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How Does Romans 10:9 Describe How We Become Saved?

We can always choose to return to the Lord when our way in the world may be difficult. Just as Christ is wedded to the Church, salvation is a relationship with God. He is always faithful, willing to forgive, so we can continue with Him together.

Updated Nov 21, 2022
How Does Romans 10:9 Describe How We Become Saved?

One of the most famous verses regarding salvation is Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (NKJV). Is that really all it entails?

Salvation and Faith

In the Parable of the Sower, in Matthew 13, Christ says those who hear the gospel fall into four groups, likened to types of soil receiving the seed of faith:

  • The roadway, where the seed never takes root; these people do not receive the Good News at all.
  • “Stony places” are hearers at first excited by the Lord, but the original Koine Greek says the passion is proskairos, literally, “for a season.” They do not have a depth of commitment (or soil), so when persecution comes, their faith shrivels up and dies.
  • Thorny ground, one who hears of salvation and at first receives it, but as verse 22 says, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful,” or, in Greek, “barren.”
  • “Good ground,” he who not only receives and understands the Good News but “bears fruit and produces” (verse 23), with that crop yielding 30, 60 or 100 times that sown.

Of these four types of hearing the gospel, three seem at first to be born again, but only one truly is.

The key is found in John 15:5-6, in which the Lord likens Himself and His followers to a vine and branches. “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit,” He says, “for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

The Greek for “abide” is menó, which means “to maintain unbroken fellowship.” Jesus, therefore, is saying we must be in relationship with Him: praying, reading Scripture, and pursuing God personally.

Confession and Belief

Returning to our main text, Romans 10:9, “confession” urges us to express our faith to others, doing so “with your mouth.” The term in Greek, homologeó, means “to speak in full agreement, to align with, to endorse.”

At the end of the first of the four gospels, Jesus gives us The Great Commission to go to every nation and proclaim Christ.

For example, the early Church was staying a bit close to Jerusalem, so God allowed persecution to come up, and “those who were scattered went everywhere preaching The Word” (Acts 8:4).

We do confess our belief to God, but the clear emphasis of the New Testament is on telling other people as well. “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven,” our Lord says in Matthew 10:32-33. “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

To “believe,” or pisteusēs, is to be “fully persuaded.” Interestingly, this requirement comes in connection with Christ’s resurrection. Some revisionist seminaries contend He rose only in “the spirit of the Church,” but the Bible — and Jesus Himself — say He came up in body and in spirit.

Paul writes, “Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). If He has not come alive, then we will not either. However, He has, and we who believe shall too.

What Else Must We Do to Be Saved?

In the very first sermon in the Church, Peter declared to the masses at Pentecost, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). “Repent” is the Greek metanoeó, or “to change one's mind or purpose.”

When we accept Christ, we must deliberately turn from our sins and embrace God’s ways. We also ask the Lord’s forgiveness, just as we do after salvation when we realize we’ve sinned.

This leads to the last element of salvation: following Jesus. More than once, He says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “Keep” is téreó, from the root word for “a guard.” We are to know His commands and be vigilant to do what He says.

Someone might misconstrue this verse and turn it into a form of legalism. Following Christ’s will for us is being in a relationship — knowing intimately what he desires. How can Christ be our Lord if we disregard how he guides us? At the same time, the apostle “whom Jesus loved” says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The Lord knows our frame is as dust, that in our weakness, we will fail Him. However, sinning willfully by brushing aside His Word and presuming He will forgive us is an indication we have cracks in the foundation of our relationship with God.

Keeping Christ’s commandments also is vital to holiness. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord,” says Hebrews 12:14.

“Holiness” here is the Greek hagiasmon, which speaks of the transformation of our inner self that comes from dedication to Christ. Consecration leads to sanctification, our setting apart from God.

“Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,” says Romans 8:29-30. When we are saved, God sets us on a path that will lead to us becoming more like Jesus.

We can fight the Lord as He does this; think of the Prodigal Son of Luke 15:11-32. God is like the father in the story, and the son is a believer in rebellion against the Lord. The boy doesn’t like his dad’s ways, insults him by demanding his inheritance early, and heads out to spend it in an evil fashion.

However, the Holy Spirit ratchets up the pressure on the son. The boy runs out of money, and he, who lived high on the hog finds himself contending with that very beast for food. He finally cries “uncle” to his heavenly (and earthly) Father, repents, goes home, and is restored.

This illustrates that he did not lose his salvation; it was still there, just buried under sin and worldly desire.

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22).

We also can choose to return to the Lord, and while our way in the world may be difficult, we will have greater peace from the Lord and the power to live as Christ. How do we do this? When we endure setbacks, we resist bitterness and trust God is working all for our good (Romans 8:28).

Should we find someone genuinely in need, we help however the Lord enables us. We refuse to put possessions above relationships. In short, we handle both hardship and blessing the way that Scripture tells us.

The Way of Salvation

There are four interrelated aspects of salvation:

  • Repenting of sin, both turning from it and asking forgiveness for it.
  • Confessing Jesus is Lord to God and other people.
  • Believing Christ rose from the dead in both body and spirit.
  • Following Him as Lord and Savior.

After receiving Jesus, should we have trouble in our Christian walk with any of these, then we ask God’s help. Gotten distant from Him? Repent. Fearful of talking about Jesus with others? Pray for the strength of the Holy Spirit to become a powerful witness (Acts 1:8).

Wavering in faith in Christ’s overcoming death, hell, and the grave? Cry out, “Lord, I believe — help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Sinning out of weakness? Appeal to Him for forgiveness and a change of your heart.

Just as Christ is wedded to the Church, salvation is being married to God. He is always a faithful partner, willing to forgive, work out problems, and continue together.

For further reading:

Is it True Once Saved Always Saved?

Do I Have to Be Baptized to Be Saved?

Can Someone Be Saved by Just Seeing Creation?

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Fa Barboza


SWN authorKyle Huckins has three careers of over 20 years: journalism, higher education, and ministry. He’s won 25 awards for his professional media work and three honors for his scholarly research. Huckins is also an ordained pastor whose evangelism outreach, Eternity Now, has reached over 1 million for Christ in its first two years. See more at EternityNow.

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