This morning, many times man says "too much" for the position that he tries to take. Have you ever talked with someone and caught several contradictions within one conversation? Perhaps they made excuse for not doing something they should then later mentioned other reasons besides the excused version for their shortcomings? Indeed, man's natural reasoning alone is not sufficient to enlighten him to spiritual things. (I Corinthians 2:14) But, sometimes natural reasoning alone will nullify positions that men take about God and His work of salvation. What God does is logical and sensible. Therefore, while logic will not discover God's teachings by way of revelation, logic will corroborate what God's enlightenment reveals unto us.
Consider the popular, oft-travelled "Roman Road to Salvation." These days, any religious discussion seems to arrive at one of two places – or both. People will eventually pull out John 3:16 or hit the "saved" passages from the book of Romans. However, the speakers do not exhibit any working knowledge of the context of the passages. We say not these things to poke fun at them nor to berate them, for Paul himself dearly prayed for people like them that they be saved to the knowledge of the truth. (Romans 10:1) These people do not, most of the time, realize just what their belief system imposes on a verse or passage. Romans 10:9-10, 13 are often used to promote the idea that one must believe and specifically confess or call upon the Lord to go to heaven.
Before looking at the high and supreme importance of believing and confessing the Lord Jesus Christ, let us examine just "how much" our study verse teaches should it really and truly teach that man must call upon the name of the Lord to get to heaven. Notice that Paul attributes two characteristics to two different actions. Belief yields righteousness, while confession yields salvation. To the common application, confession is necessary to get to heaven (i.e. be saved). Yet, is it possible to have belief without confession or vice versa?
John 12:42 tells us about some chief rulers that believed but did not confess. The text clearly indicates that they were believers in Jesus but out of fear of being cast from their naturally lofty position were unwilling to confess Him. Taking these particular people (of which I believe many today also fit into this category), what is their plight based on the most common application of Romans 10:10? Well, if they are believers, then they are righteous, but if they are not confessors, then they are not saved. The most logical connection to make for these people based on such an application is that righteous believers are going to hell for lacking the salvation that confession brings! Would any dare say that a believer with a righteous soul gets cast into hell? The text says too much for it to apply to eternal consequences.
Yet, knowing that such cannot be the application what is the connection and distinction to make between belief and confession? Paul specifically attributes two different things to the two actions. Belief in the Lord and His work does indeed yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. While the belief is not what "makes" someone righteous before God, it does bring out sweetness from the nectar of righteousness that we already possess. Belief confirms to the child of God that they are indeed unspotted before the God of heaven. Consider the position of the believer contrasted against those that Paul prayed for in the opening verses. Since they were not believers in the finished work of Christ and were going about to establish their own righteousness, true contentment could never be enjoyed by them in this world.
Have you ever talked with someone that leaned on their own righteousness, good works, efforts, labours, and victory to save themselves for heaven or others as well? Their life cannot be in rest for they have not the peace that passes all understanding in feeling themselves righteous before God. Belief in what Christ has done confirms to our minds that we do stand just before God. Belief that He is who He says He is, did do what He said He would do, and has sat down just as He said He would yields an aroma of goodness (righteousness) that nothing else can down within our soul. Confirmation of what has been done arrives on the gallant steed of peace.
Yet, if that is the feeling of the soul, what is the purpose of confession? Consider those chief rulers in John 12 for a minute. They verily believed in Christ and what He was doing. By not confessing Him as they should, they lived in fear of losing something that their natural flesh enjoyed: prominence. If we fall prey and victim to the same lifestyle, we may have the peaceable fruit of righteousness bringing comfort to the soul, but the enjoyment is hampered by still having fear of loss in this world. The believer who confesses Jesus as His Lord is not doing so to ensure that He gets to heaven, but his confession says, "Since Jesus has given His all for me, I desire to give my all for Him. No matter what man may say or do, I am going with Jesus all the way."
The end result of such an attitude is salvation: salvation from fear. By confessing Jesus, we fear no reprisals for that action. By confessing Him and professing Him as our Saviour, we show forth no shame at all for naming Him and desiring to follow Him. By submitting ourselves to water baptism, we say that we desire to be identified with Him and His people, no matter how afflicted the road may get. (Hebrews 11:25) By walking in sweet communion with His saints, we show forth a lifestyle that says, "I may not have much of what this world can offer, but I am rich in Christ Jesus my Lord." Truly, there is a deliverance in such behaviour that cannot be had otherwise.
Therefore, let us not ever be found berating those of other beliefs, but ever prayerful to God for them that they might know those things that we know. Do you find relief when you freely say, "I follow the Lamb of God" to those that ask? Does that sweet river of peace flood your soul every time you think of Him and His finished work? Does that story of Christ and His free grace still seem as fresh and vibrant as the first day you received it? The answer to these questions should be yes, yes, and yes. So, may we walk in such a way that shows the peace, relief, and deliverance that we feel, earnestly desiring that our fellow pilgrims that hunger and thirst after righteousness would feel these same things as well.