A gracEmail subscriber asks whether someone who confesses Jesus as Lord and believes that God raised him from the dead really enjoys salvation as Romans 10:9-10 seems to say, or whether believing and confessing merely move a person down the road toward salvation pending further acts of obedience.
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In Romans 10:9-10, Paul states the grand conclusion to the explanation of salvation he has just set out in verses 5-8 preceding. Here the apostle contrasts two ways of seeking divine approval. The first way seeks it based on one’s personal success in obeying God’s laws. Paul refers to this as “the righteousness based on law” (v. 5). The second way seeks divine approval based on trusting God. Paul speaks of this as “the righteousness based on faith” (v. 6).
Righteousness based on law requires one to perfectly perform everything God has commanded, for God had told the Israelites in Leviticus 18:5 that a man may find life in the divine statutes and judgments “if he does them” (v. 5). Furthermore, God explained to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 that they did not need to go up to heaven or cross the sea to learn God’s commands. God had given his commands through Moses. The commands were “very near,” in Israel’s mouth and heart — so the people could obey them. Over against this law-based “righteousness,” Paul describes the righteousness based on faith — using this very language from Deuteronomy 30:11-14 but giving it a gospel twist!
We do not need to go up to heaven to bring down the Savior, Paul explains, for Jesus came down without our help to save us already (v. 6). We do not have to go into the underworld to bring Jesus back from death. God has raised him from among the dead already and without any help from us (v. 7). In Jesus Christ, God has already done the saving work. Because that is true, the gospel message of faith-righteousness is “very near” us — in our mouths and in our hearts (v. 8). Because the saving work is done already by Jesus Christ, we do not need to do it ourselves. To enjoy this salvation that Jesus has already accomplished, to obtain God’s verdict of divine approval, we need only to confess Jesus as Lord and trust that God has indeed raised him from the dead (v. 9-10). We can trust what God has done for us in Jesus. We need not cobble together some kind of salvation by our own record of performance. God’s promise is sure. “Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed” (v. 11).