At some point during the life of every believer, we doubt. We doubt if we have been saved, we doubt that we truly believed, and we even doubt if God exists. It is natural and a part of our growing process, and even the disciples doubted and questioned before the resurrection. Nevertheless, how do we deal with those times of doubt? What assurances can we look to in order to know that we are truly Christians? Here in Romans 10:9-11 Paul writes a simple confession that helps assure our faith.

because, 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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:9-11 

The first part of verse 9 tells the reader that in order to be saved one must confess that “Jesus is Lord”. While it may sound as though anyone could simply say these words and then go to heaven, of course there is more to salvation than just the words alone.

In Roman culture, they were very familiar with the idea of lords and ladies. Most of the Roman Empire was slaves and so referring to your master as “lord” was common. It was also used in polite conversation, and one would even call their Rabbi “lord.” But when Paul says that we confess Jesus as Lord he has more in mind than this cultural, positional, understanding.

In the previous verses, Paul has been discussing Old Testament Law and how it relates to faith. In the Septuagint (LXX) the translators used the Greek term for “Lord” when they translated the name of God (“YHWH”). In the mind of a Jewish person, this usage would have been immediately evident since the LXX was what most people read. In confessing, “Jesus is Lord” it is an admission that Jesus is God. It was this very same confession which the Jews in John 10:31 understood and so tried to stone Jesus. So we can ask ourselves, is this my confession? Do you admit that Jesus is God? This is only half the story though.

The second half of verse 9 states, “…and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead…” It is interesting that Paul links the admission that Jesus is God with belief in the resurrection, though when we consider the two it is a natural progression. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 Paul writes that, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” The resurrection is a necessary part of our beliefs because without it Christianity is pointless! Therefore, these two thoughts go together quite nicely. It is this foundational understanding that Paul points for the assurance that we will be saved. Yet, Paul does not conclude here but rather continues in verse 10.

In verse 10 Paul goes on to explain what he started talking about in the previous verse. As we observe this text, something stands out that we need to mention. In verse 9 the order was confession followed by belief, but in verse 10 that order is reversed. Now this is important because in doing so Paul is alerting us that these are not really two separate things. Rather, confession and believe are two sides of the same coin. This is clear by what he says in the verse.

Belief in the resurrection of Jesus results in justification. “But I thought justification was by faith?” One might ask, and you would be right. In Romans 3:28 Paul says this very thing, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” How does this work then? Do we have a contradiction? Not at all, because belief and faith mean the same thing. We believe by faith that Jesus died upon the cross for our sins and that on the third day God raised him from the dead. So what about confession?

Many different things have been said about Jesus through the years. People have said he was a good teacher, others that he was a prophet. Some people have even tried to deny that he ever existed! C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that there are only three possibilities when it comes to Jesus – he is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. We believe that he is Lord, and it is that belief that we confess. So why is confession of Jesus’ deity necessary? It’s not, rather it’s a natural outcome of our belief in who Jesus is and what he did. People can try to be “closet Christians” but it will eventually come out. Nicodemus tried to hide that fact, but in the end, he came with Joseph to bury Jesus’ body.

Finally, in verse 11 we have a wonderful affirmation that Paul quotes helping to solidify the promise that has been made. This quote is found in Isaiah 28:16 though it reads slightly differently – this is because Paul’s quote if from the LXX version of Isaiah. The shame here has the idea of not being disappointed. When we place our faith in Jesus, we can be sure that we will be saved.

I know that in the periods of my life when I have questioned my salvation God has pointed me to these verses because of the simple truth that they contain. Even in my darkest moments of doubt, when all seems lost, I have been able to affirm that I believe in Jesus. I believe in his death on the cross as a propitiation for my sins and while I may question what is going on in my life there is comfort in these verses. If we have put our faith in Jesus we will have eternal life.

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