Perhaps it’s time to put Romans 10:9 to bed. You know, the whole confess with your mouth thing.

confession-picThat if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9
When folks quote this verse in defense of eking out a confession, or should I say manipulating someone into repeating a prayer, it makes me uncomfortable.  It always has.  I’ll admit, I use to practice this all too common method myself.  But, when I think that I might have played a role in a convincing someone of their salvation when in fact they very well might not have been saved, it pains me.  Yes, actual and heartfelt pain.  

You see, the passage doesn’t say that “once you have confessed Jesus is Lord with your mouth, you are saved.”  People only think and act like it says that.

It actually says something more akin to this:

If you continue confessing with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord,” and continue believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will, in the future, be saved.

The point is this.  Had Paul wanted to say that a singular confession or utterance saved you in the moment you spoke it, he would have used different verb forms of the words “confess” and “believe.”  

What are the implications?  

 

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      • Yes Laurie,

        And by”put to bed,” I don’t mean “get rid of,” but put to sleep for a while and hope that it wakes up in a better mood.


    1. interesting. being saved/salvation is a pretty confusing concept as far as i can tell. saved from what… then there is being saved now vs saved from something in the future. And then can we lose either our present or future salvation.
      I guess i dont have a problem with making salvation here and now difficult and not down to repeating a prayer… but i do have a problem when people make salvation in future difficult and only for the select and faithful few. That said I tend to think in terms of future salvation of some yet future reconciliation of all.
      If salvation is all about heaven or hell when we die then it makes sense to promote salvation as an easy process, otherwise we have very little hope for the majority of mankind. It would be cruel in the extreme to say only a handful of people who believe and obey faithfully right up until they die have hope…. thats bad news to me and pretty much every non religious person i’ve met.


    2. I think the key word here is not “confess”, but “Lord” (master, boss, one in authority over me). If we are able to confess that He is this, then we will be saved.

      But obeying one order, or signing one paper, doesn’t make someone your boss. You don’t get employed, obey the bosses orders for one day, show up once a week pretending to do what you are supposed to do, and get a paycheck for the rest of your life. Nor do you say “I take this woman as my lawfully wedded wife” and then sleep with a different woman every night, and stay married. Or how about this: As a parent to your own son or daughter, how much respect would you expect to receive from them if you constantly promised to do this and that for/with them, and never lived up to THAT promise?

      It’s not the promise (confession) that you make, it’s how well you live up to it that counts. We all know talk is cheap in real life, why would it be any different in our spiritual lives?

      Verses like the one mentioned in this post are written to real people who live real life, and understand things like this. It’s our 21st century hyper-legal culture that insists on finding every possible loophole around responsibility that requires exact definitions for EVERYTHING so that we can sort out what we can get away with, and what we can’t.

      God knows this. He knows our heart, and he knows good and well whether or not he’s our Lord–just as well as our boss knows whether or not he’s our boss, and our spouse knows whether or not they are our spouse


    3. If we reject Chist, we will be rejected. We are reconciled to God through faith in Christ – but only if we continue to believe. We must continue in faith to be saved – persevere. That faith will enable us to obey God, and live lives right with God.

      John 3:16-18
      16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

      Colossians 1:22-24
      22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

      1 Timothy 4:16
      Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

      Romans 1:5
      Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

      1 John 3:9
      No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on
      sinning, because he has been born of God.

      John 3:36
      36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”


    4. Good point…I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the need to be verbal to have it take effect. What about someone who is mute?
      On the topic of salvation, I was just writing about it for my next eBook:
      I recall a teaching from my early days…yes, there were some good teachings…that has helped me sort out seemingly confusing verses about salvation. There are three tenses for salvation: I have been saved (redeemed, justified, etc.); I am being saved; and I will be saved. Those who have believed (accepted Christ; been born again; been converted) have already been saved in the sense that they have right standing with God and are freed from condemnation and judgment. Yet, for those same individuals there is a process of salvation in which they become more like Christ, sometimes called sanctification. Finally, there is coming a time when those same believers are ultimately saved—safe with Jesus, freed from the trials of this life and experiencing the life God planned from the beginning.


      • Yes Tom,

        There are three tenses to salvation as you have stated. My theological side wants to call them justification, sanctification, and glorification.

        As to glorification, I think Paul’s Question, “When will God deliver me from this body of death?” Speaks to the ultimate salvation.


    5. Miguel,

      You make it sound like salvation (in the sense of Romans) is a process.

      Paul is not talking about a process of constantly confessing Jesus as Lord to be saved.

      He is saying that if we believe in our heart and express that belief by confessing Jesus that we WILL be saved.

      Confession with the mouth is one expression of saving faith. It is not the only one. The important thing is that the heart latch on for dear life to Christ through a genuine saving faith that expresses itself through obedience and submission to Jesus as Savior AND Lord.

      Again…it’s not a process to be saved from the consequences of sin through the blood of Christ. Sanctification – yes, but not justification and forgiveness of our sins.

      The idea of salvation through a process is a very Catholic concept that is rooted in salvation by works.

      Carlos

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