Question:I enjoy reading your articles in your web site. I find your answers to questions biblically sound and with justification. I'm having trouble with confession, perhaps you can expound on it for me.
Is simply answering "yes" when one is asked to confess Christ (before baptism) enough? Should the believer follow the quote by the eunuch in Acts every time he or she is asked to respond before the actual baptism?
Like hearing, faith, and repentance, confession is not a one time act. "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). We ask people prior to baptism if they believe that Jesus is the Son of God to insure that a person is willing to confess their belief. But this one confession isn't the only one a believer will be called upon to make. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). Thus we are not talking about a ritual with a prescribed set of words to be said. We are talking about a way of life.
What the eunuch stated is an example of a confession. "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God"" (Acts 10:36-37). But there is no indication in this account that only these words are accepted as a confession -- though there is nothing wrong with those words. Peter made a similar confession: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16), but the exact wording is not the same.
The exact wording is not important. What is important is that the person believes that Jesus is the Son of God and their Savior and that they are willing to say this vocally to other people. It is also important that the confession is witnessed by others. "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (I Timothy 6:12).
I would prefer that people state in their own words what they believe. Yet, I recognize that many people are nervous when they decide that they will be baptized into Christ. I don't want to get into the mode of prompting them to repeat words after me. So I'll ask if they believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Some will only say "yes," but others will state their belief in greater detail. Since this is just the beginning of living a life that proclaims the Savior, I find either acceptable.