Chapter 11: Do you boldly confess your faith in Christ?

It promised to be a long, cold night. It had been a long day too, but that was beside the point. Sleep was out of the question. Yet, in retrospect, it would have been better if Peter had gone to sleep.

Jesus had said a lot that day, and not much of it made sense. Peter knew he was not very smart, but he was smart enough to know that something big was happening that night.

In the last three years, Peter had never really understood Jesus. And today, He understood Him the least of all. First off, Jesus washed His feet. Then, Jesus tells him to pack his sword. But when He uses it to cut off Malchus’ ear, Jesus puts the ear back. And now, Jesus lets the Romans capture Him and take Him away. Things were not looking good. Something had to be done, and done quickly. But Peter had never felt more helpless in his whole life.

Peter’s hands break into a cold sweat. All the others, with the exception of John, had fled. He follows behind John as they take Jesus to Caiaphas’ home. He knows that with John’s help, he can enter the court of Caiaphas’ home. For the first time, doubts begin to enter his mind. Was Jesus really the Messiah? If He was, wasn’t He supposed to restore the kingdom? How then, did He allow Himself to be captured like this? Was He really going to die, as He had mentioned several times in the past few days? If He ended up dying, how could He be the Son of God? God is not supposed to die! How then would the kingdom be restored? Nothing made sense. Three whole years – all wasted. What a fiasco this would be! And he, Peter, was right in the middle of it. Was it such a good idea to be associated with Jesus after all?

Suddenly, things begin to move quickly for Peter. The servant-girl at the door confronts him about his association with Jesus. Peter denies, and walks to the porch. Another maid confronts him, and he denies again.

His mind is racing now. He is standing beside the fire, deliberating. Was Jesus a fake? That is the uppermost thought on his mind. He goes over the past three years. The great miracles that Jesus did, the transfiguration, the words of wisdom spoken with authority – all of these events replay in his mind, rising up and down in his conscious thoughts, just like the fire that burns before his face.

About an hour passes. Peter has made up his mind. Jesus said that Peter would deny Him thrice. But he denied Jesus only twice. Jesus must have been wrong. He is no Messiah. He’s a fake. It’s time to ditch Jesus and get out of here. Just then, a bystander confronts him about his association with Jesus. Peter denies, for the third time. Somewhere in the darkness a cock crows. Jesus turns and looks at Peter. Peter swears and curses. "Wrong again," Peter thinks, "I was wrong again." Peter’s heart is broken. He has denied his Master thrice, just the way Jesus said it would be. There are no doubts in his mind anymore. He blew it, and blew it bad. Peter had just made the biggest blunder of his life. He goes out and weeps bitterly.

If Peter had died during his denials, would he be saved? That is the subject of this chapter.

In our day-to-day lives we come across many people. Not everyone that we come across may know that we believe in Christ. Some of these people, like our supervisor at work, may have a lot of power over our life. Sometimes, directly or indirectly, they may speak against Christ. When they speak against Christ, should we keep quiet, and pretend that we have no association with Christ, or should we confess our association and risk the persecution that comes with it? If we keep quiet and thus deny our association with Christ, will Christ still accept us when it comes time for Him to decide who belongs to Him? Let us find out.

Is confessing and not denying Christ a requirement for salvation?

Jesus loved telling stories. His disciples loved listening to His stories. On one particular day, Jesus was telling them a scary story. He was talking about what it will be like in their future. All the twelve disciples were there. Matthew, in particular, was listening very carefully. Jesus was talking about being maligned, scourged, hated and persecuted. He was painting dark pictures. Yet, He tells them not to fear. Even death is to be taken in the stride.

Then Jesus throws out this statement, as recorded by Matthew.

Mt 10:32,33 "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."

Luke records a similar statement at another incident.

Lk 12:8,9 "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God."

The message is clear. If we confess Jesus before men, He will confess us before His heavenly Father and His angels. If we deny Him before men, He will deny us before His Father and His angels. This applies even when we are in a tight situation that might cost us our lives.

What does it mean to be denied before His heavenly Father and His angels? Is it a matter of losing one’s salvation? Mark and Luke’s gospel will help us answer that question.

Mk 8:38 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

Lk 9:26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and {the glory} of the Father and of the holy angels."

We see that, at His Second Coming, Jesus will be ashamed of, and will deny, those who are ashamed of Him and deny Him. This is the time when the dead in Christ will be raised and the alive in Christ will be changed (1 Cor 15:52). In other words, this is the time when the sons of God will be revealed (Rom 8:23). This is the time when we will find out who is truly born again and who is not. This is the time when we will find out who is truly saved. Therefore, we can be sure that the above verses refer to salvation. If Christ denies you at that time you are lost. This makes our confessing Him, instead of being ashamed of Him and His words and denying Him before men in an adulterous and sinful generation, a requirement for our salvation.

2 Tm 2:11-13 is another important verse to examine carefully. It is often misunderstood to mean the opposite of what it really means.

2 Tm 2:11-13 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Some people use this verse to teach that we cannot lose our salvation. They focus on the ‘if we are faithless, He remains faithful’ part without considering the part before and after. As a result, they take the verse out of context and come to the wrong conclusion.

The teaching of 2 Tm 2:11-13 is clear – if you deny Christ, He will deny you. This sound doctrine is supported by all the verses that we saw above.

Just in case you find this hard to believe, in 2 Tm 2:13 Paul follows his statement with another statement saying that if we are faithless He will remain faithful because He cannot deny Himself.

In order to understand this passage correctly it is important to know what it means to be faithless, and what it means to be faithful.

To have faith is to believe what you do not see – it is the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1). To be faithless is to have no faith or, in other words, to not believe the words being said. If you have a friend who you know tells lies then you are unlikely to believe anything he says. You would say that as far as your friend is concerned you are faithless. That is, you do not believe him.

To be faithful is to do what one says, whether others believe it or not. God is faithful because He always keeps His promises. He always does what He says He plans to do. If He says that He will deny you if you deny Him, then He will do exactly that – He will deny you if you deny Him.

To deny oneself is to refuse to do what one has said he will do. It is to fail to keep your word. It is the opposite of being faithful. If I tell you I will meet you at the mall at 5:00 PM, and I do not come to the mall at 5:00 PM then I have denied myself. I have not kept my word.

Now we can understand what 2 Tm 2:11-13 is saying. It is saying that even if we doubt that Christ will really deny us (i.e. even if we are faithless) Christ will be faithful to do what He has said (which is that He will deny us if we deny Him) because He cannot not do what He said that He will do (that is, He cannot deny Himself).

Some of us may have denied Christ in the past. Does that mean we are lost?

Peter denied Jesus before men (Mt 26:70-74; Mk 14:68-71; Lk 22:57-60; Jn 18:25-27) but afterwards repented and (as history tells us) was martyred for his faith in Christ and thus was saved.

Jesus understands our weakness. He understood Peter’s weakness and prayed for Peter (Lk 22:32). He will pray for you and me too. If you, after being born again, have denied Christ in the past you need to confess your sin and stop denying Christ. If you do so then you can be saved. If you do not stop denying Him then you will not be saved.

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