If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. —Romans 10:9 NIV
Take just a moment and read our verse for today’s Musings one more time: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? You don’t have to hike 1,000 miles. You don’t have to memorize a long list of things to do. Or not do. You don’t have to be born into the right family. You declare Jesus is Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Yup. That’s it.
Let’s look at an Easter example. Come with me to the cross that long ago and far away day and hear the retelling of what happened there from Luke’s notes on the occasion.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” —Luke 23:39-43 NIV
We don’t know much about this criminal. We don’t know if he ever heard Jesus preach or whether he had a friend or relative who knew Jesus. We do know he was not a declared follower of Jesus. We do know that he really did deserve his punishment. He admitted it. It’s possible that he had only heard of Jesus but had never met Him until he landed next to Him on a cross. In any case, let’s see if this unnamed man’s words fit with our Romans 10:9 definition of salvation.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord.” It fascinates me that God is pretty clear that we are not to keep our allegiance to Him a secret. We are to “declare with our mouth” our commitment to Christ. This criminal asked Jesus to “remember me when You enter Your kingdom.” He said this “out loud” so that people could hear him, and it could be remembered and recorded.
To call someone a “lord” is to place him above yourself as worthy of being obeyed and worthy of your allegiance. Incredibly, this unknown criminal hanging beside Jesus believed Jesus was a King with a Kingdom. A king is even higher than a lord. A king would, in essence, be the lord of the land. Even as Jesus hung there, appearing helpless on a cross, this criminal declared Him a Sovereign. What faith! He also declared Jesus had done nothing wrong, acknowledging that Jesus was above him and not deserving of the punishment He was receiving. This dying man understood a whole lot more than the disciples who had walked with Jesus on earth for three years. I am in awe of his understanding and his faith!
And believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Here’s the next incredible thing. The criminal didn’t declare that Jesus had a kingdom in the past, he asked to be remembered when Jesus came into His Kingdom in the future. He did not believe Jesus was going to stay dead even as Jesus was dying. I do believe he hoped for admittance to that Kingdom. I mean, why not ask, right? The King is right there beside you, and you know He could do this for you, so why not just mention it? This is stunning faith. Even more remarkable than the declaration of Jesus having a kingdom was the expectation that Jesus would enter His Kingdom. Before Jesus even died that day, at least one person in the crowd believed His death would not be final.
I am not God. I am not the judge of anybody. But I really do believe this crucified criminal was saved by Jesus’ death on the cross. He had no time to do good deeds and prove his faith, but our verse in Romans does not say that is necessary. This man believed Jesus could save him, and declared it out loud. When I reach Heaven, I surely want to meet him and learn his story, don’t you?
What about you? Have you declared with your mouth that Jesus is Lord? We do that as Christians today through baptism, through taking communion, through sharing our testimony, and in many other ways. God tells us to declare our affiliation with Him out loud. Let’s make sure that we have identified ourselves with Christ in a public way. Declaring His Lordship is admitting we are under Him. Let’s make sure we are submitted to Him, giving Him first place in our lives.
Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead? Believing that Jesus conquered death and took our sins upon Himself on that cross means that we’ve repented and received that gift. It’s that simple. And yet how often we waste years trying to be lords of our own lives and refusing to submit to the One who died and rose again. Friend, if you are saved, celebrate the richness of your salvation this day after Easter with the greatest of joys. And let’s share this amazing story of simple salvation to those we know and meet.
Thank You, Father God, for saving us. We declare with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and we believe in our hearts that You raised Him from the dead. We are forever grateful for the mercy and grace You have extended to us through the forgiveness of our sins. Hallelujah! What a Savior! We praise You and thank You, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. —Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
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