Repent and Confess
The following is a question recently submitted to us at Truth For The World:
We were discussing this the other day. Of course, hearing and believing make sense that they need to come first in order to get to the point of baptism. Of course baptism is the end result that gives us salvation. What's to say that you can't confess first and then repent before baptism? Is that more a tradition of man? I see confession and repentance as interchangeable in the order they occur. The Bible doesn't explicitly say you have to do this, this , and this first. Am I correct in my thinking? We have one lady at our church that believes it's not biblical and your salvation is in danger if you confess first before you repent. Any insight would be great!
Thanks and blessings
That is a very interesting question. In the steps of salvation, repentance and confession are both as necessary as baptism in order for one to be added to the body of Christ. The apostle Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). And Paul wrote, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). So let’s take a moment and define these terms as they relate to the steps of salvation.
Repentance is a change of one’s heart that leads to a change of actions. It is the point in which a person realizes the error in their life and desires to make correction. Recorded in Luke 3:8-14 John the immerser gave example of fruits of repentance:
Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.
Confession, as it is used in the context of the steps of salvation, means to publicly acknowledge that Christ is Lord, the living Son of God. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32)
So how do these relate in the steps of salvation?
The steps of salvation, as they are called, are the necessary actions that result in one being added to the body of Christ. They are as follows: Hear; Believe; Repent; Confess; be Baptized. Consider these steps in reverse order. One’s baptism would be completely invalid if the individual is unwilling to confess their belief in the one into whom they are being baptized so therefore they must confess Christ before they are baptized. Likewise their confession would be empty and meaningless if they have not first repented of the life spent in opposition to the will of God. In the same manner, one will not repent if they do not believe that there is anything of which to repent and they cannot believe if they do not hear. Plainly stated these steps are a logical progression, each step leading up to the next.
Therefore repentance is a critical step that precedes and leads to the desire to confess the name of Christ, and then to being baptized to be cleansed of sin.