THE fact is, that our Lord requires an open confession as well as a secret faith; and if you will not render it, there is no promise of salvation for you, but a threat of being denied at the last. The apostle puts it, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” It is stated in another place upon this wise, — “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” — that is Christ’s way of making the confession of him. If there be a true faith, there must be a declaration of it. If you are candles, and God has lit you, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Soldiers of Christ must, like her Majesty’s soldiers, wear their regimentals; and if they are ashamed of their regimentals, they ought to be drummed out of the regiment. They are not honest soldiers who refuse to march in rank with their comrades. The very least thing that the Lord Jesus Christ can expect of us is that we do confess him to the best of our power. If you are nailed up to a cross, I will not invite you to be baptized. If you are fastened up to a tree to die, I will not ask you to go into a pulpit and declare your faith, for you cannot. But you are required to do what you can do, namely, to make as distinct and open an avowal of the Lord Jesus Christ as may be suitable in your present condition.
I believe that many Christian people get into a deal of trouble through not being honest in their convictions. For instance, if a man goes into a workshop, or a soldier into a barrack-room, and if he does not fly his flag from the first, it will be very difficult for him to run it up afterwards. But if he immediately and boldly lets them know, “I am a Christian man, and there are certain things that I cannot do to please you, and certain other things that I cannot help doing, though they displease you” — when that is clearly understood, after a while the singularity of the thing will be gone, and the man will be let alone; but if he is a little sneaky, and thinks that he is going to please the world and please Christ too, he is in for a rough time, let him depend upon it. His life will be that of a toad under a harrow, or a fox in a dog-kennel, if he tries the way of compromise. That will never do.
Come out. Show your colors. Let it be known who you are, and what you are; and although your course will not be smooth, it will certainly be not half so rough as if you tried to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds — a very difficult piece of business that.
The man on the cross came out, then and there, and made as open an avowal of his faith in Christ as was possible. The next thing he did was to rebuke his fellow-sinner. He spoke to him in answer to the ribaldry with which he had assailed our Lord. I do not know what the unconverted convict had been blasphemously saying, but his converted comrade spoke very honestly to him. “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss.” It is more than ever needful in these days that believers in Christ should not allow sin to go unrebuked; and yet a great many of them do so.
Do you not know that a person who is silent when a wrong thing is said or done may become a participator in the sin? If you do not rebuke sin — I mean, of course, on all fit occasions, and in a proper spirit — your silence will give consent to the sin, and you will be an aider and abettor in it. A man who saw a robbery, and who did not cry, “Stop thief!” would be thought to be in league with the thief; and the man who can hear swearing, or see impurity, and never utter a word of protest may well question whether he is right himself. Our “other men’s sins” make up a great item in our personal guilt unless we in anywise rebuke them. This our Lord expects us to do. The dying thief did it, and did it with all his heart; and therein far exceeded large numbers of those who hold their heads high in the church.