Q: We are told in Romans 10:9-10, “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.” I understand why we must believe the resurrection of Jesus in our heart because it is the same as receiving the Gospel by faith, but what is the significance of confessing?
A: When people think about “confessing” in terms of salvation it seems like an exercise in vanity. It really does not make sense to our way of thinking, especially where there is confusion about the matters of what constitutes salvation in light of the present presentation of God’s love, that requires no response and grace that often in its present rendition is void of producing or expecting any responses without negating its work of salvation altogether. It is clear when you study Romans that Paul is really trying to squelch wrong presentations about all matters concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In considering the concept of “confession,” you must look it up in sources that understand the intent of it. The Greek meaning of this word in the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and in Wuest’s Word Studies is the same as “covenant.” When you confess something in the New Testament, you are verbally declaring, acknowledging, identifying with, and entering into a covenant. A covenant is a legal binding contract, often between two parties who are coming into agreement. Covenants are perpetual and ongoing until all matters agreed upon are brought to fruition.
We know that Jesus and His redemption represent a new covenant. Making a covenant is not just a matter of believing in something, but it is coming into a legal contract. In the Old Testament these contracts were made in the gates of the city where intentions were verbally made known to witnesses, and in some cases a sandal from one foot was taken off and handed to the other party as a gesture that it would be walked out accordingly.
With this in mind we can now approach the concept of confession from a whole different perspective.
Salvation is clearly a heart matter, but it is also part of the contract that not only shows God’s intention and commitment to save us to the uttermost, but that He has chosen to legally bind Himself to this agreement until our redemption has been brought to complete fruition. Consider Ephesians 1:13 and 14, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Think about what these Scriptures say, we as believers have been given the Holy Spirit as a token, down payment, an earnest agreement until we realize the fullness of our redemption, which by the way, will only be completely realized when we receive our new, glorified bodies.
This brings us to our part in this contract and that is to confess Jesus is Lord. Once again, we have to come back to what it would mean for people of that time to publicly confess Jesus as being their Lord. May I say, it is loaded with meaning, but I will try to summarize what it means. 1) Jesus as Lord (Adonai) points to the fact that He is our owner (1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 7:23). Clearly, our part of the agreement is that we are bound to Him as servants. 2) As Lord, He has the sole authority over our lives. In other words, He alone is our master and no other master, (Satan, sin, the world, and death) can usurp His authority in our lives. Satan must ask permission to test us, sin must be given an audience by us to lay claim to us, we must come into agreement with the world to become its slave, and we must choose the ways of death before it can take us into the pit. 3) Jesus alone is the only one who has a say over our lives and we are here to do His bidding and not our own. It is for this reason that Jesus asked this simple question in Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” We also know that, as our Lord, what He requires from us in Matthew 7:21, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” 4) The final reason we confess He is Lord is because He is LORD of lords. It is vital that every believer realize that the New Testament covenant is the result of what Jesus did as man on the cross (redemption), what He is doing as Priest (intercession), and what He will do as God (judging the world and ruling as KING of kings). In the end, all will declare He is Lord to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
Keep in mind, confession is a verbal acknowledgment in the gate of the world that He is our Lord. It is part of our record or testimony that we have entered into this binding contract, identifying us to the One who owns us, is responsible for us, and determines the life we live and the position we hold in His household. Our part of the covenant is to be a servant who does His bidding by obeying Him. The Holy Spirit is God’s token to the fact that He is legally binding Himself to this covenant, but for the believer it is confession, which serves as his or her token that he or she is binding self to this covenant. Matthew 10:32-33, lays out the necessity of being willing to confess Him as Lord, as you would say, “take off the shoe” to make the record official in the gate of the world “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
I hope this answers your question.