Mouth and Heart
“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.”— Romans x. 9.
PAUL’S great work was saving souls. Whatever else he might be doing, he never forgot “by all means to save some.” Whatever else he aimed at in his epistles, he always took care so to write that men might, by his teaching, be led to the Lord Jesus. He sought so to speak that troubled consciences might come to peace, through Jesus Christ his Lord, whom he loved so well. This is one of the reasons why he so often gives us weighty condensations of the gospel, packing the truth together very closely. He knew that these are very useful, and so he prepared them for bis brethren, as one provides for travellers portable meats or condensed milk. When the reader finds a compact sentence of this sort, he has met with a little Bible, a miniature Body of Divinity. Behold the whole story of redeeming love told out in a line or two, easy to be understood, likely to be remembered, calculated to impress. He who composes short and striking summaries of gospel truth may be working as effectively for the salvation of men as another who delivers earnest, pleading discourses. In this chapter Paul has several times put the gospel in a remarkably plain, simple, and brief manner. He is the master of condensation; and our text is a specimen of his power. He here gives the plan of salvation in a line or so:— “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.”
I wish to preach in the same spirit in which Paul wrote, aiming from my first word to my last at the conversion of any of you who have not yet known the Lord. I pray that we may all mean business at this time, and may get at it in downright earnest. May you be determined to come to the point, and no longer hesitate! How glad I should be if any would say to themselves, “I will run in the way, if I can but see it. I will lay hold of that which is put before me, if I may but grasp it. I will hesitate and trifle no longer, but I will deal solemnly with solemn matters, so that this day I may find peace with God”!
I am not going to enter into any profound exposition of the deep things of God, but I shall keep to those simple matters through which salvation comes to plain men and women. Oh that the Spirit of God may bless my words to the immediate conversion of my hearers!
I. I shall want you to notice in our text, first, that the gospel as Paul here sets it forth, is a gospel of faith; and THIS GOSPEL OF FAITH IS EVIDENTLY INTENDED FOR LOST MEN. Observe, he saith, “If thou shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead. thou shalt be saved” When Moses wrote the law, he spake upon obedience to the command as securing life; for he saith, “This do, and thou shalt live.” It was presupposed by the law that those to whom the law came already possessed life; and the fulfilling of the law did but preserve them in the life which they already possessed. We read in the fifth verse of this chapter, “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” You see, the law continues life to those who have already life enough to do good work. The gospel comes to us under quite another aspect: it does not regard us as having life, but as needing that life. The gospel comes to us not as to servants who need to be told how they are to continue to live; but as to dead sinners who need to be made to live, and then to be kept alive and preserved in happy and holy being. The gospel saith not only that we shall live by it, but that we shall be saved by it, which promise goes much lower and further. When it is said that we shall “be saved? it implies that we have fallen into a lost, ruined, and undone condition, and out of this the gospel is to rescue us.
It is well to start fairly in preaching the gospel, by declaring plainly to whom this gospel is sent. It is sent to you that need it: it is sent, therefore, to you who are lost; because, if you are not lost, you do not want saving. If you have not fallen you do not need restoring; if you have not sinned you do not need forgiving; if you are not far off from God you do not require to be brought nigh by the blood of Christ. The gospel of salvation is sent to those who are under the curse of the law and condemned to pay its penalties. What a joy note this is! Hear it, ye broken-hearted, and be encouraged. To you we proclaim the free gift of God.
Some fancy that we are to preach to you a milder kind of law, a more easy way of works, an amended dispensation; but, on the contrary, we preach to you not demands but gifts, not law but love. Our gospel is in very deed good news. We are come to tell men not what they are to do for God, but what God has done for them. We speak not of what men are to bring to Jesus, but of what Jesus has brought to them, and has freely and graciously put forward for their acceptance. Listen, then, ye who need saving: this Book is for you; the Christ whom this Book reveals is for you; the Spirit of God who bears witness to Christ is for you. Ah, ye guilty, ye self-condemned, ye utterly disheartened, it is to such as you that the risen Saviour is preached to-day!
Jesus comes to bring salvation. What a great word is that! The text says the believer shall “be saved”: saved is a little word for letters, but it is a great word for meanings. What is it to be saved? It means to be saved from the punishment of all your sins, saved from going down into the pit, saved from the blackness of darkness for ever, saved from the everlasting wrath of the Most High, saved from the second death whose terror is the hell of hell. Whosoever confesseth the Lord Jesus and believeth that God hath raised him from the dead, shall be saved from the penal consequences of his guilt.
Better still, you shall be saved from sin itself. The criminality and guilt of it shall be removed: from its stain you shall be washed whiter than snow. The sin itself, that black cloud, as well as the tempest with which it is charged, shall be removed, even as it is written, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.” We preach not only deliverance from the punishment, but deliverance from the crime itself— deliverance from the charge and accusation which else would lie against the transgressor. The sin shall be blotted out in the case of the believer, and he shall be forgiven and justified— justified from all things from which the law could never clear him. Righteousness shall be imputed to him, even the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. If you confess with the mouth and believe with the heart, the Lord Jesus shall be made of God unto you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. The confessing believer shall be delivered from the guilt of his sin, and he shall stand accepted before the judgment-seat of God.
What is more still, you shall not only be delivered from the punishment of sin and the guilt of sin, but from the power of sin. Oh, to be saved from sinning! This is our chief desire. If the guilt of sin could possibly be put away, and we could still be left as much the slaves of sin as before, very little would have been done for us. It would be a doubtful blessing. If the children of Israel in Egypt had been screened from serving with rigour, and had been fed to the full, and made content in their slavery, would it have been a real blessing to them? Would it not have riveted the chains of their bondage? The Lord did not send them relief in the form of bread, and meat, and garments, wherewith to be comfortable in Egypt; but he brought them out of Egypt with a high hand and an outstretched arm. To be made happy in sin would be dangerous to us and unworthy of God; but the Lord Jesus Christ has come to save his people from their sins, to break the chains of evil habit, to subdue sinful influences which now dominate us, and to put within us a new heart and a right spirit. He, by the infusion of a new life makes us sigh and pant after holiness: he answers to that sighing, and works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure. He subdues our iniquities, and makes the power of evil in us to wax weaker and weaker while grace grows stronger and stronger. At last he will present us faultless before his presence with exceeding great joy. We preach emancipation for the slaves of sin. You that are worried and wearied with temptation shall be saved from yielding to it. You that cry out by reason of indwelling sin shall receive salvation from the power of evil. The living and holy seed within you cannot sin because it is born of God, and its growing force shall at last hold your every thought in captivity to Christ. It is a blessed salvation: an all-round salvation for the past, for the present, and for the future. This is what we are sent to testify: we could not have a more full or a more divine message: we could not have a grander blessing to present to the sons of men than that of being saved. In the grand completeness of it, it comprehends heaven itself and all its bliss. “Thou shalt be saved” reaches from hell-gate to God’s own throne, and lifts the sinner up from between the jaws of death to the white-robed orchestra of the New Jerusalem. Though now an heir of wrath even as others, the believing sinner shall be made like unto the First-born, even to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is bringing many sons unto glory.
I begin, then, with the proclamation of salvation for the lost. Hear it, ye unworthy ones! Hear it, ye who cannot say a good word on your own account! Hear it and catch at this hope. If God the Spirit will bless the word, according to his gracious wont, you mourning and heavy laden ones will joyfully cry, “There is a message for us in this text!” Then you will lean forward lest you should lose a word of the discourse, and your minds will lean forward as well as your bodies. Your hearts will lie open like ploughed land ready for the seed, ready for the shower. You will be responsive to the voice of mercy, even as the echo to the horn. By repentance and faith you will answer to the call of divine love.
II. I now advance to my second point, which is this, that SAVING FAITH CONCERNS ITSELF ONLY ABOUT JESUS HIMSELF. I will read to you the connection of my text. “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 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.” True faith, the faith which saves, concerns itself wholly about the glorious person and gracious work of him whom God raised from the dead. Within the compass of Bethlehem, Gethsemane, and the right hand of the Father lies the sphere of the sinner’s faith. Faith is where Jesus is, and she asks no wider range. Unbelief is speculative, but faith deals with facts. Unbelief saith, “Who shall ascend into heaven? Who shall descend into the abyss?” Unbelief is always starting questions: she is so dissatisfied with the simple gospel of Jesus Christ that she demands another Saviour, or no Saviour, or fifty Saviours. She does not know what she wants: her cry is, “Who will show us any good? who in the heavens, who in the depths, who anywhere?” Unbelief has a very attentive ear to every new notion. This man has a novel doctrine, another has just ferreted out a fresh idea; and unbelief goes helter-skelter this way and that. She hears voices crying, “Lo here, and lo there!” and like a silly bird she is lured and snared. She flies away to the hills, or plunges into the abyss to find the promised good. At one time she is aloft in delusion, at another she is beneath in despair: pessimism, or optimism, or some other “ism,” will charm her; but she will not keep to truth.
Faith is of another mind: she takes her stand where Christ is, and she says, “If salvation is anywhere it is in him. Is it not written, ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else’?” She bows before Jesus at Bethlehem, and sees hope in his incarnation. She traverses the fields of Judea with Jesus, and sees hope in the holy, tender-hearted lover of souk She goes with him to Gethsemane, and views him covered with the bloody sweat, and begins to read her pardon there. She sees him die upon the accursed tree, and she says, “My life is here: if ever I am saved, I must be saved here.” She sees Jesus in the tomb, she watches and beholds him rise again; and as he rises she claps her hands with delight, for she sees hope and immortality in him. She looks up yonder to the throne of the Most High; she sees Jesus interceding for transgressors that the Lord God may dwell among them; she understands that he is carrying on a noble enterprise which will soon be brought forth unto victory, and she glories in her Lord— her all.
“All our immortal hopes are laid
In thee, our Surety and our Head!
Thy cross, thy cradle, and thy throne,
Are big with glories yet unknown.”
Faith’s resolve is to look only to Jesus her God, for she is persuaded that beside him there is none else. You are saved, my dear friend, when you come to that point. When Jesus is all your salvation and all your desire the work of grace has begun in you. Jesus is your Boaz, and you have come to the right conclusion about him when you are resolved never to glean in any other field. You will be satisfied now that you have determined to drink waters only from his fountain, and to be satisfied only from his table.
The faith which saves is not dreamy. Do you not notice how unbelief here dreams of skies and seas, and all immeasurable things? “Who shall ascend into heaven?” What a picture! Imagination is at work: she beholds her mighty merits scaling the everlasting ramparts— she doats upon her dream. If she hears a discourse she only cares for the oratory of it. “What a sermon that man preached! How full of poetry!” She must have something high and lofty: nothing commonplace will suit her. At another time, when she is heavy, her dream is of a wretched diver into the deep seas of anguish, plunging down into the abyss to find the pearl of peace. Imagination raises in the soul despondency, despair, frenzy, and madness; and many foolish ones hope in these to find a ransom. Faith has done with these Arabian nights, for she has done with Sinai. She dreams no. more: for perfectly healthy men have done with dreams. With open eye faith reads facts. She dwells on what Jesus did and suffered. She reflects that he died, he rose again, and is gone into the glory. Facts, not fiction, are her solace. She accepts matters of history, not figments of imagination. Something actually done, something really accomplished, faith requires and accepts. The weight of sin is not to be borne by theories: the enormous load of human guilt is not to be sustained by speculations. Only actual transactions can meet our dire necessity; and these we find in Jesus Christ the revelation of God.
I know that I am talking to some of you who are as full of fancies as an egg is full of meat, and I wish I could get you out of them. All sorts of whims and notions please your idle brains. You have followed after them as a dog follows a false scent, but you have come upon nothing yet; and you never will come upon anything till you accept those sure, well-witnessed facts which make up the life of the Lord Jesus; especially his resurrection, which is the best assured fact in human history. We this day, in the name of God Most High, the Spirit of God being with us, proclaim salvation by a risen Saviour, and we beseech you to believe the truth of what we say, that you may live thereby.
Unbelief really puts a sad slur upon Christ. She talks about going up to heaven: but suppose it were needed that somebody should ascend to heaven, that would imply that Jesus had never come down from thence to reveal the Father. She talks of descending into the abyss, as if Christ had never come up from the dead. The fact is, all that can be done has been done. Why do you want to do what is already done? All that can be felt has been felt; why do you want to feel it? “It is finished,” said Christ; why do you strive to do it over again? Look how that fable of the church of Rome concerning her unbloody sacrifice of the mass really insults the one great sacrifice of Calvary, and sets it on one side; and, even so, all those works, feelings, preparations, and so forth which you would add to the finished work of Christ really push Christ out. You want to feel: are not his feelings enough? You want to work: are not his workings enough? Trust in self is a disloyal attempt upon the crown rights of the Redeemer. All those doings, and willings, and feelings are a setting up of self salvation. It is all a mistake. Oh that you would give up those mistakes, and hear that your soul may live, believing what you hear, and accepting it in your very soul! I will not, however, stay longer to describe this faith by contrast, but we will penetrate a stage further into the centre of the text.
III. The third point of our discourse is, that SAVING FAITH HAS A CONFESSION TO MAKE: “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.” Observe here, that this confession is put first. I suppose it is because Paul was quoting from the thirtieth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, and he had, of course, to place the words as Moses arranged them in the passage quoted. Yet there must be other reasons. Possibly the confession of the Lord Jesus unto salvation is put first here because it is most likely to be forgotten. We have plenty of preaching of “Believe and live,” and I do not condemn it; but still, strictly speaking, it is incomplete. When our Lord bade his servants go forth and preach, he said: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Now, baptism is the confession of our faith. Constantly in Scripture the faith to which salvation is promised is a faith which makes a confession of itself. It is never a dumb faith; it is a faith that speaks, a faith which owns its own existence; ay, a faith which owns the Lord in the teeth of adversaries. We must confess Christ before men, or we may not believe that we have the faith of God’s elect. The apostle mentions it first here because it is so often put into the back-ground, and this is a great cause of stumbling. He mentions it first also, because it is first as far as our fellow-creatures are concerned. How can I know what you believe in your heart? I must first hear what you confess with your mouth. An inquirer comes to me to join the church, or to be acknowledged as a Christian; I cannot begin with his heart; I have no means of reading his thoughts. I say to him, “Speak, that I may see you.” If he confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, he has done what, in the order of practical religion, must lead the way towards friend and foe.
Let me add that, in a certain sense, confession with the mouth is actually first in the man. Many persons never receive in their hearts the comfort of Christ’s resurrection, because they have never with their mouth confessed the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and Master. The Lord will not give to you the warmth of faith which cheers the heart unless you are willing to yield to him the obedience of faith by taking up your cross and coming out and confessing him. There are numbers of Christians — Christians I mean in the judgment of charity— who never enter into the joy of their Lord because they have never obeyed his rule, nor owned his name before men. The Spirit of God, as a Comforter, has not borne his witness with their spirit that they are the children of God, because they have never borne their witness to the Lord Jesus. The comfort of believing with the heart is hindered by the absence of confession with the mouth. Will you listen to this, some of you who cry, “We desire to be saved”? I dare not preach to you a back-stairs gospel for cowards, a secret green-lane of salvation, which winds about through the woods, so that you can travel it without being seen. No: at my Lord’s bidding, I preach to you an open king’s highway, along which the fearful and the unbelieving refuse to go. And yet there is only this one way to the kingdom. We must not attempt to be Moonlighters. Let us follow Jesus in broad daylight. Jesus saith, “He that confesseth me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven; but he that denieth me”— which in that connection means, he that does not confess me— “he that denieth me before men, him will I deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Hear, I pray you, the text: “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.”
Notice what it is that is to be confessed: “The Lord Jesus.” By which I gather, that it is essential to salvation that a man confess the Deity of Christ. I would not be uncharitable to anybody; but I never can, as a believer in the Word of God, expect to see a man saved who denies the Godhead of his Saviour. He puts himself out of court, he rejects that part of the Redeemer’s character which is essential to his being a Saviour. If any man would be saved he must believe that Jesus Christ is both Lord and God.
Again, you must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; that is, Ruler and Master. You must cheerfully become his disciple, follower, and servant. You must confess,— “He is my Master, he is my Lord, I intend to be a soldier under him; he shall be to me Leader and Commander; God has made him such, and I accept him as such.”
We are to confess the Lord Jesus, too. That means the Saviour, who has come to save his people from their sins. If you would be saved by him, you must own him as the Messiah, sent of God, to lead his people out of their ruin into eternal salvation. The Lord commands yon to confess him in that character, and promises to such a believing confessor that he shall be saved. Without such open confession there is no promise.
Note how very definite is the confession. Somebody says, “Well, I will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I will try and act up to my faith.” Do so by all means; but this will not fulfil the demand of the text. It is true your life is a confession, and the more pure it is the more excellent it is as a profession. Still, the doing of one duty does not exempt us from another. The confession required by the text is expressly said to be “with thy mouth.” I dare not alter the Scripture. Do not blame me; I did not write the words. There they are: “If thou shalt with thy mouth confess the Lord Jesus.” You are vocally to own Jesus; you are definitely and distinctly to say with your tongue, your mouth, your lips, that he is your Lord and Saviour. It is not to be an inference drawn in silence from your life, but a declared statement of the mouth. What other meaning can my text have but that? If the apostle meant that we were to obey the Lord Jesus Christ, and might render no other confession, he would have said so. Why did he say, “with thy mouth,” if he did not require a spoken confession? The mode of confession to which the promise of salvation is given is clearly set forth in these words— “thou shalt confess with thy mouth.”
Why is this? saith one. Well, first because I believe that confession with the mouth is a sort of breaking away from the world. When a man says with his mouth, “I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” it is as good as saying to the world, “I have done with you.” Those round about will conclude that the man has broken loose from his old habits, and has come right away from the unbelieving world. When the man with the withered arm was in the synagogue, our Lord did not take him into the corner and heal him; but he said, “Stand forth.” He stood right out in the middle of the congregation, and when he stood forth, then the Lord said, “Stretch forth thine hand”; and he did so. Dear seeker, you must stand out. You must come away from your old companions and sinful connections, and say, “I am for Christ. He is my Saviour, and I am his follower.” He requires this confession of you that you may thus be cut loose from the world which lieth in the wicked one.
This confession is also a way of forming a visible union with the Lord Jesus. When a man with his mouth confesses Christ he does, as it were, take sides with Jesus and his cause on the earth; and this is a very important thing. Beside, this confession is of much use to the outside world as a witness reproving their ungodliness, and inviting them to a better mind. The confessions of the saved are often the means of saving others. We are not fully saved till we earnestly wish to save others. If any man says, “If I can get to heaven all by myself I shall be satisfied,” he has not taken the first step to heaven: assuredly he has not the germ of heaven within him. The first thing that must be slain within us, if we are to dwell with God, is our selfishness. Even our concern for our own salvation must yet be overridden by a concern for the spread of the Redeemer’s kingdom, and a desire for the salvation of others. No man is truly sanctified till it is so. Therefore you must confess your Lord with your mouth, to prove your sacrifice of self.
Ah, my friends! this is a hard saying to some of you. You have good points about you, but you do not let your light shine before men, as your Lord commands you. Your candle is under a bushel: it cannot burn well in so confined a space; it is apt to make smoke and blackness. Bring it out at once! If it is God’s own fire, and you put it under a bed to hide it, it will soon set the bed on a blaze, comes of suppressed truth. It can never be right to hide away the light of God. Come out, ye cowards! Come out, ye tremblers! My Master bids me act as enlisting sergeant. I set up the banner, and invite you to rally to it. If you love Christ, confess him. If you would have the salvation of Christ, take up the cross of Christ, and follow him whithersoever he goeth. Have I gone an inch beyond my text? I am sure I have not.
IV. Time would fail me if I were to dwell longer on this point, important as it is. Let us now notice, in the fourth place, that FAITH HAS A GREAT COMFORT TO ENJOY. She has truth of which she must speak with her mouth; but she has also facts which she ponders in her heart. The text saith, “With thy heart believe that God hath raised him from the dead.” This does not only mean that you believe the fact that the Lord Jesus has been raised from the dead — I suppose everybody here believes in our Lord’s resurrection— but we must so believe it that it warms and comforts our heart.
Why, my dear brethren, is salvation promised here especially to a belief with the heart that God hath raised Christ from the dead? Is not our faith to be fixed upon the death of Christ rather than upon the resurrection of Christ? I answer, it is probably here stated because in the resurrection of our Lord all the rest of his history is implied and included. If he was raised from the dead, then he must have died. If he died, then he must have been a man, and have been born into the world. In mentioning that God raised our Lord from the dead, the apostle has really mentioned all the great redeeming work of Jesus, since all the other items are involved therein.
Moreover, the raising from the dead is not only inclusive of the rest, but confirmatory of the whole. By raising him from the dead the Father gave confirmation of the mission of his Son. He set his seal upon his person as divine, upon his office as commissioned of God to be the Messiah, upon his life as well-pleasing, and upon his death as being accepted of God for full atonement. Therefore the Most High raised him from the dead, that he might be declared to be the Son of God with power, and that in and through him believers might be justified. We should not have had firm ground for our faith in Jesus if the seal of resurrection had not been set to his work; but now, when we believe in the seal, we believe also in that which is sealed. His resurrection is the seal of all that our Lord is and does; and believing in this with our heart, we believe in that which brings salvation. Moreover, the resurrection of Christ from the dead is one of the chief of those truths which are to be believed in the heart, because it is the source of the heart’s best comfort. “Look,” says the believer, “I am by nature a poor lost sinner, but I shall not be destroyed for ever, for Jesus my Saviour and Surety has been raised from the dead; My salvation lies in him. I am delivered from the dead in him. I see my justification in his resurrection. Because Jesus lives I have an unfailing friend, to whom I fly; because God raised him from the dead, and so bare witness that he accepted him, therefore I know that I am accepted in him. If I lay hold upon that righteousness which God has accepted, I am accepted in it.” O dear friends, when a sinner knows that his salvation does not lie in himself at all, but wholly in Christ, then he discovers the great secret. The point is to see Jesus dying for our sins, and to see ourselves dead in him; to see Jesus risen from the grave, and ourselves risen in him; to see Jesus accepted of God, and ourselves therefore accepted in him. The Lord Jesus is the object of our trust, and not ourselves. We are in him, and as he is so are we. We shall rise to glory because he rose to glory, and we shall dwell in heaven because he dwells in heaven. Union to Christ is the foundation of hope. Oh, to live in Christ! The difficulty is to wrench you away from yourselves: this needs a miracle of grace. I know where you are: you are saying, “I do not feel; I cannot do,” &c. Sirs, this is not the point in hand: the ground of salvation is in Jesus, and not in the sinner. To see salvation, we must mark what Christ accomplished, and specially we must mark in our heart that the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead, and then we shall be comforted, because the resurrection of the Saviour is the assurance of the completion of his atoning work. He who would have sure hope must fix his faith upon Jesus living, Jesus crucified, Jesus risen, Jesus ascended, Jesus soon to come! If we believe and trust in these facts, we shall be saved: so saith the text. Put the two things together,— thou confessest Jesus to be Lord and Christ; thou dost also with all thine heart trust in Jesus as risen from the dead; well, then, thou shalt be saved. How this ought to cheer those of you who are near despair!
How it should encourage those who lie at death’s door! You groan out, “I never can be saved.” Why not? If Christ died and rose again, what then? If this be the ground of salvation, and thou believest it to be the fact, hold on to it, and never let it go. Never let thy heart doubt the well-witnessed fact that God hath raised Jesus from the dead. Plead thou the promise of our text in life, and in the dying hour, and cry, “O Lord, thou hast said that if with my mouth I confess the Lord Jesus, and with my heart believe that thou hast raised him from the dead, I shall be saved. Lord, I make the confession, and my heart also believes; I beseech thee, therefore, to do as thou hast said, and save me.” This plea can never fail.
V. So now I finish with the truth that FAITH HAS A SURE PROMISE TO REST UPON. “If thou believest in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
“THOU”— Who is that? This is thyself. It is the man who with his mouth confesses, and with his heart believes. Dear friend, it means you. John, Thomas, Sarah, Jane, where are you? Did I hear you cry, “I have no merits of my own; I have no good feelings; I have nothing of my own that I can rejoice in; I feel myself to be utterly lost”? Listen! “If thou shalt with thy mouth confess the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The singular pronoun, “thou,” sets its mark upon you. Put thine ear to this telephone; a voice speaks to thee. God out of heaven is speaking straight down the telephone into thine ear— “thou shall be saved.”
“But I am almost damned.” If thou dost confess and believe, “thou shalt be saved.” “Alas! I must give up in despair.” Yet the promise is to the contrary. “But I am the blackest sinner out of hell.” Still the promise is to thee: “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.” I cannot come down from my pulpit and run round to all the pews, but, oh, I wish I could look each one of you in the face, and press your hand, and say, “Dear friend, the text saith, ‘thou.’” Brother, sister, it speaks to thee. Youth, child, or greyheaded old man, whoever thou mayest be, the text saith that if thou believest “thou shalt be saved.”
Observe the total absence of “ifs” and “buts.” It is not “thou mayest be saved,” but “thou shalt be saved.” When God the Holy Ghost says “shall,” there is solidity in it. But thou sayest, “I am afraid.” Afraid of what? Darest thou question the truthfulness of God? When God says “shall,” what can you be afraid of? If I were to say “shall,” you would receive it as a proof of my fixed intent, but you would know that there is only my poor puny arm to carry it out. But when God says “shall,” omnipotence is engaged. He that made heaven and earth, and shakes them with his nod, he who creates and destroys, he says, “shall”; and who can stand against his will? Devils in hell go howling back to their dens when they hear even the whisper of a “shall” from God.
There is a sort of passiveness about the expression “be saved.” The text does not speak about what you are going to do, but about something that is to be done for you and done in you: “Thou shalt he saved.” “I cannot save myself,”— who said you could? Who asked you to do so? Thou canst with thy mouth confess the Lord Jesus— do that straight away. Thou canst believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead. If thou be the man I am looking after, thou art doing so now. Thou sayest, “Oh yes, I believe it with all my heart; my hope lies in Jesus.” Then thou shalt be saved. The power that is wanted to deliver thee from thy sinfulness, the grace that is wanted to wash thee from thy guilt, the blood that is needed to cleanse thee from thy filthiness is all ready, and out of glory the Lord Jesus declares, “thou shalt be saved.”
There never was, and there never will be, a man that with his mouth confessed the Lord Jesus, and with his heart believed that God raised him from the dead, that was not saved. Among all the multitudes that sink to hell, there is no confessing believer, and no believing confessor. I dare not part the confession and the faith, for God hath joined them together. The mouth and the heart are equally needful to a living body and a living soul. Open confession and secret belief— these together make up the casting of yourself upon the Lord Jesus— the full surrender to the Saviour— and that is the great saving act. Dost thou cast thyself, sink or swim, on what Jesus has done? Then shalt thou be saved, else am I a liar unto you; and what is far worse, this holy Book is a liar too, and the Spirit of God hath borne false-witness. This can never be. I have no hope this morning but what is compassed in this verse. With my mouth I do again confess the Lord Jesus, for I believe him to be very God of very God, my Master, my all. Moreover, in my heart I do verily and assuredly believe that God raised him from the dead, and I am glad of it; it comforts and joys me.
“He lives, the great Redeemer lives;
What joy the blest assurance gives!”
I shall be saved, I know I shall; I dare not doubt it, because God’s word plainly says so. I have the same confidence concerning the poorest old woman in this house as I have about myself: if she confesses and believes, she is saved as I am. The wickedest ruffians, and most wanton harlots, if they will do as the text directs, shall also be saved. This gospel is not denied to the vilest of the vile. O my friend, it is not denied to you. This is the ship which has carried thousands to heaven. We who go on board shall get to heaven by it. If it could go down, we should all sink together; but as it floats safely, we will all sail together to the Fair Havens. There is no second vessel on this line; and there is no other line. This one chartered barque of salvation by a confessing faith now lies at the quay. Come on board! Come on board at once! God help you to come on board at this very moment, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.