“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 ESV)
Today’s passage is one of the more eye-opening statements by Jesus in the entire Bible. In it He makes it clear that a person’s eternal destiny is tied to one and only one thing – how that person lived in relationship to Jesus Himself.
In this passage Jesus is making it clear that He is the gatekeeper to heaven. No one enters heaven apart from Jesus [John 14:6]. God the Father will only permit those into heaven who Jesus acknowledges before Him.
And Jesus will acknowledge before God only those who acknowledge Him before men. Clearly this eliminates atheists, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists from heaven. But it also eliminates those who refuse to identify Jesus for who He really is – God. This includes Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and others.
All these people deny Jesus before men. So Jesus will deny them before God the Father and such people will not be admitted to heaven. As we learned a while back, a very small percentage of all the people ever conceived will see heaven; perhaps as low as 7%.
But Jesus’ comments here also apply to those who claim to be one of His disciples. It’s no coincidence that Jesus made these comments in the context of persecution for following Him.
There are many people who tell themselves they are Christians but won’t tell anyone else for fear of ridicule or retribution. They keep their faith secret. But there really is no such thing as a ‘secret Christian’. Such a term is an oxymoron. Anyone who keeps their belief in Jesus to themselves really does not believe in Jesus. And without believing, one cannot enter heaven [John 3:16 et. al]
Faith in Christ is, by definition, public. Everything Jesus did – all the preaching, all the teaching, and all the healing – was done publicly. He never did anything behind closed doors.
He presented God’s truth to the world openly, knowing that He would face opposition, persecution, and ultimately, death for what He said. He did this because He knew that the information He had to offer was more important to others than His own comfort was to Himself. He calls on us – actually, He commands us – to live similarly.
Note that our behavior does not earn us entry into heaven [John 3:3; Ephesians 2:8-9]. That is not what Jesus is saying here. He is saying that our outward behavior (or lack of it) itself is the evidence (or lack of it) of our faith. Hiding our faith means we have no faith.
Every Christian’s life should be lived such that if we were put on trial for our faith there would be zero chance the judge would dismiss the charges due to lack of evidence.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.