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JD Greear takes on the questions: Can you be sure of your salvation? And, if so, where does that assurance come from?
There is certainly a lot of merit to what Greer says, but what are we doing when we make verbalization, in whatever fashion, of one’s faith gratuitous, extraneous, dispensible, nonessential? Greer says:
“Salvation is not so much a prayer that you pray, but it is a posture that you adopt toward the finished work of Christ, a posture of repentance and faith. Now, that posture might be, and usually is, and probably ought to be, expressed as a prayer, uh, you know, what you are doing is you are, um, you are verbalizing this posture you are taking, repentance and faith in-and-of itself is a cry to God for salvation, but you can adopt the posture without praying the prayer and at the same time you can pray the prayer without adopting the posture. It’s the posture of repentance…”
Does this make Romans 10:8-10 out to be a lie?
“But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ — that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 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. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.'”
And what does it say in regard to Jesus’ statement recorded in Matt 10:32-33 and Luke 12:8 that “everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”
Biblically speaking, there IS something essential in the vocal, public confession of faith. Now, does that mean “asking/inviting Jesus into your heart”? Probably not.
Interesting how we each interpret other’s comments. If I understood your comment correctly, your emphasis on the word IS as it relates to the vocal, public confession of Christ, seems to suggest that the speaker was insinuating that might not be necessary. I heard him say that it is a part of salvation. I also interpreted his comment regarding praying a prayer as referring to praying “the prayer”. It’s praying “the prayer” that brings uncertainty in many people’s lives. Often times the message they receive is just pray this prayer and you will be saved. They’re buying fire insurance rather than verbalizing their need for a savior and returning the love to the One that first loved them.
No, sister Pam, my emphasis was on the words “in your mouth” and “confess with your mouth.” I emphasized this because the author did not “insinuate” that verbalization is not necessary, that’s exactly what he wrote. “The prayer” is the prayer of confession: confession of sin, confession of repentance, confession of faith. Heart faith and verbal confession is what Scripture calls for. We can’t then say that it’s just about a posture and prayer is optional.
That is the key: it doesn’t really matter whether it is public or private, the basis for salvation is faith in Jesus. How we express that faith is less important. However, apostle Paul helped to solve that riddle when he said both the heart and the mouth are involved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). With that I believe this matter is settled. Let’s not despise those who made public confession. Zachaeus publicly declared his faith when he made restitution. Whichever way preachers felt led to lead people to Christ is OK as long as it doesn’t negate God’s word. Let’s spend time preaching the gospel rather than tearing down important church doctrines that has served billions of Christians through generations to receive and keep their salvation. Criticizing public confession by sinners, itself can do more harm to young believers than strengthening their faith. Confession or just believing in the heart, doesn’t guarantee salvation of a sinner who did not genuinely repent. Simon the sorcerer had initially believed and was following Philip as a believer. His heart revealed him afterward that he was insincere.
So, if I understand you correctly, Jay; a mute could not be saved because a mute can’t verbalize with his or her mouth that he or she believes…or maybe they can with their hands…or maybe it is a heart condition, and not about the mouth. Jesus also said; “why call me Lord, Lord (assuming this is with the mouth) and do not the things that I command you.” I believe the Bible teaches that as a man (or woman) thinks in his heart, so is he. I think we all agree that the issue is responding appropriately to the call of the Holy Spirit. There’s no sinner’s prayer, but clearly the Bible teaches that Christ’s spirit comes into us when we sincerely give our lives to Him. That surrender can be audibly, or silently, but whichever it is, there must be with it a regeneration, or n o matter what we think, God’s Spirit does not abide in us. Because he promises that the old is gone and the new has come. Regarding another person’s comment concerning water baptism, clearly that has nothing to do with salvation, or the forgiveness of sins. Be careful not to develop an entire theological position upon one verse. 1st John 1:9 clearly says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify of from all unrighteousness. No mention of immersion. Just sayin…
Just a few of things here. No, Jim, you don’t understand me correctly. I’m only saying what Scripture says. Using the example of a speech-impaired person to refute Rom 10:9-10 is rather ludicrous. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mat 16:24). Did Jesus mean that if a person didn’t take up an actual wooden cross and follow Him around he couldn’t be His disciple? Did He mean that a weak person who couldn’t lift a cross or a quadriplegic person who couldn’t follow Him around couldn’t be His disciple? Of course not. That’s ludicrous. In the same way, you say, “water baptism, clearly that has nothing to do with salvation.” NOTHING to do with salvation? Clearly? The example of the thief on the cross who COULD NOT be baptized, yet COULD that very day be in Paradise with Christ, demonstrates that baptism is not NECESSARY to GET salvation, yet it’s still important and normative, according to Jesus and the Apostles. Does it have NOTHING to do with salvation? Of course it has SOMETHING to do with salvation, though perhaps not with GETTING saved. It is normative and important for a person who has received Jesus and who CAN be baptized to be baptized. What we’re talking about is the difference between a person who CANNOT and a person who WILL NOT, someone who isn’t capable of doing it and someone who refuses to do it. Of COURSE the speech-impaired person who receives Jesus believes in his or her heart and will desire to confess Him as Lord in whatever way he or she can, whether that be by pen and paper, electronic media, or sign language.
As the Disciples once said: “Ah, now we can understand what you are saying”. Your first post seemed to be focused on the comment that one does not have to “speak” a prayer to be saved, as you referenced Romans 10:9. My response was totally in line with this post. My reference to baptism was not meant to be pointed toward you. It was in response to Jeff who responded to your post and specifically said “being buried in the water of baptism for the forgiveness of sin.” Clearly you and I do not believe that baptism has anything to do with the forgiveness of sins. (Other than if we aren’t baptized it is a sin) I totally agree with you that Believer’s Baptism is an act of obedience, which can indicate the true heart condition. And the lack of obedience can also indicate the heart condition. What’s kind of interesting is that Jeff’s post was 6 months ago, and one of your posts is listed as being 2 years ago. I had no idea that these posts were maintained for that long. But it also makes the case that this is an important discussion that constantly needs to be revisited. God bless you, today, Jay.
And may God bless you, Jim.
I wouldn’t say I agree with you that baptism has NOTHING to do with forgiveness of sin. It may not have to do with GETTING forgiven for sin, but it has SOMETHING to do with BEING forgiven of sin: the physical demonstration/testimony of the spiritual reality. (I dislike the terminology of the “outward” and “inward.” The spiritual reality is just as much outward as the physical reality, we just can’t see it.)
As RE “if we aren’t baptized it is a sin,” I would agree only insofar as that applies to a person who COULD be baptized but REFUSES to: that would be the sin of rebellion. In the same way, if a person COULD confess with his mouth the Lord Jesus but refuses to, that would be rebellion.
This is a good example of why we should pray for our leaders because there is so much confusion and speculation and miss-information. Taking the word of God at face value and living by faith has become a foreign concept it seems, if you mean it from your heart and call on the Lord to save you and bring His presence inside your heart, does He mean it, when does He mean it, when can I take it to heart and go to bed sleeping like a baby that I am saved and it has nothing to do with how I feel. Anyway, keep praying for our preachers so they can preach the Word in season and out of season.
It’s odd. I don’t see anyplace in the book of Acts where anyone “asked Jesus into their hearts.” I don’t see a “sinner’s prayer.” I do see people believing in Jesus, repenting of their sins, confessing Jesus as their Lord and being buried in water for the forgiveness of sins. Why don’t we just do it that way?
I totally agree with Jeff’s (below) statement and to answer his question: Yes, we should encourage unbelievers to follow either Acts or the Roman Road to salvation. Stay with the Words of Jesus through Paul that repentance, confession, baptism, and following the teachings of Jesus throughout life is the Way.
Let’s put this one issue to rest, brothers and sisters, about asking Jesus into our hearts. The Apostle prayed “that Christ MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS through faith” (Eph 3:17), and he said because we are sons, “God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son INTO OUR HEARTS” (Gal 4:6), and Jesus Himself said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (Joh 14:23): “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, THAT JESUS CHRIST IS IN YOU — unless indeed you fail the test?” (2Co 13:5). There is NOTHING unbiblical or in the least wrong with asking Jesus into one’s heart. But asking Jesus into one’s unrepentent, unbelieving heart, a heart that’s not inclined to Him, directred to Him, set on Him, enlightened by Him (Jos 24:23; 1Sa 7:3; 2Ch 11:16; 20:33; 2Co 4:6) is of no effect. Add to that the fact that for believers, “the love of God has been poured out WITHIN OUR HEARTS through the Holy Spirit who was given to us,” (Rom 5:5) and that He “sealed us and gave us the Spirit IN OUR HEARTS as a pledge” (2Co 1:22) and it is pretty clear.
What is this REALLY about? J.D. Greer — a sincere and godly guy, so I don’t say this in a judgmental way, but merely observational — was obviously somewhat neurotic about being saved. I’ve known several people like that; I would prefer all people be as serious about salvation as they! But the fact is, he was more concerned about what HE was DOING (the “good confessions” he made and the inconstancies in his life) than what CHRIST had DONE — and apparently he had no one to turn to for counsel. And because he couldn’t find assurance after “asking Jesus into his heart,” whatever that meant to him, he seems to think the problem is people asking Jesus into their hearts rather than the misunderstanding of what that means.
And the example of Martin Luther is at once odd and appropriate. The one from whom Greer received assurance because we are saved by God’s grace, not our works, is the one who apparently said to believers that If they doubted whether they were saved, they should look to their baptism.
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