With the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
What must an unbeliever do to exercise saving faith? First, he has to repent–to have a change of mind about how to be right before God. He has to quit relying on self-righteousness and rely instead on God’s righteousness, which is received by faith. Second, he has to believe. There has to be a point in his life when he cries out to God, “Lord, save me! There is no other way for me to be saved except through Christ.”
Third, Paul said, the unbeliever must confess. In Romans 10:9, Paul said, “Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord.” He explained in verse 10, “With the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” There has to be a public declaration of faith for somebody to be saved.
You may be wondering, “How do you publicly confess Jesus as Lord?” The biblical way is through baptism. Baptism is a public declaration of our faith in Christ. Some of you have never been baptized, and you have come up with every kind of excuse you can imagine: “I am not sure what my parents would think because they are from a different faith tradition.” Or, “I would be too embarrassed.” Or, “I have this medical condition.” The Bible says we confess our faith through baptism. It is not a requirement that earns our salvation; it is a way to show that we are genuinely saved. Another way we publicly confess our faith is by saying no to sin, by saying no to temptation. Our willingness to say no to temptation is a way we confess our faith in God.
We also confess our faith in God by the way we confront death. My parents taught me a lot about the Christian life by how they lived, but they taught me much more by the way they died. They had almost the same experience. They both did not feel well, they went to the doctor, the doctor ordered some tests, and then he came back and said, “You are eaten up with cancer and have four months to live.” It happened to my mom first, then four years later it happened to my dad. During those four months, I watched each of my parents face death with absolute confidence, knowing that God had prepared something greater for them. One of the greatest lessons, parents, you will ever teach your children is not just the way you live but the way you die.
Some people say, “Can’t you be a secret disciple of Christ? Can’t you follow Him in your heart without making a public confession?” In Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus said, “Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” There is no such thing as being a secret disciple of Christ. Someone said it this way: “Either your faith will kill your secrecy, or your secrecy will kill your faith.” The Bible says the unbeliever is to believe with his heart, repent with his mind, and confess with his mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Is God Unfair?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.