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confess me before men, him will I also confess before
, my Father who is in heaven.”a Paul, in speaking of the righteousness of faith in contrast with the righteousness of the law, says: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”b Again he says to Timothy: “Thou hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” “I charge thee in the sight of God .. and of Jesus Christ, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good profession” or confession. Again, when Christ asked Peter, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am ?” he answering said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said, “Upon this rock”—this truth, this confession“I will build my church.”a
This confession that " Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God," is the great truth of the Christian religion. Around this, as the center, all things else in the system revolve. This embraces the whole system. . The Son of God is as truly the Center of the Christian system as the physical sun is the center of our solar system. If a person were to confess that the sun is the center of the solar system, and the light and the heat of the system, it would then be folly to ask, “Do you believe that it lights all the planets of the solar system, together with all the great divisions of the
b Rom. x. 9, 10. 1 Tim. vi. 13.
d Matt. xvi. 13-18.
a Matt. X. 32.
earth, such as Europe, Asia, and America ?” for the very plain reason that he confessed all in the first great proposition. So in confessing Christ the person confesses Him in His whole official character, as the Prophet, Priest, and King. As Prophet to teach, as Priest to atone, and as King to reign, as “There is no other name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved." There is no other confession required by Christ in order to participate in His great salvation. It is the good confession—the divine confession, and the only authorized confession. It is a confession that all will finally make either in hope or fear, "for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."a Christ made it and died, His followers make it and live. It is the divine creed, the foundation of the Christian Church, and the only one which may rightfully be enjoined upon subjects entering Christ's Church in any age or any land or by any authority. No man, no church, has any divine warrant for demanding more of a penitent believer in order to be baptized or received into church membership, and no man or church has a right to require less.
a Rom. xiv. 10, II.
SAUL AND HIS CONVERSION
Saul of Tarsus. Called to be an Apostle. Are People now Con
verted like Saul? The next case of pardon is that of Saul of Tarsus, afterward called Paul, the Apostle. This is the most important conversion recorded after the death of Jesus. It is important, not only on account of the greatness of the person, but as an example of pardon and as the beginning of the history of a person showing the most untiring zeal and devotion in the cause of the Master during a long life of the greatest labors and suffering ever inscribed upon the rolls of time. He is emphatically our apostle—the apostle to the Gentiles. He not only labored more abundantly than all the apostles, but to him the Gentile world owes more than to all the rest. a No one man ever lived on earth having wrought such changes and having made such deep impression on succeeding ages. His conversion is recorded in the 9th chapter of Acts, and repeated in the 22d and 26th chapters and referred to in the Epistles. Taken altogether we have a complete history of this great man's
change from Judaism to Christianity, and the marvelous events which called him to the apostleship and to the light and liberty of the gospel. a Acts xxii. 21, xviii. 9, xxiii. 11, xvi. 6, xxvii. 23; 2 Tim. iv. 17.
If we except the dying vision of Stephen and the vision of Ananias and the vision of John on Patmos, Saul is the only one recorded to whom Jesus appeared after His ascension. He appeared to him four times. He called him personally to be an apostle and sent him far hence to the Gentiles. He spake to him “in a vision by night,” in Corinth. He stood by him when persecuted at Jerusalem and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul, for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” His divine mission or ambassadorship was recognized by the inspired apostles at Jerusalem. He was filled and directed by the Holy Spirit. The angel of God stood by him on the tempest-tossed sea, and gave him the lives of all who sailed with him on its dark and troubled waters. And when at Rome at his first answer before Nero his friends forsook him, yet the Lord stood with him and strengthened him that he might continue to preach “that all the Gentiles might hear,” and he was delivered “out of the mouth of the lion."
We come now to the record of his conversion. The sacred historian says: "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed he came near to Damascus, and suddenly there shined around about him a light from heaven." a Paul informs us that this light was at mid
a Acts ix. 1-3.
day, and that it was “above the brightness of the sun”; and he says “that it shined round about me and those that journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? . . . And I said, Who art thou, Lord ? and He said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; but arise, stand upon thy feet, for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of things which thou hast seen and the things in which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from the people and the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee, to
their to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” a And I said, What shall I do, Lord ? and the Lord said unto me, Arise and go into Damascus, and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And one Ananias, a devout man, according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwell there, came to me and said to me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight.” This Ananias was a disciple, and to him said the Lord in a vision, “Ananias. And he said, Behold I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold he prayeth.”c Paul now says he “came unto me and a Acts xxvi. 13-18.
Acts xxii. 10-12.
c Acts ix. 10, 11.