“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32 (NIV)
If you read this verse in isolation it could sound like salvation by works: “If you do this for me; I will do that for you.” But this is not the message of the gospel.
We are saved by the blood of Christ, not by an act of confession. There is no redeeming power in confessing Christ. Redeeming power lies in the Christ who is confessed. This Christ becomes ours by faith, and our confession is one evidence of faith in the Christ who saves us.
That is how we should understand the words of Jesus here and how we should understand these familiar words: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Redeeming power lies in the Christ who is confessed, not in the act of confessing.
Jesus is not talking to unbelievers, but to His disciples.
Notice, this whole chapter is about Jesus speaking to those who have already made a commitment to Him: Jesus “called his twelve disciples” (Mat. 10:1). This isn’t evangelism—calling unbelievers to confess Christ. This is for Christians. He’s challenging us.
Jesus is not talking about something easy, but something hard.
When you first hear this verse, it sounds like an easy thing to do. Here’s the Lord Jesus Christ and what does He want me to do? “Whoever acknowledges me…” (Mat. 10:32). So, that’s what we have to do—we have to acknowledge Jesus and accept that He’s the Savior and say we believe in Him—nothing terribly difficult about that… until you consider the context.
Are you tempted to interpret these kinds of sayings in the Bible as things you must do in order to be right with God? Why or why not?