Question:

Hello there,

Thank you for the articles and answers on your website. I believe they stand on good biblical ground and they are a blessing to Christians and the world.

I have a question about Romans 10:9. Many years ago, I was immersed in water for the remission of my sins. Before this baptism, I had confessed Jesus as God's Son and that I needed His blood to cleanse me of my sins.

Yet I worry sometimes about it. I did not say the literal phrase exactly like this: "Jesus is Lord," as it is read in Romans 10:9. I believe the original Greek translation simply says "Confess the Lord Jesus," which might imply that a simple confession of Christ is enough, whether that be saying "Jesus is the Son of God," or "He is Lord," or simply "Yes" to answer a minister's question to confirm one's faith before immersion. (I saw one answer on your website about this very thing.) And I know that in some Bible translations, the Eunuch said to Philip in Acts 8, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God," which of course is not exactly "Jesus is Lord." It was simply a confession of faith in Christ, which Philip accepted.

Since my baptism, I have been secure in the knowledge of my salvation most of the time. But it can be hard when some bible translations literally word Romans 10:9 like "Confess 'Jesus is Lord'," or "Confess Jesus as Lord." And when I hear preachers or Church of Christ websites use that exact same wording, doubts begin to creep in so I have to remind myself or look up the doctrine of confession all over again. But other sermons will say "Confess Christ as the Son of God...," which fits my situation and relieves doubt. But doubts about whether I said the right words or gave the right confession remain. Confusion sets in - confusion as to what words in a confession are acceptable.

Sometimes the temptation is there to re-confess and be re-baptized all over again to be secure. Every once in a while, I have often struggled with "form" and what some would call "legalism." I am quite an analytical person that can put too much thought into things. And when it comes to Christianity, I can get "stuck" on certain topics that seem to "require precision." So every once in a while, I find myself doubting my salvation because I did not "Confess Christ in the right way," "say the exact words," or "I missed something." I know that is veering close to sacramentalism and having faith in my "good confession" and "performance," rather than accepting salvation through faith and trusting in Christ.

I apologize for the extensive background, and you probably receive emails such as this a lot. But this is not the first time I have had doubts about this particular verse. I have had doubts about my baptism before, and have overcome them with time, the Lord's help, and a deeper understanding of grace. But it is frustrating when I am growing in my faith then a doubt hits me, suggesting that I have not truly put on Christ because some check-mark was not properly ticked.

Thank you for your time and your web site. May God bless you in your ministry and in your life.


Answer:

"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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).

The problem doesn't appear to be in your knowledge of what the Scriptures say. You adequately proved that there isn't a set formula for a confession. See Peter's confession in Matthew 16:16 and the eunuch's confession in Acts 8:37.

In fact, when the Bible is talking about confessing Jesus Christ, it is not talking about a one time event that is done immediately before baptism. It is just like hearing, faith, and repentance. We ask people prior to baptism if they believe that Jesus is the Son of God to insure that a person is willing to confess their belief. But this one confession isn't the only one a believer will be called upon to make. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). Thus we are not talking about a ritual with a prescribed set of words to be said. We are talking about a way of life.

You are looking for rituals instead of understanding the type of life Christ demands of you. Confession is about not hiding the fact that you are a Christian. It is admitting to people that you do believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he is your Lord and Savior.

If you want to know your standing with God, look at your life. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6).

Hello Jeffrey,

Thanks for your message. Like I said in my first email, sometimes I have found myself getting stuck on worries about "ritual" and "form," which in fact hinders growth that is described in Hebrews. And while I knew that acknowledging Christ was necessary at every stage in a Christian's life, I had always tied this passage to the pre-baptism confession and not in the context of an ongoing process.

Thanks again