Openly Confessing

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
Romans 10:9-10 NLT

Paul announces two behaviours in these verses that will lead a hearer to salvation. It is useful to note the emphasis on “will” and “are”. Salvation is a word often used to describe our future relationship with God, free from condemnation and hell. There will be a day when everyone will stand before God to give an account of their lives, as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body”. Thankfully, those Christians whose names are recorded in the Book of Life will escape an otherwise terrible verdict from the Judge, who will otherwise consign the defendants to a place where they don’t want to go. Jesus knew about such a book, when He said to His disciples, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). More was written by John in his Revelation, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. … Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12,15).

So, we pilgrims have publicly made a confession of our faith, that “Jesus is Lord”. And Paul writes that if we sincerely believe “that God raised [Jesus] from the dead” in our hearts, then we will be saved, at some time in the future. Paul goes on to repeat what he has just written, to emphasise that believing leads to a right standing before God and this, coupled with an open confession, means we are saved. All good? So we stood before the congregation in our churches, perhaps at the time of our baptism, and made an open confession of our belief that Jesus died for us. Some churches call it a testimony. And I’m sure that, when we said it, we meant it. So that means we are saved, and will be saved, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not so sure.

The tense Paul used when he wrote these verses implies a continuing behaviour, not just a once only experience. So perhaps it might be a bit nearer the truth to consider Romans 10:9 as reading, “If you openly go on declaring that Jesus is Lord …” and “go on believing in your heart…”. Just think about it. Imagine the scenario of someone who makes a public confession of their faith in church on a Sunday but then, on the Monday, returns to their old sinful lives, effectively nullifying their testimony. Will they still be saved? This brings us into the “once saved always saved” argument, which is beyond the scope of this blog. I personally believe that through the grace of God we are saved and will be saved, should we confess our sins and believe in our hearts, as Paul wrote. And God, who sees the end from the beginning, sees right into our hearts and knows how sincere we are. However, someone who once made such a confession, no matter how real or otherwise, can also choose to abandon said confession by neglect or downright denial. It’s a matter of their choice, which God, in the end, will honour, no matter how reluctantly. But no-one really knows what will happen when we come before God. Martin Luther is credited with making the following statement, “First, there will be people in heaven I did not expect to be there. Second, there will be people not present in heaven that I was certain would be there. Third is the greatest surprise of all—that I will be there myself!

There is only one way that we can be saved. In Acts 4:12, we read, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved“. That is why Jesus came to this world. He Himself said, “ … I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). What Jesus said is totally exclusive. No other adherent of any other religion can be saved, unless they come to Jesus. That is why our mission as pilgrims in this world is so important, and why Christians suffer so much persecution. The devil does not want anyone to find Jesus and believe in Him, but other religions don’t trouble him much.

Today, in our workplaces, our communities, our families, let us declare our faith in God. Our lost and dying world needs to hear our messages of hope. All the other declarations and beliefs people hold, though they may be very important, will not lead to their eternal salvation.

Dear Father. You have ordained us to share what Your Son did for mankind. What a Saviour! You are an amazing God! How can we neglect such an important task? Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s