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Do we need to confess Jesus with our mouth in order to be saved?

Romans 10:9 says, “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.” This raises the question whether someone who is not able to confess anything with his mouth, for example because he is too sick, too young, or mentally or physically handicapped, can be saved. If this Bible verse sums up the requirements for salvation, it is clear that some people won’t be able to meet these standards…

Read the context

If we are confused by a certain Bible verse, it is a good idea to read its immediate context as well. Let’s do that together:

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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame. For 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. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

This chapter says that people who hear the Gospel, should accept and believe it in order to be saved. The apostle Paul quotes various Bible verses to show that everyone who believes in God will be saved, regardless of his or her social, religious or racial background.

Compare with other Bible verses

Another helpful step to take, is to compare a difficult Bible verse with other verses. The Bible will never contradict itself, so other verses can help us build a “framework” to fit the difficult verse in. In this case, some helpful verses are:

  • John 5:24, [Jesus said:] “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 16:30-31, [Someone asked the apostle Paul] “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.

These verses stress that our salvation does not depend on anything we do. We should just believe God’s promise of salvation, we don’t need to add any works. None of these verses make an exception for people who are not able to express their faith audibly.

Confessing that Jesus is Lord

Let’s read one more verse to understand better what is meant by “confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord”.

So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

Our words reveal what is in our heart. So if we confess Jesus with our mouth, this is an outward sign of our faith. It is important to do so, to witness to people around us about our faith, to honor God with it, and also because confessing and sharing our faith with others can strengthen us. Being a Christian while keeping totally silent is hardly possible.

Matthew 10 mentions an alternative to confessing that Jesus is Lord, namely to deny Him. If we deny Jesus, this shows that we do not believe in Him. Then we cannot be saved! This is a totally different situation from the one described in the question, where someone does wholeheartedly believe in Jesus as his Lord and Savior but cannot confess this with his mouth.

Our salvation only depends on faith in Jesus

It is a serious loss if someone is not able to confess his faith and to share it with others. As the question leading to this article makes clear, it can leave family members and friends in uncertainty about this person’s faith, which is really sad. But in the end, one’s salvation does not depend on whether our loved ones are convinced of our faith. It only depends on our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, who knows our deepest thoughts even before a word is on our tongue (see Psalm 139:1-4).

Read more

A similar question can pop up when reading Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Is baptism necessary for salvation? What about people who die before they were baptized? These questions are discussed here and here.

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Grietje Commelin

Grietje studied theology and mastered in Bible Translation. Next to being a mother, she supports GlobalRize by writing bible reflections and other content for GlobalRize.

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