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5) Matthew 10 - Confession (10:32-33)
Before men is not to be construed as contrasting with "before the saints," as if Jesus meant, "before men of the
world and not before the Church."  Indeed, there is no command or consistent New Testament practice for a guide
to confession exclusively before the assembly of the Church.  It is, of course, reasonable and proper to declare
oneself a believer in the presence of the rest of the Church, before expecting to be admitted to the group.  And yet
some Christians act as if only a confession before the church were here intended, and as if the public confession of
faith they once made at a meeting of the Church exhausted all their responsibility in this regard.  Before men means
good men and bad, poor men and rich, ignorant and learned, Christians or not.

See the contrast:  before men. . . before my Father:  the temporary versus the eternal; the corruptible versus the
incorruptible.  It is a temptation to ask the obvious:  who would exchange the approval of God for the applause of
men?

While we actively confess Jesus Christ on earth, our prayers obtain a receptive hearing with God, for our Mediator
through whom we pray acknowledges that we are His, as our faithful confession testifies (1st Timothy 2:5-6).  There
is the joy of sharing His suffering, since we see ourselves identified with the Lord Himself who has passed this
moment of trial too (1st Peter 4:13, Philippians 3:10, 1st Timothy 6:13).

But how can God permit so great a reward for so insignificant a response on our part?  Two reasons:  What is to be
gained by confession Christ?
       1) Confession of Christ, with all that this involves, is not insignificant, since this affects every facet of our lives
           and is the very life direction of a disciple.
       2) Our Father intends to save the savable on the basis of His mercy.  None can presume to earn His reward by
            putting Him in debt to them merely because they, sinners, confess Jesus.  On the other hand, God's plan is
            to draw us to Him by exalting Jesus.  So if we but confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father, He
            is more than willing to consider us as righteous even though we are not, because we are willing to trust Him
            (Romans 3:21-26, Romans 4:1 through 5:1).

But why would men who have known and loved Jesus, men who have even been saved from death by His power,
ever be driven to the point where they would actually refuse to admit any connection with Him?  Ask Peter (Matthew
26:30-35, Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:26-31, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:31-34, Luke 22:54-62, John 13:36-38, John
18:15-18 and 25-27).

In our hours of deeper reflection and honesty have we not had to weep bitterly with Him, because we were not
prepared for the crisis brought on by some of our own fears?
       1) Our fear of being hated by men (Matthew 10:21-22)
       2) Our fear of being reviled (Matthew 10:25).

The nagging awareness that the former disciple has failed under fire, that he has dishonored his Lord, is something
not easily shaken off.  The corrosive power of unrelieved guilt is incalculable.  And Jesus' advance notice of how it
will go with such a person at the judgment is deliberately calculated to produce this guilt, in the hope of hereby
producing repentance (2nd Corinthians 7:8-11).
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