If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. – Romans 10:9-10 (NRSV)
Did you almost decide not to read this devotional because of the headline? Truthfully, it sounds more like something you’d find on a tract under your windshield wiper than in a devo from the Stillspeaking Daily Devotional.
With these words, Paul was trying to eliminate obstacles to belief in the risen Christ and belonging in his exciting new community of followers. But in the millennia since, the whole notion of being personally “saved by Jesus Christ” has probably done a lot more harm than good. Some Christians have used it to decide who is divinely blessed and who is cursed, and even who deserves to live or die.
My friend Phil Brochard tells the following story in his new book about healthy church:
“A farmer is bringing wheat to town with his donkey and cart. Alongside him came an itinerant Christian preacher. ‘Brother, are you saved?’ the preacher earnestly asked. The farmer thought about it for a while and said, ‘Well, that’s a good question. But I don’t know that I’m the best person to answer. To really know, you should probably ask the miller, and the shopkeeper, and my wife, and our children, those who come to labor on my farm, and that man who was just passing through last month.”
Paul says we know if we are saved because our hearts and our mouths tell us. I wish he had added a sentence to the effect of: “But because our hearts and mouths do occasionally deceive us, better cross-reference with the people in our lives.”
Jesus, you save me not once from sin and self-delusion, but every day. Keep me grounded and growing in your ways.