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. —Romans 10:9-10, ESV
First, we have to confess. This involves much more than a simple acknowledgement of the existence of God. Even the demons acknowledge God! Confession carries the deep and abiding conviction that God alone is sovereign.
The proof of genuine conviction will be accompanied by repentance from sin, absolute trust in Jesus Christ’s ability and authority to provide the “way” to salvation, and an unapologetic submission to His Lordship. We do not “make” Jesus Christ Lord; He is Lord!
When we confess Jesus Christ as Lord, we place ourselves at the foot of the cross in absolute surrender to God who, through the Lord Jesus Christ, has made it possible for sinful man to be reconciled to a holy and righteous God.
Second, we have to believe. The act of “believing” carries the distinct idea of an ongoing spiritual condition whereby the human heart genuinely capitulates before the throne of God. This act of abandoned trust is the essential ingredient of saving faith because it recognizes that the sinner is totally incapable of providing what only God’s supernatural and gracious gift can give. It literally presents to a holy God a mind that understands and accepts the biblical truth about Jesus Christ. At the same time, it offers God a human heart that is humbled by the seriousness of God’s rejection of sin in any form. Such rejection lies at the heart of “the wages of sin” and means the complete condemnation of the sinner without remedy apart from God.
On the other hand, this act of abandoned trust is accompanied by a spiritual joy and gratitude because of the unimaginable mercy and grace of a loving God.
It should also be stated that the act of “believing” must be proven by the act of submission. When we “believe in our hearts” we are bowing our entire beings before a holy and righteous God. We are submitting our wills to the Lord Jesus Christ and trusting in Him as the only hope of our salvation.
Accordingly, the journey of Christian discipleship begins at this very instant of salvation, because we cannot submit to Jesus Christ as Savior apart from submitting to Him as Lord. Because He alone is Lord, it follows that He alone is sufficient in every way. His will is instantly supreme, and His glory and honor instantly become the priority in every way.
The believing heart is spiritually joined in the miracle of Christ’s resurrection. This is essential for salvation because Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate validation of His position as the “only begotten” Son of the living God and of His role as our High Priest. The resurrection proves that Jesus is exactly who He says He is. Furthermore, it provides the ultimate evidence that our salvation belongs to God! We believe the Father has accepted the sacrifice of the Son as full payment for the sin of man. Bottom line: without the resurrection, there would be no salvation.
So we are presented here an incredible picture of God’s love for all people. Because of the sin of Adam, all people will die eternally. But in Christ Jesus, we are made alive. This life comes to us because God “so loved the world.” Jesus Christ was born on earth, was crucified for our sin, and, by the power of God, was raised to life. In so doing, Jesus conquered sin, death and the grave. When we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved!
It is important to remember that everything to do with salvation belongs exclusively to God. He is both the author and the finisher of our salvation. Perhaps this is why Paul places such a powerful condition on what he is saying. I am always inclined to think of this as the “no ifs, ands or buts” of salvation.
The pure joy of these two requirements lies in the fact that we are all eligible to receive God’s amazing grace. And, once having been saved through God’s grace, all Christian people are called upon to share this wonderful Good News with all the nations of the world so that others can come to know Him, too!
©2012 Donald J. Wilton
Don Wilton is senior pastor of First Baptist Spartanburg, in Spartanburg, SC.
Used with permission.
The Scripture quotation marked ESV is taken by permission from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.