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Reflections on Romans 10:9-10 (Thu)

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The Net Bible rendering of today’s text.

Good morning. Today we come to one of those passages that seems familiar, even by the address: Romans 10:9-10. Many of us memorized those verses long ago in Awana or Sunday School, etc. But it’s possible even after memorizing something to still not fully grasp what it’s talking about–ask any student cramming for an exam! For example, I memorized all the answers for the Ham Radio test and got a perfect score, earning me my call sign KC0ODH, but I can’t to this day tell you the cause of amplitude modulation–nor even what it’s referring to! (Sorry to disappoint you Rockwellians, and no, please don’t try to explain it to me!)

So although we may have memorized Romans 10:9-10, we have to ask what is its meaning? From first glance, i appears there are two things required for salvation: 1. believing in your heart and 2. confessing with your mouth. As Pastor Bob aptly pointed out in his sermon Sunday, we need to read this verse in light of the whole of scripture, which clearly, unmistakably declares salvation to be based on belief alone (John 3:16 for example.) One thing, not two. But why did Paul write it that way?

Three reflections on why.

1. Bob mentioned how the heart and mouth are so interrelated, like in Luke 6:45, where Jesus says “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

2. In the preceding verse 8, Paul has quoted Dueteronomy 30:14, which refers to “mouth” and “heart” in that order. Paul continues that same word order in verse 9. Then he switches the order to “heart” and “mouth” in verse 10, showing again how interchangeable the terms are.

3. The definition of confess: it means literally to “agree with.” It has nothing to do with issuing a public statement.

Thanks for those who shared your Lenten aspirations with me yesterday! It’s a joy to be on this journey together.

Off to read my Prayer book now!

7 Comments

  1. Mark, you really do listen to my sermons. 🙂 What a great summary of what was shared on Sunday. Thanks so much for doing these daily devotions.

  2. How is the belief(Believe) in Rom 10:9-10 different then those that believed in John 2:23-25. They have different outcomes. How about the James 2:19 passage that talks about the demons believing. Matt 13 gives us the Parable of the Soils. Four soils. Three that believe. Two of the three that believe fall away. One who actually makes it to the end. Why? Bearing fruit? I guess I’m confused by the just “believing” part. What do you mean by believe? What constitutes real belief?
    I hope my questions are not off base. But I have struggled with this for sometime now.

  3. I was going to write that confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead were two sides of the same coin-can’t believe that Jesus is Lord unless you also believe the basics about him like his resurrection. I am not so sure now because my NIV study Bible notes says that the salvation is future. So now I am really confused! Maybe I need to listen to the sermon again! Any one want to chime in on this?

  4. Martha I have understood that we are made “safe” from God’s wrath(Rom 10-9:13). We are made safe by Jesus finished work on the cross. Present and future. I believe it does mean future salvation. I agree with you that they are both sides to the same coin.

  5. Joe, your question about the meaning of “believe” is interesting. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, but i’ll take a stab at it anyways. I did some checking and found that in Greek, the same word pist-yoo’-o is used in the following verses:

    Romans 10: 9-10 (today’s passage)
    John 2:23-25 (the people saw his miracles and believed)
    Acts 16:31 (believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved)
    Acts 4:32 (the early church believed and had all things in common)
    John 3:16 (whoever believes has eternal life)
    James 2:19 (the demons believe and shudder)
    [Your Matt 13 example of the parable of the soils I’m not going to include in this discussion, since it doesn’t utilize the word “believe” at all: rather it refers to “understanding” and “receiving”.]

    The word pist-yoo’-o appears 248 times in the Greek New Testament.

    The James example shows us that the word can have variations of meaning. It seems to me that the Greek only has one word for what in English we have several words for. [It’s the opposite of “love”, where in English we have one word, but in Greek they have four words, agape, phileo, eros, and sturge.] So the context is important in deciphering the shades of meaning.

    Clearly the demon passage refers to their confession of truth even though they hate the truth themselves.
    The John 2 example must indicate some form of acknowledgement that He was divine, although they couldn’t have known the full story of His coming sacrificial death.

    In most other places though a “transfer of trust” seems to be clearly implied by the context.

    On a related side note: I love how Bob uses the term “crossing the line of faith.” I like it because it refers to process, but not causation. It fits so well with the sovereignty of God/responsibility of man dichotomy because it doesn’t specify how we get across. It could be that I stepped across the line, or it could be that God pulled me over the line (in fact both are true). So to word it in such a way seems to me to do justice to both doctrinal truths.

  6. I thought of something else on the treadmill this morning. Everytime “believe” is followed by a promise of eternal life it’s in the context of transferring trust.

    The crowds “believed” in Jesus upon seeing his miracles, but there’s no indication that they obtained salvation for that kind of belief.

    The demons “believed” in the Lordship of Jesus, but obviously their belief doesn’t result in salvation because it’s not a trusting kind of belief. They only had the “confess with your mouth” side of the coin, but not the believe in your heart side.

  7. Thanks Pastor Mark for looking even deeper. Your posts have helped me understand the Soils Parable much better. There really is a distiction between the belief of the John 2:23-25 crowd and the Rom 10:9-10/Rom 1:16 crowd, just as Jesus had made with the four soils.

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