In light of Romans 10:9-10, which says that if you confess Jesus as Lord, with your mouth, you will be saved, people want to know if this is a command. Must we confess Jesus with our mouths as Lord to be saved? No, we don’t because it is not a strict formula. Let me quote the verse and explain what’s going on.
Romans 10:9, “that 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.”
First, the verse does not say that you must confess Him with your mouth to be saved. It says that if you do it, you’ll be saved. There is a difference. Paul is stating a normative condition of a person appealing to Christ, confessing Him as Lord, and believing. It is not a formula of words that makes you saved. It is the condition of the heart where God has granted that you believe (Phil. 1:29) and granted that you come to Christ (John 6:65).
Second, what about conditions where a person cannot speak? Some are mute. There are those in hospitals on their deathbed who have tubes in their mouths and cannot talk. Are they ineligible for salvation because they cannot confess Jesus with their mouths? Of course not.
Third, what if a person does not know about the Lordship of Christ, his deity, or his resurrection (not that he is rejecting them)? Can such people be saved in their ignorance? I once met a woman who was a faithful Mormon. She was driving on the freeway and happened to be listening to a Christian radio station playing worship music. She said that the words and the fellowship the people enjoyed with the Lord Jesus touched her deeply. She realized she didn’t have that fellowship with Jesus in Mormonism, and she wanted it. So, she stopped on the side of the freeway. There, she bowed her head and asked God to give her what the people in those worship songs had – that relationship with Jesus. She said instantly she knew Mormonism was false and that Jesus was Lord. From that moment on, she was born again.
Now such a story doesn’t prove anything because it’s just a story. But I remember this woman and her testimony of Jesus. She was learning who he truly was in relationship to the Trinity. And she denounced Mormonism. So, it would seem apparent that she was truly, saved-though I could not read her heart. But she did not specifically follow the wording of Romans 10:9. I believe she was saved.
Fourth, Romans 10:9 is not a complete message for salvation. We know that we’ve all broken the law and sinned. We know that the judgment of that sin is separation from God. We know that we are to receive Christ (John 1:12) and be justified by faith (Romans 3:28; 4:5; 5:1). But justification by faith alone in Christ alone is not taught in Romans 10:9. Furthermore, there is no mention of repentance. So, it is not a strict and mandatory formula for salvation. Instead, it recognizes those who confess to Christ as Lord and are saved in that confession.
Romans 10:9 is speaking normatively, but it is not a formula that must be uttered verbally to be saved. Of course, Christians should confess Jesus as Lord. All who believe that He died on the cross, rose from the dead, and that he is their Lord will be saved. To God be the glory.
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