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. (Romans 10:9, ESV)
Yesterday, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the defining event of the Christian faith. Easter has now passed, but its meaning for our lives is something that we should celebrate every day. As a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been given the hope of salvation.
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul talked about this hope and how we can secure it. Securing that hope takes action on our part, action that involves both inward and outward expressions of faith and trust. I will call that action the “math” of salvation. The “math” of salvation is this: “confess + believe = saved.” In Romans 10:9, Paul tells us that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, then we will be saved. Confess + believe = saved!
Let’s look at this a little more closely. When we confess something with our mouths, we are giving an outward expression of the trust that is within us. I love the way this is translated in the New Living Translation, which says, “if you openly declare that Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9, NLT). So what does it mean to confess or openly declare that Jesus is Lord? It means that we are acknowledging by our words that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. We are declaring to the world that we believe with our hearts and minds that Jesus is God made flesh.
When we add that confession of the divine sovereignty of Jesus to a heartfelt faith that Jesus was raised from the dead by God, the result is salvation. That faith, the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, is the inward expression of faith and trust. So which comes first? Before we can confess our faith and trust in Jesus as Lord, we must believe in our hearts that He is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead. When we have this heartfelt belief, we are justified or made right with God. We are then able to confess or declare that faith with our mouths and receive the gift of salvation (Romans 10:10).
Confession and belief are two separate steps to salvation. They are both equally important. We receive the gift of salvation by acknowledging to God that Jesus is Lord, that He is God and believing in Him. And this gift of salvation is available to everyone. Paul says that, when it comes to salvation, God makes no distinction between Jew or Gentile. Jesus Christ is not just Lord of the Jew or Lord of the Gentile. He is Lord of all. And everyone who calls upon His name will be saved (Romans 10:12-13).
Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.