| For More
HAS THIS PASSAGE EVER BOTHERED YOU?
by Bob Wilkin
In Romans 10:9-10 Paul seems to condition salvation upon faith
in Christ plus confessing Him--not faith alone in Christ alone.
Many evangelists today say that a person who is either afraid or
unwilling to confess their faith in Christ remains
unsaved. Imagine that. A believer being unsaved. Does that sound
Pauline? Biblical? Absolutely not. Earlier in the Book of Romans
Paul asserted that nothing can separate believers from the
love of God which is in Christ (Rom. 8: 38-39). Not even a
failure to confess Christ! Let's look at this key passage.
We can begin by observing that verse 10 is an explanation of
Notice, too, that what a person must do to obtain
righteousness is different than what he must do to obtain
salvation according to verse 10. One becomes a child of God and
positionally righteous simply by trusting in Christ as His
sinbearer (cf. Rom. 10:4). However, one is "saved" by confessing
Him. What type of salvation/deliverance does Paul have in mind
here (i.e., salvation from what?)? Verse 13 provides the answer.
Verse 13 is expanded upon in verses 14-15. Let's go to the
back of verse 15 and work our way forward. What comes first, one
being sent to preach or one preaching? The sending, of course.
What comes first, someone preaching or someone hearing the
message of deliverance? Clearly the preaching of the preacher.
What comes first, hearing the message or believing the message?
Obviously hearing must preceding believing. And finally, which
comes first, believing or calling upon the Lord? Clearly in this
context in this progression the believing must precede calling
upon the Lord. Take a moment and follow this progression in your
Now go back to verse 13 and answer the $64,000 question. To
whom, then, does calling upon the Lord refer, believers or
unbelievers? Yes, BELIEVERS! The salvation spoken of in verse 13
(and thus also in verse 10) relates to believers. It is dealing
with salvation from the wrath of God here and now, not
salvation from God's eternal wrath.
Thus verse 10 teaches both that unbelievers gain positional
righteousness by believing in Christ and that believers gain
salvation from temporal wrath by confessing their faith in Him. I
take it that calling on the Lord/confessing the Lord Jesus is a
sort of shorthand for obeying Him in both word and deed. This
confession/calling is neither a one time act nor an oath. It is a
life of obedience.
What, then, does verse 9 mean? Doesn't it condition salvation
upon both faith and confession? The key is in
understanding the theme of Romans. Paul was writing to tell his
believing Roman readers how one can escape (i.e., be saved from)
the wrath of God temporally and eternally. He reminded
them that one escapes the eternal wrath of God simply by
believing in Christ as his Savior. He also taught them that one
escapes the wrath of God here and now by living a godly life (cf.
Rom. 1:18ff.) A believer is thus secure eternally but not
temporally. That is, nothing a believer can do can lead to
his experiencing the eternal wrath of God (Rom. 8:38-39).
However, believers can and do experience the wrath of God here
and now by sinning. The more we sin the more we experience God's
Confessing Christ by my words and deeds is not a requirement
for salvation from hell. Rather, it is a requirement for
salvation/deliverance from God's wrath here and now. On the other
hand, Romans 10:9-10 affirms that salvation from God's eternal
wrath is by grace through faith alone. That's good news!
Return to Grace in Focus Newsletter