By Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor

Matthew 10:32,33
—Romans 10:9, 10


    There are two portions of Scripture that are primarily used in asking people to come forward in a church to receive Christ as Saviour. They are. . . Matthew 10:32, 33 and Romans 10:9, 10.  Let us examine these Verses in detail and see what they are talking about.  Let us be as honest with these two portions of Scripture as we are with the rest of God's Word.  Any ardent student of the Bible recognizes that the proper interpretation of a Scripture comes from "rightly dividing the word of truth."  This means that we do not not take one Scripture by itself and make it mean what we want it to.  We should read the whole chapter and then consider the context in which it was written.

   We should also consider to whom it is written and the dispensational aspect involved.  God told Noah to build an ark, does that mean we are to build an ark today?  God instructed Israel to apply the blood upon the lintel and the two side posts so the Death Angel would not smite their firstborn.  Are we to do the same today?  God told Moses to lift up his rod and stretch his hand over the sea and it was divided.  Are we to do the same today?

   Let us examine Matthew 10:32, 33, and apply the same rules of interpretation here as we do in the rest of Scripture.

CONTEXTUAL EXAMINATION: We shall be examining our text in the overall view of the entire tenth Chapter of Matthew.

"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." -Matthew 10:32,33

To whom is this speaking?  By going to the beginning of the Chapter, this question is answered,  "Now when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples . . . Now the names of the twelve Apostles are . . . These twelve Jesus sent forth. . ." (Matthew 10:1-5).  In the remaining contexts of these Verses, Christ names the twelve specifically by name.  There can be no question as to whom Christ is speaking.

Where were they to go?  This is answered clearly in Matthew 10:5, 6, "These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them saying, go not into the way of the Gentiles and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."  They were sent only to Israel and the reason is forthcoming.

What were they to say?  The answer is plainly given in Verse 7, "And as ye preach, saying, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  Remember, Matthew emphasizes the Kingship of our Saviour.  This is why the Kingdom of Heaven is mentioned 38 times and only in the Book of Matthew.  In other words, they were to preach only to the house of Israel that Christ, their Messiah, was here.  The Kingdom of the Heavens (the earthly reign of Christ for 1,000 years) was at hand.  If Israel, nationally, would have accepted Christ as their Messiah it would have been instituted.

How they proved their message was of God.  Proof that their message was that of God and not of men was evidenced by the miracles they performed.  Verse 8 explains, "Heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have received, freely give."  When they preached that Christ was the Messiah and then raised the dead, it was surely proof that their message was true.

The warning of Christ.  In Verses 16 to 22, the twelve Apostles are told that their preaching will cause them to be hated by men.  They would be brought before council's, governors, kings, and even scourged in the synagogues for His name's sake.  He forewarned the Apostles of the results their task would bring.  Keep in mind He is still speaking to the Apostles here.

How were they to react?  Verse 16 explains, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."  In other words, preach by the wisdom of God, strong in the faith, boldly, but harm no one who resists your message.

God's protection is seen.  God's protection is promised in verse 22, "But he that endureth (remains faithful) to the end (of his ministry) shall be saved (delivered alive)."  Notice in verse 23, "but when they persecute you in the city, flee ye into another..." When they were rejected from a city, God would deliver of protect their life until they could flee to another city.  Remember, none of the eleven were killed until after their ministry was finished.  When Israel's rejection of their Messiah was final, God permitted the Apostles to obtain their martyr's crown.  All were martyred, with the exception of John.  They were as sealed by God's protection as the 144,000 in Revelation 7:3; 9:4; 14:1.  "But the very hairs of your head are numbered" (vs. 30).  How true it is, "If God be for us...who then can be against us?"

Their representative was Christ.  Christ gave the Apostles their commission, their protection, and He would also reward them by confessing their faithfulness before the Father.  Read again Matthew 10:32, 33.  If they became weak in their faith and would not confess Him, then He would confess their unfaithfulness to the Father.  Remember, this confession by Christ to the Father is for the Apostle's rewards or loss of rewards and not for their salvation.  Their faithfulness, no doubt, will be rewarded when they rule and reign with Christ in His earthly Kingdom.  This is similar to the way God deals with Christians today concerning their rewards and loss of rewards as spoken of in 1st Corinthians 3:14, 15, "If any man's (Christian's only) work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's (Christian's) work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."  Both Matthew and Corinthians are speaking of fellowship, service, and rewards; not sonship and salvation. 

If we  keep Matthew 10:32 and 33 in context, several things may be noticed:

  1. The "whosoever" in Verses 32 and 33 is referring to the twelve Apostles that Christ was addressing in Verses 1 to 5.  It is true that we, today, will be rewarded for our testimony of Christ as other Scriptures point out, but these Scriptures are referring to the twelve only

  2. These Verses are not speaking about salvation, for confessing Christ is a work of the flesh and we are not saved by works, NOT EVEN ONE! (Ephesians 2:8,9 and Titus 3:5)

  3. These Verses were given to those, the Apostles, who had already identified themselves as being believers, and not as a condition for salvation.

  4. The whole chapter is dealing with one group of men, the twelve Apostles; one nation, Israel; and one message, "the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  If we are going to apply just two Verses we would have to pull them completely out of context which would be mutilating God's Word.

One would have as much right to claim Verse 8 as the permission to raise the dead today.  Others would have the right to claim the promises of physical protection in verse 22.  Here He promised the Apostles, if they would remain faithful to the end of their commission, nothing could happen to their lives.  How erroneous it would be to apply this to the Church Age.  Many a missionary has been faithful to the Gospel, yet their life was not spared, but taken.  Read "Through Gates of Splendor" by Elisabeth Elliot for example.

  1. Since these verses are speaking only about service and not salvation, we should not confuse the listener by mixing grace and works.  Many times it is said that salvation is by grace and not of works and people are then, immediately, invited to "Step out and come to the front of the church" to receive Christ.  If this is not a  work...then I do not know what is!  We are preaching one thing and doing the opposite when we require a person to do a work before receiving Christ.  People are led to believe they cannot be saved unless they come forward to do it.  If I can be saved in my seat, then why ask me to come to the front of a church to receive Christ?  This is a question many ask.  Many have left a church service still lost because a pastor said one thing about salvation and then required the person to do something else (Romans 11:6).

  2. No where do these Verses mention anything about walking to the front of a church.  Where does it say anything about getting out of your seat?  Where does it say anything about confessing Christ before a congregation?  The "confessing" in verses 32 and 33 is referring to the twelve Apostles preaching the "Kingdom of heaven is at hand" and not just standing in front of a congregation saying  "I believe in Christ."

  3. Keeping these Verses in context, one would only be required to confess in the presence of Jews.  Does not Verse 6 say, "Go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

  4. These Verses would only have confession made to the lost, not the saved.  When we apply this today and have a person confess Christ in front of a congregation...them it is mostly before the saved and not the lost.  Remember, this "confession" is referring to preaching the Kingdom message.

CONCLUSIONS FROM THE FACTS:  I have talked to many people who refused to go back to church again because they have felt compelled to walk to the front of a church to be saved.  Truthfully, how many times have you seen the same people, time after time, in the front of the church in response to this type of invitation.  A lady asked me not long ago why I do not have people come forward to be saved.  Here are a few of the many reasons I gave her:

  1. No scripture even hints that you must come to the front of a church to be saved or even after you are saved.

  2. We always teach people the importance of confessing Christ after they are saved by faith alone, let us confess Him where it will be of most benefit.  Let us tell our mothers, fathers, brothers, sister, our children, our relatives and our neighbors who are not saved.  Let us confess Christ in reality, where it counts!

  3. Coming forward causes confusion, for many people are led to believe this has something to do with salvation.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

  4. Let us not be guilty of isolating  a Verse of Scripture, taking it completely out of context, to support a tradition inherited from the past.

    In summary, salvation is only one way and that is by trusting Jesus Christ as our Saviour (John 6:47).  It is the same for all individuals no matter where you are or who you are.  When I am on radio or television, I invite people to trust Christ right where they their home, their car, walking down the street...wherever.  Why, then is the invitation changed when we are in church?

Perhaps you are one who is really bitter toward churches because someone has tried to force you down an aisle.  Please do not be bitter at the Lord.  He never made this a condition for salvation.  God does not ask us to do anything to be saved.  He only asks that we accept what He  has done.  God loved you so much that He paid for your sins completely before you were ever born.  He only asks you to completely trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour and then rest in God's promise that you will never perish but have everlasting life.  "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1st John 5:11, 12).

  1. Let us examine another portion of Scripture used to support the practice of "coming forward" in a church to receive Christ as Saviour.

"That 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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." -Romans10:9, 10

These two verses, along with Matthew 10:32,33, are the most widely used in support of asking people to walk to the front of a church to receive Christ as Saviour.

   Let us examine the context surrounding Romans 10:9, 10.  One scholar has correctly pointed out that these three Chapters are speaking primarily concerning the Jewish nation and the Jewish people.  Chapter 9 is speaking of Israel in the past, Chapter 10 is concerning Israel in the present (during the Church Age) and Chapter 11 deals with their future.

Chapter 9 recalls to Israel the REASON they were rejected as a nation,  "Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.  For they stumbled at that stumblingstone" (verse 32).

Chapter 10 is the remedy for their rejection, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" (vs. 4).  The future result is that, at the end of the 7 year Tribulation Period, Christ will return to establish the Kingdom and "so all Israel (nationally) shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away the ungodliness from Jacob." (11:26)

2nd Timothy 3:16 informs us that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."  If God is the inspiration of all Scripture, it is certain He is not going to contradict Himself.  In Verse 9, the Bible states that if one has believed and confessed Christ, he is saved.  If this confession were a work we had to do for salvation, this would definitely contradict every other Scripture that states you have eternal life by faith alone.

Remember, confession is definitely a work you do with the flesh.  Let us look at some Verses in Romans that would be false if the "confession" in Romans 10:9 was essential for salvation.

Romans 3:22... "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference."

Romans 3:26..."To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."

Romans 3:30..."Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision (Jews) by faith, and uncircumcision (Gentiles) through faith."

Romans 4:5..."But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

Romans 5:1... "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Romans 9:32..."Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone."

The reason that Christians cannot boast in themselves about their salvation...they did not do any good works to receive it.  "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith" (Romans 3:27).

The capstone of all texts that prove that salvation is either by grace or works is, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work" (Romans 11:6).

THE CONDITIONS: Consider Romans 10:9 in its setting.  The Jews, nationally, had rejected Christ as the Messiah.  For an individual to accept Christ and confess that He was the Messiah would mean loss of friends, respect, position, and would bring persecution and possibly, even death.

The account of Stephen and his testimony shows that his professing Christ as Saviour resulted in his death.  First, they accused him of blasphemy by bribing men to say so, "Then they suborned (bribed) men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law" (Acts 6:11, 13).

Secondly, they arrested him and brought him before the council (Sanhedrin, the Jewish court of law), "And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council" (Acts 6:12).

Finally, they killed him, for they could not stand his testimony concerning Christ, "Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him ... and Saul was consenting unto his death" (Acts 7:57,58; 8:1).

Saul (Paul) persecuted many who confessed Christ, whether male or female, "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" ( Act 9:1).

After Paul's salvation, he testified of the great persecutions he received of the Jews for confessing Christ, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." (2nd Corinthians 4:8-11).  "But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings" (2nd Corinthians 6:4,5).  "Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep" "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one" (2nd Corinthians 11:25, 24).

At this time, for a Jewish person to accept Christ and then publicly confess Him, knowing the persecution sure to come, you can rest assured that he was Romans 10:9 attests, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus (not just that He was a good man) and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead (as evidence that He was the Messiah, Matthew 12:40) thou shalt be saved."

This Verse separated the professors from the possessors.  There were some who were naming Christ as Lord,  but did not really believe He was the Messiah, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" ( Matthew 7:21-23).  There were not persecuted for their confession because their confession of the Lord did not include that He was the Messiah.  In the time Romans 10:9 was written, those who confessed the Lord Jesus were confessing him as the Messiah, as evidenced by their believing God had raised Him from the dead.  Anyone who confessed this would probably face death.  The "thou shalt be saved" is not intended in the Greek to reveal a condition for salvation by confessing and believing, but a definite fact that no one facing death would Christ as Messiah, unless they were saved.

This is substantiated further by verse 10, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."  The word "made" is the Greek word "HOMOLOGEO" and means "acknowledgement by confession in the attitude of giving thanks." (Strong's Concordance)

Why would a person give thanks for something they have not already received?  They were giving thanks for Christ's righteousness that God gave them for believing, "For he (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  "For if by one man's (Adam's) offense death reigned by on; much more they (the believers) which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ" (Romans  5:17).  Philippians 3:9 could speak no clearer, "And be found in him (Christ) not having mine own righteousness which of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."

Romans 10:10 contains a two-fold doctrinal truth the believer's justification in God's sight and his justification in man's sight.  This is comparable to the contrast found in Romans and James.  Romans shows that man is justified in God's sight by faith without works.  James points out that for men to know we are saved, we must show them by our works, which includes confessing Christ.  This is justification in man's eyes.  God does not need our confession to know we are saved as God looks where man cannot see...upon the heart.  Simultaneously, upon the belief in Christ as Saviour, God imparts the salvation He has promised, "Verily, verily, I ay unto you, he that believeth on me hath ( right now ) everlasting life" (John 6:47).

Some Christians have an erroneous idea to excuse their lack of witnessing for Christ.  They say, "People will just see Christ in me by the way I live."  This is not true and the last of Verse 10 verifies this.  By not confessing Christ and just living a good life, you receive the glory, not the Lord.  Believing is our position before God, our salvation.  Confessing is our position before man, our service.  "So then faith (others to believe) cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God."  The only way others can know I am a Christian is by my confessing Christ as my personal Saviour.  Then, if I want people to believe my testimony, I must live so that my life will substantiate what I say.

Salvation is God's provision for my position, or justification, before Him, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness."  When I confess Christ, bystanders do not see a self-righteous person but see Christ as the reason for my leading a separated life.  Then Christ received the glory.  "And with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."  In whose eyes?  Man's eyes, of course!  My life alone will not lead others to Christ for I must confess Him as the reason, "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?" (Romans 10:14).

Romans 10:13 is also sometimes used as a condition for salvation, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."  The word "saved" here would be better translated "delivered" as the context will show.  Calling upon the Lord has nothing to do with salvation, but is a privilege given to those who are already saved.  This is clarified by Verse 14, "How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed."  The question has arisen, "If we are already saved before we call upon Him, then what do we call upon Him for?"  Verse 12 will shed some light, "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him (Christ)."  The phrase that the "Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him" cannot be speaking of salvation as those that called were already saved by faith.  So...the being "rich to those that call" must pertain to additional blessings and provisions after salvation. 

Here are several important things to consider:

  1. There is no difference between the Jew and Greek (Gentile).  There is no preference or special privileges because of nationality.  The Lord is dealing with individuals regardless of race.  Remember, the Jewish people had the advantage over the Gentiles because unto them were committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:1,2).  When, nationally, they rejected their Messiah, God temporarily stopped working through them as a nation.  He is reminding them that, individually, Gentile and Jew will be treated alike even though Israel, as a nation, has been set aside.

  2. Christians, at this time, faced great persecutions for the name of Christ.

  3. Those that called upon Him were the saved.

  4. The Lord promised to be rich upon all that called.

  5. He also promised to deliver those who called.

    With this in mind, the passage should become clear.  Those that believed in Christ, knowing they were going to face persecutions, could now call upon the Lord to deliver them.  He would be rich unto them by giving them strength and boldness to confess Him.  He would be rich in comforting them during their trials or whatever need they might have had.  We, who are saved today, must also call upon the Lord to supply our needs, give us boldness to witness and comfort to go through our trials or whatever need we may have.  But I can say, as Paul did, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," only because the Lord is rich upon all (saved) that call upon Him.

Since the portion of Scripture we have been considering, Romans 10:9 and 10, is often quoted to motivate people to come to the front of a church to confess Christ, we might consider this summary:

  1. Confession is not a condition for salvation.  Many people are confused by mixing salvation with the work of confessing.

  2. Nothing is said in Scripture about coming to the front of a church.

  3. People are made to feel as though they are not saved if they do not come forward, and this is not what the Scriptures teach.

  4. Nothing is said in Scripture about confession being simultaneous with salvation.  The author was saved a year or so before he confessed Christ publicly.

  5. Many say you can be saved in your seat, but then will not invite people to actually trust Christ where they sit.

  6. Many want to be saved but do not want to stand before a crowd of people.  If God does not make this a condition for salvation, what right do we have to make it a condition?  Should we not give the lost every opportunity that God does?

    We need to remember that confession is not always simultaneous with salvation.  It takes time to grow, and confession comes with growth.  Many have left a church service lost, with their blood on the preacher's hands because he wanted to make the people do something that God did not require for salvation.

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Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor

P.O. Box 573
Walnut Grove, MN 56180
Telephone (507) 859-2519


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