The Baptist Beacon
A GOOD PROFESSION
By Elder Jerry Miller
I Timothy 6:12 _ Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
The word profession in this passage was taken from the Greek word Homologeo, which simply means to profess or confess something. What Timothy had professed was that he had been called unto eternal life. That God had saved his soul. His profession was obviously a public profession, in that it was done before many witnesses. Perhaps Paul was also having reference to Timothy's baptism as a symbol of his good profession.
Lest we forget the important meaning of this event every time it occurs, let's consider God's word as our reminder.
Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Romans, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom. 10:10). He also told them "Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Rom. 6:3_6).
When God truly saves someone, that person has a spiritual experience that truly changes them. Paul told this to the Corinthians by saying, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new." (II Cor. 5:17). In salvation, God gives us a new nature, which produces new desires.
The church has always required any person who desires membership to first profess an experience of salvation. John the Baptist set the example by requiring the many Pharisees and Sadducees that came to his baptism to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. (Matt. 3:7_8).
When a person truly repents, they turn from sin and turn to God. In true repentance there is a complete forsaking of oneself, and a complete surrender of their life to God. Otherwise, God would not save them. Jesus said that we must lose our life in order to save it (Mark 8:35). Repentance is truly a grace.
Whenever any individual, such as Timothy here, comes before the church, and confesses before them that they have been saved by God's grace, and petitions that church for membership, they are openly, publicly, testifying that they now belong to God. In Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians he told them that they were not their own, that they were bought with a price; and are to glorify God in body and in spirit, which are God's (I Cor. 6:19_20). When we are baptized, it is an outward symbol of an inward change. By being buried under the water, we show that we have died to sin. When we are brought up out of the water, we show that we are alive unto God, and will walk in newness of life. With such submission to these things comes the responsibility to live up to what we have professed.
I truly believe the saying, "Actions speak louder than words." Although someone may confess with their mouths that they know the Lord, it is what they do with their lives that will really prove it. In I John 1:6 it states, "If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." In chapter 2:3_4 it says "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." In Luke 6:46, we can read the following question from the Lord, "And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
I believe the Bible teaches very plainly that those who are truly saved will either be found serving the Lord and living for His honor and glory, or, receiving His heavy hand of chastisement for not doing so. Any parent that loves their children, will correct them when they do wrong. And contrary to what many people think now days, a good old fashion whipping won't emotionally scar them for life. (Continued on page 2)
LOVE DEMANDS DISCIPLINE. Loving correction is not abuse! God loves His children many times more than we as earthly parents could ever love our children, and He will not allow them to walk in disobedience without loving correction, chastisement.
I also believe the Bible teaches very plainly that for anyone who professes to know the Lord, and does nothing with their life to prove it, if that individual does not receive the chastening hand of God, they have either deceived themselves, or lied to themselves and others, and were never truly saved. Hebrews 12:6_8 reads, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth... But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons."
Have we as God's people, been guilty too many times, of continuing to believe that someone is saved just because they say they are? I believe we should take what the Bible says. Most every church seems to have those who have entered their membership and their lives simply do not bear witness to their testimony. In many cases, they seem to go on year after year, without doing anything for the benefit of mankind, the maintenance of their church, or the glory of God, and don't seem the least bit sorry about the way they live. Should we continue to believe that such people are children of God? One of the greatest marks of someone who has been saved is a love for lost souls. After Paul was saved he wanted to see his kinsmen have the same peace he had come to know. He expressed it to the Romans by saying, "Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved (Rom. 10:1) There are people who have professed salvation and have held membership in the Lord's church, that have neglected the salvation of their own children. They have given their children little, or no exposure to the gospel. Should we continue to believe that such neglect comes from parents who have truly been saved? I do not want to be unfair to any church, and I realize that we receive members based upon their testimony. We cannot completely control this. And when we take them into our membership then we are obligated to deal with them as members. But we should also consider the great probability that such actions are more indicative of someone who never really got saved, than they are of a child of God. I realize that it is difficult for people to admit that someone they have thought was saved for many years may in fact still be lost. However, if they are not saved, they are still on the way to Hell's eternal flames whether they hold church membership or not. I would much rather swallow my pride and admit to this probability than to see any of them lose their eternal soul. Perhaps our question to them needs to be, "Have you made your peace calling and election sure?
Why are they not in church? Why are they not serving the Lord? Why are they not bringing their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Would not the most logical answer be because they don't have the inward desire to do so?
Why haven't we been successful, is so many cases, in getting member who have been astray for so long, to take up their cross? Could it be that we have tried to get people to be dedicated church members, who are in fact not even really saved? If so, it's not going to work. That would be like trying to tell a hog not to wallow. We would be asking him to go against his nature.
Jonah was punished for his disobedience to God. He was swallowed by a whale. David was punished for his act of adultery. He watched his child die. Moses was punished for not speaking to the rock like God told him. Rather than being allowed to cross into the promised land, he was taken up to Mt. Pisgah where God took his life.
A Child of God is to be an obedient, dedicated servant of God. Paul said to the Romans, "I beseech you therefore Brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Rom. 12:1)
Pastors, these things ought to be proclaimed from our pulpits just as plain as they are written in God's Holy Word. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:8_10) When someone is saved by grace, if they are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, doesn't it stand to reason that they will also do good works?
James asked, What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works, can faith save him?" (James 2:14) I believe that what James was asking here was, if someone says they have faith, but they have no works, can they really say they have a true faith? He goes on to say that faith without works is dead, being alone. "Yea a man may say thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." (James 2:18) When someone makes a profession of faith, is it their words or their works that will finally prove it?
I believe that James was telling us that our works will prove whether or not our faith is genuine. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)