Salvation and Confession (Romans 10:9-10)
Soteriology 11, Romans 10:9-10
March 30, 2016
If we could open our Bibles to the book of Romans, chapter 10, verses 9-10. And as we’re turning there we’ve been spending quite a bit of time here on Roman numeral V, which is a section in the doctrine of salvation called God’s one condition of salvation. You remember what that one condition is? Believe. And the Bible says it about how many times? Anybody remember? About 200 times. Now what people do and I think a lot of this is the works based tendency in us, because we’re works based by nature, instead of relying on the 200 clear passages to share the gospel as a method of sharing the gospel people want to go to the remote passages. And you’ll find in a lot of the evangelistic tracts people like to build their gospel presentations, not from the 200 clear ones but from the handful of isolated ones. So that’s why I’ve been walking through very slowly the isolated passages and I’m trying to show you the proper way of understanding these in light of believe, God’s one condition for justification.
So we’ve talked about repent, Lordship, receive Christ, believe and work, and last time we talked about baptism. And now we’re entering into another area where people try to argue that in order to be saved a person must confess Christ before man. And if they don’t confess Christ before man, in addition to believing in Jesus, then they’re probably not a true Christian. Has anybody heard that kind of thing from people. And what you’ll discover is a lot of evangelistic tracts will say you’re not saved by works, but then at the end of the tract they’ll give you a bunch of works to do. And one of them is this idea that you have to confess Christ before man, which is not a bad thing to do at all, it’s just not a condition for justification.
And when you tell people that the verse they all go to is Romans 10:9-10. [9 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”]
You all have heard that before, right. So that what you have in a lot of evangelistic presentations is the ABC method. The A stands for you get the person to admit they’re a sinner. B stands for you get them to believe in Jesus. And then “C” stands for the fact that they’ve got to make some kind of public confession. And so what people do is they go to these para-church evangelistic ministries and they get programmed with a method, A.B.C. And they’re never really taught to think about it biblically, and the method may work and so they spend the rest of their lives following this method, rather than getting back to the Scripture and seeing what does the Scripture actually say about this.
So if you believe in the ABC method, see, I’m a “B” person, I don’t believe in the “A” or “C.” The Spirit convicts people of their sin of unbelief. And then as the Spirit of God places them under conviction we have the opportunity to share the gospel with them. I’m not getting them to admit anything, I’m sharing the gospel with them and inviting them to trust in Christ or believe and that should seal the deal. But you see, with a lot of ministries that doesn’t seal the deal, you’ve got have some kind of visible sign, walk forward, raise your hand, fill out a card, confess Christ publicly and they present it in such a way that they make you feel that if you don’t do that third thing (the “C”) you’re really not a Christian at all. And a lot of their literature kind of reads this way as well. It’s very confusing. So it turns into nothing more than a gospel of works; it’s what I call the Texas two-step, not one step to Jesus (which is believe, which is what the Bible teaches) but there’s some additional step.
Now even before we look at this biblically just think about impractical this is if you believe this. For example, what if someone is mute and can’t talk, how in the world are they supposed to confess Jesus Christ? What if somebody, and there are many cases of this, like in a hotel room and they reach into the drawer to find a revolver and they find a Bible there, and they open up to John 3:16 and they get saved. But it’s like 3:00 o’clock in the morning, there’s no one really to confess to. I mean, I guess you could order room service or something like that. But you can see practically how this really doesn’t work. And this is sort of an American doctrine because in America we have the freedom, in most cases, to come out and publicly state that we belong to Christ and suffer very little retaliation as a result of it. Some people do from their own family but by and large it’s not in America that people are being crucified by ISIS and groups like that.
But what do you do with somebody in an Islamic country that somehow, by the grace of God hears the gospel, maybe through a missionary, maybe through the internet, or something and they believe it, and they know that if they publicly say anything about their new found faith in Christ that they could be killed, or tortured, or maybe even worse, their family, their children, their parents could be tortured, burned to death. And they just, because of fear of retaliation they don’t say anything. How does the “C” work in that circumstance? Are we going to actually say that such a person that believes in Christ but never confesses Christ publicly in a totalitarian government, situation, is not a true Christian. I mean of course we’re not going to say that.
But what I’m trying to say is this idea of the “C”, even before we look at it biblically doesn’t even work itself out pragmatically. So is it possible for a person to trust in Christ but never publicly say anything about it to be a true Christian. And I would say that possibility is open in the Bible. And there are two verses that I like to use that almost nobody cites in their evangelistic tracts, everybody that cites Romans 10:9-10 they never cite John 12:42, which says… and you can turn over there with me if you want, we’re going to be going back to Romans 10 in just a second, but it says, “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue.”
So in Christ’s ministry you have a lot of Jews that believed in Jesus but they didn’t say anything about it; one of them, I think, was Nicodemus who was more of a secret disciple. I’ll show you another example of a secret disciple in just a second but they trusted in Christ but they never said anything about it because they knew that if they publicly confessed Christ they’d be kicked out of the synagogue. Now getting kicked out of the synagogue in that day didn’t mean oh, you can’t go to First Baptist so you’re going to go down the street to Second Baptist instead, or Third Baptist, or Fifteenth Baptist. Today in America to get kicked out of one church it’s not that big a deal, you can join with another church. But in Christ’s day if you got kicked out of the synagogue you were cut off from everything. You were cut off from the religious life of the nation. You were cut off from society; and a lot of business contacts and things were made in the synagogue so you were cut off economically. You were an embarrassment to your family so you were cut off from your family so if you got kicked out of the synagogue in Christ’s day there were real consequences that people experienced.
So as a result there’s a lot of people that believed in Christ but never said anything about it for fear of being kicked out of the synagogue. Now are we going to say these people aren’t saved? I don’t think we can say that because it says in this verse, “many, even of the rulers believed in Him.” The Greek construction there is pisteuō eis, pisteuō believe, eis in, and then in this particular object “Jesus Christ.” And John, all the way through his Gospel says, about a hundred times this is all that’s necessary to receive the gift of life. In fact, the very end of John’s Gospel puts it this way: [John 20:30] “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book,  but these have been written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” So there is pisteuō eis, you believe in Christ, trust in Him for your eternity and John says that’s all that’s necessary to receive the gift of life.
So going back to John 12:42 for a second these people clearly were saved if the same Greek construction is interpreted consistently throughout John’s book. And yet they weren’t confessing Christ, yet they were saved.
Another example where the “C”, confession doesn’t work is John 19:38. Last weekend we celebrated the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; Christ was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and look what it says of Joseph of Arimathea. “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus,” so he’s a disciple, “disciple” means a follower, so we get the idea that at some point he became a believer, and then he became a disciple or a follower of Christ, but he believed in Jesus being a disciple, but look at this, “but a secret one for fear of the Jews,” and then he came and asked Pilate for the body, he spoke up. But until he spoke up and asked Pilate for the body of Christ was clearly a disciple but he was pretty much incognito, and secret about it. Now are we going to say Joseph of Arimathea was not saved because he never confessed? That would get kind of silly, wouldn’t it.
So what is the verse that people quote over and over again that says you have to confess Christ publicly before man to be a Christian. And the one they always quote is… let’s go over to Romans 10:9-10, you probably know it by heart, it says “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” So almost in every gospel tract you’ll find, when people push the concept of “C” confession, they’re going to quote Romans 10:9-10. And if you start talking the way I’m talking, saying that’s not a requirement for justification, someone is going to quote to you Romans 10:9-10. So it’s a very oft used and cited verse.
Now what I want to show you is Romans 10:9-10 has been wrenched completely from its context. If you go back and study the context, which I’ll give you, the meaning to it becomes very clear. So we’re kind of living in a time period where people like to cherry-pick verses to support points, and people aren’t doing the hard work of verse by verse study any more. So it’s easy to pick things out of context to support anything you want to support. Right? So Judas went out and hung himself, go thou and do likewise, and what you do, do quickly [John 13:27, “… Therefore Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’”] So there we have it, the Bible supports suicide. I just picked three verses randomly, strung them together to present something. You can make the Bible say anything you want it to say if you don’t care about context.
So what is the context of Romans 10:9-10? What is the whole context of the book of Romans? When you go to the end of Romans 8 Paul says a bunch of things like “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ,” Neither distress, famine, peril, nakedness, sword, angels, powers, principalities can separate us from the love of Christ because of our security in Him. Now somebody in the church raises their hand and says Paul, I have a question, what about those Jews, didn’t God make a covenant with them in the Old Testament, called the Abrahamic Covenant. And Paul would say yes He did. Well, aren’t those Jews in a state of unbelief right now. Paul would say yeah, most of them are, they’re Christ-rejecters. So Paul, if God can’t keep His promises to the Jew, nationally in the Abrahamic Covenant why should I trust Him to keep His promises to me, a Gentile?
So consequently Paul launches off into Romans 9, 10 and 11 which is all about the nation of Israel. Paul is saying in Romans 9, 10 and 11 God has not cast aside Israel. Yes, they’re in unbelief presently, nationally, although a few Jews occasionally get saved in the church age by and large Israel is an unbelieving nation. Paul spends three chapters explaining how God has a whole plan where He’s going to bring Israel back into the fold one day, in the events surrounding the great tribulation and things like that. And then you get through that section and you get to chapter 12, verse 1, and he says, “Therefore,” now when we see the word “therefore” we have to ask what the word “therefore” is there for.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren,” believers, “by the mercies of God,” what mercies? The fact that God can’t forget His promises. He didn’t forget you, He’s not going to forget Israel. If God can forget Israel then maybe He’ll forget His promises to you. That’s the question posed to Paul. But Paul explains God is not going to forget His promises to Israel when you understand the whole program and plan of God. “Therefore,” since God is trustworthy, offer your bodies to Him as a living sacrifice. See, you can submit to a God you can trust, right? But if there’s lingering question marks in your mind about the faithfulness of God how can you submit to a God like that? So Romans 9, 10 and 11 is not a… it’s sad to watch so many commentators, they say well that’s just a diversion, you know, Paul is going off on sort of a digression, or a rabbit trail. No it’s not!
Romans 9, 10 and 11, if you understand where it shows up in the book is critical to Paul’s argument vindicating the faithfulness of God. So Romans 9, 10 and 11 is all about the nation of Israel. Romans 9, Israel in the past has been elected. Romans 10, Israel in the present has been rejected. Why? Because they stumbled over Christ, Paul says in Romans 10, at the end of Romans 9 and at the beginning of Romans 10, they tripped right over Him because they thought they could be saved through works righteousness. That’s not how God saves people. But don’t fear because Israel in the future will be accepted, Romans 11. So Romans 9, Israel in the past elected. Romans 10, Israel in the present rejected. Romans 11, Israel in the future accepted. So when we start quoting out of Romans 10:9-10 you have to recall and remember that those verses come up in Paul’s discussion about the nation of Israel.
Having said all that, let’s take a look again at Romans 10:9-10. Notice what it says: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Now don’t stop reading there, keep on moving and go down to verse 13. I notice these evangelistic tracts that quote this verse, they never quote verse 13. Verse 13 is a prophecy of the acknowledge that Israel is going to make one day. And you’ll notice it’s being quoted there, and he’s quoting there Joel 2:32, which says in verse 13, “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
Now if you go back and you study Joel 2:32 what you’ll discover is that whole section is dealing with the events of the tribulation and into chapter 3 the events of the tribulation, Armageddon, and the kingdom that will follow. So Joel 2:32 is the nation of Israel calling, confessing, calling on Christ to save them at the end of the Great Tribulation period.
So the return of Jesus, I’m not talking about the rapture which can happen at any minute, I’m talking about what’s happening after the rapture of the church, the return of Jesus to the earth at the end of the seven year tribulation period, an event we call the Second Advent, is triggered by Israel’s public acknowledgement of Jesus, or confession to Him. That’s what Joel 2:32 is talking about; that’s what Paul is quoting here in Romans 10:13. And that’s what he is espousing there in Romans 10:9-10.
If you can hold your place in Romans 10, go over to Matthew 23 for a minute and I’ll show you this from a slightly different angle. Matthew 23:37-39, Jesus here has just given a blistering denunciation of the Pharisees. You’ll notice that whole chapter is in red reporting the words of Christ. And I kind of think it fit sin red given Christ’s emotional at these Pharisees. And He gets to the very end, it’s a total takedown of these guys. He calls them white-washed tombs and all of these politically incorrect things. And then He says this in verses 37-39. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.  Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!  For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say,” let me read that again, “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!”
Now Christ is speaking, He’s speaking to unbelieving Israel of the first century because He says “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” and He says I wanted to come and gather you together, it’s beautiful imagery, “the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” in fact, the Greek word for gathering there is episunagō, now from that Greek word sunagō, someone tell me what Jewish word comes from that word sunagō. Synagogue, what is a synagogue? It’s a Jewish gathering. He says I came to you the first time, I wanted to have synagogue with you, is basically what He’s saying. The problem wasn’t Me, the problem was you, you would not have me.
And then He begins to describe and this is right out of Deuteronomy 28, Israel is under the Mosaic Covenant, which had blessings and curses. He begins to describe the curses that are going to come upon the nation as a result of them rejecting Him. This is not God casting aside Israel; this is God sending Israel through discipline and this was meted out very aggressively by Titus of Rome in A.D. 70, about forty years after the time of Christ when over a million Jewish lives were lost. If you wanted to read more about it I would read Luke 19:41-44.
[Luke 19:41-44, “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,  saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.  ‘For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,  and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.’”]
And He makes this statement here, He says, “Behold, your house,” now the “house” is the temple, “your house is left desolate.” Now isn’t it interesting that He always called the temple His Father’s house, My Father’s house shall be a house of prayer. [Matthew 21:13, And He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.’ Also in Luke 19:46 and Matthew 21:13]
Now He’s saying it’s your house and the reason it’s your house is because you all kicked me out of your house. So your house is about to be left desolate, it’s kind of like in my household when our daughter does something really cute, my wife goes “look at our daughter, isn’t she the cutest thing,” but then when she acts up my wife suddenly switches the pronoun around, she goes “did you see what your daughter just did?” So Jesus is switching the pronoun, He’s no longer saying it’s “My house,” He’s saying it’s “your house.”
Now the replacement theologians say that’s it, God is through with Israel because they stop reading right there. But that’s not the end of it, is it? If you look at verse 38, “For I say … you will not see Me” again “until….” In other words, Israel’s blindness is not final; one of these days the blinder is going to come off and Christ is going to return and rescue that nation at the end of the tribulation period. But it’s conditioned upon them saying publicly, “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” Now you’ll notice in verse 39 that “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” is a citation; It’s a citation from Psalm 118:26, which is a Messianic Psalm. [Psalm 118:26 “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”]
If you go back into Matthew 21 what you’ll see is this is the citation, around verse 9, right in there, it’s a citation of some people on Palm Sunday. [Matthew 21:9, “The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!”]
Some of the crowd was changing this because they were acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah. Unfortunately not enough of them did, the Pharisees certainly didn’t. So Jesus is saying, ”your house is left desolate,” you’re going into discipline, and you, as a nation, I’m going to go work with another people now, the church. You as a nation are not going to see Me again until I hear Psalm 118:26. In other words, you have to publicly confess Me as the Messiah and then (and ONLY then) will I return and rescue you.
Matthew 23 leads into what? Matthew 24, right, do you all agree with that thinking? Matthew 23 first then Matthew 24. Matthew 24 is the Olivet Discourse, and I asked in a class once why do we call it the Olivet Discourse and a student says “because we get all of it.” And that’s not the right answer. The Olivet Discourse means it was given on the Mount of Olives. So Jesus begins to articulate the circumstances through which Israel will come to faith, which is the events of the great tribulation, He’s going back to Old Testament themes in the book of Deuteronomy, He’s (I believe) in His mind is Jeremiah 30:7 and other passages which says Israel is going to be converted to God eventually, through a time of great distress called the Great Tribulation period. [Jeremiah 30:7, “’Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.”]
And then the time will come where they’re going to acknowledge Him as the Messiah and then what’s going to happen? Look at Matthew 24:31, this is not the rapture, forget the rapture… I mean, don’t forget it but the rapture concerns the church, we’re dealing her with Israel after the church is gone, “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect” that’s the Jewish people “from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Now notice this wording here, “THEY WILL GATHER” them. Do you know what Greek word that is? episunagō, synagogue. It’s the exact same verb that he used at the end of Matthew 23 when said I wanted to gather you the first time but you were unwilling.
But the second time you will (as a people) acknowledge Me, you will chant publicly Psalm 118:26 and I will gather you. [“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”] And then Matthew 24 leads into what? Matthew 25. Then I will set up My kingdom through you, and you get all of these kingdom type parables, for example, Matthew 25:31 talks about Jesus, when the Son of Man comes in His glory with all His angels, He will sit on His glorious throne, He will judge the nations. [Matthew 25:31, “”But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.”] That’s the kingdom and the Davidic age.
But you see all of that is conditioned on Israel’s public response to Jesus. Do you follow that? That’s why when Paul cites Romans 10:9-10, as he is articulating God’s plan for Israel he is dialing back into Joel 2:32 and perhaps in his mind are passages like Matthew 23:37-39.
So what am I trying to say? What I’m trying to say is this: If you understand the Bible in context what you’ll discover is Romans 10:9-10 has absolutely nothing to do with a church age believer trusting in Christ and confessing Jesus to get saved. It has zero to do with that. What it has to do with is Israel publically fulfilling a condition by acknowledging Christ at the end of the tribulation period. And Paul is not rehearsing every jot and tittle of that because he’s assuming that the audience he’s speaking to understands these things. We don’t because we’re not taught very well about the Bible in Christendom today and so we go in and we “cherry-pick” a verse without really understanding what it’s saying. We think it means I’ve got to believe and tell my neighbors about Jesus or I’m not a Christian when in reality Paul is saying it’s a public confession and prayer by the Jews to God at the end of the tribulation period in order to be gathered by Christ and rescued from the antichrist. That’s what it’s talking about.
So Romans 10:9-10 is not saying what people think it’s saying. And don’t take my word for it, I know I just gave you a lot of stuff to think about, but study it out in light of the context that it appears in. There’s a reason this statement shows up in Romans 10 where Paul is articulating God’s program for the nation of Israel. I’m sure there’s a lot of questions on that so let me go to another verse, we’ll do questions at the end.
Let’s go over to Matthew 10:32-33, this is another verse that people use to say you have to publicly confess Christ or you’re not a Christian. As a matter of fact, we’ve got some very dear friends of our family and they found out I was speaking somewhere and they said are you going to give an altar call. And I said no, not that I’m against altar calls if they’re explained correctly. But I said no, and they said well, you’re violating the Bible. I go I am? They said yes you are, and they quoted Matthew 10:32-33.
So let’s look at this, Jesus says, “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.” Now I say this gently because my own mother was saved under the influence of Billy Graham’s ministry, but this is the verse that Billy Graham and all the other evangelists quote when they’re at the end of their crusade, giving people opportunity to come forward and publicly confess Christ, they always quote this verse, if you confess Him before man then He’ll confess you before the Father.
Now I had a student and I was trying to put this in context and a lot of time you teach and you don’t know whether you’re getting through to people or not, but she came up to me afterwards and she said I’m so grateful that you went over this today in class. I said why? She said because in my church they give altar calls every single week and I have been scared to death to go forward, and I have been thinking all of these years that I am really not a true Christian because I have never mustered the courage to go forward. Now am I against people mustering courage to come forward to trust Christ? Of course I’m not against public displays of Christ. What I’m against is making people feel that believing in Jesus is not enough, you have to believe and confess. And because these verses are thrown at people constantly they sit there and they say well, if I don’t go forward I guess I’m not a true Christian. Not to mention what do you do with the person in the wheel chair, or the person that’s an invalid. Or the person that’s paralyzed from the neck down watching it on TV. What are they supposed to think? And I think because we’re sloppy with our use of verses we emotionally and unnecessarily can injure people.
So here’s a verse they all quote, confess Me before men and I will confess you before My Father. You might remember the discussion we had about Lordship salvation, where I spent some time talking about the offer of the kingdom. Does anybody recall that? Okay, I had half a hand go up
The offer of the kingdom to Israel is something you have to understand to interpret verses correctly in early Matthew.
So very quickly, the nation of Israel has a covenant with God called the Abrahamic Covenant, where Israel was unconditionally, as a nation, given ownership of three blessings: land, seed and blessing. You’ll find all of that in Genesis 15. Is that covenant conditional or unconditional? Unconditional, meaning it rests totally upon God fulfilling these things, not on the performance of Israel.
Then God, about 600 years later, took Israel to a place called Sinai, and He gave them the Mosaic Covenant after they had been in Goshen in confinement or isolation about 400 years. So they came out, that’s where the Exodus event happened, the parting of the Red Sea and so forth. And He brings them to Sinai and He gives them the Mosaic Covenant, and in the process God says this, as the nation was gathered at Sinai. “ Now then, if you indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples of the earth.  For all the earth is Mine and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, These are the words that you shall speak unto the children of Israel.” [Exodus 19:5-6]
Now you see the words “if” and “then” if you do this then I’ll do that. Is that conditional or unconditional? That’s conditioned. So the great issue is then if Israel has an unconditional covenant called the Abrahamic Covenant why is God giving them conditions in the Mosaic Covenant? And here’s the best conceptual tool I know of to explain this. There’s a difference between ownership and possession. You can own something but not actually possess it or enjoy it.
So for example, let’s pretend I have a beach house in the Hamptons, which I don’t by the way. But I’m so busy working paying for it, I own it… the bank owns most of it but I’m working my way through that, paying it down and now I’m starting to own more and more, but I’m not really enjoying it because I’m not in a place where I can possess it yet. Do you follow? You can own something but not possess it. So the Abrahamic Covenant gives to the nation of Israel ownership of these blessings: land, seed and blessing.
Nothing can ever take those away from Israel; those blessings will always be Israel’s for eternity because they’re given unconditionally in the Abrahamic Covenant. However, in order for any generation of Jews to enjoy what they own, possess what they own, they have to respond to the condition of the Mosaic Covenant. As long as Israel is in disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant they will be the owner and not the possessor. And the kingdom, earthly millennial kingdom will be in a state of postponement… not cancellation.
But the moment Israel responds to the Mosaic Covenant, and by the way, who does the Mosaic Covenant point towards? Directly to Christ, in John 5 Jesus said, “If you would have believed Moses you would have believed me, for he wrote about me. [John 5:46] And in the Mosaic Covenant, in Deuteronomy 17:15 the nation is obligated to enthrone the king of God’s choosing, which points to Christ. [Deuteronomy 17:15, “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.”]
There has never been a generation of Jews that have done that, so consequently they are the owners but not the possessors. And as long as they are the owners but not the possessors the kingdom will remain in a state of postponement, not cancellation. God can’t cancel Israel’s program because of which covenant? The Abrahamic Covenant. But He cannot bring the kingdom to the earth regardless of what Israel does because of which covenant? The Mosaic Covenant. And so what is happening in the Gospels, particularly Matthew, the first 12 chapters, is Israel is being given an opportunity to enthrone the King, Jesus, who was right there in their presence. And so the kingdom that will come to the earth one day, when Israel is both possessor and owner because she’ll be in faith, is very well described in the Old Testament. If you just read tonight Isaiah 2:1-4 and Isaiah 11:6-9 you would get a pretty good description of the kingdom.
[Isaiah 2:1-4, “The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it.  And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.”
Isaiah 11:6-9, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them.  Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.  They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.”]
It’s a time where Jerusalem is the center of world and spiritual/political power; it’s a time of perfect justice, it’s a time of world peace, it’s a time where there’s even peace in the animal kingdom, where wolf and lamb will lie down together and a child will put his hand or her hand into the cobra’s nest and not be harmed. And it’s a time when the knowledge of the Lord fills the whole earth. That’s what is developed in the prophets as they predict the kingdom and that is what is offered to first century Israel on a silver platter. That’s what is meant by the expression, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is” what? “at hand.” You’ll notice in Matthew’s Gospel he records that phrase as being used by John the Baptist, Matthew 3:2, Jesus Christ Himself, Matthew 4:17.
[Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.’’ Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”]
And who else used the expression? The twelve apostles, that’s what’s happening in Matthew 10, it’s using the passage that everybody quotes about you’ve got to confess me before men. In Matthew 10 Jesus is sending out the twelve and saying just as you saw Me preach the offer of the kingdom and John the Baptist preach the offer of the kingdom, no you go, only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and preach the offer of the kingdom.
The turning point in the whole thing is Matthew 12:24 where the Pharisees attribute Christ’s miracles to who? Satan. And you’ll find that in Matthew 12:24, [“But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”]
That changes everything once that happens because once that takes place the offer of the kingdom is withdrawn, it’s off the table, it never even shows up again until Matthew’s description of the tribulation period. And so what we learn is a postponement in the kingdom where there’s going to be a new age of time, called the interadvent age that you and I are living in, that’s been going on at least 2,000 years.
And Christ explains the course of that age through eight parables in Matthew 13. And it’s at this point that Jesus begins to talk about an interim program called the church because he says in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My” what” “church; and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
But you look it and you say “church,” where did this come from? The church was always contemplated in God’s mind, it just hadn’t been revealed until the right time because first century Israel had to have that opportunity to receive the King and the kingdom which they rejected. Well, Matthew 12 makes it very clear that they’re not going to accept it, so now we get into description of interim age, Matthew 13, and a description of the church.
We know one of these days, I hope sooner than later, the church will be removed from the earth through the rapture. Now can God forget Israel? No, He cannot because of which covenant? The Abrahamic Covenant. So he puts them under duress… here’s some good theology, ready? The guy that led me to Christ gave me this piece of theology, I’ve never forgot it. God knocks us down so we look what? up. Isn’t that how He works in all of our lives when you think about it.
That’s how He’s going to work with Israel; He can’t just give them the kingdom while they’re in unbelief. Which covenant will prevent Him from doing that? The Mosaic. So He’s going to put them under great stress, called the Tribulation, whereby they won’t have a friend in the world. And the man they thought was their Messiah, the antichrist just desecrated their temple three and a half years into the tribulation. And this is where they say I don’t have anybody to trust but God, and it’s during that second half of the tribulation period that they will confess Christ, Romans 10:9-10, be rescued by Jesus from the antichrist at the end of the tribulation period.
So one of these days that kingdom will be accepted. What you have to understand is there’s a huge transition going on in Christ’s ministry right there in chapter 12. Chapters 1-12 His public ministry; chapters 13-28 is private ministry. The first part of the book He is offering the kingdom to the nation; the second part of the book the offer of the kingdom is off the table and He’s now training the remnant, who are going to be the foundations of that what? The coming age of the church. Doesn’t Ephesians 2:20 says that God build the church on the foundation of the apostles. [Ephesians 2:20, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.”]
And these guys, when you study them, God didn’t have much to work with with these guys. It gives us hope too, right; if He can use them He can use us. But He’s got to shape these guy’s character and that’s who He’s working with in the second half of Matthew’s Gospel. So His miracles change in purpose, the original purpose was to prove to the nation that He’s the King, but then He says no more miracles for you, you adulterous generation, you will not receive one more miracle from Me except the sign of Jonah, which is His resurrection, which will prove to them that they were wrong in rejecting Him.
The miracles in the second part of Matthew’s Gospel were all for the benefit of who? The training of the remnant. That’s why He has Peter walk out to Him on the water, and Peter begins to sink and so forth; He’s preparing Peter’s faith because he’s going to be the main man in Acts 1-10, he just doesn’t know it yet. He’s got to be prepared. The offer of the kingdom is prominent in the first part of the Gospel, it disappears in the second part. The phraseology, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” doesn’t even show up again until after the church is long gone in the events of the tribulation where Israel will receive the offer again, probably through the 144,000 Jewish evangelist and the two Jewish witnesses. And you’ll find a reference to the reinstated offer of the kingdom late in Matthew 24:14. [Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”] Other than that there’s no reference to it.
In the first part of the book Christ taught publicly in discourse form; in the second part of the book He starts talking in parables. Now He never gave the Sermon on the Mount in parables; He never gave the missions discourse in parables. Why is He talking in parables all of a sudden? Because a parable is designed to conceal and reveal; a parable conceals truth from one person and reveals it to another. He is deliberately concealing truth from the nation that just attributed His miracles to Beelzebub, and He’s revealing truth to who? The remnant. The interim program of the age of the church is never hinted at in the first part of the book, but you get into the second part of the book and it becomes very, very prominent.
So what am I trying to say? I am trying to say there’s a context here for Matthew 10:32-33, that’s what I’m trying to say. The context of this is not to get every church in the age of the church to give an altar call, that’s not its purpose. It’s the words of Christ that He gave to His disciples as He sent them out to preach the offer of the kingdom. Now if you’re going to say Matthew 10:32-33 is normative today in the life of the church, you can’t just grab those verses, you’ve also got to have Matthew 10:5-7. Do you know what that says: “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles,’” see that, “and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Why would He say that? Because this is an offer of the kingdom to them, because they are the covenanted nation. So they were given the opportunity to embrace Christ and have the kingdom, which they rejected. So if you’re going to make Matthew 10:32-33 normative in the life of the church, which a lot of people do, then you can’t just stop reading there, you have to include verses 5-7. Obviously verses 5-7 are not things we quote today or use. I mean, if you’re having a missions conference are you going to use Matthew 10;5-7, “Go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Now why is it that when you get to Matthew 28, the great commission, He no longer says “Go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” but He says, “Go and make disciples of every nation.” You see the radical change between this verse here in Matthew 10 and the great commission in Matthew 28? Why the change? Because there is a change of rules that’s happening through Matthew’s Gospel—the offer of the Kingdom has been extended and rejected. Now He’s raising up who? The church. The church’s mission is not to bring in the kingdom, the kingdom will come when who responds to the King? Israel. The church’s mission is to go and make what? Disciples of all nations. Now you compare Matthew 28 and Matthew 10 and you’ll see two radically different sets of instructions. And you cannot make any sense of that unless you understand this framework that I’m giving you, that there was an offer to Israel and it was rejected; the offer is withdrawn, first century Israel was moving off into discipline. Now God is working through a totally different entity, what Paul calls a “new man,” called the church.
So all of this to say, going back to Matthew 10:32-33, what’s he getting at here: “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.”
Who’s He talking to? The disciples, as He’s sending them out to preach the offer of the kingdom. How do I know that? Go back to the beginning of the chapter. Matthew 10:1-2, “Jesus summoned His” what, “twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;  Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; jams the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;  Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.”
That’s who He’s talking to. And then He says in verse 5, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” He is commissioning them to go out and preach the offer of the kingdom. Now, as they are preaching the offer of the kingdom, what do you think unbelieving Israel is going to do to these guys? Reject them.
So Christ then knows the timidity of the disciples and He makes this statement, “Whoever confesses Me before men, I will confess him before My Father who is in heaven. Whoever denies Me before men, I will deny Him before My Father in heaven.” That is not a statement about the saved status of the disciples. We know that they are saved, every one of them except Judas. He is making a statement there, not about their salvation but about rewards. You’re going to go out, you’re going to preach this offer of the kingdom, you’re going to experience hostility back, but I want you know that if you continue to speak out and offer the kingdom to Israel aggressively then I will confess you before My father, not in terms of whether you’re saved but whether you’re going to be fully what? Rewarded at the Bema Seat. See that.
It’s a statement here about reward; it’s not a statement about whether these people are saved or not, whether they’ve gone through two steps or not. So I would say this: Matthew 10, to use it and apply it to the church as a requirement for an altar call is, number 1, an abuse of the passage. You say well, can’t we apply some of it. Well, okay, if you want to apply some of it I would apply it this way: you’re going to go out in your work place, you’re not going to preach the offer of the kingdom, you’re going to preach the gospel, and there’s an awful lot of people out there that are going to make fun of you, they’re going to call you a Jesus freak, they may call you the f word, which is the worst word you can call somebody in this culture, “fundamentalist.” And you’re going to be tempted to just sort of withdraw and not be bold about the gospel. But go ahead and share the gospel anyway, because Jesus knows what you’re doing for Him and one of these days He’s going to give you a full what? Reward. See the difference. It’s not oh, I’ve got to believe and confess Christ or I’m not saved. That’s not what it’s saying at all. He is encouraging His disciples to preach the offer of the kingdom so they can be confessed before the Father in terms of a full reward.
So we, our salvation is secure but we should live for Jesus, boldly proclaim Jesus, not because I’m somehow afraid that I’m not a Christian, but there is a doctrine of rewards in the Bible. All those rewarded are believers, but not all believers are equally rewarded. That’s the theology I’m using here. Everyone who receives a reward is a believer but not all believers are equally rewarded; not all believers are rewarded. Some make it into heaven and they smell the smoke on their garments. You say well, where do you find that in the Bible? It’s in 1 Corinthians 3:15, you’ll see it crystal clear. [1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”]
God, who is all knowing, knows that some of his children are living for Him aggressively and some aren’t. Now whether you live for Christ aggressively or not doesn’t determine whether you’re saved because that would be salvation by works. But God, who is all just and all-knowing is aware of which of His children are living for Him and which ones aren’t, and the ones that are are going to be more fully rewarded than others.
So if you want to apply Matthew 10 in any sense that’s how I would apply it, if that makes any sense at all. So all of that to say is confession of Christ before man a condition alongside faith for justification, based on Romans 10 and Matthew 10. The answer is no; those are passages which I would describe this way, they are dispensationally misapplied. God has two programs, one for Israel and one for the Church; just like an author can have multiple themes in a book and bring them together beautifully, can’t God do that with His program for Israel and His program for the church? And when people are cherry-picking verses for God’s program for Israel, as they do in Romans 10 and as they do in Matthew 10 as I’ve tried to explain, and indiscriminately apply them to the church they are dispensationally misapplying verses.
Some of you look stunned, dazed and confused, so if you’ve got to go and get your kids we’ll let you do that and then I’m sure there’s probably some questions.