“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord…” – Is Romans 10:9-10 a sufficient creed or statement of faith?
Taken on its own the phrase commencing “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord..” (Romans 10:9-10) would appear a sufficient creed or statement of faith. But then anything taken on its own might appear to be self sufficient. 9-10 certainly are an important definition of faith in the context of Romans 10, and Romans 10 marks and important point in the thesis which is Romans, but if one reads these two verses in the context of Romans, all of Paul’s epistles, all of the New Testament, it becomes clear that 10:9-10 are not to be taken as absolute ruling over ever other credal statement in the Bible.
The context of Romans 10 – Gentiles also confess and are saved just as the Jews had been
As it stands 10:9-10 do lay down two important doctrines about Christ “that Jesus is Lord” and “that God raised him from the dead”.
9 because, 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
But it’s worth noting the structure of the saying which is AB-BA, a form of emphasis that repeats the two requirements in verses 9, while developing belief to justification and confession to salvation:
A – confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and
B – believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For
B – with the heart one believes and is justified, and
A – with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
So this not really Doctrine 1 and Doctrine 2 in list that ends there and allows no Doctrine 3, but a way of expressing the basic owning up to being Christian in a hostile world. And more particularly the context here is the departure from Judaism
10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:5-13)
The comparison here is confessing and believing through Moses, and confessing and believing in Christ. This is not at a Christological statement that any form of Christianity, and any remaking of Jesus is an equally valid way to salvation. The problems in 1 John of denying that Christ has “come in the flesh” or 2 Corinthians 11 of “another Jesus” or Galatians 1 of “another gospel” are far out of sight from the close context of Romans 10, which is Moses.
Other doctrinal statements and tests in the New Testament:
Galatians 1 – No Other Gospel
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
2 Corinthians 11:4 – Another Jesus
11 1I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
1 John 4 – Test the Spirits
4 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6)