Tony Evans - Unapologetic
You and I are living in a day of no shame. Evil is being publicly paraded, and it should be clear today that Christians have lost the home field advantage. We are the visiting team. The culture no longer assumes, as we have said, a Judeo-Christian ethic has normative. It has been rejected in all the systems of the culture at varying degrees. There is no place to run and no place to hide. There was a time when you could hide around your religion or in church, but today, you and I are being called out because the standards have been rejected across the board; education, media, politics, entertainment. It has become crystal clear that whatever remnants of a Christian nation that we had no longer exist, and now we're at the stage where the one entity that was designed to hold the line crumbles, too.
You will now discover that to follow Jesus Christ is not to go to an ice cream social. The Christian faith is seeking to be silenced unless you're so vague nobody knows where you stand. And so, I want to call on me, you, and us, to make the decision to be unapologetic Christians because that is what's needed today. We saw that Jesus says in verse 32, "Everyone who confesses me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven". He brings up the issue of confession. "If you confess me, I'll confess you. If you deny me, I will deny you".
Now, this was not a statement said to pagans. This was a statement said to his disciples. He's not talking to non-Christians when he talks about confession and denial, he's talking to his so-called followers. To confess means to publicly identify with. It is the verbal and visual identification of yourself to be in league with Jesus Christ. I love the way that 2 Timothy puts it when Paul tells his son in the faith in 2 Timothy 1:8, "Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God". He says don't be ashamed of your identification. He says, "If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father. And don't be ashamed".
We live in a day of no shame. You see things on television you would never have thought you would see on television, you hear language that you never thought you would hear, you see parades that you would never thought you would have seen 'cause there is no shame. And I don't hear anybody apologizing. In other words, what they're saying to everybody else is a just 'cause this is the way it is. Jesus says, "I want you to confess me before men". Why won't we do that, so many of us? Because we're like the folks spoken about in St. John chapter 12, verse 42 and 43. You look at what it says. "Nevertheless many, even of the rulers, believed in him". They became Christians. "But because of the Pharisees they were not confessing him for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God".
He says don't let your fear of people outpace your fear of the Lord. He says they believed on him, they got saved, but they didn't want to be rejected by people. They didn't want to lose their popularity. They didn't want to lose their notoriety. They didn't want to lose their public acceptance. And so, they believed on him. They're on their way to heaven, but they didn't want to lose acceptance on earth. And so, it says they wouldn't confess. They would be secret agent Christians. Today we live in a world of political Christians, Christians who use politics and wrap their Christianity in the flag rather than in the cross. We live in a day of cultural Christians who wrap their Christianity in the subject of race rather than in the primacy of Christ. We live in a day of convenient Christians who want to use God for their blessing, but who don't want to represent him in the culture unless they're in church.
Jesus says, "Unless you confess me before men". He's talking about public identification. Notice you must confess him, not just his Father. In other words, saying God won't cut it. That's vague Christianity. Says you must confess him, Jesus Christ. Why? Because Jesus Christ has been assigned by the Trinity to represent the Godhead on earth in history, in time and space. You become a Christian by faith alone and Christ alone apart from works, but once you become a Christian, you have now entered into the realm of discipleship, and that is what baptism is. It's saying, "I'm willing to publicly be identified as a follower of Christ".
So the question is, on your job, where you work, in your neighborhood, if you are accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you, or would you be found innocent of all charges. Or are you an apologetic Christian? He says in Matthew 10, verses 24 and 25, he says, "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he becomes like his teacher and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign the members of his household"? He says the whole idea of following Christ is to be like him. In the same way he reflected the standard of his Father, we are to reflect the standard of our Savior.
So, are you a confessing Christian? Meaning, publicly identifiable, not privately before men, he says. Now, having said that, what's the issue here of confession? He had spoken about that already in Matthew 10 when he went down and he said, verse 38, "Doth not taketh of his cross, follow me is not worthy of me". There is an unsettled issue by many Christians. It has not been settled, and it affects the issue of confession. It's an unsettled issue. The unsettled issue is the issue of lordship, the issue of lordship. Let me show you what I mean from Romans chapter 10. Romans chapter 10, he says in verse 9, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness; but with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation". So guess what? He's talking about you opening your mouth.
Notice when you believe you are made righteous; that is, you get saved in the way we use it. You're on your way to heaven. But he says with your mouth; that is, public identification is where you get deliverance. God through Christ will only join you in history if you're not ashamed of him, if you're not apologetic about him, if you hide behind the word God so you don't have to deal with the inconvenience of Jesus. There can be no divine resets without recognizing the law of the kingdom, I call it. You wouldn't be in the kingdom. There would be no eternal destiny. There would be no eternal future if somebody hadn't paid the price. And you can't confess him lovingly, responsibly, appropriately, but clearly. There shouldn't be an uncertain sound when it comes to Jesus Christ because as Acts 10:36 says, he is Lord of all. As Ephesians 1:22 and 23 declares, that all things have been placed unto Christ. He is to be confessed.
I love the way Romans 14 puts it. Verses that you should remember, 8 and 10. Romans 14:8 to 10, or 8 to 9 says, "For if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living". He goes on to verse 10 and talks about us before the judgment seat of Christ. So when you and I stand before the judgment seat of Christ, there's going to be one major question. "Was I Lord? The only reason you're up here is 'cause I'm Savior. But I want to know while I left you on earth, was I Lord? That is, did I own you"?
Philippians 2:10 and 11 makes it clear. Every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess, confess that Jesus is Lord. You can do it voluntarily now or mandatorily later, but everybody is going to do that. And his lordship recognizes his deity. Titus chapter 2, verse 13 says he is Savior and God. John 20, verse 28, the apostle says, "My Lord, my God". It is the recognition that Jesus is not just some nice human figure that ought to be respected, he is the Son of the living God who ought to be worshiped. So how do you know whether you have made the lordship decision? How do you know that? How do you measure that? Because anybody can say, "Oh, Jesus is Lord in my life". That sounds evangelically accurate. Anybody can say that.
So let me tell you how Jesus says you can know whether the lordship issue has been addressed in your life. In Luke 6:46, he says this. "How do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say? How do you use the term and you call me Lord, and then you're telling me you're doing something opposite to what I say? I say this about a man. You're saying something else. I say this about a woman. You say something else. I say this about marriage. You say something else. I say this about finances. You say something else. Yeah, I keep saying what I say, and you keep coming up with all this stuff you say and then going to call me Lord"? He says, "How do you call me Lord, Lord, and don't do what I say? If I'm Lord, that means you're adjusting".
We live in a world where Christians are asking God to adjust so we can make folk happy in the culture. Sure, we are to be sensitive. Sure, we are to be kind, compassionate, loving. To not do that is also not to do what he says, but you do not do that by jettison truth to placate a society that has already rejected your Savior. Now, what you must understand is a simple principle. What I must understand, what we, the church, must understand that it's having trouble getting this. It's pointed out in St. John chapter 2, verses 24 to 25. It says Jesus knew what was in man and he would not commit himself to them, and he's talking about those who believed on him. It says they believed in him so they became Christians, but he wouldn't commit himself to them because he knew what was in them.
Let me put it another way. Jesus doesn't have the same commitment equally to every Christian. We're all equal children, but he's not equally committed to every child. Because if you are ashamed of him, it says he would not commit himself to them even though they believed. Romans chapter 5, verses 8 to 10, God demonstrated love toward us; and while we were sinners Christ died for us, but then he says having been justified by faith you're saved. He says we shall be saved, or delivered by his life. So, you're already saved, but his involvement with you in history is tied to your confession of him.
And then he says in Romans 10:13, it says anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The problem is, or what people don't know is, the only time that phrase is used in the New Testament of calling on the name of the Lord is by Christians, not non-Christians. In other words, you can't call if you can't confess. If you can't confess, don't bother to pray. 1 Corinthians 1, verse 2 talks about the saints in Corinth who call upon the name of the Lord. Acts chapter 7, verse 59, it says when Stephen was ready to die, he called on the name of the Lord and saw Jesus standing on the right-hand side of the heavens. If you won't confess, don't bother to call, 'cause he has no obligation to folks who deny him.
Now, I have to tell you the whole story because Matthew 10 makes it inextricably clear about the price tag of confessions, and he explains what he means in verse 37. "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me". Okay? So let's talk about the sword of confession. Once you are willing to appropriately, lovingly, compassionately, all that, but clearly identify Jesus Christ, it will create a divide.
So you just need to know that. And will create a divide now more than ever because there is the public denial of him, and it will even happen, he says, in your own family: father, mother; daughter, mother; father, son; mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, he says. "Because when you are clear, those who reject me will reject you". It'll happen at work, it'll happen in the neighborhood, it'll happen in the pulpit, because to take your stand on God's Word, to take your stand on Jesus's perspective on the issues of our day, and there are so many of them, to take your stand there will create a conflict. "He who founded life," verse 39, "will lose it, and who had lost his life for my sake will find it". He says when you lose because of your confession, you win. When you lose, there is a division, there is a rejection. "Because you have been publicly identified with me, you lose in terms of what the deniers are saying with them, but you just won with me, and the life you lost you find".
I love the way Luke 14 puts it. "Now a large crowd was going along with Jesus with him, and he turned and said to them, 'Anyone who comes after me and does not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple'". Now, he's not talking about going to heaven. He's talking about being his disciple on earth. And he says, "Anybody who trumps me, you lose me. And I don't care how much you love them". And he says, "And if you don't do that, you can't have me. You cannot be my disciple". We have a lot of Christians who are bailing out on Jesus. And you know why we're bailing out? 'Cause we haven't told the whole story. We want to talk about the blessing, not the sword. So when folks hit suffering, or difficulty, or problems, they bail. That's 'cause we don't have enough pulpits telling the whole story.
In Luke 14, "Therefore," verse 34, "salt is good, but even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be salted or seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile. It's thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear". He talks about salt that's no longer salty. It's lost its taste. Guess what? That's useless salt. Salt that's not salty, you don't have time for, okay, 'cause you can't do anything with it. You don't taste it. It's lost its seasoning power. You know what he's talking about? He's talking about people. He's saying, "I got a lot of useless Christians. I got a lot of useless Christians. They go to church, but when push comes to shove, they deny me. They get so compromised by the world and want to make the world happy. They do it at my expense, and I can't use them because they want to satisfy the populace, not represent me".
So the question is for me, for you is, are you ready to confess? And we're not talking about your belief in God, we're talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you willing to confess that? So it's time to cast your vote. Where do you take your stand so that God can do a divine reset and our culture of Christ be not come 'cause without a divine reset, this nation is going to hell, and that divine reset must start with his church. We're not perfect. I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. We have flaws. That's why he created repentance, so that we could get realigned and cast our vote. "So if you confess me before men, I will confess you, I will endorse you before my Father; but if you deny me in public, I will deny you before my Father who is in heaven".