“And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:8-10)
A frightened jailer who had just been rescued from suicide and execution, cried out, “What shall I do to be saved?” and was told, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” A successful young businessman asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and was told, “Sell what you have, give it to the poor and follow Jesus.” A group of awe-struck Jews called out to a nondescript, uneducated bunch of street-preachers, “What must we do?” They were told, “Repent and be baptized.”
What did these answers have in common? They were all addressed to particular people in specific historical settings and were never intended to give a theological explanation of how all people in all circumstances are to be saved from sin. But there is a summary statement which is intended to give a more comprehensive, theological definition of saving faith: Romans 10:8-10:” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
First, one must confess Jesus as Lord. You must be willing to go public with your acknowledgment that you are no longer lord of your life, but that Jesus is Lord. Secondly, call, you must believe from the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. In other words, the saving faith of Paul’s theology is not in some undefined deity or disembodied philosophical concept, it is in a person, an historical person, a person who through his power over death demonstrated publicly that he is the Savior. His resurrection validates all his claims and as history it is a verifiable fact, not a myth or philosophical abstraction. Thus, reliance on the Savior raised from the dead, and acknowledgment of his absolute authority is what Paul says is “trusting in him” (Rom 10:11) or “calling on him” (vs 13).
That’s how a person gets saved. But how does he get lost? And who is lost? Paul doesn’t tell us in this passage, but he has already told us in chapter 3: “All have sinned and short of the glory of God” and chapter 6, “The wages of sin is death…” But, he says here, “whoever calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved.”
Are there no other ways to life? Are there not, as the Japanese say, “Many paths to the summit of Mount Fuji?”
It is no accident that Paul says, whoever calls on the name. In other words, not just any name will do. Peter said the same thing, “Neither is there salvation in any other…”(Acts 4:12). Increasing numbers are saying that people are not saved only on the merits of Christ, as Peter and Paul said, but they are saved without knowing about him. They are saved when they are obedient to the light they do have. But Peter said, in the same way Paul says in this passage, “there is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved.” Note that he didn’t say, no other person. When you name a name there is no ambiguity, no leeway for conjecture. Christ taught the same thing: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6). But now we are told people can have the life without going the way or knowing the truth. Jesus seemed to be saying something else: “No one comes to the Father except by me.” In this passage Paul says that saving “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (vs 17). If God chose not to profer hope or describe another way out, how much more should we refrain!