Thursday, October 25, 2007

With the Mouth?

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." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for "whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:8-13 (NASB)

What do you understand to be the role of the verbal profession of faith in salvation?

The Bible seems to presume verbal identification with Christ to be intrinsic to salvation. The block quote above is quite pointed: "with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Along with repentance and faith, articulation of that faith is described as having a causal relationship with salvation. The practice of verbally articulating one's faith is highlighted in 1 Timothy 6:12-13 (NASB), "take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate…" Here Paul uses the shorthand of election and confession to refer to Timothy's salvation experience. The New Testament church had good reason to emphasize public spoken acknowledgement of one's faith in Christ as significant: Jesus Himself had said, "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in Heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in Heaven." Matthew 10:32-33 (NASB)

As we were studying Romans 10 last Sunday evening, a member said, "My kids would ask this one: What if you can't speak? Will sign language suffice?" I do not believe that salvation is tied to any sort of physical ability on the part of humankind, nor, indeed, that salvation is contingent upon human capacity to achieve it at all. However, as one who seeks to be submissive to the Lord's commands given to us in the Scriptures, I find that the Bible marks as suspect and deficient any "faith" that does not bring forth the fruit of public articulation and do so incipiently.

Rather than the case of one who cannot speak, I offer this scenario for your perusal: A man is at home alone watching religious TV. He hears an appeal for the gospel. He "prays the prayer" internally in his own mind at the end of the program. He then turns off the TV, goes to bed, gets up the next morning, and goes on about his life without ever telling anyone about his "decision." Has this person received the New Testament gospel?


Anonymous said...

I would say that only God knows.

The man could be a very moral man that we would not see a big change in his actions or attitudes and would perhaps have always thought he was a christian. Or he could have been a real hellrasier who life is radically changed.

Hopefully he finds a good conservative Church and gets into some sort of strong discipleship program and develops his new faith

Jim Champion

Bart Barber said...

Thanks, Jim. How, then, do you interpret the portions of the Bible that I referenced above?

Tim Guthrie said...

The question you ask is a great one. I like those. My answer would be (with a huge caveat of could be wrong maybe or maybe not)that one would say theologically speaking the man could be saved but practically speaking from the perspective of "fruit" he may not.

How is that for a concreate answer?

gary l said...

I would apply James 2 to this question. Whether a person can physically speak or not, he will specifically identify with Christ if his faith is in Christ.

So in your hypthetical, the man might indeed call on the name of the Lord in the privacy of his home but he will also concretely identify with Christ after that point. This "work" showing the truth of his faith.

How's that sound?

Anonymous said...

Or what if the man went to bed and never woke up - did he receive the NT gospel, if he did then it leads to the question of does it matter if he woke up or not?

You asked how I interpret those verses - it would appear that the man would not be saved - praise the Lord that I am not the one who decides, I would much rather leave this to the Lord! I know - what a copout

Jim Champion

selahV said...

Bart, considering your references and the question and scenario, I'd say that no, the man could not be saved. There would be evidence of his faith because his faith would compell him to associate with a group of believers and he would hunger and thirst for the gospel and he would want to be part of the body and would, in fact, testify with word or action that he had met the Lord. Anyone who meets Jesus cannot help but share their meeting. According to the passages you give, if it is a true heart changing confession, he will profess Christ before man--somewhere.

I'm not changing your scenario, mind you. Going with the fact that he went to bed and did wake up and did go about his life. Jim's scenario changes my thinking as in that situation, no one would possibly know but the man and the Lord. And if he truly meant what he said, then Christ is bound by His own words to honor his profession and confession if He takes his life that very same night. selahV

Wayne Smith said...


To answer you question, I would say No. It has been my experience that a Born Again Christian would be Jumping up and Down wanting to tell others of the experience.
But this is God's Call and His Alone, as to the Heart of this Man.

In His Name

Scott Shaffer said...


I believe that in most cases there will be an almost immediate verbal proclamation of what Christ has wrought in the new believer's heart. I certainly wouldn't press the issue with regards to someone who is physically unable to speak. With respect to your scenario, I believe there will follow a verbal confession of faith. How and when that happens, that is God's business, but someone who never verbally confesses their faith is someone who probably has no faith. And as one of your other commenters said, our lives should speak loudly that we are His children.

Grosey's Messages said...

Can I throw in a ringer Bart?
What if,
the confession referred to was part of a bapptismal formula:
"In Believer's baptism we congfess our faith publicly in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you.... acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as your only Saviour and Lord, and will you follow Him in the fellowship of His church whereever he may lead you?"
At which point the baptismal candidate affirms that this is so.. either by a simple "I do!" or by a full fledged testimony...
perhaps this would give understanding to the significance of Baptism in New Testament and patristic times.
Yes I know the thought wanders close to Baptismal regeneration theology or sacramentalism, but it need not get off at either of those two stations, but rather be seen as the culmination of believing "in your heart that God raised Him from the dead"