thomas’ - John 20:28
1. My Lord and my God
D. John’s - John 20:30-31
1. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God
E. Nathanael - John 1:49
1. The Son of God, the king of Israel
F. An angel’s - Luke 2:11
1. Christ, the Lord
G. What we notice is that the confessions are not a rote phrase
IV. A side note on the eunuch’s confession - Acts 8:37
A. Not all the translations include Acts 8:37. Some relegate it to a footnote. Some don’t include it at all. Most mark it as suspect.
B. First we should note that there is nothing in this verse that you can’t conclude from other passages. The confession, in particular, follows the same pattern as all other confessions.
C. The oldest manuscripts do not include Acts 8:37. But all the manuscripts are in the same family of eastern manuscripts, centered around Alexandria.
1. Egypt’s dry air helps preserve old manuscripts.
2. The Chester Beatty I manuscript (p45), dated about A.D. 200-225
3. Sinaiticus (Aleph01), dated in the fourth century A.D.
4. Alexandrinus (A02), dated to the late fourth century to early fifth century
5. Vaticanus (B03), dated to the early fourth century
6. Ephraemi Rescriptus (C04), dated to the fifth century
D. The earliest manuscript to have Acts 8:37 is the Codex Laudianus (Ea 08), dated around A.D. 534-550, which is a western manuscript.
E. But there are other evidences as well:
1. "Philip declared that this Jesus, and that the Scripture was fulfilled in Him; as did also the believing eunuch himself: and, immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, "I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God" [Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.12.8, about A.D. 180].
2. "For although in the Acts of the Apostles the eunuch is described as at once baptized by Philip, because he believed with his whole heart, this is not a fair parallel" [Pontius of Carthage, The Life and Passion of Cyprian, about A.D. 208-225].
3. "In the Acts of the Apostles: "Lo, here is water; what is there which hinders me from being baptized? Then said Philip, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest" [Cyprian, The Treatises of Cyprian, Treatis 12, Book 3, Section 43, about A.D. 208-258].
4. "That same Philip ... baptized the officer, that is the eunuch of Queen Candace, who had worshiped in Jerusalem, and returning thence was reading in his chariot Isaiah the Prophet, and understood it not. Philip being admonished went up to his chariot, explained the Scripture, unfolded the faith, preached Christ. The eunuch believed on Christ, and said when they came unto a certain water, "See water, who doth hinder me to be baptized? Philip said to him, Dost thou believe on Jesus Christ? He answered, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Immediately he went down with him into the water." [Augustine of Hippo, Sermons on Selected Lessons of the Gospels, Sermon 49, Section 11, about A.D. 354-430].
5. All these authors are numbered among the western churches and show knowledge of Acts 8:37 that reaches very far back in time.
F. We also know that the book of Acts first circulated in the western churches.
G. Yet, it appears that when the book reached the eastern churches, Acts 8:37 was missing.
H. The Majority (or Byzantine) manuscripts also don't have Acts 8:37. These are later manuscripts, but form the bulk of the ancient manuscripts that we have in our possession.
I. One theory is that Acts 8:37 was accidentally dropped from a copy sent to the eastern churches and never got corrected.
J. Most scholars today lean to claiming that it was added to the western manuscripts, but they have a hard time accounting for the early quotes.
K. It should be noted that there was a major dispute that might have played a role. During this time frame, there was a belief being pushed that infants should be baptized.
1. Of course, Acts 8:37 shows that a confession was made before baptism, which can't be done by infants.
2. Thus, there may have been incentive not to correct the missing verse and as time progressed the baptism of infants became the prevailing belief.
L. There is not a good reason to discount Acts 8:37, though as we said, it isn’t critical since we can go to other verses for the same points.
V. Even though the wordings are different, the confessions are all essentially saying the same thing:
A. Jesus is the Son of God -- He is deity who came in the flesh to live among men.
B. Jesus is the Anointed of God (the Christ or Messiah) -- He is the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning God's plan to save mankind from their sins.
C. Jesus is our Lord (or our King) -- The Messiah was the heir to David's throne and would establish a never ending kingdom. As King, he holds complete authority over our lives. He is not just King of the Jews, but King of all kingdoms.
VI. Confession starts with a public statement about what you believe, but confession is not a one-time act. It is a way of life.
A. Asking a person before they are baptized merely insures that they are willing to continue to confess Christ throughout their life.
B. In both Matthew 10:32-33 and Romans 10:9-10, confess is in the present tense in the Greek. It means that it on going at present and not one-time event that occurred in the past.
VII. Prior to baptism, we have people state in their own words what they believe;
A. yet, it is known that many people are nervous when they decide to be baptized into Christ, so I'll ask if they believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
1. Some will only say "yes,"
2. But others will state their belief in greater detail.
B. Since this is just the beginning of living a life that proclaims the Savior, either is acceptable.
C. After all, Jesus' confession before the Jews and before Pilate was merely an affirmation of what they stated.
D. There is an opportunity to make the good confession here today