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. Romans 10:9
These are such comforting words, aren't they? By them, we are rescued from a multitude of worries!
First, we are rescued from the thought that salvation is something that WE do!
Did you notice what St. Paul says? "You will BE saved." That's what we call a PASSIVE voice verb. St. Paul doesn't say "You will save yourselves," but "You will BE saved."
Whenever the Bible talks like that - you will BE saved - it means that WE'RE not doing something, but Someone Else is! Our salvation rests with God. It is something HE does. We don't save ourselves. God saves us - for Jesus' sake.
Second, Romans 10:9 rescues us from any thought that people may be saved apart from faith in Jesus. Romans 10:9 speaks of the necessity of faith.
That, too, is a great comfort. The Bible teaches us that faith is a gift which God Himself gives (cf. Eph. 2:8). St. Paul teaches, just a few verses after the one we are discussing: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the preaching of Christ" (cf. Romans 10:17). Apart from the faith God gives us - which He gives us through the preaching of Christ Jesus in His Gospel - no one can be saved.
Do you know what a blessing and comfort that is?
It means that you never need to be in doubt or worry again about the Christian, catholic and apostolic practice of baptizing babies!
Does that surprise you? Maybe so. After all, when we Christians confess with our lips and believe in our hearts the work that God has done in us through baptism - even as infants - many other Christians start to throw Romans 10:9 around, as if it is some proof AGAINST infant baptism!
We find that disturbing.
Don't these same Christians believe that God created the universe in just 6 days? We who confess with our lips and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord (and so He can even give faith to a baby) sure do!
Don't they believe the Spirit of God once hovered over the waters? We certainly do, and we know that other Christians do as well. Then, why are they unwilling to believe that the Spirit of God STILL hovers over the waters He gives us in Holy Baptism?
Don't they believe the Spirit descended in the form of a dove when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River? Sure they do! So, why do they deny the Spirit's anointing and saving work in the Water where the Word of God is STILL at work to rescue sinners?
Many Christians believe in what God's Word declares about a six day creation (so do we), and what the Scriptures say about God rescuing baby Moses on the water of the Nile (so do we). They believe that God gave the sign of circumcision to boys in Israel when they were 8 days old (so do we). They believe God turned water into blood as He prepared to rescue Israel out of Egypt (so do we). They believe that God saved Israel by the blood above their doorways; that He piled up the water of the Red Sea on either side and then by that same water crashing down upon their enemies in hot pursuit saved His people Israel - men, women and even little babies in their mothers' arms (so do we). They believe that Moses struck the rock, and out flowed water. A generation later, God brought Israel into Canaan, led by Joshua - whose name in Greek is Jesus - through the water of the Jordan River, piled up on either side. This happened about the same place Jesus Christ, the Son of God, later came to be baptized by John, leading all of Israel into the NEW Land of Promise, which is hidden in His Flesh and Blood.
We know that other Christians believe these things, and, of course, WE Lutherans believe them, too.
We find it sad, then, that many Christians who believe such things, do not believe what these things confess. Many refuse to believe in their hearts or confess with their lips what the Word of God is plainly saying.
What it says through all of the above is simple: Salvation is the Lord's, and He works it in behalf of His people. He works it by His Son - Whom He has been preaching in the Scriptures from the very beginning - and now that He has worked it, He freely gives salvation out within His Water and His Word.
Or, are we wrong that the Spirit Who hovered over the water in the day the Lord created all there is - simply by His Word - is the same Spirit who descended as a dove when the Word of God Made Flesh - Jesus - came up from the water?
Are we wrong that God saved Noah and his family in an ark, while the same water that floated Noah and his family in God's safety drowned the people who did NOT believe what Noah had confessed - namely, that God would do both a saving and a destroying work by . . . WATER!?
Are we wrong that St. Peter, in the New Testament, preaches: "God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"? (I Peter 3:20-21)
We sincerely hope and pray that all who confess themselves Christians would truly believe in their hearts that to confess Jesus as Lord is to confess that He is the Lord Who is that very Word by which the World was made, by Whom water and the Spirit brought forth life, by Whom breath was breathed into a lifeless lump of clay so that Adam became a living being, by Whom a rib from Adam's side became a living woman.
From this same Lord, the very Life-creating, Life-sustaining Word of God Made Flesh . . . from the side of Jesus flowed both blood and . . . WATER! The one who saw it has testified, and he does not lie (cf. John 19:35).
Believe it, dear Christian, because it is true! Now, water from Jesus, combined with His Word - makes Christians! That's what He says in Matthew's Gospel.
As He once told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, so, having accomplished our Salvation by dying on a cross, having been raised again on Easter, He sends out His Church to "make disciples of all nations-" that is, to be fruitful and fill the earth with born-from-above children of God!
By what means does He say the Church will be fruitful as the True Mother of All the truly Living? Listen to Jesus! He says, "By Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to hold to all that I have commanded you!" (Matt. 28:19-20)
By such means as Baptism, the Spirit of God, still hovering over the creative waters of God's New Creation in Christ, breathes out the Gospel and by it works faith, when and where He pleases. We don't doubt this for a moment, unlike many, who deny that babies can believe. But, if babies cannot believe, then how can they be saved? We ask it again . . .
If babies cannot believe, then how can they be saved?
We Lutherans believe and confess that NO ONE is saved apart from faith in Christ. But the Lord Who formed the universe out of nothing, Who called light from darkness, Who raised Lazarus from the dead . . . this Lord gives faith as a gift! St. Paul says that in Ephesians 2:8-10. He says Faith comes by hearing the preaching of Christ in Romans 10:17. Faith comes with the Word of God, and if the Word of God breathed life into lifeless clay so that Adam became a living being, how much more does the same Word of God regenerate us in the washing of water by His Holy Spirit!?
"He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior." (Titus 3:5-6)
We Lutherans believe this. We confess it without doubt or worry. We know the Word of God is powerful - able to raise up living children, even from infants!
Or, are we wrong that the psalmist says, "You made me trust you at my mother's breasts"? (cf. Ps. 22:5) We know that we are not. We know that faith is a gift and work of God. We know that even earthly parents work trust and love in their children as they hold them, care for them, love them, smile at them, talk and sing to them. If earthly parents can work faith and trust in children, so that a new born baby recognizes when it is shifted from its mother's arms (which are familiar) to the arms of another (which are not) - if in such cases, even a newborn infant starts to cry, and then, when transferred back into its mother's arms again, back close to where it's grown the first 9 months of living - if even a newborn makes such a clear confession that SOME arms are familiar and some are not . . .
How much more so do the caring hands of the Lord Who made us, His caring Words and speaking in and through His Church, the very beating of His heart, revealed in Jesus - create a true and saving faith - even in infants!?
We Lutherans are glad for the testimony of St. Paul in Romans 10! It tells us that no one but the Christian can call on the Lord in faith. That means, before faith, no one can call on the Lord. But by the Word of God, faith is given, and the children of God begin to call on Him of Whom they have heard, in Whom they trust, in Whom they have the forgiveness of sins. And if newborn babies can call on their own mothers for milk, for love and all the care they need, then Christians of all ages can do the same - by God's Spirit!
Or is Christ, Who is the Lord, incapable of that? We believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that He is not incapable of that! He is the LORD!
Should anyone persist in saying that the Lord IS incapable of such things - or that He is unwilling to work faith in an infant through the power of His Word and Spirit - then, tell us . . .and show us from Scripture . . .
How can anyone who does not believe in Christ be saved?
We seldom find in Christians who deny infant baptism and cite St. Paul in Romans 10:9 against us, any willingness to say their infant children are therefore damned. We would hope such confidence in salvation for children would be based on the clear testimony of God - that the Spirit works faith in Christ, when and where He pleases, in those who hear the Gospel. Instead, most Christians deny that children can believe, and instead, claim that childen are saved because they are too young to be sinners or too young to be damned.
We sincerely would like them to prove such opinions from Holy Scripture!
Have they never read that John the Baptist heard the voice of Mary while he was still in his mother's womb, was filled with the Holy Spirit as the Word of God had promised, and lept for joy?
Apart from the faith the Holy Spirit works by the Gospel of Christ, no one is saved. That is the testimony of Scripture. It is our testimony as Lutherans. And since such faith in Christ is absolutely necessary for salvation, we are happy to encourage mother's of unborn children to be regular in the hearing, singing and confessing of God's Word within the Church. Through the Word of God, the Spirit works faith!
Please, all mothers with children in the womb. . . rise daily to confess the Apostles' Creed, pray the Our Father, sing the Psalms, and be dutiful in receiving the Lord's Word and Holy Sacrament of Jesus' Flesh and Blood. Your infant child can hear your heart beat. You speak to your baby and keep him or her in your prayers. Let your little one hear you confess the Faith that saves us all - that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that God has raised Him from the dead. Let your baby hear that, as the Church confesses and sings. Please don't be in any doubt that God the Holy Spirit works faith - when and where He pleases - through the Gospel of Our Lord. Not even the womb is beyond Him!
You can be sure that the speaking and confessing of the Gospel is even more beneficial to your infant child than any earthly speaking you may do. Instead of only "Mommy loves you," and "Cootchie-coo!" let your baby hear the true Confession St. Paul urges us to make: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, etc." as well as, "Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, etc."
Don't just make sure your baby knows its "mommy's" voice, dear Christian! Make sure your baby knows the Living Voice of Jesus in His Church, which is the Bride of Christ and so the Holy Mother of all Christians.
Once your child is born, come quickly to give him or her the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, in which the Lord Who hovered over the waters, Who spoke from heaven His blessing over Jesus, and Who is the very Word by which the World was made - may pour out all the blessings of His New Creation on your infant son or daughter. This is how the Lord fills the earth, blessing it with His own image in Christ Jesus.
If any person doubts that the Lord works faith like this, or that He - by His own speaking, caring and tender mercy - will bring forth the smiles, coos and nascent spiritual movements which confess that THIS one - little as your baby is - has the Holy Spirit, IS a New Creation in Christ Jesus and a child of God - take that person by the hand to the nearest crib or bassinet. Make sure that Mom or Dad are near, and have them smile and do the things which parents do to pour out love to infant children. Then have the one who doubts - who does not believe in his heart of hearts that Jesus Christ is TRULY Lord of all creation - have the doubter watch and see that even infant children wiggle their arms and legs, coo, and open up their eyes in infant glee - and ask the doubter: "Is that not a confession? Is it not a better one than yours, O you of such little faith?"
In truth, these are nothing but confessions of a baby toward its earthly parents. Yet, if earthly parents can evoke such nascent demonstrations, how much more the Lord of All can give His children faith, repentance, even that nascent desire to hear His Word, grow up in Christ, cry out to Him in prayer, and do His will?
Never let a doubting Christian rob you of the comfort of your baptism, dear Christian, whether you were baptized as a baby or much older. The Scriptures are clear. Salvation is God's. It is worked in Christ, and it is freely given through God's Word and Holy Sacraments. The only way to question that is to doubt Whose Word is working in such places as the font of Holy Baptism. But if anyone believes that Jesus really IS the Lord Who made the Universe by speaking, then, there should be no doubt that such a One still makes His New Creation and sustains it, and simply being little cannot be a hindrance to Him.
Watch a baby suckle at its mother's breast, and you are seeing true confession. Why else does St. Peter say . . .
"Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation"? (1 Peter 2:2)
Listen to a baby cry and then marvel as it calms down when Mommy draws near. You are witnessing a confession. Then, remember that Jesus set a child before the people, a child which He could hold in His arms (Mark 9:36-37), and told them . . .
"Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt. 18:2-6)
Jesus says little ones whom He holds in His arms are examples of true believing.
Jesus speaks severely of any who would cause such little ones to sin, and surely, teaching them that the Lord Who breathed life into lifeless clay cannot breathe His Holy Spirit into an infant through Holy Baptism is causing a little one to stumble. After all . . .
Where do the Scriptures teach that the Lord cannot give the Spirit and faith to little ones, whom Christ holds before us as examples of faith?
St. Paul is not laying down in Romans 10:9 some rule against God saving babies through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The logic seems to be, amongst our opponents, that since people must first believe and confess before they are saved, then babies cannot be baptized because they can neither believe nor confess. But WHERE does Holy Scripture teach that infants can't believe? And IF Romans 10:9 were some sort of barrier against infant baptism, as our opponents wrongly claim . . . then . . .
How can our infant children be saved?
Ask that of the average opponent to infant baptism, and most likely, you will hear a Christian confess that faith in Christ is NOT absolutely necessary for salvation . . .that God gives babies a "bye" and gives them heaven even though they don't believe and can't confess. In short, the average Christian truly does not believe that believing in Christ is absolutely necessary to be saved. We Lutherans disagree! We say that no one can be saved apart from faith in Jesus.
That is good news, dear Christian, because Holy Scripture - as we have shown - says faith is GOD'S Gift, and He gives it even to babies - just as earthly parents can give gifts to infant children. St. Paul spends 9 chapters in the book of Romans arguing that salvation is a GIFT. In the previous chapter, he said God made His choice of Jacob over Esau even when the two were in the womb, "before they had done either good or bad." (Rom. 9:11)
Please, don't ever think that Paul undoes nine chapters with a single verse - 10:9!
St. Paul is saying NO one can be saved apart from faith in Christ. And NO one can believe apart from the Gospel. St. Paul is saying there is one thing needed for salvation. God must speak! He must breathe out His life-creating Holy Spirit. He does that through His Word. He does it in the Office of His Ministry. He does it in the Church. He spoke in the beginning, and all the universe was made. He is still speaking - by His Word made flesh. And far from being powerless, that Word - that GOSPEL - is the very power of God that works salvation, that delivers faith, that raises from the dust God's infant children.
St. Paul is arguing how free salvation truly is. To those who insist it is by works, Paul says, "It is by faith in Christ alone. It is by God's grace." The Gospel is not a bunch of empty words. It is the message of salvation. It is God's power to save (Rom. 1:16). "So, Hear these words," St. Paul is saying. "Believe them and confess the truth that they contain. Salvation is easy, since it is by grace. And yet, this is impossible for man. It requires a heavenly Spirit," as St. John Chrysostom preaches.
Indeed, those who lack this heaven-borne Spirit, this heaven-borne faith in Jesus, cannot see how the Lord of Life can make a Christian of an infant. Neither can they believe that He could make a man of clay, or a woman from a rib. Even Christians struggle with God being THAT powerful, and so they turn Romans 10:9 into a barrier against the Word of God creating life and making new creations out of people who happen to be infants. That is not Paul's meaning at all, who confesses baptism as a dying and rising with Christ in Romans 6.
Since even babies die (since the wages of sin is death), then they can die with Christ in Holy Baptism. And since babies can be buried (since the wages of sin is death), they can be buried with Christ and raised again through Holy Baptism. Yes, the Word of God is just that powerful - even leading up to and preceding Holy Baptism, as St. Augustine states.
If anyone is otherwise inclined to believe, we will hear their reasons to the contrary from the Word of God. Only, answer the objections that we raise above. Explain how the Lord Who, by His Word alone brought light from darkness, cannot bring saints from sinners, even when they're infants. Explain how the Lord Who breathed life into lifeless clay cannot breathe life into a child, whom Christ Our dear Lord says are they "who believe in Me" (Matt. 18:2-6). And finally, if Romans 10:9 is such a barrier to infant baptism, then . . .
How can your infant children be saved?
We Lutherans say they can - because God works faith as He pleases, by the preaching of Christ, through which the Holy Spirit is at work. And, as infant children look to and cling to their mother's breasts, making a true confession, so much more do the children of God, by the working of the Holy Spirit, look to and trust in their Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ.
And so, lest we find ourselves one day like the agonizing parents in the Dore woodcut to the left, who desperately try to keep their children above the waters of the Flood, when they might have been floated in safety by those waters in the Ark - let us truly believe the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, and all that "Jesus Christ is Lord" confesses. He is the Lord Who works the miracle of salvation through His Water and His Word, and not even our children being infants is a barrier to Him . . . Who called light out of darkness and raised the Dead from the grave. He is the Lord. And He will do all that He promised.
I Peter 3:18-22.
Call Pastor Sawyer at (601) 992-4752, or email him. He'd be glad to speak with you about the Historic Christian Faith.