Our hope is anchored in our relationship with the living Lord. That's what it means to be saved. Paul said, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Romans 10:9-10).
"Jesus is Lord." That's the oldest creed in Christendom. What does it mean? Most people encounter the word lord only when it is part of a bigger word, such as landlord or warlord. But when Lord is applied to Jesus it is not restricted in any way. It is not confined to any place or sphere of influence. That's why no one can call him Lord, but by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). To call him Lord is to acknowledge that he is God manifested in human flesh. It means more than just speaking the words, but living under his lordship. For, as Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
"If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." The earliest creed is "Jesus is Lord" and the earliest statement of faith is "God raised him from the dead." Christians believe not only that Jesus lived but that he lives. They don't just know about Jesus; they know Jesus. Their religion is not ancient history; it is current events and future hope.
The resurrection can't be tested for truth; it is the test of lesser truths. No light can be thrown on it; its own light blinds unbelieving eyes. But once accepted as a fact, the resurrection of Jesus explains more about the universe, more about history and more about the state and fate of humankind than all the mountains of other facts.
God raised Jesus from the dead not just as an invitation for us to come to heaven when we die, but as a declaration that he himself has established permanent residence on planet earth (Revelation 21:3). The resurrection places Jesus on this side of the grave here and now in the midst of life. He is not just standing on the shore of eternity beckoning us to join him there. He is standing beside us strengthening us in this life. The good news of the resurrection is not that we shall die and go home with him, but that he has risen and comes home with us.
"It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
Belief in your heart comes before confession with your mouth. You can't give others something you don't have anymore than you can come back from somewhere you haven't been. What you believe in your heart, you must confess with your mouth. The gospel is gospel not when it is believed but when it is confessed. The rock on which Jesus built the church is not Peter's confession but a confessing Peter.
The gospel is something dynamic, something that is doing something. Shut it up and it ceases to be the gospel, the good news of the living Christ. Christianity is both a belief and a confession. It is not enough that God knows you're a Christian. Others must know it too.
"For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified." Justification does not come from the opinions of others. It comes from a heart that believes Jesus Christ arose from the dead and thus "justified freely forever." With your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved. Though confession begins with sin, it doesn't end there. It goes on to confess, "Jesus is Lord." It is good to be a Christian and know it; it's even better to be a Christian and show it. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" (Psalm 107:2).
The reason that some people don't talk much about their religion is they don't have much to talk about. They say something by what they don't say. Their silence speaks louder than words.
True faith in the heart will always produce confession in the mouth. Jeremiah wrote, "If I say, 'I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,' then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot" (Jeremiah 20:9).
Christian faith is not a private deal you make with God. It is a public confession. Jesus said, "Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). If the gospel is true, it is the best news this world has ever heard. It is inconceivable that anyone should hear it and believe it and then fail to tell it.
One day a tiny ant found its way into the Beyer kitchen. It wandered around until it found the jelly jar. As soon as it discovered this treasure, it hurried away and told a bunch of its buddies, "Hey, there's free food! Follow me!" They, in turn, told every ant in the neighborhood. You and I have been privileged to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). Have you shared that good news with others?
The most dangerous word in human language is the word "bread" when shouted to a starving crowd. Entrusted with the "Bread of life" that came down from God out of heaven, Jesus Christ, how can we just stand by while others die in need of it (John 6:33)?
You can choose to be a Christian, but you can't choose to be a witness. Jesus Christ has already made that choice for you. "You did not choose me," he said, "but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last" (John 15:16).
You and I are witnesses for Christ not because we choose to, nor because we wish to, nor because we are paid to, but because we are told to.