ROMANS 10:9,10

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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Romans 10:9,10 is used commonly to prove if we once confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, we will go to Heaven. This is the point at which we are given our ticket to Heaven. How we behave after that is important but not critical.

ROMANS 10:9,10

That 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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9,10)

The above passage, isolated from its context, gives us a simple formula for salvation. We confess that Jesus is Lord; we believe God raised Him from the dead; and we are saved. We then defined “saved” as “go to Heaven when we die.” We could conclude that no matter how we behave after taking this step of confession and belief, we will go to Heaven when we die.

The problem here, is, these two verses were not meant to be a formula for salvation Rather, they are part of an epistle titled “The Book of Romans.” By all the laws of biblical interpretation, we must interpret a passage in terms of the entire context. We must attempt to get the sense of the author.

Given Paul’s comments in chapters 6 through 8, one could never be satisfied with interpreting Romans 10:9,10 to mean all there is to being saved is to confess that Jesus is Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead. One has to consider the preceding passages if he is to get the sense of these two verses.

Before we examine the statements in the verses that precede Romans 10:9,10, let us explain what we mean by saying prior chapters in Romans prevent the current use of the two verses as a ticket to Heaven. Consider the following.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)

If we, as a Christian, obey the lusts of our sinful nature, we will die spiritually. We will lose the resurrection life mentioned in Romans 8:11. Now, here is the question. Let us say a person confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead. Then the individual continues to follow the compulsions of his sinful nature. Will he or won’t he die spiritually?

Because the current teaching insists he will not die spiritually in that Romans 10:9,10 says he will be saved, the Christian churches of today are in a deplorable moral condition.

Now stop and think. If Romans 10:9,10 is Divinely inspired, why wouldn’t Romans 8:13, two chapters earlier, also be Divinely inspired?

Are they contradictory? Of course not. Romans 8:13 is absolutely true; so is Romans 10:9,10. Does one supplant the other? Not at all!

We might think of Romans 10:9,10 as being the entrance to the path of salvation. The only entrance into the Divine plan of redemption is the confession of Jesus as Lord and the belief that God has raised Him from the dead. Because God raised Jesus from the dead we are confident that Jesus is able to save us.

Now we have gone through the correct door, the door that leads to salvation. It is what comes after this that presents the problem.

By using Romans 10:9,10 as a ticket to Heaven, we are saying the entrance to salvation is the entire program of redemption. It is not. It is merely the entrance. Most of the New Testament is written about what we are to do after we go through the entrance.

One would think this would be obvious. It is not obvious at all! Most Christian people, as far as I can tell, are not aware what they do after their initial confession has genuine significance. May I say that as important as the initial step is, if the subsequent steps are not taken, the initial step will avail us nothing. We have died in the wilderness, so to speak.

Today we are placing far too much emphasis on the initial step of salvation. In the Pentecostal movement we say that the next step after salvation is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In actuality, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is part of initial salvation. We should believe, repent, be baptized in water, receive the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues, be healed if we need healing, and go on our way rejoicing that we have taken the beginning step of salvation.

But the salvation we have just entered must be worked out patiently and in the fear of the Lord.

Have we been saved at this point? Yes, and no. Actually, we are not finally saved until we endure to the end. “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” Isn’t this what Jesus, who is God in the flesh, informed us? Yet some today are challenging the statement made by the Lord Jesus, saying we do not need to endure to the end because we are saved by a sovereign grace. Thus they make God a liar! Sorry to be so blunt, but it is time we return to the Bible and believe what it states. Do you agree?

For myself, I would tremble to disagree with what Jesus said. Wouldn’t you?

The problem lies in our definition of salvation, as I have written so many times in the past. Salvation has little to do with going to Heaven. Salvation is not a change in where we are but in what we are. Salvation moves us from Satan to God, not from earth to Heaven.

All of us are on a continuum of salvation. Probably most of us are not entirely in Satan or entirely in God. Each day, if we are following the Holy Spirit, we are moving from Satan to God.

Romans 10:9,10 is the entrance to the continuum.

Can I be saved yesterday or tomorrow? Not really. Salvation is today. Right now you either are moving forward in the program of salvation, or the powers of darkness are moving you back toward Satan. The prevailing spiritual pressures do not permit us to stand still.

Remember, Ezekiel told us if a righteous person starts behaving wickedly, his righteousness will not be remembered. Conversely, if a wicked person starts behaving righteously, his wickedness will not be remembered.

Do you know what the above means? It means salvation operates only in the present. It is what you are doing now that is of interest to both God and Satan.

I know the unscriptural philosophy of Dispensationalism maintains that such Old Testament verses do not apply to Christians. But they do! The words of the Prophets are still true. They still are the Words of God. They will remain true when the present earth and sky flee from the face of Jesus Christ. That’s what Jesus said, and He is the Word of God, isn’t He?

So there is no such thing as a ticket to Heaven. It doesn’t exist. What there is, is a program of redemption that saves us from the bondages of Satan and brings us into the image of Christ and into untroubled rest in the Center of the Person of God and His will. How utterly marvelous!

When we tell people that Romans 10:9,10 is all there is in the plan of salvation we are shortchanging them to an incredible extent. We are dooming them to an eternal babyhood.

Now let’s see if we can grasp the mind of the Apostle as he wrote Romans 10:9,10.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)

We see right away that Paul is concerned about the salvation of the Jews. In both Romans and Galatians we notice that Paul is attempting to convince Jewish people that they no longer are under the Law of Moses. It is this emphasis, this argument, that reveals the meaning of Romans 10:9,10.

For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. (Romans 10:2)

Paul is seeking to bring knowledge to zealous people, people who were seeking to honor Moses and the law. They hoped to obtain righteousness by observing the Law of Moses and the accompanying traditions. Remember, this is what was in Paul’s mind when he wrote Romans 10:9,10. To remove the two verses from this context and apply them to Gentiles who are seeking a ticket to eternal residence in Heaven is quite inappropriate.

Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (Romans 10:3)

We would be in a much better position to understand the Apostle Paul if we had been taught from childhood that God wants us to keep all the statutes found in the Law of Moses. Righteousness is obtained by obeying the Law. This conviction was deeply ingrained in Paul’s readers in Rome. Try to put yourself in their frame of mind.

The issue is, can we obtain righteousness if we let go of Moses? Do we dare just believe God will esteem us as righteous if we are not observing the Law? Is there actually another source of righteousness of which we have been ignorant, while we desperately endeavor to keep all aspect of the Law?

Christ is the end of the law so there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

I don’t think the idea here is only that faith in Christ takes the place of the Law, although that is true. Also the Book of Hebrews tells us that the old covenant is passing away.

I believe it is true rather that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law. All of the Law is fulfilled in Christ so when we follow the Spirit of God we receive the righteousness that would have been ours had we kept the Law perfectly.

So it is not a case that the Law is imperfect; rather it is true that we cannot receive the righteousness of the Law except through Christ. And, I might add, not merely by believing in Christ or identifying with Christ but by receiving Christ into ourselves so He becomes our Life and directs our behavior.

Paul told us the Law is as a slave who bring us to the school where Christ teaches us. So the Law is good, but we can keep it only through Jesus Christ.

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” (Romans 10:5)

The Law provides commandments which a person could observe and thus obtain righteousness. But the Law did not fulfill God’s desires for a righteous people, because our sinful nature causes us to disobey the Law—even when we desire to keep all of its parts.

However, I think it is important to note that the Hebrews chapter 11, which is a record of people who lived under prior covenants, is our best definition of “the righteous shall live by faith.” No one has ever pleased God except by faith. There were times, as described in the Old Testament, when God did not accept the offerings of the Israelites because they were not presented in faith, only as a dead ritual.

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)” or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: (Romans 10:6-8)

The above three verses really get at the root of faith, don’t they? We don’t have to ascend into Heaven to obtain righteousness. We don’t have to descend into the deep to obtain righteousness. The righteousness we want is right there in our mouth and in our heart, as we speak and believe the word of faith. The righteousness that Paul longed for; the righteousness the Jews longed for; was right there in their mouth and in their heart.

That 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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9,10)

Now we can see what the passage means. It is not a formula that Gentiles can accept so we can go to Heaven; it is Paul’s instruction addressed to Jews who were attempting to gain righteousness through the works of the Law.

Paul is not emphasizing that all you have to do to be saved is to make the correct confession and believe the correct belief. Rather, Paul is moving the Jews away from seeking righteousness by the Law toward placing their faith in Jesus Christ.

In fact, the two verses are not really suited to Gentiles. The Jew would understand confessing Christ as Lord and believing in His resurrection was not an excuse to behave unrighteously. We Gentiles do not understand this. We think Romans 10:9,10 is just that—an excuse to live unrighteously and yet be accepted into Heaven when we die. We do not love the truth; therefore God Himself has deceived us.

Why has God deceived us? Because we should know better than to believe we have found a way to please God without repenting and living righteously. We are attempting to make God a partner in our evil ways.

The remainder of the Book of Romans proves beyond doubt that Romans 10:9,10 is not an alternative to righteous behavior.

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, (Romans 10:11,12)

God blesses everyone who calls on Him. Those who trust in Jesus Christ will never be put to shame. This statement might be difficult for the Jews in Rome to swallow. Paul is telling them that the playing field has been leveled. There is only one path to righteousness, and it is through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the same for the Jew and the Gentile.

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Here is another aspect of this “ticket” problem. We don’t confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, on only one occasion. We keep confessing the Lordship of Christ every moment of every day in our thoughts, in our words, and in our behavior.

We don’t believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, on only one occasion. We keep believing in our heart that God has raised Christ from the dead, every moment of every day.

We don’t call on the name of the Lord only one time. We call on the name of the Lord at all times in all that we do. This is what it means to live by faith.

Denominations are identified by their Statements of Faith. Such theological facts may have their use, but they tend to be counterproductive. They leave people with the idea they can assent to correct doctrine and then their eternal residence in Heaven is assured. This is not faith, it is nothing more than a dead mental assent to facts—facts that the demons know only too well.

When we really know the Lord and love the Lord, we know how entirely inappropriate it is to present Romans 10:9,10 as a formula that saves us once it is adopted. We understand Paul was reasoning with the Jews concerning their zeal for the Law of Moses, not giving us an alternative to enduring to the end.

We soon learn, as we follow the Lord each day, that the program of redemption operates as each smallest area of our personality is brought to our attention by the Holy Spirit so we can turn away from our sinful nature and receive the Virtue and Substance of Christ.

To be fully saved is, as I have stated, to be formed in the image of Christ and to be dwelling in untroubled rest in God’s Person and will. Anything short of this must be viewed as our coming short of the rest of God. It does not mean we are doomed to Hell, only that there is more ground for us to cover; more enemies to overcome.

The Apostle Paul toward the end of his life, after he had been saved and filled with the Spirit of God for many years, and had had an exceedingly fruitful ministry, claimed that he had not as yet arrived at the mark set before him. The old, experienced saint was pressing on! pressing on! pressing on!

Paul was pressing toward that for which Christ had called him.

Until we have attained to that for which Christ has called us, we are to press on! press on! press on! To not do so is to displease the Lord.

Romans 10:9,10 is the small gate. Now we are to be pressing forward on that pressured way that leads to eternal life.

(“Romans 10:9,10”, 3293-1)

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