First Timothy 6:12 states, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” This verse is part of Paul’s personal letter to Timothy and provides instructions on how to live and lead. Let’s focus on the concept of “the good confession” that Timothy made.
The “good confession” refers to a public declaration of faith. Interestingly, in the next verse, Paul mentions that Jesus also made a good confession: “In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you” (1 Timothy 6:13).
In John 18:37, we find the details of Jesus’ confession: “‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” Here, truth refers not merely to a set of preceptsd in Scripture but to the embodiment of truth in Jesus Himself (John 14:6). When Jesus claimed to testify to the truth, He was, in essence, testifying about Himself.
Thus, the good confession bears witness to Jesus, as Romans 10:9–10 emphasizes, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
The Greek word for “belief” is pistis, which also denotes trust in something. A proper confession of Jesus arises from trusting in His resurrection, intrinsically linked to His sacrifice on the cross for our sin. There is no resurrection without the crucifixion.
Modern evangelistic crusades often feature public declarations with altar calls. While altar calls can be beneficial, they should be offered to individuals who understand themselves as sinners in need of a Savior. We come to Christ to be reconciled with God, not for money, a comfortable life, or even good health. While we have the promise of a future freedom from suffering, sickness, and pain (Revelation 21:4), Jesus’ primary mission was to lead us to the Father, not to grant a physical utopia on earth. Therefore, the gospel must serve as the foundation for every altar call.
Similarly, the sinner’s prayer, used as a formulaic approach to guide someone in making a confession, should be handled with care. The sinner’s prayer is not a magical statement, and it does not, in itself, save. Jesus saves us by faith. The sinner’s prayer should be an outward declaration of the inner transformation that has occurred, and it must be accompanied by the gospel.
Once we have believed and publicly made a good confession, like Timothy, we are called to “take hold of eternal life” and live consistently with our beliefs.