April 20, 2003
CONFESS AND BELIEVE
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and... believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" ( Rom. 10:9-10). Both confessing and believing are emphasized, not once but twice. What a pity that verses intended to convey comfort and assurance have been twisted to make salvation conditional--on confessing ! This emphasis has brought real alarm in not a few timid hearts!
The confession mentioned here is often paired with the Lord's words in Matthew 10:32-33, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." At this point alarm turns to fear and trembling! This confession or denial by Christ depends on man's "confession," and not simply on faith! Such fear today springs from a miscorrelation and misunderstanding of the contexts. The Lord was speaking of service whereas Paul was writing of salvation!
Paul was explaining the "righteousness of faith" quoting Moses in Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Moses declared the righteousness of faith "said...the word (God's word) is very near." How near? "even in one's mouth and heart." Thus it is clear that there could be no excuse for not knowing or not believing what God had said. God brought His word to Israel through Moses, and He had also brought His word to Israel through Paul, "that is, the word of faith which we preach"!
Still, the verse sounds like there are two commands: One we must confess, the other we must believe. We need only say it this way to help us realize that the two are one! Confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord means precisely the same as believing that God has raised Him from the dead. A living resurrected Jesus as "Lord and Christ [Messiah] " is the One we believe and confess! The Lord said it best, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mt. 12:34). Thus what one truly believes in the heart is what will be confessed in one's life and testimony. Confessing and believing are truly one. So speaks the righteousness of faith!
Ivan L. Burgener