Two Ways to be Saved?!?
5For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.
6But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down)
7“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
9because, 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.
10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
In theory there are actually two ways to gain eternal salvation. Number one: earn salvation by keeping the law perfectly throughout your life; this includes all of your thoughts and actions. Number two: receive the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Number one is impossible. Number two is our only viable option. I was rather blind to this line of thinking until my junior year in college. Dr. Lange shared this concept in my Doctrine class and I was rather taken aback by the whole idea. But here in Romans 10 we find this exact thought explained to its obvious conclusions by Paul.
Where we have fallen into a problem with our faith (and this is most likely true for all of Christendom for that last 2,000 years) is that we try to combine good works and trust. Good works hold a place in the faith (see the book of James) but they have no power to save us whatsoever. Moses declares in Deuteronomy that the Law will turn on us and become a curse should we rely on our ability to keep it for our salvation.
Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
Since the Law is not going to save us, we need a better alternative and God provides that for us in Jesus Christ. Paul gives righteousness a voice. First righteousness warns against trying to control our salvation by telling Christ what to do. This falls under the category of building your own God. We’ve already established the futility of that path. Next, Paul places the words in our mouth. All we can do is confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord; and even those words are spoken through the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:3
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
Let’s go back to the thought that we can be guilty of trying to provide for our own salvation by combining both of these pathways. There are so many sincere Christians who still believe that their works play into their salvation. So instead of living in the freedom that Christ brings through His death and resurrection, they live in a half-world where they are striving to add their good works to what Christ has already accomplished to completion. It makes for a dissatisfying faith life. Paul here helps us understand the futility of that thinking and puts forth a better way; let Christ do all of the work of redemption and you just receive what He has won for you. Finally Paul affirms that salvation has been won for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, by the same faith in Jesus. There are no favorites.