Summary: 3rd in a series. A sermon about the true meaning of confession and its role in crossing over from death to life in Jesus.
Introduction: A package was sent from England to S. Africa. The man to whom the box was sent didn't know what it was, and he refused to pay the delivery charges. So, the box sat around for about 14 years, being used as a footstool in the express office. Eventually the would-be recipient died, and the box was put up for auction along with several other unclaimed articles. A man was curious about the box, and got it at a low bid. When he opened it, he found several thousand pounds in English banknotes. I wonder how often we're standing right on top of a treasure and don't realize it.
I believe confession is kind of like that. It's the abandoned, cast off, dust-on-it, "thing" of today's Church. It lies neglected in the corner, so that when we pick it up, we need to blow off the dust and ask, "Hey! What is this? I wonder what it does. How do we make it work?" Yet it's so valuable!
joke - 3 preachers all realized the value of confession. They were all out fishing in a boat. One began to share: “I’ve just really been struggling with greed. I get jealous of other people, and it’s really affecting how I feel toward them.” The other joined in: “Well, I’ve been struggling too. I have just felt so unmotivated lately, I’m not even writing my own sermons. I’m just copying some I find on the internet.” The 3rd said, "I have something to confess too. I have a sin I keep giving into - it's gossip, and I can't wait till we get home!"
When I say the word "confess," you probably think of a dimly lit room with an accused guy at a small table and 2-3 police harassing him until he admits he committed a crime.
There may be some from a Roman Catholic background who picture a booth with a divider and a little window inside, where a priest sits on one side while the church member spills his or her guts. This past week, there was an item in the news that a Catholic priest had set up on Instagram a way that you could send him your confession over your smart phone. I guess that would save a trip!
It’s true that confession often has to do with admitting things we’d rather not talk about. But it’s much bigger than that. In fact, in the NT, the word confession is used over 30X, but only 5 of those are about confessing sin – 5 out of 30. The rest have to do with confessing our faith in Jesus – and that’s not about admitting anything or talking about something we’d rather not talk about.
So, I want to begin this morning with a reminder, or a first time notice for some, that confession literally means "to say the same thing." It means that someone says something about me, and I agree with them. “You ate the last cookie, didn’t you? Didn’t you?!” Yes, what you say is true. I ate the last cookie. I confess. I say the same.
But in the NT, confession especially means that Someone says some things about Himself, and I agree with them. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” I agree, don’t you? Do you say the same thing? That’s also a confession. You don’t admit that it’s true. You affirm it. You say “Amen” to that! You might even repeat it to someone and try to convince him that it’s true.
Remember, the Bible is always talking about being in one of 2 groups. There isn’t a 3rd.
Dark or light
Broad or narrow
Goat or sheep
Lost or found
Dead or living
Not a people or people of God
Shut out or inside
Condemned or having life
Unprepared or waiting
There’s never a middle ground, never a 3rd group. To us the lines may not always be so clear, but in God’s eyes (also known as reality), there are only 2 sides. Jesus said,
John 5:24 (NIV)
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
Up front, the goal of this series is to get people who haven’t done it to cross over – out of death, into life. It’s that simple.
When we talk about crossing over, making the transition from death to life, confession becomes important in 2 basic ways:
1. Confessing that we need a Savior, because we’ve all sinned and
2. Confessing that Jesus is King, because He said He is.
When I start to chase it through the Bible, I find that acknowledging Jesus' Lordship and admitting my sinfulness are a package deal. So we're going to take a look at confession. What does it accomplish? What does it have to do with crossing over to the Lord? Confession is vital because...