We then examined the 'sinner's prayer' and the history of it. Historically speaking, it is a relatively new doctrine, begun by those who needed a means for mass evangelism in a quick moment. Again, isn't that a work? The "1-2-3- repeat after me" has caused such detriment to the cause of Christ.
So, we now go to the book of Romans. What a magnificient book of the Bible. Nearly every major doctrine can be found and taught in the book of Romans...including salvation.
If you grew up in a Baptist church as I did, you were taught at a very young age, the Roman's Road. You, like me, had it highlighted in your Bibles, memorized, and accessible at any moment. Romans 3:23, 6:23; 5:8; 10:13; and 10:9. We would 'seal the deal' by getting someone to pray that prayer. I mean, Romans 10:13 does read, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:9 reads, "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." So, we tell the guy that said he was going to Heaven because he was a good person and was baptized as a child, that he is wrong...works can't get you to Heaven. Then we tell him how he is a sinner, Christ died for him, and that he needs to pray and do a different work to get to Heaven? Seemingly, God contradicted Himself in this passage, right? Absolutely NOT! Our God never contradicts Himself and He has been and will always be without error. So, what does this passage mean?
We begin in Romans 10:1 where we read,
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Paul is writing specifically here about Israel's salvation, not the Gentiles. (Yes, we all are saved the same way...be patient). Paul then uses an Old Testament illustration that the Jews would understand. God had given them His commandments, and when they disobeyed them, there were consequences. They could never claim ignorance. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 reads,
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.Paul is addressing these verses to the Jews in Romans 10:4-8,
It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach
Now, I hope one can see that Paul is not saying that the Word has to be in your mouth as to some kind of prayer they must say, rather he is using Deuteronomy to point out to them just what God pointed out to them in Deuteronomy; that the Word is familiar to them. They have no excuse. It has been laid out clearly, they must believe it and apply it! Israel knew the law, they knew the prophecies, they knew the promises, they knew Jesus, they saw Him die, they heard and saw and empty tomb that He had risen, the Word was nigh unto them...they had to believe!
They knew He had died, but to acknowledge and believe that He had risen would be a recognizing that He was their sacrifice for their sins...the Lamb of God that once for all took away their sins.
That brings us to verse 9, that if they should 'confess with thy mouth' or homologeo-to agree, conceded, not denythe Lord Jesus (that yes, He did die and He is the Son of God our sacrifice) and believe or pestyuo-to entrust and place your confidence it that God did raise Him from the dead-therefore recognizing him as the sacrifice for their sins-they were saved! The truth was 'nigh them', right with them, they could not claim ignorance, they had to believe!
We have made the focus of these verses the mouth and heart, while Paul's focus was on Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection. Throughout the Bible, God uses the body to illustrate an action of inward spiritual man. One who holds that one MUST use their mouth to confess to be saved must then also say that one MUST see the Lord with their eyes, for John 6:40 reads, "...everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life:" We know this isn't possible, but is an illustration that we must with the inward man look to the Lord as our way of salvation. So, Romans 10:10 and 13, we do not have to physically confess or call physically for salvation, but inwardly with the spiritual man believe in Christ atoneing death.
Now, let me say, that I don't believe it is wrong to pray when getting saved. Prayer is a fruit of salvation. I just believe we as Baptist have focused and made the prayer the means of salvation. We twist and push someone to say some prayer and when they doubt we ask them if they ever called upon the Lord.
I am not saved because I prayed, but I pray because I am saved. Reality is, Matt. 7:21 reads, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven;" A Physical prayer and calling on the Lord will not get you to heaven.
We call because we are saved, we can't call until after we have believed, we can't believe until we have not heard, we can't hear without a preacher, there is no preacher unless they are sent...Romans 10:13-15.
To hold the mouth as a literal physical action condemns all mute people. There is a man in our church named David who has never been able to talk, but praise the Lord 8 years ago he put his faith in Christ Jesus and he is saved!
I leave you with an illustration I read on another's web page. In John 9, Jesus heals a blind man by spitting on the ground and annointing his eyes. When the Pharisees saw and heard his story, they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out and found him and said, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" (Vs. 35). His answer was, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? " Jesus said, "Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee." Jesus told him that the Son of God was someone he already knew, seen, and had heard physically, but that he needed to see Him for who He truly was spiritually, hear him as to Who He is spiritually, and know HIm as He should be knows spiritually. He did just that and said, "Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him."
In Romans 10, Israel had seen him, they had talked to Him, they had heard Him...He was nigh them, but they had not spiritually believed in Him.
My goal is not to cause confusion, but quite the opposite. I deal with so many who doubt their salvation saying, "I don't know if I meant it." I am tired of convincing people to say a prayer, but never see them darken the door of a church or display any fruits of repentance.
We have made our token of salvation a work-our prayer; when it must be His Work! Our assurance must be based upon something He has done, not something we have done. Those who continue doubting their salvation get so frustrated. They are asked if they have done this or that, and their resonse is "I have...I have..I have..but, still no peace." Those that continually doubt is due to the fact that they are counting on what they have done with their mouth instead of what Christ has done for them on a cross.
"Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" (John 9:35).