Why Confess Christ? The Use and Abuse of Romans 10:9-10 -- By: John F. Hart

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 12:2 (Autumn 1999)
Article: Why Confess Christ? The Use and Abuse of Romans 10:9-10
Author: John F. Hart


Why Confess Christ?
The Use and Abuse of Romans 10:9-10

John F. Hart

Professor of Bible
Moody Bible Institute

I. Introduction

While it may not be in scholarly vogue, let me begin this rather theological article with a hypothetical story. Bob, a middle-aged salesman, was on a business trip in another state. Things have not been working well with his marriage. In fact, to his utter shock his wife had informed him a few hours before his flight that she was filing for divorce and leaving. The papers were in the process of being finalized. To make matters worse, after Bob arrived at his destination he discovered that his most substantial client had not responded to his business calls as expected. Bob was on the verge of losing this highly significant account.

In his motel room that evening, in a state of extreme despair, Bob remembered how his Christian friend had spoken of the unusual change that Christ had worked in his life when all else seemed hopeless. Just as Bob had suspected from the numerous times he had spent in a motel, a Gideon Bible was neatly tucked away in the drawer of his motel lampstand. Cautiously pulling it out, he searched for help from his despair. Some notes in the inside cover suggested he read the Gospel of John, chapter three.

He knew about the death and resurrection of Jesus from attending church as a young boy. He was even able to find the Book of John without great difficulty. After reading and rereading the story of Nicodemus, he placed his trust in Christ’s death and resurrection for his eternal destiny and fell asleep knowing that he had eternal life. But the stress and pressure of the emotional events of the last twenty-four hours had taken their toll. Bob suffered a massive heart attack and died in his sleep in his motel room.

In light of the often-used verses in Rom 10:9–10, this hypothetical but nevertheless real-to-life situation provokes several pragmatic questions. What seems clear is that Bob “believed in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead” (Rom 10:9b). But, on the other hand, did he really “confess with his mouth Jesus as Lord” (Rom 10:9a)? In fact,

we must face the down-to-earth inquiry as to whether at his death Bob went to heaven.

I. Prevailing Interpretations of Romans 10:9-10

There are numerous options given to us by commentators and theologians for the Rom 10:9–10 passage to help explain what might have happened ...

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