Excerpt From The Way Back
“Romans is not the road to salvation, Jesus is.”
by: Erin James Sain
Romans is not the road to salvation, Jesus is. Romans 8:9-10 have become almost the totality of the doctrine of salvation to untold millions of believers over several decades. Millions of booklets have been published and thousands of sermons preached with these two verses being the infrastructure for salvation. I can remember explicitly as a child growing up and hearing this taught constantly; the instruction given with the verses was to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in Him and you are saved.
Now here is the problem with this practice: These are not the only two verses on salvation – not even close. They are two of hundreds of verses that deal with salvation. They were not intended to be hyper-emphasized above all others, not made to be the “end all” for salvation. Salvation cannot be adequately depicted by two verses. Unless all of the verses on salvation are studied, compared, and then brought into harmony with each other, deception is sure to develop. We cannot take two verses of Paul’s teaching, make them the totality of salvation and then ignore all of what Jesus said about what it means to be a true follower of Him.
Jesus never made confessing and believing the only requirement. There is not even one example where He preached to a crows and offered this kind of limited salvation. A simple study of Jesus’ words shows that He always demanded faithfulness and obedience to His teachings and to do the will of God.
Another verse often includes in the “Romans Road” as a doctrine on salvation is Romans 10:13. It says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” If we use this verse by itself, it sounds like the only requirement for salvation is saying, “Lord,” and we are saved. Jesus, however, said, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
We rarely hear Matthew 7:21 used for evangelism, but Romans 10:9-10 is almost always used. Why is that? Perhaps because one brings applause and one is completely offensive. One makes for an upbeat sermon, the other steps on toes. Deception usually happens when preachers use their favorite verse to create a doctrine. When we interpret Romans 10:9-10 in context, in addition to the teachings of Jesus and all the rest of the New Testament teachings on salvation, it’s good. We do need to believe and confess Jesus as Lord, but we also must repent from sin and commit ourselves to daily carrying our cross in self denial and obedience to Christ. Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). He also said, “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Again He said, Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
Romans 10 cannot transcend or make Jesus’ words lose effect; it cannot be made to somehow trump the commandments of Jesus.
To avoid half-truth doctrines, we must be able to test everything we hear with what Jesus says. If a teaching doesn’t harmonize with Jesus’ words, an alarm should go off in our mind. Beware of doctrines that have a couple of Paul’s words but none of Jesus’ teachings as a foundation, as they may also be half-truths (deception). A half-truth is no truth at all. We need the whole counsel of the Scripture to understand and hold doctrinal positions. Be assured of what you believe from the mouth of God, not the doctrines of men.