Romans 10:9 – two views

Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

The problem with that verse is that Christians interpret it quite differently and it divides Christians into two camps. One camp says it means salvation depends on something WE must do first, because Paul clearly says, “IF YOU confess and believe …. you will be saved.” It looks like salvation is conditional, that we are saved ON CONDITION that we confess and believe first. So if someone doesn’t confess and believe, it means they won’t be saved. What WE do toward our salvation, therefore, is very important. That’s the first camp.

The other camp says, “Not on your life, chum, read the context,” the context being Paul’s fellow Israelites (verse 1) who were going about salvation the wrong way BECAUSE they thought salvation was conditional. They thought salvation depended on them being “zealous for God” (verse 2) and establishing “their own righteousness” (verse 3) by obeying the law (verse 5).

But Paul says NO, Christ ended all that (verse 4) and now “righteousness comes from God.” It’s a gift, requiring nothing from them anymore. God had provided them with all the salvation and righteousness they could ever want or need in Jesus, BECAUSE “Jesus is LORD OF ALL and richly blesses those who call on him,” verse 12.

According to the second camp, then, Paul is telling his fellow Israelites that Jesus, in his present position as “Lord of all,” is in total control of our salvation. HE will take care of it. And anyone who recognizes that and says to himself, “Of course Jesus will take care of my salvation, because THAT’s what he was resurrected from the dead and made Lord of all FOR,” is on the right road at last to receiving from Jesus ALL the salvation and righteousness that only he can give.

With this in mind Paul would love his fellow Israelites to smack themselves on the forehead and say, “Oh I see. We get it. Jesus is Lord of all, so of course we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that he’ll save us. It’s guaranteed. And it was there all along in the Old Testament too, that ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame’ (Romans 9:33, Isaiah 28:16).”

The focus of Romans 10:9 according to the second camp, therefore, is not what we must do for salvation but what God has done for us in raising Jesus from the dead and making him Lord of all. And with Jesus as Lord of all, of course we will be saved.

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