Select Page

DIY Salvation

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Grace, Salvation, Work

“But the righteousness based on faith says, … ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 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. 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 “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.'””

(Romans 10:6a, 8b-11, 13 ESV)

When I was a teenager, I had a problem with this verse: “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.” Most of my Christian friends were non-denominational, and they thought this verse was a kind of do-it-yourself manual for salvation. If you wanted to be saved, you had to do two things: First of all, make sure you said the words “Jesus is Lord” at least once in your life, preferably in public—maybe at your Baptism or when you were witnessing to someone. And second, you had to be absolutely sure you believed in Jesus’ resurrection. If you did these two things, you were home safe.

The problem, of course, was that we were reading the verse wrong. We thought everything depended on us—we had to say the right words; we had to believe the right things and do things correctly. In the end, that made us responsible for saving ourselves. No wonder we were worried and uptight all the time!

Now that I am older, I realize that Paul wasn’t laying down a set of instructions. He was describing what life looks like after the Holy Spirit saves us—after He gives us life, forgiveness, and salvation through Jesus our Lord. Do you want to know what a Christian looks like? The apostle Paul tells us in this verse.

Christians confess that Jesus is Lord. What does this mean? It means that Jesus is in charge of everything, not us, and not any of the powers in this world that think they are so great. It means that Jesus is God come down to earth to live and suffer and die and rise for us, to make us His own. It means that Jesus is in charge of me, and not me myself. He’s in charge of my salvation, too. So I can stop worrying.

What does it mean to believe in the resurrection? It means that we know Jesus is exactly who He said He was—God’s Son, sent to be our Savior from the power of death, sin, and evil. God would not raise a liar! It means Jesus succeeded in what He came to do, and death cannot keep Him down. It means death can’t keep us down either, since He has promised to share His victory with us and raise us from the dead, too. And all of this means that Christians have a joy and hope that never leaves us, even when we are deep in trouble or grief or frustration. Our salvation comes from Jesus, not us—and so we can relax. Because “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

We Pray: Lord, thank You that You are my Savior, not me. Help me to relax and trust You! Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on August 9, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights

Reflection Questions:
1. When have you been confused about something in the Bible?
2. Are you ever tempted to try to save yourself?
3. How does it feel having Jesus in charge?