What must I do to be saved? That question is the subject of much debate and much confusion as you might expect. But in our lesson today Paul answers that question with plain, unmistakable clarity. He says,
if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Theres nothing confusing in that statement. A child can understand it and anyone can do it. Hes telling us that God has already done all the work. He has provided everything we need for salvation and now requires of us only that we confess and believe, assuring us that if we do we will most certainly be saved. So why is that so hard for so many people? All the work has been done and the response required of us is easily understood and quite doable, yet something inside the human heart still wrestles against it. Apparently, being saved is easy, but getting the human heart to take those steps is not. Confessing a Lord requires humility, a quality not initially present in most of us. And believing in a resurrected Savior means acknowledging my own desperate need and accepting as fact the most profound miracle imaginable. So the steps I need to take are simple, but preparing my heart to take them is not.
Paul isnt offering us mere words to recite here. Salvation doesnt come from a superficial prayer. Hes inviting us to make two deep heartfelt decisions
and to continue in those decisions for a lifetime: To confess Jesus as our Lord and to live out the implications of that confession, and to cling to Him as our risen Savior, trusting that He forgives us and is our righteousness no matter what condemnation and shame try to come our way. So simple, but yet so hard!
What does Paul say? (Ro 10:5-13)
In this passage Paul wants us to see that what Moses said was true about the Law (Torah) being understandable, available and doable (Dt 30:11-14) was even more true of the gospel. If Israel needed to employ their mouth and heart in the process then so do those who seek the righteousness of faith, only what we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart centers on Jesus rather than the Law.
v6 - Moses told Israel: You dont have to go up to heaven to find the Torah, God has already taken the initiative and come down to us at Mt. Sinai.
v7 - Nor do you have to search through other cultures or religions or visit distant foreign lands, God brought the Torah to us and wrote it in our own language with a simple clarity we can all understand.
v8 - All that remains for us to do is to recite the Torah so well memorize it and wont forget His commandments, and to meditate on them so we will know how to apply them to our own lives (Josh 1:8).
v5 - Through Moses, God promised that the person who loves Him, walks in His ways and keeps His commandments will have both spiritual life and prosperity.
This is a valid promise and would indeed be doable were it not for the fact that all of us have inherited Adams rebellious spirit, and our flesh is so full of powerful passions and appetites that no one is capable of reaching this high standard, no matter how hard we try. Knowing this, God provided another way to become righteous: it is the righteousness based on faith.
Paul says what Moses claimed about the Torah is true of the gospel as well.
v6 - We dont need to go up to heaven to ask Him to send a Savior, He already took the initiative to send His Son to us as a man.
v7 - We dont have to keep waiting for the promised Messiah whom death cannot hold (Ac 2:24-32; Ps 16:8-11), He has already been raised from the dead on the third day and has appeared to hundreds of people including Paul himself.
vs8-9 - All we need to do is confess Jesus as our Lord and believe that God resurrected Him from the dead.
v10 - To believe Jesus rose from the dead is to have faith like Abrahams (Ro 4:16-21; He 11:17-19) and therefore to be given the gift of righteousness as he was (Ro 4:3; Ge 15:6). Believing requires us to have genuine faith, and confessing Him as Lord requires us to submit to Him and have courage.
Of course, whats said with the mouth must accurately reflect whats true in the heart. Words alone mean nothing. To confess Jesus as Lord means living out a true submission to Him in every area of my life, refusing to deny Him when faced with persecution, and steadfastly declaring my allegiance to Him for a lifetime.
a) What its not: words I dont mean, a theological declaration about spiritual reality.
b) What it is:
1) It is declaring, inviting and surrendering to His Lordship in each area of my life. Is He Lord: At the Ys in the road (decisions); when temptation comes; when ministry is inconvenient or costly; over my speech when Im alone; over my money; over what I watch on the television and internet; over my sexuality; over the way I speak to my family and treat them; when Im the only Christian in the room.
2) Confessing Him in the face of persecution and danger, being willing to die rather than deny Him
(Rev 12:11) ...they overcame him (the devil) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
(Mt 10:32, 33) Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
3) Confessing Him for a lifetime. Not a one-time prayer that gives me a ticket out of hell, but my true condition until the day I die.
(Mt 24:13) But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
(2Ti 4:7, 8) At the end of his life Paul was able to say, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness
In addition to confessing Christ Paul says a person must also have genuine faith in his heart. And though that faith must include other essential truths about Jesus, none is more important than the belief that He literally, physically rose from the dead. Paul selects the resurrection as the capstone for our Christian faith because this is the miracle which indisputably proves the Father accepted His Sons sacrifice for our sins on the cross. Had Jesus remained in the grave our hope for eternal life would be dead as well (1Co 15:12-19).
a) What its not: convincing myself that a dead man came back to life in ancient times; mentally agreeing that a miracle must have taken place.
b) What it is:
1) Being totally convinced Hes alive because Ive met the risen Lord.
2) Putting my full trust, committing my hope for eternal life to the fact that Jesus died for me on the cross so that when God raised Him from the dead it meant my sins were completely forgiven and death and judgment passed away from me forever. Death has been conquered and I too will live for eternity with God.
Calling on God (Ro 10:11-13)
In these verses Paul makes it clear that anyone can be saved, and that God wants to save everyone. All a person need do is confess and believe, yet when we reflect on what that really means it appears too hard for us. But thats why God always sends the Holy Spirit when the gospel is preached. The gospel is not merely the communication of information. Its an invitation accompanied by an anointing. The Spirit comes and opens our understanding, He convicts and convinces, and makes us conscious that we are in Gods presence. Most of what transpires is unspoken. Decisions are made in the wink of an eye. Arguments we have used to avoid Him are dropped, the intuitive knowledge that we have had all along thats with us becomes conscious. Instinctively, we calculate the price well pay, and then we choose: to yield, delay or refuse. No matter how troubled our life has been, for that brief moment our will is free, the door is open, He reaches to us with open arms. Were free to confess Him as Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead.
1) What was your first response when you heard the gospel? Did you yield, delay or refuse? Tell us why.
2) Who was the first person to explain the gospel to you? A Sunday-school teacher, parent, grandparent, friend. Tell us about it.