8 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 preach): 9 that 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. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:8–10, NKJV).
Does this passage teach sinners are saved by praying and asking Jesus to be their Savior? If so, it does it without mentioning prayer at all. Yet, this is exactly how some use it as they tell people to pray and ask Jesus to save them. The Bellingham Baptist Church (Bellingham, WA) has a teaching pamphlet that says, “Pray and ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior,” which then quotes Romans 10:9. But, to “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus” is a profession of faith, not a prayer to God. For example, in Acts 8:36-37 when a lost soul asked what was keeping him from being baptized (to be saved, Mark 16:16). He was told by the preacher Philip, “If you believe with all your heart, you may,” to which he answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” When this believer confessed his faith, he was ready to be baptized and saved by Christ according to Christ’s word (Acts 8:38; Mark 16:15-16). Belief and confession that Jesus is the Son of God are unto (in the direction of) salvation. The believer who confesses faith will repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37-38). The word of faith the apostles preached says to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, confess Him as Lord, repent before God, and be baptized to be saved (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38). Reread today’s passage; Prayer is conspicuously absent. We must be careful not to add to God’s word.
For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light (Luke 8:17, NKJV).
The truth cannot be hidden. In context, Jesus had just explained the parable of the seed and soils. The condition of the heart determines whether God’s word (the seed) penetrates, germinates, and bears fruit (Luke 8:11-15). Untold amounts of time and energy are wasted trying to cover up, divert, deceive, and lie about the truth. Jesus later explained the efforts of such hypocrisy are exposed by the light of truth (Luke 12:1-3). Every sin we attempt to hide is uncovered and open before the eyes of God, even when they are concealed from others (Heb. 4:13). The light of His truth reveals our hearts and the sins that erupt from within (Heb. 4:12). When David hid his sins, he experienced increased grief and pain, but he found forgiveness when he acknowledged his sin to God (Ps. 32:3-5). Let us follow his example instead of Achan, who could not conceal his sin nor escape its punishment (Josh. 7:10-26). Today, may we meditate on the truth that God knows all about us, and His truth will save us when we open our hearts to His word and follow His will. Paul’s summary persuades us to live in the light of truth, “Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden” (1 Tim. 5:24-25).
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19–20, NKJV).
James concluded his exhortation to have a mature faith by challenging the faithful to care for the spiritual well-being of their brethren. The tenor of his instruction is not a self-righteous approach toward the wandering saint but a sincere attempt to turn back the wandering Christian. James describes the wandering Christian as a sinner, in error, and dead in his sins. Yes, Christians can fall and be lost (Gal. 5:4, 7). If not, there would be no need to encourage brethren to turn this person back from the path he has taken. The standard we use to measure whether one is wandering away from the Lord is “the truth,” the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). The wayward Christian has succumbed to the enticements “his own desires” that produce sin (James 1:14-15). Let us be invigorated not to neglect the danger and death faced by faltering brethren. With the mercy and urgency of Christ, let us attempt to pull them out of the fire, looking to ourselves, lest we also be tempted (Jude 21-23; Gal. 6:1-3).
3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:3–5, NKJV).
Paul asked these disciples of John a simple, probing, and informative question: “Into what then were you baptized?” Their answer (“into John’s baptism”) gave Paul the opening to explain the prerequisite and outcome of John’s baptism and help them become Christ’s disciples. First, repentance was necessary to receive John’s baptism, without which his baptism “for the remission of sins” was useless (Luke 3:3, 7-8; Matt. 3:5-8). Second, John’s preaching and baptism prepared people to believe on the Messiah (whom Paul tells them is Christ Jesus, Acts 19:4; Luke 3:3-6). John’s baptism served its purpose and ran its course. Convinced that Jesus is the Christ (in whom John prepared them to put their faith), John’s disciples became disciples of Jesus by being “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (by His authority, Acts 19:5). They were not disciples of Jesus before and until they were baptized in His name. Christ’s baptism remains how believers become disciples of Jesus. Faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, prepares the sinner to repent and be baptized in His name to be saved and become His disciple (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:36-41; 10:48; Gal. 3:26-27).
13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13–14, NKJV)
The letter to the Colossians displays and describes the preeminence of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:13-20 details His primacy and our incentives to entirely submit our hearts and lives to Him. Today’s passage unequivocally states that Jesus has a kingdom and, therefore, a King (v. 13). It also views Jesus as the Redeemer whose death gives forgiveness of sins (v. 14). The kingdom of God (also called the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 13:11; Mk. 4:11) exists today. Therefore, Jesus is now reigning as King (Heb. 1:8-9). The Son’s kingdom is the church He built, the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:18-19; Heb. 12:28). Sinners escape the “power of darkness” (sin and death) by entering “the kingdom of the Son.” This transfer from the spiritual realm of darkness to the Son’s kingdom happens when the Redeemer’s blood is applied to the sinner, forgiving his or her sins (Col. 1:14). The blood of Jesus is the ransom price paid to deliver sinners (1 Tim. 2:6). Redemption is only in Christ (v. 14; Acts 4:12). The gospel calls sinners to Christ for forgiveness through His blood. When sinners believe in Jesus Christ, repent, and are baptized into Christ, the blood of Jesus washes away their sins (Acts 2:37-41; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27). Jesus, the King, and Redeemer, continues to save sinners. He is worthy of our undying praise and devotion (Rev. 5:8-14).
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8–10, NKJV)
To confess means to acknowledge, “to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent…to concede” (Thayer, 446). Confessing our sins requires that we agree with God that we have transgressed His truth; we have sinned. God’s assurance of forgiveness to Christians “if we confess our sins” is bookended with “if we say that we have no sin” (v. 8) and “If we say that we have not sinned” (v. 10). We must acknowledge our sins to ourselves before we can and ever will properly confess them to God (Psa. 32:3-4). We must come to ourselves like the prodigal (Lk. 15:17). God’s word describes this process as godly sorrow producing repentance that leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10). With contrite hearts, we admit our sins to ourselves, and with repentance toward God, we confess our sins to Him (Lk. 15:18-19). With such a confession of sins, we fall before the throne of grace seeking mercy, and God keeps His word to cleanse our defilement (1 Jno. 1:9; Psa. 32:5; 51:3-4, 7-12, 17). John says four things happen when we deny our sin: 1) We deceive ourselves, 2) The truth is not in us, 3) We make God a liar, and 4) His word is not in us. God is faithful to forgive us when we trust Him and confess our sins to Him.
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. (Acts 10:1–2, NKJV)
People devoted to their families, jobs, and country are assets to any society. Those who respect God, pray, and are generous bring honor to themselves by blessing others. Cornelius, the centurion, was such a man. Just in his dealings with his fellow man, he had a good reputation among those who easily could be his adversaries (Acts 10:22). Many would say such people will surely go to heaven. Yet, for all his good traits, Cornelius was lost. His morality could not save him. His prayers did not save him. An angel appearing to him did not save him (Acts 10:3-4). The angel told him to send for Peter, who would tell him what he “must do” (Acts 10:6). Peter preached the gospel to him so he could be saved (Acts 11:14; 15:7-9). Peter told this moral, devout, prayerful, charitable person to “fear God and work righteousness” to be accepted (saved) by God (Acts 10:34-35). Peter commanded Cornelius “to be baptized in the name of the Lord” after hearing and believing the gospel (Acts 10:48). Good, moral people continue to need salvation from sin (Rom. 3:23). Their salvation is in Christ through His gospel, nothing else (Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:16; 6:17-18).
25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25–26, NKJV)
Christ teaches us to have a willing heart to forgive those who sin against us. We do not wait until the offender says, “Forgive me” before being ready to forgive. We are to probe our hearts and remove any malice toward one who has sinned against us. True, God grants forgiveness when the sinner petitions Him for relief according to His will (Rom. 10:13; Acts 2:37-38; 22:16). Still, Jesus, Stephen, and Paul illustrate the willing heart of forgiveness before sinners repented of their sinful deeds (Lk. 23:34; Acts 7:59-60; 2 Tim. 4:16). God’s readiness to forgive is our model: “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me” (Psa. 86:5-7). God is ready to forgive. Likewise, we must have hearts of forgiveness (Col. 3:12-13). The provision Christ states is unmistakable. If we are holding something against a person, we must forgive to be forgiven.
15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.’” (Acts 26:15–16, NKJV)
Saul was traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus with authority to seize Christians in the synagogues when Jesus appeared to him (Acts 9:1-6, 13-14). Saul will go from being faithless to being faithful, from a persecutor to a preacher, from an antagonist to an apostle. His conversion is a touchstone of God’s mercy, grace, and longsuffering. It serves as “a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him (Christ, JRP) for everlasting life” (1 Tim. 1:12-16). Therefore, it is essential to expose and reject the assumption that Jesus saved Saul on the road to Damascus. That was not the purpose for which Christ appeared to Saul. Jesus plainly stated why He appeared to Saul: to make him “a minister and a witness” of Christ (Acts 26:16; 22:14-15; 9:15). Jesus appeared to Saul to appoint him as an apostle (1 Cor. 15:8-11). Saul was a believer after this miraculous event. And he was repentant toward God, as demonstrated by his praying and fasting (Acts 9:9, 11). But in Damascus, three days later, his sins still needed to be washed away. Ananias said to Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). If Jesus saved Saul on the road, what sins needed washing away? Since Saul still needed cleansing from his sins, it is apparent he was not saved on the road. To follow the pattern of Saul’s conversion includes being baptized to wash away sins (by Christ’s blood, Rom. 6:3). Why are you waiting?
13 They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” (John 9:13–15, NKJV)
The healed man had already told the Pharisees how he received his sight (Jno. 9:10-11). Their interest in Jesus and His miracle was not to believe in Him; it was to accuse Him as a Sabbath-breaker (Jno. 9:16). Let’s draw our attention to the particulars of this event. 1) The man said Jesus did something (“put clay on my eyes”), then 2) Jesus told him to do something (“I washed”), and then 3) The man received his sight (“I see”), John 9:6-7. A similar sequence occurs when God saves sinners. 1) Jesus did something (died for our sins and arose from death). 2) Jesus tells us to do something (“arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). 3) When we believe and do what He tells us to do, we are saved (Mk. 16:15-16). Like the faithless Pharisees, many religious leaders reject and deny this God-revealed sequence of salvation. Yet, like the blind man’s healing, receiving God’s gift of salvation blends God’s grace and our faith (Eph. 2:8). The blind man did not merit his gift of sight when he obeyed Jesus. Neither do we merit our gift of salvation when we obey Him (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 5:9; Rom. 6:3-5, 17). But unless we have the faith to obey, we remain blind, lost in sin. So, will we choose to have faith like the blind man and obey Jesus? Or will we join the Pharisees and faithlessly resist Jesus and His salvation?