Confession and Belief

Romans 10:9-10 ESV

“Because, 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.”

Now, there are many people today within the gatherings of what is called “church” who are using this passage of Scripture, taken out of context, as their gospel message. So, they are teaching people that all they have to do is to make a verbal confession of Christ as Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, and they are saved. But that is a dangerous practice to pull Scriptures out of their context and to make one passage of Scripture be the gospel message that you teach to people.

For, these two verses alone, interpreted independently of the rest of Scripture, can indeed present a false gospel message which is leading many people astray, especially in America where making a confession of faith in Jesus Christ is not out of the ordinary, for Christianity is the primary religion in America, and many people, if asked, will say they believe in Jesus, even if they are not practicing Christians.

So, to put things in the right perspective, let’s look at Jesus’ words:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him DENY himself and TAKE UP HIS CROSS daily and FOLLOW me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). And “Whoever has my COMMANDMENTS and KEEPS THEM, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

And John said, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4). “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:7-8).

And Paul said: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you OBEY, either of sin, which leads to death, or of OBEDIENCE, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) And the writer of Hebrews said, “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who OBEY him” (Hebrews 5:9). And James said, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be DOERS of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21-22).

Back to the Beginning

But let’s go back to Romans 10:9-10. This word “confess” means so much more than just verbalizing an acknowledgment of something. It means to agree with God, to have the same mindset as God about something and to speak to the same conclusion as God. So, to confess Jesus is Lord, you are aligning yourself with God that Jesus Christ is Lord (Owner-Master) of your life, that you are now his possession, that your life now belongs to him, and your life now is surrendered to him to obey him in doing what he says.

By verbalizing it, you are not merely acknowledging that Jesus is Lord, but in Bible times, you were also signing your own death warrant. By publicly declaring that Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, is now Lord (Master) of your life, you are agreeing to be persecuted and to, perhaps, even be put to death for your faith in Jesus Christ and in his gospel message. You are making that choice to follow Jesus at all cost to you personally. If that is not what you are doing, then you aren’t really confessing Jesus is Lord.

And regarding believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, this is also so much more than just an acknowledgment of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, and especially it was so for a Jew in the days following Jesus’ death and resurrection. For a Jew in that day to make such a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ was, again, to sign his own death warrant. It was a total life commitment, not a casual thing. But for an American today, no such thought is usually expressed with regard to these verses.

But, again, we can’t pull these two verses out of context and build our doctrine of salvation around them. We need to look at all the Scriptures in the New Testament which teach on salvation and faith and eternal life, and we need to read them carefully and prayerfully, seeking the Lord’s face with willing ears and hearts to hear the truth that the Scriptures teach regarding our salvation from sin, for they teach repentance, submission, and obedience as necessary components of believing faith that saves.

For the Scriptures teach us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us and was raised from the dead. Jesus shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we would now honor God with our bodies. And Jesus put our sin to death with him on that cross so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but so we would be slaves of God and of his righteousness.

[1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15,21; 1 Co 6:19-20; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24]

They also teach, as was mentioned above, that if we continue living in sin, in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord, and if righteousness and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice, that we will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. For we are all going to be judged by what we do, and if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we sow to please the Spirit, then from the Spirit we will reap eternal life.

[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]

Pie Jesu

Songwriter: Andrew Lloyd-Webber

Merciful Jesus,
Pie Jesu,

Who takes away the sins of the world
Qui tollis peccata mundi

Give them rest, grant them rest
Dona eis requiem, dona eis requiem

Lamb of God
Agnus Dei,

Who takes away the sins of the world
Qui tollis peccata mundi

Grant them eternal rest
Dona eis requiem

Forever
Sempiternam

Requiem
Requiem

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