If you declare 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 profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. ”For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”Romans 10:9-13 NIV
In Matthew 16:24 Jesus said that in order to be his disciple it is necessary to deny self, take up our cross, and follow him. Yet this passage seems to say something else. That if I will confess Jesus is Lord, believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and call on his name, then I will be saved. Is salvation really a simple matter of intellectual acknowledgement of the resurrection, and a verbal acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord? In other words, is this passage at odds with what Jesus tell his disciples in Matthew 16:24? Or, is it something else altogether?
Calling on the name of the Lord
The expression “calls on the name of Lord”, or some variation of it, is found frequently throughout the Bible. As early as the 2nd or 3rd generation from Adam, people begin to call on the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26). Abraham and Isaac built altars and called on the name of the Lord. And there are many other examples of where this expression can be found. This ‘calling’ seems to imply serving. And nowhere is this more clear than in Zephaniah 3:9. Here, calling on the name of the Lord, and serving him shoulder to shoulder are parallels.
Paul’s argument in this extended passage is that we are not saved by what we do. Obedience to the Law is not enough. Rather we are saved by faith. But, as James 2:14-26 and Galatians 5:6 point out, faith is more than just a mental exercise. True saving faith results in action. To call on the name of the Lord is a call to action. It is a call to take up our cross daily and follow him. Confessing him as Lord, and calling on his name, are the entry points into a life of discipleship.