“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt 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. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:9–11, KJV 1900)
Yesterday, I was outside washing the cars. The teens across the street were out doing some yardwork. The language I heard from one was filled with profanity. It seemed like there was a four-letter word in every sentence. There is something in the core of a person that produces either pure words or vile words. Jesus stated, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45, KJV 1900) Yes, the issue is one of the heart’s condition.
Often people take Romans 10:9-10 and try to separate the verbal confession from the faith born in the heart. This is not possible. The argument boils down to something like this. You need to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and you must also make a verbal confession that He is Lord in order to be saved. This is like putting the “cart before the horse” because it sounds like one must say something in order to be saved.
The proper order of events is belief then confession. Look at Paul’s words. “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;” (2 Corinthians 4:13, KJV 1900) Thus, what we see in verses 9-10, is not a formula for one to be saved, but the production of the regenerated heart.
To further understand Paul’s writing in verses 9-10, consider his audience. The Jews would have never said, Jesus is Lord, for to do so would be saying that Jesus is God. They would only say such a thing if in their heart they truly believed it. In fact, no one would proclaim Jesus as Lord unless they believed it.
Perhaps this somewhat explains the problem with our practice of evangelizing and leading people in a “Sinners Prayer.” I have seen so many people make such a prayer and then, within a week, go right back to the cesspool of life they were in before. The problem may be that they have gotten the “cart before the horse.” The prayer means nothing if the heart has not been moved to true belief.
We must be careful not to lead people to an easy believe-ism, where they can make some simple statements and presume their empty words will save them. This may give them a false sense of hope. Before leading people in such a prayer, give them some understanding regarding the evidences of true faith and what it really means to confess Jesus Christ as Lord.