The Forum

The Forum

Dear Editor

On Page 205 of the November 1959 issue of Food for the Flock, in the article “Divine Worship” by Nelson Brooks, we read, “A similar response to the gospel of Christ is necessary for salvation today.” Romans 10:9 is then quoted. I, too, believe that a response to the gospel of Christ is necessary for salvation. However (and this is an honest inquiry), would not you say that one would have to be born again to confess that Jesus is his Lord, and to believe in his heart that God raised Him from the dead?

Thank you for any help that you may be able to supply on this subject.

Sincerely in Christ,
H. A. H.

Dear Brother,

That Romans 10:9 is speaking of the simple yet divine means whereby a soul may be saved is proven by the context. It is placed in the centre of three chapters dealing with Israel. Romans 9 explains God’s sovereign dealings with Israel; Romans 10, God’s offer of salvation to Israel in the present; Romans 11, God’s faithfulness to Israel in the future.

The first verse of chapter 10 assumes that certain Israelites are not saved, for Paul prays that they might be saved. Verse 12 asserts that there is no difference in the way of salvation for a Jew than for a Gentile, as in chapter 3:23 both were shown to be sinners, so here both may be saved in the same way.

The intervening verses describe what is required on the part of any sinner for salvation. The words of Moses in verse 5 sum up in one forceful word, “doeth,” the Jewish effort to attain a righteous standing before God. Verses 6-8 contrast with this the way of salvation that God has provided, it is by faith in a finished work. We do not have to scale the heights (ascend to heaven) or sound depths, for that would put honour upon human ability. Christ has done all this. The word of salvation has been brought very near and pressed upon us.

Then Romans 10:9 proves that the experience of salvation results from only two things, consent and confession, our consent to God and our confession to men. The consent without the confession is not enough, one without the other indicates unreality. These statements are confirmed by verse 10, “For with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Compare with this Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

Let us now examine Romans 10:9 clause by clause. The first one, “If thou shalt confess.” Salvation is for the individual. Although the passage generally deals with the nation of Israel, the invitation of salvation is to the individual. The “if” in this verse indicates the attitude of the sinner to God’s terms. Romans 9 deals with God’s sovereignty in election, but Romans 10 with the sinner’s responsibility to accept God’s offer.

A second expression to examine reads in the Revised Version, “Confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord.” To confess Christ as Lord implies, first, the acknowledgement of Christ’s Deity. On earth Jesus was addressed as Lord often merely as a title of courtesy equivalent to sir (sometimes so translated), but now when used of the ascended One it implies Deity. “God hath made that same Jesus …Lord” (Acts 2:36). None can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3). It implies, second, subjection to His sovereign will. To many who were fully instructed in the facts of the gospel, the principle point in their conversion seems to have been the bowing to Christ as Lord. For example, in Paul’s conversion his first words were, “Who art Thou, Lord?” and these were followed by, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”

Let us consider another important part of this verse “Believe in the heart that God hath raised Him from the dead.” Observe that here there is no mention of death, but only of resurrection. Death does not of itself imply resurrection, but resurrection does of necessity involve death. Our faith is directed to the one great event that proved beyond doubt Christ’s Deity and the perfection of His sacrificial work upon the cross. Belief in Christ is the simple condition required of the sinner for salvation (John 3:16). In Romans 10:9 belief is qualified by the phrase, “in the heart.” How does a person believe savingly? Not with the head only, for the Scriptures unequivocally infer the action of the heart. Such action marks the difference between placing faith in a fact and committing oneself, body, soul, and spirit, for life and death, to another.

The Word of God makes mention of two kinds of faith: that which has not root, the act of the professor who for a while believes (Luke 8:13), and that which results in salvation (Hob. 10:39). For example, James 2:17 speaks of dead faith and John 2:23 tells of many who believed on Jesus’ name when they saw the miracles which He did. Of these we read, “Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men.”

Contrast with this Peter’s confession of true faith, “We believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69). The Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion was tested by the question, “If thou believest with all thine heart.”