I have been having an interesting discussion with Mr. Lou Martuneac in the comments section at the Pulpit blog. He is the author of the book “In Defense of the Gospel”. I have found Lou to be gracious and patient in our interactions. He posted a comment here earlier, and I owe him a response.
Here is his comment:
“On Pulpit Magazine I answered numerous questions for you. Following is the only one I asked you.
How do you define “believe” as it appears in Romans 10:9? Does your understanding of “believe” require a lost man come to Christ with an upfront commitment to live “in obedience to Him” in order to be born again?
I went back to the original discussion, and filtered our conversation there out from the rest of the comments. I am not going to post the whole document here, because it is too long.
My original question, in reponse to the normal “works” objection (how much good works is needed before you are saved), was “How much belief is enough?”
Lou answered by quoting from Romans 10:9 and Acts 16:31. The only answer to my question that I could see from those verses was that one should believe with “all thine heart”. In my follow-up, I asked Lou what he thought “all thine heart” means in the context of salvation. He never clearly answered me, unless of course, I missed it somewhere.
I also asked Lou whether he thought that being born again manifested in works or not, and he responded that he thought it did. Lou then proceeded to list his concerns with Lordship salvation, among which are that an upfront commitment is required in Lordship evangelism to be saved, and which leads us to his question here.
Having not read Lou’s book, I have to confess that it took me reading all of his comments that I could find on the issue, most notably in his latest interaction on the Pulpit blog with Nathan, to hopefully clearly understand his objection framed in his question:
“My concern is with demands for the outward “good works” in the form of an upfront promise of submission and surrender in exchange for salvation. This is what Dr. MacArthur calls for in his definition of Lordship Salvation. That is making an application that repentance does not define or necessitate.
Submission should be the natural result of salvation. As I have said right along, we must not make the results of repentance, or even a promise for the results of repentance, the requirements for salvation.”
For the sake of clarity, here is Lou’s question to me again:
“How do you define “believe” as it appears in Romans 10:9? Does your understanding of “believe” require a lost man come to Christ with an upfront commitment to live “in obedience to Him” in order to be born again?”
The verse in question is Rom 10:9 “because, 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.” (ESV)
“believe” here is from the Greek “pisteuo”, which, in the Vine, Unger & White expository is described as “to believe”, also “to be pursuaded of”, and “place confidence in, to trust”, signifying “reliance upon not mere credence”.
My answer then, to Lou, is that I don’t understand the relevance of the question. We are in agreement that there will be submission to Christ, and that it follows as a result of being regenerated and justified, during the process of sanctification. I will agree with Lou on this, that there can be no merit in an upfront commitment, it has no salvidic powers whatsoever. However, from there on we then start splitting hairs a bit, because Romans 10:9 clearly requires at the very least an admission that Jesus is Lord in order to be saved.
We should recognize Jesus in all His glory when presenting the gospel, including all the offices that He holds. He is priest, prophet and king, each with its own implications. We must also remember the different timed events of salvation, namely the past, present and future. To minimize Christ to get a “yes” from someone is to get a non-answer.
MacArthur states that people who come to Christ for salvation do so because they obey the gospel call, and that they must have a willingness to surrender to Christ as Lord. To properly analyse this, let’s look at the flip-side. Someone can come to Christ for salvation, obeying the gospel call, but unwilling to recognize the office of “King of Kings”, that Christ holds. This takes us back to Romans 10:9, where the first part says that one should confess Jesus as Lord.
“Lord” here is from the Greek “kurios” which translates as “Lord, Master, owner, sir”. It is a title that Jesus assumed himself. So if we read in Romans 10:9 that we should confess Jesus as Lord, that means we confess him as master, and that ties in with the rest of His kingship office. We are then left with some rather curious permutations then. Are we then to believe that Paul implored the Jews to confess something they did not mean, but still believed that God raised Him from the dead? I think that is rather absurd.
“Confess” comes from the Greek “homologeo” which can mean confess, profess or acknowledge.
In summary then, the conditions to be saved in Romans 10:9 contains 2 actions, one of believing, and one of confessing. They cannot be seperated logically, one cannot truthfully confess what one does not also believe. The confession part is clearly a verbal confirmation that one recognizes the kingship of Christ, and one must also believe in His atonement for our sins via His death and resurrection, in order to be saved.