The Unbeliever’s Responsibility To Repent And Believe
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
What does an unbeliever have to do to be saved? First, he has to repent. That is in the mind. But that is not enough. The second thing the unbeliever must do to be saved is believe.
Repentance is in the mind, but belief is in the heart. Paul said in Romans 10:9-11, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’” And verse 13 says, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
What is it that we have to believe in our hearts? We believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. That was one of the earliest confessions of the Christian Church. Why is that so significant? That word “Lord” is the Greek translation of the Old Testament sacred name for God, “Yahweh.” It is used 6,000 times in the Bible. When you say Jesus is Lord, you are saying Jesus is Yahweh. You are saying you recognize that Jesus was God Himself and that when He died, He did not die for His sins; He died for our sins. When you say Jesus is Lord, you are saying that you believe Jesus is alive, that He was raised from the dead, and that His resurrection proves that God declared our sin debt paid in full. All of that is in that phrase “Jesus is Lord.” It is the earliest confession of the Church.
This is the same kind of cry that came from the lips of Peter. Remember when Peter was drowning in the sea? What did he do? Did he say, “I believe in 10 reasons that Jesus is the Son of God, and I believe that He came and died, and I believe that He will rise again on the third day…”? If he had done all of that, he would have sunk. Peter only had a few seconds. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30). That is the cry that leads to salvation. It is a cry based on the death of Christ, but it is a desperation that comes from the heart, not just a mental assent to who Jesus is. It is a crying out, “Lord, save me!” That is the cry that leads to salvation.
The Bible says to be saved we have to believe that Jesus is Lord. And we do it not with our heads; we believe in our hearts. This is not just an intellectual assent to facts; it is a crying out in desperation. The Bible says, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). It does not say, “The elect who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” It does not say, “The predestined who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” It says, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”