Aliens must Confess...

Confession...With the Mouth

By Patrick Donahue

This article is intended to prove two conclusions. First, that a verbal confession of Christ, similar to what can be read about in Acts 2:37 (KJV), is necessary to becoming a Christian, that is, being born again. Second, that this confession must be done with the mouth, that is, it is not good enough for someone just to nod their head in answer to a question.

Confession Is Necessary To Initial Salvation

Some members of the church of Christ do not think that a confession of Christ is necessary to salvation. They would think that it would be incorrect to list confession along with belief, love, repentance, and baptism, etc. when listing conditions for intitial salvation. Of course, we only make lists to help people learn, and we shouldn't bind any exact list. But when someone says that a person does not have to be baptized to be saved, we rightly point out that he is incorrect (Mk 16:16). Likewise, when someone teaches that a person does not have to confess Christ in order to be initially saved, we should also point out that he is incorrect.

Romans 10:9-10 is the proof that confession is required. But it is argued that Romans 10 is not talking about what to do in order to become a Christian, but is talking about the life of one who is already a Christian; that Romans 10 is not talking about initial salvation, but eternal salvation. Of course, if this were true, let's point out that the passage would make a verbal confession essential to eternal salvation, something those making the argument would not dare accept.

The following are points showing that the context of Romans 10 is referring to initial salvation, not eternal salvation, and therefore shows that a verbal confession is necessary to initial salvation: * Rom 9:31-10:3 is discussing Israelites who had never become Christians, not people who were already Christians. * Rom 10:9-10 state belief as a condition of salvation just like many other passages that talk about initial salvation, such as Jn 3:16. * Verse 13 is referring back to Rom 9:33, which is talking about unsaved Israelites.* Verse 13 is quoting (applying) Joel 2:32 just like Acts 2:21, and Acts 2:21 is obviously discussing initial salvation. * Verses 14-15 present a picture of a "missionary" going out to try to convert people, naturally people who had not yet become Christians. * Verse 16 equates the salvation process of the context with obeying the gospel, which usually refers to initial salvation. * Rom 10:19-21 is discussing Israelites who had never become Christians.

Confession With The Mouth Must Be With The Mouth

Many who agree that confession is essential to becoming a Christian believe that the baptismal candidate nodding his head at a question like, "Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" will suffice. They think that it is too legalistic to require that the confession actually be made with the mouth. Legalistic or not, Rom 10:9-10 requires it. I am not saying that any exact formula of words must be said, but I am saying that a verbal confession of Christ must be made. Whatever the words of the confession are, they must be done with the "mouth." There is such a thing as a confession of Christ made with one's life, but a confession with one's life only does not comprehend the confession of Romans 10, because the confession of Romans 10 cannot be done without use of the mouth.


The conclusion is simply this: a person must confess Christ (along with believing, loving God, repenting, baptism, etc.) in order to become a Chrisitan. This confession is not just a "general confession." It is a verbal confession. It must be done with the mouth.

[Editor’s Note: Thanks to Pat Donahue for writing the article!
He may be reached at:Pat.Donahue@MSFC.NASA.GOV, 4607 Old Railroad Bed Road, Harvest, AL 35749, (256) 721-0726.]

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