Confess in Context
Romans 10:9 is absolutely true. It states: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
It is true first and foremost, because it is Scripture – and God’s word is always true (Psa. 19:9, 119:151, 160; Jn. 8:31-32, 17:17; Rom. 3:4). It is true, secondly, because if you really “believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead” (Rom. 10:9), then you believe that He, Jesus Christ Himself, is none other than God in the flesh just as He claimed (Jn. 10:30), because Jesus said that He would raise Himself (Jn. 10:18).
It naturally follows then, that if you truly “believe in your heart” that He is indeed God in the flesh, that you cannot help but to “believe in your heart,” that He is both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). To thus claim to “believe in your heart” that He is both Lord and Messiah, and then at the same time to refuse to submit to and obey Him as such, would be a complete and total contradiction – and an absurd and fatal one at that – according to none other than that very same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself (Lk. 6:46-49). Obedience to His commands is how He said His disciples who truly loved and believed in Him would show their love for, loyalty to, faith in, and appreciation to Him (Jn. 14:6-23).
Much of His truth and its accompanying commandments which those who “believed in their heart” would later be given and hasten to obey because they truly loved and believed in Jesus as Lord, would come to them through the apostles’ teachings, shortly after the Lord’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Jn. 16:12-15; 17:20-21). One of His commands which those who truly “believed in their heart,” were willing to obey very quickly, would be the Lord’s requirement to “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of [their] sins” (see Acts 2:37-41), and thus be added by God to His Son’s church/saved group of people (Acts 2:47).
Again, just for emphasis’ sake: this is precisely what we see those who truly “believed in their heart,” the gospel which Peter preached, did in response; thus proving their heart-felt belief in, love for, and obedience to, the Lord Jesus Christ, as Lord. Just like the lost and sin-laden Saul of Tarsus when He came to believe in His heart that Jesus was Lord (see Acts 22:16), they did not delay either, but arose and were baptized specifically to have their sins washed away (forgiven), calling on the name of the Lord … which brings us right back around to what Romans, chapter ten, also says one must do to be saved, besides, and in addition to, confessing with the mouth and believing in the heart.
You see, we cannot simply pluck certain verses out of a chapter that lead to a certain conclusion, without giving other verses which lead to that very same conclusion, the very same level of exploration and importance. In other words, we cannot take the two elements of Romans 10:9 (confession and belief in the heart as saving us) without taking the other element (which those two things are meant to lead to) contained in Romans 10:13, as just exactly as essential to saving us at the same time; i.e., that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
One who honestly and sincerely confesses Jesus as Lord because they truly allow Him to be; and who truly believes in their heart that He is Lord, shall surely be saved… BECAUSE: it is exactly those sorts of folks who do love and trust Him enough to “call on His name” – AS HE DEFINED THAT IN HIS WORD – in order to be saved. How exactly did the Lord, through the Holy Spirit (2 Ptr. 1:20-21), define what it means to “call on His name” in order to be saved? Baptism – pure and simple. Look it up. It’s stated simply in Acts 22:16; shown clearly in Acts 2:21-41; and proven unequivocally in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, wherein it says that those who do not obey the gospel – that is to say, those who do not obey the death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-4), by being baptized and rising to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-11) – “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power when He comes, in that day” (2 Thess. 1:9).
According to Romans 10, what is the exact opposite of calling on the name of the Lord and thus being saved (vs. 13; which one does at the point of their baptism according to the word of God just as we’ve seen)? The exact opposite of that is NOT obeying the gospel (vs. 16; by NOT being baptized; by NOT symbolically obeying the death, burial, and resurrection, and rising to walk in newness of life just as we’ve also seen). Those in Romans 10:16 who had not obeyed the gospel by being baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38-41), had not therefore “called on the name of the Lord” as the Bible defines it and been saved (vs. 13; see also: Acts 22:16). This, simply because they had not truly “believed in their heart” what He as Lord had said in His word, enough to submit to and obey it, out of a love for and faith (or trust) in Him as Lord, Master, and Messiah (See vss. 16-17). This, despite what they might have said or thought to the contrary.
Honestly and sincerely confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and truly believing in your heart that He really is, cannot be said to be honestly and legitimately so – according to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and His Father’s holy word – until and unless one is willing to fully and truly submit to His Lordship, faithfully obey His commandments, and Biblically “call on His name” exactly as Acts 22:16 says, by being baptized (or obeying the gospel) specifically to have their sins washed away (or forgiven – Acts 2;38).
When one truly “believes in His heart,” as fully defined and depicted by God’s word in Romans 10:9-17 (and not just by taking one or two verses plucked out of their context and plunked down as all there is to being saved), then, and only then, can and shall they truly “be saved” (Mk. 16:16; Col. 2:12-13; 1 Ptr. 3:21).
In conclusion then, we see that Romans 10:9 is absolutely true, but only when taken and understood within its total, contextual, flow and location. The big and final, potentially fatal, and eternally life and death-determining question is:
Do you,TRULY believe, in your heart, that Jesus is indeed Lord – enough to submit to His lordship (Jn. 6:46-49; 14:15-23; Acts 2:36 + 41, 8:35-38), by faithfully obeying His commandment to be baptized specifically for the forgiveness of your sins and so become saved (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38-41, 22:16; 1 Ptr. 3:21) – or not (Ro. 10:16-17)?