Romans 10:9 …if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved… 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (ESV)
Not only will a Christian confess Christ as Lord, but a Christian will believe in the resurrection.
The resurrection is the most fundamental truth of the good news about Jesus. Listen to what the Bible has to say about the importance of the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15.14, 17 If Christ was not raised from the dead then neither our preaching nor your faith has any meaning at all…and if Christ did not rise your faith is futile and your sins have never been forgiven. (Philips)
1 Peter 1.3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (ESV)
Acts 17:31 God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed (Jesus). He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. (NIV)
Without the resurrection, Jesus is just another human being claiming to be a god.
But the fact that Jesus overcame death through resurrection – something He had earlier predicted would happen – is first of all an expression of His power and authority, and furthermore means that anything else He said is also true.
It also means that Christ is a living Savior.
So, who is a Christian? A Christian is a person who confesses Christ as Lord and believes in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
Let me add these words of caution:
For at least the last three generations, evangelicalism (at least the Southern Baptist brand in which I was raised) has taught that if a person confessed Jesus as Lord and believed that God raised Jesus from the dead, then they could be assured of salvation. They taught that Romans 10:9-10 was a promise of God that He could not and would not violate – that if we confess and believe, God is obligated to save.
Yet please note that God is never obligated or indebted to man in any way. The only restraint on God is that He can never violate His own nature and character. But nothing that man can ever do could cause God to be in his debt.
Furthermore, Christianity is not about magic. There are no magical incantations that can invoke the power of God or alter the will of God. These verses do not mean that a person who simply says “I believe that” or “I confess Christ is Lord” or “I believe in the resurrection” will automatically become a Christian.
Simply because a person confesses that Christ is Lord and believes in the resurrection does not mean that that person can automatically claim to be a Christian. To believe this is to ignore what the Bible says about obedience.
In James 2:14, James asks, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith (he makes a profession of faith or announces that he believes) but does not have works? Can that faith (believing) save him?”
In other words, if a person claims to have professed Christ as Lord, but there are no visible signs of spiritual growth, no fruit of repentance, and no active involvement in ministry in that person’s life, did their confession lead to salvation?
Instead of me answering that question for you, let James, the brother of Jesus, answer it for us.
James 2:17 So faith (belief) by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James is not contradicting Paul’s writing that we are saved by grace not works. But James is saying that a profession of faith that is not supported by the practical application of that faith to good works is not a profession of faith at all and is useless for purposes of salvation.
In fact, James is simply reinforcing what Jesus himself taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Churches all over America are filled with people who claim to know Christ as Savior, but all they truly know is something about Christ as Savior without knowing salvation. The evidence is that they have never lifted their hands to serve Christ or opened their mouth to share Christ with any other person, and do not live their lives as if they were filled with resurrection power.
That is why the world is confused about the definition of Christian – because those who call themselves Christian live as though they do not understand the term themselves.
Romans 10:9-10 means that, if a person is a Christian, they will do these two things without a doubt:
Firstly, a person who is truly saved will confess the lordship of Christ over all other kingdoms, principalities and powers, and they will confess Him to family, and friends, and co-workers, and other students, and even strangers who cross their path on a day-to-day basis. Confession will be their lifestyle, not a one-time or sometime event.
Secondly, they will act on their belief in the resurrection.
A person who is truly saved will know that Christ has overcome death, revealing to the world that Christ is the only true God and is more mighty and powerful and authoritative than any other god ever conceived in the mind of man.
Once people truly comprehend the power of the resurrection, they will have no fear of the world or of persecution or of ISIS or any other group that threatens their well-being, including, at times, our own government, or of a lone gunman who stands up in the congregation and just begins shooting at random.
Why? Because the Christian knows…
- That Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords
- That Jesus, by His resurrection from the grave, has overcome death and the grave and has absorbed within Himself the penalty of our sin