“If you confess with your mouth 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.” (NAB, ROM 10:9-10) This verse of Scripture is often misapplied by those trying to establish that salvation is secured by a single act on the part of a believer. “Just say it, and you’re saved.” I like to quote the great Scott Hahn, who sharply says, “A text taken out of context is a pretext.” In other words, you can’t simply quote the English translation of a biblical text without considering the greater context of the passage, book, and entire Bible itself. One who does so is exposed to great danger of misunderstanding what was meant and failing to see the Truth in God’s Word.
One consideration is that for a person at the time of Christ, to confess that Jesus is Lord, that person would be committing treason. The only person to be publicly proclaimed as lord was the Roman Emperor; to call Jesus “Lord” could very easily result in one’s torture and execution. To confess with the lips was a profound act of faith and trust in God, both of which result from the gift of God’s grace.
Secondly, there is no reason to believe that confessing Jesus as Lord is a one-time deal. Quite the contrary. The reality, substantiated by the full context of Scripture (cf., MT 10, 2TM 2, HEB 4, HEB 10, etc.), is that we are to continually confess Jesus as Lord, throughout our lives, until our physical death, and when we sin, we are to reconcile ourselves with those whom we’ve sinned against and with God, and “then bring your gift to the altar.” (MT 5:23-24) Thus, by God’s grace, we are all called to “work out [our] salvation in fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), as we confess Jesus as our Lord by faith and through our works of love.
Jesus, I accept you as my Lord, and I thank you for the gift of grace given to me. Increase my faith so that my very life becomes my confession, that every word that goes forth from my mouth (nay, from my heart), gives you honor and glory through all that I do as your disciple. Amen.