Is Your Confession Worth Your Life?

This past Thursday (April 2, 2015), 147 students were murdered and at least 80 others were injured at a university in Kenya.  Four armed men strapped with explosives entered the campus of Garissa University early in the morning and began shooting rifles and throwing grenades. After thirteen hours of killing and holding others captive, the four men detonated their explosives and ended their own lives as soldiers closed in on them.

The apparent goal of these murderers was to kill as many Christians as possible. These Islamists began their attack at a time when they knew most of the Muslim students were gathered at a mosque. They went to a lecture hall where many professed Christian students were assembled for prayer and began killing them by the dozens.  They also went door to door in the dormitories asking students whether they were Christians.  Those who identified themselves as Christians were shot immediately, and those who proved to be Muslims were spared.  As they carried out their slaughter, the attackers shouted, "God is great!"

While such scenes of violence and terror are almost commonplace in the Middle East, they are no less shocking and thought provoking.  The slaughter of men and women simply because they claim the name of Christ should make us think about our own claims on His name. Imagine yourself in their position. If you witnessed your fellow Christians being shot down, and then the gun was pointed at you, would you at that moment say, "I am a Christian," knowing that it would cost you your life?

Think about this carefully.  We know that confession of Jesus' name is a requirement of salvation, for the Scripture says, 9"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; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10). Does this mandate still apply if we are under extreme duress and the threat of death?  Would Jesus really hold it against us if we denied Him to save our lives?

The words of Jesus are absolutely clear concerning His expectations for His disciples.  Without exception, the Lord expects us to uphold the confession of our faith in Him under any circumstances.  Consider Jesus' words in Matthew 10:32-33:

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

Even at the cost of our own lives, Jesus requires the confession of His name.  Notice Matthew 16:24-26:

24Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Would Jesus really care whether we confessed His name before murderous unbelievers such as those who carried out the massacre in Kenya?  Aren't our lives worth more than a few words?  To get the right perspective to that question, let's turn it around: Is Christ's name worth more than our lives?  That is the question each of us must answer when faced with the decision of whether to confess Him before men.  Peter made his most regrettable mistake when he feared for his life and denied Jesus before His opponents (Matt. 26:69-75).  Would we make that same mistake?  On the other hand, Jesus praised the church at Pergamum for upholding their confession and Antipas who died for Christ's sake in the domain of Satan. Notice His words in Revelation 2:13:

"I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells."

This evidence indicates that not only does Christ care whether we confess Him before unbelievers but also that nothing matters more.

It is easy to confess Jesus when there is little or no opposition to His name, but what will we do when threatened for His sake?  Men have hidden their belief in Jesus and failed to confess Him for much lesser things than the fear of death (John 12:42-43).  What will we do?  We "have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood" (Heb. 12:4), but times are changing in our own nation, and we do not know what challenges we may soon face.  Therefore, let us resolve now and forever more: We will uphold the name of Jesus in life or in death.  Remember, the Lord has said, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).

Stacey E. Durham


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