19th May 2021
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9 (NIV)
I remember in my teens a new Pentecostal church started in my city. It attracted a lot of the younger generation because of the modern music and nontraditional worship styles. The more enthusiastic new members went around impressively reciting scripture and winning souls for Christ. The even more dedicated members had a slightly more aggressive approach. Some went about frequently announcing how anyone who has not recited Romans 10:9 was going to burn in eternal hell fire. One of my more mule headed acquaintances found themselves in the receipt of a “laying of hands” as the evangelist tried to “cast out the demon” preventing them from receiving salvation.
I am in no way criticizing the actions of the evangelists. The underlying intention was clear and understandable, applauded even, however a different approach for example interpretation of the scripture rather than forced recitation may have been better received, in some cases.
The verse calls us to confession and belief. The first part implies the need for us to make a public declaration. Why would we need to do this if God evidently knows the truth of what we truly believe in our hearts? This public declaration is an opportunity for us to acknowledge to others our relationship with Jesus as our Lord. When we win souls for Christ simply because people attribute aspects of our lives to our association with Christ how amazing is that?
The public declaration is an outward sign of the internal belief expressed in the second part of the verse. The belief that God raised Christ from the dead is not as simplistic as it sounds. There are many layers to this belief. It implies belief in all the events preceding the resurrection; Christ was resurrected because God deemed the price he paid for our sins acceptable. He died to be the atonement for our sins and our source of reconciliation. His death implies that he was alive, in human form, though still God. While he lived, he preached and taught and performed miracles. If he was alive it was because he was born of Mary. The profound life of Christ was foretold in various points throughout the bible. The belief means an acknowledgement of all these things.
Christ died for our salvation. As we recite the verse and share it with others, we should be fully aware of the weight behind the simple words.
Lord Jesus, your sacrifice made possible atonement for our sins and our reconciliation with God. Grant that we have the courage to share this message with others in a way that best speaks to them.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen