It is written:
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. (Romans 10:9-10)
Many teach that this passage of Scripture teaches sinners how to be saved.
However, it does no such thing.
First, notice that the passage is addressed to individuals by the pronoun “you.” Look at who “you” has reference to in the context of Romans 10:
Romans 1:6-among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
Romans 1:7-To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:8-First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
Romans 6:3-Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Romans 8:9-But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Romans 11:22-Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
Throughout the 103 verses in Romans, the word “you” is used 168 times. In nearly every single reference, the “you” had reference to people who were already baptized believers!
In contrast to this, when Paul referred to unsaved individuals in his Epistle to the Romans, look at how he referred to them:
Romans 1:20-23-For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that THEY are without excuse, 21 because, although THEY knew God, THEY did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, THEY became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Romans 9:32-Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
Romans 10:1-Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.
Throughout Romans, Paul uses the words “they” and “their” to describe those who are not saved.
So Romans 10:9-10 is addressing baptized believers, not unsaved individuals!
Second, the words “believe” and “confess” in Romans 10:10 are in the present tense, denoting continual action. The ones here who will be saved are those who continue to believe in and confess Jesus. This is not the language of sinner’s prayer salvation!
Third, according to the early church fathers, individuals made this good confession at the moment when they were baptized into Christ and then lived the Christian life (cf. Acts 8:35-39).
Fourth, the purpose for this confession is that each Christian may be a teacher to those who are lost. Notice that one of Paul’s points is that God sends forth preachers into the world to tell others of salvation (cf. Romans 10:10-17). Every child of God is to go and tell his neighbors about Jesus. The Christian believes in Jesus and shows this faith by “confessing” Jesus his neighbors.
The sinner’s prayer salvation is not taught in God’s Word.
Instead, it reminds us what the Apostle Paul himself had learned: one who believes in Jesus, repents of sin, and prays for several days (Acts 9:1-11) still be in sin until the act of baptism (Acts 22:16).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
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