“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” – Romans 10:9

Saved? What does it mean to be “saved”? Why does anyone need to be “saved”? What does it take to be saved? These are questions that may seem perplexing but are of eternal significance. God has gone to great lengths to answer these questions and make it possible for people to be saved. He devoted an entire Book to these questions inspired and revealed through 40 different human writers over 1500 years. He has worked tirelessly throughout history to show humanity how much He loves them and that He wants to have a relationship with them that will never end. Most importantly God has sent His only Son Jesus Christ to make the way for all of this to happen.

Answers to these questions can be found in Romans 10. This chapter will tell us not only what it means to be saved, but how we can be saved. In this chapter we will learn what isn’t enough as well as what is enough to be saved.

To begin we need to ask “saved from what?” Why do we need to be saved and from what? Simply put, we need to be saved from the righteous and just judgment of God that is the destination of all sinners. We may think we are a good person, but are we good enough? The Bible says, “No” we are not. Our standard of what is “good” and acceptable for heaven is likely something drastically less than God’s holy standard. God’s standard is 100% perfection. He expects people to be perfect like Him (Mt. 5:48). God’s standard is Jesus. If we want to get into heaven, we have to be as sinless as Jesus (John 16:8-11). God’s standard says if we break one of His laws, we’ve broken them all (Gal. 3:10; James 2:10). And the truth of the matter is that there are none righteous, no not one, all have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard to get into heaven (Rom 3:10, 23).

A simple comparison of our lives to the Ten Commandments exposes our sinfulness (cf. Exodus 20). Who of us has always only worshipped the LORD in a way worthy of Him? Who of us hasn’t worshiped things and others more than Almighty God? Who of us hasn’t bowed before idols of one kind or another? Who of us has never ever taken the LORD’s name in vain? Who of us has kept the Sabbath or at least regularly taken a day off to rest in the LORD? Who of us has always honored our parents never once disrespecting them? Who of us has never had a hateful or lustful thought toward someone? Who of us has never stolen anything? Who of us has never lied or coveted something that belongs to someone else? You may claim innocence for one or two of these, but it only takes one offense once to disqualify you and put you on the wrong side of God. That is His holy standard.

The Bible says if we break just one of God’s Commandments it is as though we have broken all of them (Gal. 3:10; James 2:10). The Law of God is like a chain anchored in heaven with us on the other end. Break one link, and you plummet. If we don’t measure up, judgment awaits us. God is holy and of purer eyes than to look on wickedness (Hab. 1:13). He is just, perfectly just, and because of that He can’t and won’t just look away or overlook sin. Sin, because of the pain it causes is something God is angry about (Ps. 7:11). He is just and true, the most righteous of Judges (Rev. 15:3). If we regard iniquity in our hearts He won’t hear our prayers; the channels of communication are broken (Ps. 66:18). Our sins have created an impassable chasm between God and us (Is. 59:2). The soul that sins will die eternally (Ezek. 18:20). Those who sin are sinners and the Bible states all a sinner has to look forward to is, “a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:27). Such a predicament requires salvation.

In the mid-18th century (1730s) a Congregational Pastor by the name of Jonathan Edwards was used by God to spark what came to be referred to as The Frist Great Awakening in America. The sermon He preached, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, is famous for being used by God to bring conviction on complacent sinners. His words read in today’s politically correct environment seem harsh and pointed, not very politically correct. But God used them to wake up a colonial society and some trace the passion for the birth of our nation to this Great Awakening.

We tend to water down the plight of the sinner. Some ministers and some ministries don’t even mention sin for fear of offending people. Some churches and ministries have become so “seeker friendly” that they make friends but are impotent ins saving people from their sins. In light of the plight of the sinner, that is not only negligent but cruel. We can’t afford to ever be so friendly to the seeker that we do nothing to warn and exhort them to turn from their sins to God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “I tell you the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh. . .. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 9:1-3 and 10:1). Paul said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” Should our passion for the lost and our countrymen be any less than that? If we do not have a passion for the lost, to see them saved, we should pray for God to give us that passion.

Jonathan Edwards had that passion. So did others like George Whitefield, John Wesley, Francis Asbury and many more throughout history. Revivals are a work of the Lord in society. But when a revival comes God usually starts it by putting a fire in the bosom of a person, a passion for souls. Though Edwards was not known as an animated speaker, but he had a passion for God’s holiness and genuine true Christianity. And because of that, when he saw lukewarm Christianity and the outright debauched sinners of his day, God’s passion in him moved him to take action. And that Spirit led action began in the powerful uncompromising words of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Why must we be saved? What is the plight of someone living in sin or who has no care for the things of God? Edward’s words are a wake-up call to those living in sin. His words are like ice water thrown on the slumbering soul. They are like hot coals under tender feet. As you read the quote below it is shocking to our modern sensibilities. It is indeed shocking, but maybe it’s necessary. We have become so concerned about not offending people that we don’t tell them of the peril facing the sinner. The words below are hard and jagged, but we have swung the pendulum of our Gospel presentations too far in the opposite direction. We’ve become soft on sin. We overlook immorality and hedonism. We embrace greed and coddle covetousness. When was the last time you heard a sermon or heard anything concerning holiness and the holiness of God? We change the words of our Bible translations and alter the words we use in our ministry conversations in order to soften the truth and in the process, we’ve lost the truth. Read these words and do so prayerfully. Read these words and ask the Spirit to help you glean the truth. Chew the meat and spit out the bones. But do consider the truth enclosed therein. Read some of what God moved Jonathan Edwards to write about the impending peril of the sinner. Edwards wrote:

  • “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear you in his sight; you are ten thousand times as abominable in his eyes as the most hateful, venomous serpent is in ours.
  • You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince, and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else that you did not got to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell since you have sat here in the house of God provoking his pure eye by your sinful, wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.
  • O sinner! consider the fearful danger you are in! It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath that you are held over in the hand of that God whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of Divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it and burn it asunder. . ..
  • It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite, horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see along forever a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul. And you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages in wrestling with this Almighty, merciless vengeance. And then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point [dot] to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite.
  • Oh! who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it. It is inexpressible and inconceivable: for “who knows the power of God’s anger”!
  • How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh! that you would consider it, whether you be young or old!
  • There is reason to think that there are many in this congregation, now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape.
  • If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing it would be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him!
  • But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell! And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons that now sit here in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, and quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning![1]

Wow! That’s scorched earth preaching for sure. I doubt very much if those words would be well received in any church in our nation today. These are hard words from a much different era. And they likely wouldn’t work today. But you know what, these were hard words even for those who heard this message for the first time. The impact of such words was undeniable. I don’t know how true it is, but legend has it that some of those listening to Edward’s message for the first time, clung to pillars in the church for fear of falling into hell. We don’t hear sermons like that today. And we don’t see responses like that in our day either. God used Edward’s message to wake up causal sinners and those asleep in their sins. I think the pastors and evangelists and the Christians of today need to go to their knees and pray first for a passion for lost souls, second for the empowerment and leading of the Holy Spirit to reach those lost souls.

The sinner lives in peril. No one knows the day or hour of their death. Accidents, fatal accidents, do happen. Terminal illnesses are a reality. Death happens to young, middle aged, and old alike. Death can be sudden and is usually unexpected. “And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Are you ready to stand before God and give an account for your life? With Jesus you’re ready. Without Jesus you’re not. Jesus is the only way and the only One who can save us from the consequence of our sinfulness. That’s why a person needs to be saved. You can reject that but to do so you would have to reject God’s certain word and rely on uncertain human opinion. Human research and the opinion of the greatest minds once thought the world was flat, at the center of the universe, and that the moon was made of cheese. Is that what you want to trust instead of God’s unchanging word?

On our own, because of our sinfulness, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). This begs another question. Why be saved? Is salvation only a matter of avoiding God’s judgment? That is a big part of salvation. That is what a person has to be saved from. But salvation is more than that too. Salvation is being saved to something. What are the positive benefits of being saved?

In the first few verses of Romans 5 Paul lists seven benefits of salvation. The person who is saved acquires: 1. Peace with God (5:1); 2. Access to God’s grace (5:2); 3. Joy (5:2); 4. Hope (5:2); 5. Power to persevere (5:3); 6. Character building (5:4; see Heb. 12:1-15); and 7. Spiritual life evidenced by love (5:5). What you will learn about God’s salvation should you choose to receive it, is that it is always “much more” than you think or expect it to be (e.g. Romans 5:9, 10, 15, 17, 20). And beyond the seven things we just mentioned is the promise of a personal saving relationship with God in Christ.

Salvation means not only saved from the just penalty for our sins, it means receiving eternal life (John 3:15-16; 10:28; Rom. 6:23). Once a person dies they don’t cease to exist. They either go to eternal life or eternal punishment (Mat. 25:46). Jesus said He came to give eternal life (John 17:2). He described that eternal life as knowing God. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The apostle Paul said, “. . . for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12). The apostle Peter stated, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). The apostle John said, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3-4). [2]Could there be anything better or more valuable than personally knowing God?

The positive benefits of what we are saved to, coupled with what we are saved from should be incentive for us to seek salvation. How can we be saved? Let’s answer that question by first looking at Romans 10 and seeing what isn’t enough to save us.

First, national identity isn’t enough to save us (10:1). “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” Being Jewish isn’t enough to save us any more than being American, English, French, Chinese, Russian, Indian, Iranian, Saudi Arabian, Nigerian South African, Mexican or Brazilian or any other nationality will. You aren’t born into salvation and eternal life; you must be born again into God’s Kingdom (John 3). That’s what Jesus said.

Second, zeal or sincerity isn’t enough to save us (10:2). “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” There are a lot of sincere and zealous people in this world. If zeal was all that was necessary to enter heaven, then Muslim homicidal bombers who blow up innocent victims would go to their paradise and enjoy their lustful fantasy of 70 perpetual virgins. That is not the case. Zeal without knowledge, (zeal without God’s truth and knowledge based on His inspired authoritative word) is impotent to save.

Third, opinion isn’t enough to save us (10:3a). “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness.” Human opinion or guesswork in what will get us to heaven is never enough to save us. We don’t come to God on our terms but on His terms. It is His holy house of heaven that we are seeking to gain entrance to. God is hospitable and invites all to come in, but they must come on His terms. Our standards or opinions of righteousness are completely out of sync with God’s holy standard.

Fourth, our own righteousness isn’t enough to save us (10:3b-5). Romans 10 states, “and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” We can never be good enough or measure up to God’s perfect standard by what we do or try to do. Good works and our best effort isn’t enough to save us because it is never good enough, it is never perfect (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).

Fifth, intelligence isn’t enough to save us (10:6-7). But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” Paul refers to Deuteronomy 30:11-14 where God inspires Moses to state that He has not made his will and way mysterious or unattainable but has made it very reachable. You don’t have to be a genius to be saved. There have been many who have received salvation without even being able to read!

Sixth, faith alone is not enough to save us (10:8). 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 preach): . . .” Some people have faith in faith. They think that any sincere or religious expression of faith is sufficient to be saved from their sin. In this case, faith alone does not save but faith in Jesus alone saves.

Seventh, confession alone is not enough to save us (10:9). that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Some people have an outward profession without an inward reality of what they profess. Jesus referred to such people as tares (Mt. 13:24-30). A tare looks like a kernel of wheat on the outside but on the inside it’s empty. Outward efforts and works, rituals, ceremonies, spiritual talk, none of it is sufficient to save.

So, what is required to be saved? How can we be saved?

First, you must have an open heart (10:8).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 preach): . . .” Simply, we need an open heart to receive the salvation provided to us by God. And this open heart is not something we can take credit for. There is no work we do to be saved. It is God who draws us to Himself (Jn. 6:44). He draws us in His love (Jer. 31:3; Hosea 11:4). It is the love of God that sent Jesus who draws us to Himself as Savior (Jn. 12:32). It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sin and convinces us of our need of a Savior (Jn. 16:8-11). The still small voice of God beckons us to come and reason with Him about our predicament of sin (Is. 1:18). The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked and on its own would never seek God (Jer. 17:9-10). God by His grace draws us and offers us the gift of salvation in Christ.

Second, you must believe in your heart that Jesus has been raised from the dead (10:9-10). that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Remember, faith or belief alone is not enough to save. Even demons have a kind of belief (James 2:19). No, the faith or belief that saves is an acceptance and trust in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. The resurrection is God’s imprimatur or seal of approval on the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. God’s plan is that One, Jesus, died for all that all who believe in Him might be saved and live eternally with Him (2 Cor. 5:14-21). Jesus paid the death penalty debt we owed by dying in our place on the cross (Rom. 6:23). The resurrection of Jesus is the proof that on the cross Jesus defeated the final and most formidable foe of death (1 Cor. 15:54-57). The resurrection is proof positive from God that Jesus just sacrifice was totally sufficient to righteously pay the penalty for our sins. It is faith in Jesus on the cross and resurrected from the dead that saves us.

Why is the resurrection of Jesus so central to being saved? The resurrection is the linchpin of the gospel. Without the resurrection salvation through the New Testament Gospel is invalidated and sapped of its power (1 Cor. 15:17). That is because the resurrection is God’s proof of the gospel. The resurrection proves God keeps His promises (Acts 13:32-33). It proves Jesus is the Son of God, God in the flesh (Rom. 1:4). It proves that the atoning death on the cross satisfied God’s requirement of redemption (1 Pet. 1:21). It proves that Christians will one day also rise from the dead (1 Cor. 6:14). It proves God has set a day when He will judge the world with justice (Acts 17:31). And it proves that Jesus is the only way of salvation (Rom. 10:9-10; Jn. 14:6).

Third, the faith that saves us leads to outward evidence of that salvation (10:9-11). that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Notice Paul is inspired to say, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus . . .” Confession of Jesus or real effect in life is the evidence of salvation. Jesus said if we confess Him before men He will confess us before the Father or verify that we are His. But if we deny Him before men, or don’t indicate before men that we are His, then He will deny us before His Father in heaven (Mt. 10:32-33). The heart of the saved soul will produce fruit as Jesus illustrated in the Parable of the Sower (Mt. 13; Mk. 4). If you’re worried about being embarrassed by associating yourself with Jesus in public, the promise of scripture is that, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” We may experience persecution and ridicule in this life, but in the end, we will stand reaffirmed and validated before the Lord on judgment day.

Fourth, they must call on the Lord (10:12-13). 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” God has taken the first step and by grace and love has gone to extreme lengths to save the lost. All a person has to do is call on the Lord. That is true of anyone and everyone. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

We’ve looked at what isn’t enough to save and what saves, but there is one last question. What should what can we do so that people can get saved? If we love people we’ll want them to be saved. What’s our part?

First, they must be preached to (10:14-16). Paul continues, “14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” If no one tells them about their need of salvation how will they know they need to call on the Lord to be saved? The saved must serve the Lord in preaching and sharing the gospel with the lost.

Second, they must be taught God’s word (10:17). So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith is the product of the word of God implanted by the Spirit of God through the agency of the people of God. Bibles are printed by people and presented to the lost by people. Faith cannot grow apart from a diet and digestion of the word of God. God’s word is the seed planted in the heart of the saved. God promises make the implanted seed of His word grow and birth fruit (Is. 55:9-10).

Third, they must be sought out (10:18). 18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” Just as God took the initiative to reach out and save us, we must follow in His steps and walk as he walked reaching out to the lost with the gospel (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jn. 2:6; Mk. 10:45).

Fourth, we must live for Jesus in a way that provokes the lost (especially Jews) to jealousy (10:19-21). 19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: “I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.” 20 But Isaiah is very bold and says: “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” 21 But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.” The gospel is to the Jew first and also the Gentile (Rom. 1:16). The church hasn’t replaced Israel, it is only working for a while until God chooses to again revive and work through Israel (Rom. 11). The Spirit of God pours out God’s love in our hearts when we are saved (Rom. 5:5). We must live in God’s love (1 Cor. 13). We must speak God’s truth in His love to the lost (Jn. 17:17; Eph. 4:15). We must be compelled, driven, motivated by His love in all we do (2 Cor. 5:14-21). Living in the power of the Spirit’s love robes us with the beauty of holiness of God and that will make people jealous and hungry for what we have in Christ (Ps. 29:2; 96:9; 110:3).

Saved? Who needs to be saved? If you haven’t already received Jesus as Your Savior and Lord, you do! We all need to be saved! If you are unsaved or unsure if you are, call on the name of the Lord and ask Him to forgive you based on Jesus cross and resurrection work of salvation. Then tell others what God has done for you and in you. Live in the Spirit, in His love, and feed on and share His word. That’s what being saved is all about. Are you saved? I pray you are. God bless and lead you and above all save you. In His service. By His grace. For His glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] [From Jonathan Edwards, The Works of President Edwards, vol. 6 (1817; New York: Burt Franklin, 1968), pp. 458, 461–62. [Editorial insertions appear in square brackets—Ed.]] http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/archive/resources/documents/ch03_03.htm

[2] See my book True Fellowship with God for more details – https://www.amazon.com/True-Fellowship-God-Practical-words-ebook/dp/B07FPCCB9G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533050875&sr=8-1&keywords=true+fellowship+with+god

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