ROMANS 10:9 (1)
(from a manuscript of a sermon preached on 3/27/11 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 10, and let’s read verses 4 through 13:
Romans 10: (4) For Christ [is] the end of Law for righteousness to everyone that believes. (5) For Moses writes [of] the righteousness [which is] of the Law: The man doing these things shall live by them. (6) But the righteousness of faith says this: Do not say in your heart, Who will go up into Heaven? (that is, to bring down Christ); (7) or, Who will go down into the abyss? (that is, to bring Christ up from [the] dead.) (8) But what does it say? The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the Word of faith which we proclaim). (9) Because if you confess [the] Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from [the] dead, you will be saved. (10) For with [the] heart [one] believes unto righteousness, and with [the] mouth [on]e confesses unto salvation. (11) For the Scripture says, Everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame. (12) For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord of all is rich toward all the ones calling on Him. (13) For everyone, whoever may call on the name of [the] Lord will be saved.
In verse 8, we saw that the Word, the utterance, the doctrine, is NEAR us because we believe the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is NEAR us in our mouths and in our hearts. This ties right in with verses 9 and 10, which is where we will start today, the Lord willing. Notice that verses 9 and 10 continue the theme of the mouth and the heart. Let’s first look at some other passages in the Bible that make this connection:
1 Samuel 2: (1) And Hannah prayed and said: My heart has exulted in Jehovah; my horn has been high in Jehovah. My mouth has been large over my enemies; for I have rejoiced in Your salvation.
Psalm 19: (14) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing before You, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 49: (3) My mouth shall speak wisdom, and the thoughts of my heart [shall be] of understanding.
Pro 10: (8) The wise in heart accepts commands, but the foolish of lips shall be thrust away. … (13) Wisdom is found in the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod [is waiting] for the back of him who lacks heart. … (20) The tongue of the just [is] as choice silver; the heart of the wicked [is] as a little. (21) The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of heart.
We see here that the words “tongue” and “lips” are figures of speech that mean the same thing as “mouth.” They’re all the instruments of speaking.
Proverbs 15: (7) The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool [is] not so. … (14) The heart of the understanding one seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly. … (28) The heart of the righteous muses [how] to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Proverbs 16: (21) The wise in heart shall be called prudent, and sweetness of lips increases learning. (22) Prudence [is] a fountain of life to those who own it, but the teaching of fools [is] folly. (23) The heart of the wise makes his mouth prudent, and he adds learning on his lips.
Proverbs 17: (20) One crooked of heart does not find good, and he who [is] perverse in his tongue falls into evil.
Proverbs 24: (2) For their heart studies violence, and their lips talk of mischief.
Isaiah 32: (4) And the heart of the hurrying shall discern knowledge; and the tongue of those that stutter shall hurry to speak clear things.
Matthew 12: (33) Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by the fruit. (34) Offspring of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (35) The good man out of the good treasure of the heart puts forth good things. And the evil man out of the evil treasure puts forth evil things. (36) But I say to you, that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give an account of it in Judgment Day. (37) For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Matthew 15: (18) But the things which come out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and these defile the man.
Luke 6: (43) For there is not a good tree that produces bad fruit, nor a bad tree that produces good fruit. (44) For each tree is known from [its] own fruit. For they do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. (45) The good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart. And the evil man brings forth evil out of the evil treasure of his heart, for his mouth speaks out of the abundance of his heart.
We see in these passages how inextricably linked the heart and the mouth are. In fact, the only way we can judge someone to be saved is by what comes from that person’s mouth – what that person CONFESSES. Now I need to make sure no one misunderstands here. As we saw in some of the passages we just read, the mouth, the tongue, and the lips are all used to denote speaking. Yet even the word “speaking” has broad meaning. It doesn’t just mean the vocal cords and the tongue and the mouth all moving together to produce understandable sounds. “Speaking” is any form of understandable communication. It can be in the form of writing or typing or sign language or anything else in which a person communicates what is in his heart, his mind, his thoughts. So when I say that the only way we can judge someone to be saved is by what comes from that person’s MOUTH, I’m not just talking about oral verbal speech. And that’s the same way the Bible uses it. God SAYS things to His people through the written WORD. We still say that God “SAYS,” even though we do not audibly hear God speaking. When we read His Word, He speaks to us. Okay?
So now let’s go back to our passage in Romans. Verse 9 says:
Romans 10: (9) Because if you confess [the] Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from [the] dead, you will be saved.
The first word is “because,” which connects this verse to the previous verse, showing that the nearness of the Word in believers’ mouth and heart has to do with confession and belief. Then we come to the second word, which is a tiny little two-letter word that so many people have twisted to their own destruction. It’s the little word “if.” To many, this is proof of conditional salvation – that is, confession of the Lord Jesus Christ and belief that God raised Him from the dead is a PREREQUISITE to salvation, whether it’s justification or regeneration or conversion some combination. But let’s look at what this really means. The Greek word that is translated “if” in this verse is eh-AN, and it has a lot of meanings, including “before, but, except, and if, if, if so, so, whatsoever, whithersoever, though, when, whenever, whether, to whom, whosoever, as many as.” Now in this and other "if" passages, it is important to note that it does NOT imply conditionality in the traditional “one causes the other” sense. It implies a “given.” Let me see if I can make it more clear with some passages that use this Greek word: Let’s turn to John 11:9:
John 11: (9) Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of the world.
Do you see how this is NOT a conditional “if”? It is saying, "Given a person walking in the day, that person does not stumble.” It’s the same as saying, “Whoever walks in the day does not stumble,” or “Anyone who walks in the day does not stumble.” Let me give you some more passages without commentary where you can see the “given” in it:
Matthew 5: (13) You are the salt of the earth, but IF the salt becomes tasteless, with what shall it be salted? For it has strength for nothing any more but to be thrown out and to be trampled under by men.
Matthew 6: (22) The lamp of the body is the eye. Then IF your eye is sound, all your body is light.
Matthew 17: (20) And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, IF you have faith as a grain of mustard, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there! And it will move. And nothing shall be impossible to you.
Matthew 24: (23) Then IF anyone says to you, Behold, here [is] the Christ! Or, Here! Do not believe.
Mark 3: (24) And IF a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
Mark 10: (12) And IF a woman puts away her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.
John 5: (31) IF I witness concerning Myself, My witness is not true;
Acts 26: (5) who before knew me from the first, IF they will testify, that according to the most exact sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.
Romans 11: (23) And those also, IF they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in. For God is able to graft them in again.
1 Corinthians 5: (11) But now I wrote to you not to associate intimately; IF anyone is called a brother [and is] either a fornicator, or a covetous one, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a plunderer, with such a one not to eat.
1 Corinthians 11: (14) Or does not nature herself teach you that IF a man indeed wears long hair, it is a dishonor to him? (15) But IF a woman wears [her] hair long, it is a glory to her; because the hair has been given to her instead of a veil.
2 Corinthians 5: (1) For we know that IF our earthly house of [this] tabernacle is taken down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in Heaven.
1 Timothy 1: (8) And we know that the Law [is] good, IF anyone uses it lawfully.
James 2: (17) So also faith, IF it does not have works, is dead being by itself.
1 John 1: (6) IF we say that we have fellowship with Him, and we walk in darkness, we lie and are not practicing the truth. (7) But IF we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. (8) IF we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 4: (12) No one has seen God at any time. IF we love one another, God abides in us, and His love having been perfected is in us.
Do you see how this is not a “one causes the other” kind of thing? It does not imply a reaction; it implies a given with something else that necessarily goes with it. Take the last passage I mentioned: “IF we love one another, God abides in us, and His love having been perfected is in us.” Does this mean that we must love one another FIRST, IN ORDER FOR God to abide in us and to have His love in us? Does this mean that loving one another is a PREREQUISITE to God’s abiding in us and having His love in us? That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? It means that WHOEVER loves one another has God abiding in them and has His love in them. Do you see how that works? So the sentence, “If you believe you will be saved” is the same as saying, “Whosoever believes will be saved” or “Anyone who believes will be saved.” It doesn't say that in order to make yourself be saved, you must make yourself believe.
So back to our passage. Romans 10:9 is saying, “Whoever confesses the Lord Jesus with his mouth and believes that God raised Him from the dead will be saved.” Or if I put it in a formal logical statement, like the first part of a syllogism, it would go like this: “All people who confess the Lord Jesus Christ with their mouths and believe that God raised Him from the dead are people who will be saved.” Okay?
Now we come to a description of these people, and I want to split this into two sermons. In this sermon, I just want to go over the ACTION of confession and belief, and then in the next sermon, the Lord willing, I want to go into the CONTENT of the confession and belief. So let’s focus on the confession and belief itself. The Greek word for “to confess” is hom-ol-og-EH-oh, which comes from hom-OO, meaning “together,” and LOG-os, meaning “doctrine, word, communication, expression, logic, reason, or utterance.” The Greek word for “to believe” is pist-YOO-oh, which means “to have faith in, to trust, to commit.” So those who will be saved are those who confess and believe. Now some of you might be asking this: “Why does God use both confession and belief, where in other places He just uses belief?” That’s a good question. Notice in verse 11, it says, “Everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame.” And verse 11 is all part of the same thought that we’re going over. Yet it DOESN’T say, “Everyone believing on Him and confessing Him will not be put to shame.” What’s going on here? Well, this is similar to how Jesus Christ put things in Mark 16:16. Let’s turn over there:
Mark 16: (16) The [one] believing and being baptized will be saved. And the [one] not believing will be condemned.
Notice that He first mentions belief AND baptism: “The one believing AND being baptized will be saved.” Yet right after that, He says, “And the one not believing will be condemned.” He only mentions belief here. What about the one believing and NOT being baptized? It’s not mentioned here. Now baptism here of one who believes can be compared to the confession of one who believes in Romans 10:9-11. Yet Romans 10:11 does NOT mention one who believes but does NOT confess, just like this passage in Mark doesn’t mention one who believes but who is not baptized. Now in thinking of how to put this, I’ve found it very difficult to put it in such a way as to be understandable, and maybe some of you men could help me on this if it could be put in a better way. I’ll try to explain the best way I can, knowing that I’m probably not being as clear as I could be. Okay. The reason why Jesus Christ doesn’t mention those who believe and are NOT baptized is that baptism is EXPECTED to go along with belief as a TESTIMONY of belief. Those who believe will give a testimony of their belief inasmuch as they are able. Yet it is the BELIEF that is central, and that’s why only BELIEF is mentioned in the second half. The second half really explains the first half. Is anyone going to say that only believers who are sprinkled or poured on or dunked in water will be saved? That would be heresy. Yet we can’t just pass off the baptism piece here as unimportant. But I believe that baptism here isn’t just talking about what is done with water; I believe that it is a sign of obedience – of the works that spring from faith. So let’s go back to our passage in Romans 10. The reason why Paul didn’t mention those who believe and do NOT confess in verse 11 is the same reason Jesus Christ didn’t mention those who believe and are not baptized in Mark 16:16. Confession is EXPECTED to go along with belief, as it is a TESTIMONY of belief, yet it is the BELIEF that is central, and that’s why only BELIEF is mentioned in verse 11. Those believers who are able to confess with their literal mouths WILL confess with their literal mouths. But is Paul saying that every person who is unable to physically speak with his physical mouth is necessarily unsaved, because he cannot confess with his mouth? No, that’s not what he’s saying. Just as baptism is a sign of obedience, so confession is a sign of obedience. If a believer is unable to physically speak, he will still walk in obedience that springs from his faith. Am I making any sense? I hope so. But there’s a risk of downplaying actual verbal and written confession, and I don’t want to do that, either. Most adults and older children ARE able to make full confession, and it is ESSENTIAL. I just want to be clear about that. We’ve run into people who say they agree with us but who don’t want to go into any detail or even get offended when we ask that they go into detail. That’s a big red flag indicating the probability that they are ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I want to go to one more passage that emphasizes the importance of confession, which is Matthew 10:32-33:
Matthew 10: (32) Then everyone who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in Heaven. (33) But whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny him before My Father in Heaven.
Notice the juxtaposition: Jesus Christ talks about those who CONFESS in opposition to those who DENY. Now this is important to note. Because this is a contrast between believers and unbelievers, he is implying that there are only two kinds of people: CONFESSORS and DENIERS. All believers are CONFESSORS, and all unbelievers are DENIERS. Yet Jesus Christ also uses the phrase “before men.” The Greek word for “before” means “in front of, in the presence of, or in the sight of.” All believers confess Jesus Christ in the presence of men. And all unbelievers DENY Jesus Christ in the presence of men. There isn’t a third kind of person who is a believer but who does not confess Jesus Christ in the presence of men. There is either CONFESSION or DENIAL. But what about those who are unable to physically speak with their physical mouths? Are they necessarily deniers? Absolutely not. A believer who is unable to physically speak with his physical mouth or cannot articulate what he believes is STILL a confessor before men. In what way? He, like every believer, is a WITNESS for Jesus Christ, and he will CONTINUE to be a witness for Jesus Christ in the midst of trials and persecutions and accusations of men. Now the only way we’re able to judge someone to be saved is if that person is able to articulate what he believes. And by “articulate,” I’m not just including verbal expression, but I’m also including written expression or any kind of expression in which the person is able to put forth what he believes. What about a person who is not able to articulate what he believes? In that case, we do not judge that person saved OR lost; we reserve judgment. But if a person who has trouble articulating what he believes clearly DENIES the truth, then we can judge that person to be lost. So a believer who is not able to articulate what he believes may go through his life with no other believer judging him to be saved or lost. Yet that person STILL, in his own way, to his own ability, confesses, even though it is not enough of a confession for other believers to be able to judge him to be saved. I hope that’s understandable.
The next time, the Lord willing, we will go into the CONTENT of this belief and confession. What does confessing the Lord Jesus and believing that God raised Him from the dead really mean? It won’t be a big surprise to those who are believers, but it is certainly NOT what most who claim to be believers say it is. Of course, it’s the gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Jesus Christ alone. But we’ll get into more specifics next time, the Lord willing. Thank God that the Word is near us, in our mouths and in our hearts. Amen.