True Confession was the title of a popular magazine targeting young women.
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True Confession was the title of a popular magazine targeting young women. It began to fall away in popularity in the mid-‘90s with the introduction of the internet.
Behind the title was the idea of confessing something that should have been kept secret. For instance, one of the titles in the ‘50s was “I Was a Second-hand Wife.” Catchy title. Makes you want to know what is meant by ‘second-hand.’
The admitting of things not so pleasant is how we usually associate the word “confession” or confess. As Catholics, we had what was known as the sacrament of confession where we went and told our secret sins to the priest.
We are told to ‘fess up—that is admit that you’ve done something wrong.
However, that is not the only meaning of confess. In fact, the word comes from the Latin word for acknowledge.
That’s all. Simply acknowledge.
It is only through the emphasis which the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformers where we get the idea of it being associated with acknowledging our wrong-doing.
Essentially the word means to declare, to state something as true.
This is a standard passage used for trying to get people saved—“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Rom 10:9-10)
These two verses have long been used as a part of what is known as the Roman Road to Salvation, which is an outline of how to get someone saved or born again using eight simple steps of logic.
It basically goes like this—
Roman Road to Salvation
step 1 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom 3:23)
step 2 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
step 3 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)
step 4 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9)
step 5 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13)
At this point, the witness is supposed to ask the one being witnessed to if they are ready to make a decision for Christ. If so, then they are led in saying a little prayer.
Then it is time to convince them that they have done something important.
step 6 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:1)
step 7 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1)
step 8 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
This program has been used by those who teach how-to-witness seminars. I learned it while a member of the Baptist Student Union in college.
We would then go out into the streets and try to talk to people and engage them in such a way as to bring out this little map. Hopefully, we could lead them along, getting them to say yes to each step, and at the end we would have them say a little prayer and then declare to them that they were saved.
Sadly, this method works for only a few of the many who agreed to the process.
Why? Why do so many who follow this path show no fruit of salvation?
Let’s quickly notice a few things about this so-called road to salvation.
First, it is a collection of cherry-picked verses trying to establish a logical progression that will make sense to the pre-believer.
We are told in another place, though, that this is an exercise in futility.
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (1Co 1:20-21)
He is saying that logic and the use of reason is something that many exalt, but it is not how God makes Himself known.
Secondly, you can see from the road-map that it skips back and forth in Paul’s letter. That would indicate at the very least that it does not follow Paul’s reasoning.
Romans is a very detailed discussion about God’s plan from the very beginning, and Paul follows a consistent line of thought from beginning to end.
Thirdly, it is man’s attempt to make something that has many facets into a single concept. God’s wisdom is much broader and deeper than anything we can ever attain.
Paul mentions this in his letter to the church at Ephesus—
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph 3:10)
That word ‘manifold’ from the Greek means “marked with a great variety of colors”—like Joseph’s coat of many colors.
The wisdom of God is marked by a great variety of colors. It is likened to the facets on a cut diamond—no one single facet shows off the beauty and integrity of the diamond.
That is what the Roman Road to Salvation was trying to do. It was an attempt to reduce the plan of salvation to only a single facet.
So, what IS God’s plan of salvation for humanity?
Paul lays it out plainly for us in his letter to the Corinthians.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1Co 15:3-4)
It is the presentation of the gospel that brings salvation as we see early on in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom 1:16)
There is no place in the Bible where we are given step-by-step instructions on how to lead someone to the Lord—how to proclaim the gospel.
We have many examples of people being brought to salvation, and almost everyone of them shows a different manner, a different story, a different experience.
Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost Sunday, his sermon at the home of Cornelius, Philip’s sharing with the Ethiopian, Paul’s preaching on Mars Hill—each of these presents a different story in all its aspects.
As I read these stories, there is one point, however, that stands out very plainly.
Only in Peter’s first sermon is there any mention of repentance. After that it never shows up again in any presentation or explanation of the gospel.
This brings us back to our original discussion of confession.
We have been told that we are to confess our sins, be sorry for them and repent for having offended a holy God.
That is the fourth thing about the Romans Road Map. Not a single verse that is used brings out the idea of the necessity of repentance. Yet the idea is included in the presentation as a part of “all have sinned.”
Here is an interesting side note about Paul’s letter to the Romans, which is a complete presentation of God’s plan for salvation.
He never uses the word repent. Not once does he say that we must repent.
The closest he comes is when he uses the word ‘repentance’ which only occurs one time in his entire letter.
… God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance (Rom 2:4)
The word repent translates the Greek word which means “change your mind.” It has no indication of sorrow of any kind, even though that may be a side effect for some when they realize the love of God.
Paul then goes through the rest of his letter presenting different aspects of how man has responded to God and how the Lord continues to bring mankind to experience His love.
He concludes with the concept we are talking about today—confession.
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9)
The word translated “confess” is a compound word in the Greek and begins with the word ‘homo,’ which we know means the same—homosexual, homogenized, homo sapiens, homophobia and others.
The idea in the Greek language is to “say the same thing.” That is the meaning of “confess”—to say the same thing.
Say the same thing as what? The same thing that Paul wrote in his letter—
JESUS IS LORD.
That is the clearest indicator of whether someone knows the Lord, saved, born again, regenerated or however you want to name it.
Do they confess that Jesus is Lord?
Therefore I want you to understand that … no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. (1Co 12:3)
So, if you are ever confronted with a “Roman Road” person trying to witness to you, they will eventually ask you, “How do you know you’re saved?”
Your response should be, “Because I know that Jesus is Lord.”
That is the true confession. Jesus is Lord.