Matins Devotion: November 30, 2022
Although belief and confession can be distinguished, they can never and should never be separated. That’s Paul’s point in the passage we just read from Romans. Belief is the trust that is created in the heart when we hear the promise of grace offered in the gospel. Confession is the active side of belief—it’s the fruit of our lips which acknowledges the truth of the gospel—which says “Jesus is Lord” and there is no other name in heaven or on earth by which we can find salvation. Paul says that those who believe with the heart are justified, and those who confess with the mouth are saved. Sometimes you’ll run across people who want to turn this into a linear formula—as in, first you believe and second you confess. But this is a gross misreading of the text. Paul’s purpose is not to describe a formula for salvation, but to describe the two-fold characteristics of the Christian. How do you identify a Christian? Easy. Christians are those who believe upon and confess the name of Christ.
As simple as this sounds—the real trouble comes we encounter the temptation to try to live out a one-sided Christianity. When either faith of the heart or outward confession is missing. Those who make an outward confession but lack an inward faith are hypocrites. Like whitewashed tombs they look legitimate on the outside, but inwardly are full of rot. On the other hand, those who try to live with a private faith but shrink from making a bold confession are those who try to have Christ without a cross. These are the ones that Christ warns of eternal shame when Christ returns in his glory with the holy angels. No, one-sided discipleship is impossible. Only those who have true faith which works itself out in a bold confession are true disciples.
So don’t let the devil try to lull you into false piety or cowardice. Instead, stand firm in the faith to which you have been called and make a good confession. Remember the promise that Christ has given to you: “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) St. Andrew, who we commemorate today knew this promise well. After leaving his life as a fisherman to be Christ’s disciple, Church tradition holds that he was later crucified because he would not forsake his Lord or silence his confession. May God grant to us even a modicum of that grace so that we might keep the faith and not shrink from whatever cross may be placed on us for the sake of Christ.