by Roland W. Keith
“So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father Who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
Having read the verse above ask yourself, “What does it really mean to acknowledge God? And, what does it mean to deny Him?” The most obvious answer to the first question is to state that you believe there is a God. And, the most obvious answer to the second question is to deny that God exists. But, are those adequate answers? According to the Bible the answer to that question is, no. As Christians we must understand that the answers to these questions are a little more complicated than that. In fact, one might confess there is a God yet deny His power or sovereignty over, or involvement with, His creation. One may even seek God but refuse to follow the path drawn out in the Biblical text. Or a man may claim that individuals or the corporate church in modern-day Christendom have the right to add to or supplement the ancient writings, thus redrawing the prescribed path to heaven’s gate. Indeed, various churches and individuals have done exactly that thus changing how their followers view the Holy Word. However, the bible is quite clear on these matters, for the person who can set aside modern or institutional biases and read the scriptures with an open mind.
If you are not an atheist then you have to ask yourself, “Since there is deity is that which I recognize as such the God of the Bible, and if so, do I in turn recognize Jesus of Nazareth as His Son?” If we recognize the God of the Bible as the Supreme Being and creator of the universe then the Bible becomes the litmus test for whether or not we are fully, truly acknowledging all that God demands of us with regard to Himself as the Triune God — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The rest of this brief study will focus on the Son, and to some extent God the Father, for as Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). According to scripture at least twice God the Father testified to man that Jesus Christ was His Son. The first times was at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17), and the second at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:5). Additionally, Jesus had this to say of Himself, “But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about Me that the Father has sent Me” (John 5: 19, 36-40; see also Matthew 11:27; John 5:19). Jesus also warned, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).
If we are to believe these testimonies, then we must trust Jesus when He said that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). We must also admit that the Father has placed man’s salvation in His hands (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus spent His life calling the world to Himself and the kingdom of God (Matthew 11:28-30; John 8:31-32; Matthew 7:13-14). As Paul said of Him, He “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4). Those that Christ taught, who had witnessed His life, and were guided by the Holy Spirit also bore witness of Him. During his sermon, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter would say, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Later he would tell Israel’s rulers, priests and scribes, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
After the death of Jesus why would these men and His other followers, joined later by Paul, risk everything, even their lives, and in many cases give their lives for His cause? Indeed, why had they made His cause, their cause? It wasn’t just religious fervor. Jesus had claimed too much and promised too much for anyone to continue to follow Him, and risk so much in the process, without some amazing and compelling reasons. For the core of followers who would brave all to take the gospel out into the world there were three: (1) their personal experiences with the Lord (and later the Holy Spirit), (2) the supernatural works He had performed to which they were witness and the power He had conferred in them, and (3) His resurrection. In his second letter Peter wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain” (II Peter 1:16-18). For those near Jesus all that they had seen and heard and participated in was more than convincing— it compelled them to dedicate their lives, even give their lives for Him and for the spiritual welfare of their fellowman.
When we deny their eyewitness testimony, their sacrifices, and the words they penned under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we deny God. Moreover, when we turn from the word and go after those who are determined to lead us away from the Lord, or when we allow others to add their own thoughts to the word, again, we deny God (II Peter 2:1; I Corinthians 4:6). If we allow others to question the historicity of the scriptures without defending them, knowing that they are founded on the blood of Christ, as is our faith, then we deny His sacrifice on the cross (I Peter 1:18-19). It is by the grace of God that we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9), our redemption coming through the shed blood of His Son on the cross. Because of His love and mercy, He redeemed us, making for Himself a possession, and a kingdom (Titus 2:14; 3:5; Matthew 25:34; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28). If we will not acknowledge all that He has done for us what expectations do we have of His acceptance, considering all that He has done, and the sacrifice He has made for us?
Jesus lowered Himself to become a man. He died a terrible death, numbered among criminals, to pay the price for our failures, our sins. All He asks from us is faithful obedience to His plan of salvation, which is not burdensome, but is, in fact, designed to lift us up (I John 5:3; Hebrews 12:11-13). He once said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). If we take Him at His word how can we not humbly follow His commands? And what if we do deny Him? We have been warned. According to Mark 8:38 Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” In addition, Jesus clearly stated that it is by His word that we will be judged (John 12:48). Not by man’s word. Not by the Pope’s words. Not by a televangelist’s words. But, by the word of God.
Jesus made a promise to those who believe and obey, just as He made a promise to those who don’t (Mark 16:16). Nonetheless, many will not believe, and others will ride the fence trying to balance their love of the world with their love for God. However, that won’t work (Matthew 6:24). The works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit are opposed to one another (Galatians 5:19-22). We must choose one or the other. Matthew recorded this conversation: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:13-18). The church is founded on the confession that Peter made in acknowledging Jesus as the Christ. Paul also confessed that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).
Toward the end of his account of the gospel John wrote, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). At the beginning of his gospel he had written, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Later, he would go into greater depth as to what drove his faith writing, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:1-3).
John takes great pains to make us understand that his account of things was not hearsay or legend. It was his eyewitness testimony. All of the disciples of Christ that we have mentioned in this study could make the same claim, even Paul who met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and Luke who acted as an historian, passing on the accounts of those who had witnessed and/or been a part of Jesus’ ministry and the early church. So, the question I pose to you is this: “Based on their testimony are you willing to acknowledge God, or do you deny Him?”
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.