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Romans 10:9-10 by Robert Dean
Series:Resurrection and the Gospel (2009)
Duration:56 mins 30 secs

Resurrection and the Gospel. Rom 10:9-10

With regard to the gospel what we are to communicate and what we are to believe are really two different questions. It is important to raise this issue an to analyze it in terms of those two different questions because of things that have been raised. Just what is the essence of the gospel? Today the battle among evangelicals is a battle really between those who are called "lordship salvation" and those who are identified as "free grace" or "unmerited favor." Those who emphasize the fact that works are not included in the gospel or in salvation, either at the front end by saying that you must believe in Jesus and do something else such as believe and obey certain principles in Scripture (a front door approach to the gospel), or the problem in lordship salvation which adds something suddenly through the back door. The basic contention is that if you have the faith that justifies then that kind of faith will necessarily produce certain kinds of works. Those works then validate the fact and give assurance that you are indeed saved. So there are those who hold that position and we will identify it as perseverance salvation, the idea that you can identify your own salvation by the works that are there and if you don't have certain works then maybe you should question whether or not you are saved. There are those also who come along and ask, what is the gospel itself, if we boil everything down to just a core proposition, is there just one simple body of content that you much communicate and must believe, and anything other than that then you really didn't believe the gospel?

That has come up in the structures of what has been known as the free grace movement, and there have been those in recent years who have come along and have asked a question: What is the minimal gospel? What is the core of the gospel? And they have identified it as just simply believing a promise that Jesus can give you eternal life. The problem with the way this has been structured is to come out and say well they don't know who Jesus is, there is no mention of the cross, and the concern is that this comes from John chapter five which is before the cross. So we don't have Jesus making clear statements about His work on the cross prior to the cross. But we do after the cross. So can we go to a statement that was made before Christ died for our sins and say that sums up the gospel, you don't even have to know Jesus died on the cross? And there are those in this camp who have said that there will be many people in heaven who will be surprised when they get there to discover the fact that Jesus actually died on the cross for their sins—church age believers, not Old Testament. This position has been called the crossless gospel, and that is the debate that has been going on in the free grace camp. We need to be aware of the nuances and trends that are going on around us.

In response to that there are those within the free grace movement who also try to define the gospel that the cross needs to be the center of the gospel. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2 NASB "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." They say that that is the heart of the gospel. They are not trying to answer the question as to what is the minimal amount of information somebody needs to know to be saved. That is a wrong question. When people start asking questions sometimes they ask wrong questions and they end up getting distracted into things that are not really relevant. In this there are those who have come along and said that the content of the gospel is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that He was buried, that He rose again, and that as part of what you must believe as opposed to part of what you must communicate when you witness, what you must believe is that Jesus died and rose again. And that if you believe that He died on the cross for your sins but you didn't believe that He rose from the dead then you are not saved.

But wait, that presents a problem. What is meant if we assert that if somebody doesn't believe in the resurrection they are not saved? Romans 10:9, 10 NASB "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

Verse 9 is a key verse for the lordship salvation crowd. They come to this verse and say you have to admit that Jesus is Lord to be saved. These verses have a lengthy history of misuse and abuse in witnessing. An example of misuse is Romans 6:23 NASB "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." This isn't talking about salvation. Paul quit talking about justification at the end of chapter five, and he starts talking about the spiritual life in chapter six. Romans 6-8 is walking in newness of life (Romans 6:3), so in context "the wages of sin is death" is not talking about eternal condemnation, spiritual death, it is talking about carnal death—the wages of sin in the context of the believer who should be walking in newness of life but if not then the problem is he is in temporal/carnal death, i.e. out of fellowship. The "free gift of God is eternal life"—the life that he is talking about is the newness of life that comes as a result of being baptized into Christ's death, Romans 6:2. It is important to understand these things because in common evangelical jargon we use words like "saved" and "righteousness" as if they always mean the same thing, and that is in terms of phase one justification.

The questions we attempt to answer are two. What should we communicate to those to whom we witness? When we are talking to somebody who has no idea of who Jesus is, what Jesus did for them, have no idea of heaven or anything else, what do we need to communicate to them? People we are talking to bring a certain amount of baggage, so that when we are talking to them we need to make sure that they understand certain terms. When we look at the examples of Peter, John, Stephen and Paul explaining the gospel there are two parts: the "who" Jesus is, and what He did. Peter says, "It is this Jesus whom you crucified that God raised from the dead" that you need to believe in. If you believe in the wrong Jesus you are not saved.

We have seen that the term "gospel" has a broad sense and a narrow sense. The broad use is the view that presents all the good news of not only our justification but also the spiritual life—how to have eternal life and then once we have it how to live the new life that God gives us. The narrow use is just simply that narrow section: what do we do to be justified in order to go to heaven, and what exactly is the content there?


1.  How does Romans 10:9, 10 fit in the context of Romans 9-11? Remember, a text without a context is a pretext. We can also remember that when we take the text out of the context we are left with a con job.

2.  How do these verses fit within the context of Romans? What is Paul saying in his letter to the Romans? Is he telling them in Romans chapter 10 how to be justified, or is something else going on here?

3.  We have to address the immediate context of Romans 10:9, 10, and by that is meant we have to look at what Paul is saying, beginning in verse 5 where he says, NASB "For Moses writes…" and going down through verse 13 (and a number of verses are in italics or upper case, indicating that they are quotations from the Old Testament). What we note from that is that there are several verses that lead into verse 9 that quote Old Testament passages. Following v. 10 there are Old Testament quotes in verse 11 and 13. So we had better understand what those verses are saying in their original context in Deuteronomy 30; Isaiah 51; Joel 2 or we may be making this say something completely different.

4.  What does Paul mean by "confess with your mouth"? Is it public confession or can we say this is just an idiom for a mental statement/confession? Does it have to be public?

5.  What does he mean by saved and salvation? To understand this we have to really get a grasp, a big picture, of Romans. We have to fit this in that particular context.

6.  What does Paul mean by righteousness? Is this justification righteousness (imputed righteousness)? Or is this experiential righteousness?

Look at Romans 1:16, 17 NASB "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it {the} righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'BUT THE RIGHTEOUS {man} SHALL LIVE BY FAITH'." A lot of scholars identify this as Paul's thesis statement for the letter. This is where what he identifies what he is going to be talking about in this letter. He is talking about the righteousness of God and how the righteousness of God is related to sinful mankind. In verse 16, what is the important word? It is "gospel." Is it narrow or broad?

Some things we need to note here. First, the last phrase says that the righteous shall live by faith. Is that justification or sanctification? It is talking about how you live after you are justified. "For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." That first "faith" is belief that justifies us and the second "faith" is a faith that is characteristic of our post-salvation/justification spiritual growth. Having understood in the immediate context that Paul has a broad nuance here, when we go back to 1:16 where he says "I am not ashamed of the gospel," it is clear from the immediate context that by "gospel" he doesn't mean the information we need to know in order to be justified, he is using it to describe the totality of Christian doctrine—what we need in order to understand how to have new life in Christ but how to live on the basis of that new life in Christ. "… for it is the power of God for salvation…" So you say, there it is right there; this is a salvation text! In evangelicalism we want to use that word "salvation" only to refer to phase one, justification, but that is not necessarily true. In Romans the word group related to salvation—sozo [swzw], soteria [swthria]—are never used as a synonym for justification, not one time. That is so important. If we don't understand that we will misinterpret many verses in Romans. Salvation in Romans is never a synonym for justification.

If we think about the core meaning of sozo [swzw] it means to deliver from something. If the context is talking about deliverance from illness then we would translate it as healing, and there are passages in the Bible where sozo is used for healing a physical disease. In other passages it is more the idea of deliverance from some kind of a problem or situation or circumstance. If we look at the context here Paul uses these two words, "gospel" and "salvation," together, but in the next verse, 1:18, it describes what the deliverance is from. 'NASB "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." What Paul is talking about being saved from is the wrath of God now, not future condemnation. For Paul the wrath of God is a present judgment of God on fallen man, not future condemnation in an eternal lake of fire. He doesn't use it that way. So the immediate context indicates the contrast of salvation that the salvation or deliverance of the believer is from the wrath of God that is currently being revealed from heaven "against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." This is the context, so right away we know that salvation is not being used to refer to a narrow gospel or justification but to describe deliverance from the present condemnation and experience of divine judgment/discipline on mankind in time.

Paul takes this whole idea of righteousness, the righteousness of God, as the framework for this letter. He is talking about the righteousness of God. How do we know that? He uses the noun dikaiosune [dikaiosunh], the quality of being righteous, seventy-six times in this epistle. That should tell us something? When we add the other forms, such as dikaios [dikaioj] we are going to come close to two hundred uses of these words. Romans is about the righteousness of God and man can have the righteousness of God so that we can be declared just by God, and God can maintain His integrity, His righteousness, in His dealings with man.

At the center of this epistle Paul seems to digress from this theme, but actually he doesn't. When we come to Romans 9-11—and the verses we are looking at there are right in the middle of chapter ten—he starts talking about Israel. He starts talking about God's righteousness in relation to the Jews and to Israel. And at the end of that section he talks about the future salvation of the Jews. He is not talking about justification there, he is talking about physical deliverance in Romans chapter eleven. In chapter eleven when he talks about Israel he is always talking about corporate Israel. He treats them not as individuals but as a collective group who are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In Romans 9-11 he always speaks of Israel as this collective group, and he says in chapter 9, "Not all Israel is of Israel," because just because one is a physical descendant doesn't mean they are a spiritual descendant. It is only those Jews who follow Abraham in faith that are true Israel. That is to whom Paul is speaking and he is speaking to them in terms of their future deliverance.

Context: In Romans 1:18-5:21 Paul relates Israel to the righteousness of God in justification. He spends the first three chapters related to condemnation: that man doesn't measure up to God's righteousness. In the last half of chapter three through chapter five he talks about justification—how are we justified before a righteous God? His conclusion is that we are justified by faith alone just as Abraham was justified by faith alone. That is the core of his discussion on how a person moves from being unjustified to being justified, from being unregenerate to regenerate, from being unsaved to saved; but for Paul the term is justified. He finishes his discussion on phase one at the end of chapter five. Beginning in chapter six he starts talking about the spiritual life after we are justified. From 6:1 to 8:17 he relates Israel to the righteousness of God in sanctification through the contrast to the law. It is addressed as well to Gentiles and he is explaining that we now live on the basis of the newness of life that we have in Christ as seen in His resurrection. In 8:18-39 he is going to begin the transition to focusing specifically on Israel, and he relates Israel in those verses to the righteousness of God and glorification.

When Paul comes to the end of chapter eight he will makes a statement: NASB "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." This is an extremely bold promise of security in the love of God. But the objector says: What about Israel? God doesn't want them anymore. He is not taking care of Israel anymore so how can you say we are secure in God's promise when God has turned His back on His people? Paul is going to answer that and show that God has not turned His back in His people, and that is the thrust of Romans 9-11 and how God's righteousness will eventually bring deliverance to the nation Israel. Chapters 12-16 relate the righteousness of God to Israel in practical application.

When we look at Romans 9, 10, 11 we see that Romans 9 demonstrates the righteousness of God in His rejection of national Israel—not individuals. Individuals are still saved/justified. In Romans 10 he demonstrates that the rejection is based on Israel's corporate neglect as a nation of the revelation given to them. In chapter eleven he then asks: Has God then cast permanently away His people? No, He still has a plan for national Israel. So it is in the middle of that that he is going to make this statement that if we confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved.

Romans 11:25 NASB "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery [of a future restoration of Israel]—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; [26] and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, 'THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.' [27] 'THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS'." These two quotes are from Isaiah 59 and Psalm 14. This is not talking about when they all individually become justified; it is talking about when they corporately become saved. This is how they are all saved—delivered, not justified.

What we must realize is the importance of context. Saved in Romans 10:9, 10 doesn't mean justified, and righteousness there is not talking about imputation of righteousness. That passage is surrounded by quotations both leading into it and coming out of it. They come from Old Testament passages that without exception talk about God's promise to restore national Israel to the land He promised to give Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Unless Paul is just making up doctrine he has to be applying those to Romans 10 in the sense that they were originally intended, which has to do with the future deliverance of the nation Israel when Jesus returns at the second coming. That is the context of Joel 2:32 NASB  "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls. [3:1] For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem." When they call on the name of the Lord it is then that they will be delivered during the Tribulation period. That is what Romans 10:9,10 is talking about, it isn't talking about getting justified.