”That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” – Romans 10:9-10
Misunderstanding what Paul wrote in Romans 10:9-10 has caused a lot of confusion and consternation among many people, and has also led to some pretty bad doctrines (such as “Lordship salvation,” as just one example). Even many within the body of Christ have read this passage and wondered how to square it with Paul’s Gospel, which is simply the Good News that Christ died for our sins, that He was entombed, and that He was roused the third day.
Now, those of us in the body of Christ are well aware of the fact that everyone has already been saved from an absolute perspective — and that everyone will eventually experience that salvation physically (meaning they’ll be made immortal and perfect) by the end of the eons — because of what the Good News proclaimed by Paul ultimately means. (If you aren’t already familiar with this fact, please read this article.)
But what about salvation from a relative perspective, meaning the salvation which brings one eonian life (a term which is often mistranslated as ”eternal life” or ”everlasting life” in certain less accurate Bible versions, but which simply refers to enjoying life in the kingdom of God during the impending eon known as the Millennium)? Well, as the article I linked to above explains, there are different types of “relative” salvations, and different ways of experiencing eonian life in the kingdom (some will do so on earth, and some in the heavens), but the two salvations we’re concerned with here are the salvations experienced from a relative perspective under the Gospel of the Circumcision and from a relative perspective under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision (also known as Paul’s Gospel).
As I’ve discussed in many places on this website, anyone to whom God has given the faith to truly believe Paul’s Gospel will experience eonian life in the heavens, which is salvation from a relative perspective under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision. This means that, while it isn’t the choice to believe the Good News Paul preached as his Gospel that saves someone (our relative salvation is based on God’s sovereign election of those of us in the body of Christ long before we were ever born, and has nothing to do with any decisions we make), someone who does truly understand and believe the Good News that Christ died for our sins (which means that everybody’s sins have been taken care of and are no longer an issue for any human who ever has existed or ever will exist, and thus everyone will eventually experience salvation), that He was entombed (which means that He ceased to exist as a conscious being when He died), and that He was roused from His metaphorical sleep on the third day (which means that He was resurrected from the dead into a physical body here on earth and not as a ghost in an ethereal afterlife dimension), has been brought into membership in the body of Christ and will enjoy eonian life in the heavens at the Snatching Away. One thing you’ll notice that Paul didn’t mention in that message of Good News, which is what he told his readers they believed when they were saved (relatively speaking), is that they had to confess Jesus as Lord in order to be saved, and yet verse 10 of Romans 10 seems to make it clear that the salvation written about there is based on confession. Now, this doesn’t mean that Jesus isn’t Lord to us, of course, since we’re told elsewhere that He is, but His Lordship isn’t something Paul said his readers confessed at the time they were brought into membership in the body when he explained what they did when they were saved (nor does he say it’s something that they or we have to confess in order to be brought into the body; in fact, it’s faith in the Good News that he considers to be the important thing we do, as he makes clear all throughout the rest of his epistles, so there’s no good reason to take this one reference to confession being necessary for salvation that happens to be sitting in the middle of a series of chapters which were primarily about Israel and their salvation and applying it to us, especially when it would contradict everything else we know about our salvation).
On the other hand, while Romans 10:9-10 says that someone who experiences the salvation that “confessing Jesus as Lord and believing God raised Him from the dead” brings will indeed believe God resurrected Jesus (just as we believe), which means they would obviously also have to believe that He died (just as we believe), there isn’t anything in that verse about His death being “for our sins,” which is a crucial part of what we believe when we’re saved under our Gospel. The most important part of the belief connected to the sort of salvation Paul is talking about in Romans 10 is Jesus’ resurrection, not His death for our sins. It might not seem like it, but these are important distinctions between these two different sets of belief here.
Of course, most people are under the impression that there’s only one Gospel to be believed in Scripture. This right here, however, demonstrates quite clearly how there is definitely more than one thing that a person can believe in order to be saved (figuratively speaking; again, it isn’t the actual belief that saves us). As I’ve already alluded to, something we need to keep in mind is that Romans chapters 9 through 11 are primarily about Israelites (it’s not 100% about Israelites, but they’re the main focus of those chapters, including in the passage in question), and Paul’s point about confessing and believing in that passage was connected to what Israelites have to believe in order to be saved under the Gospel of the Circumcision, which is that Jesus is the Christ, aka the Messiah, and that He is the Son of God. Salvation/eonian life under this Gospel has nothing to do with the salvation of all humanity the way Paul’s Gospel does, nor does it have anything to do with residing in the heavens during the impending eons, but is actually about getting to live in the part of the kingdom of God that will be on planet earth — specifically in Israel — during the Millennium. Christ’s death “for our sins” wasn’t included anywhere in the Gospel that Jesus or anyone else preached prior to Paul proclaiming his specific Gospel to the nations, and Jesus’ resurrection was only an important part of their Gospel inasmuch as it proves He’s still able to be their Messiah because He’s no longer dead (with the confession about Him being Lord being connected to Him being the Son of God).
So don’t worry if you haven’t verbally proclaimed that Jesus is Lord. One day you, and everyone else, will, of course. But in the meantime, the only way to be saved under Paul’s Gospel is for God to choose to give you the faith to understand and believe what it means that Christ died for our sins, that He was entombed, and that He was roused the third day.