Many today insist that in order to be saved, one must “call” upon the Lord through prayer. For this reason, many equate this “call upon the Lord” with a sinner’s prayer, asking Christ to save them. Often those with little or no interest in God or genuine faith in Christ led through prayers as although the mere act of speaking such a prayer is the catalyst for salvation rather than the evidence of it. This is usually based on an immature or superficial understanding of Romans chapter 10.
While praying is not wrong and even confessing our faith through a sinner's prayer is not wrong; the tendency to view a sinner’s prayer as the catalyst or a guarantee of salvation certainly is wrong.
1. God does not, and never has settled for mere lip service.
Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Psalm 51:17
That's why Paul preached repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord and Saviour. Jesus Christ
2. We do not enter into salvation by prayer. We are saved by grace, through faith, not prayer. Genuine faith in Christ will show forth in a profession of the mouth as well as a changed life.
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
As a matter of fact, the idea of calling upon the name of the Lord is so much more than merely speaking words of acknowledgement. It was a turning to God in faith. We are to confess the Lord Jesus Christ, which of course includes acknowledging his person as well as his work as Saviour; but to confess is so much more than just a prayer.
Romans 10:9 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.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Although there are no biblical accounts of praying to receive salvation, it is now commonly taught that in order to be saved, one must call upon the name of the Lord through prayer. Many equate this call with reciting a sinner’s prayer.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
The word confess here- Strong’s #3670 is different from the word confess #1843used in other New Testament passages such as:
Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess (1843) to God.
Philippians 2:11 And that every tongue should confess (1843) that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Both words contain the idea of acknowledging Christ publicly; but when we look at confess/confession in Romans 10:9& 10, it also conveys the sense of a covenant relationship with Christ not merely as lip service through a one- time prayer, but as the public profession of an ongoing relationship, and association with Christ- to assent, i.e. covenant.
3670 μολογέω homologéō, hom-ol-og-eh'-o; from a compound of the base of G3674 and G3056; to assent, i.e. covenant, acknowledge:—con- (pro-)fess, confession is made, give thanks, promise.
1843 ἐξομολογέω exomologéō, ex-om-ol-og-eh'-o; from G1537 and G3670; to acknowledge or (by implication, of assent) agree fully:—confess, profess, promise.
When Paul was speaking here in Romans 10 of his desire to see his Jewish brothers come to Christ, he spoke as a Jew in a language they would understand, contrasting the Old Covenant of the law with the New Covenant through faith in Christ. The Jews, (just as the Gentiles) were to now submit to the righteousness of faith which is by the New Covenant. The Old covenant evidence of faith was obedience to the law, while the New Covenant evidence of faith is public testimony of association with Christ, obeying Christ as they would have the law. Again, this was not as a one-time spoken prayer, but as a covenant relationship with Christ. It is turning form our sin and being reconciled to God according to his plan for our salvation which is now through faith Jesus Christ confessing publicly as a lifestyle which unashamedly associates itself with Christ. So much more than the mere sinner’s prayer that offers lip service without a heart for God.
As a matter of fact, when the Jews confessed the name of the Lord in the Old Testament, it was always as believers, coupled with turning to or returning to God in repentance, from sin, idolatry or disobedience.
1 Kings 8:33 When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:
1 Kings 8:35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:
2 Chronicles 6:24 And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house;
2 Chronicles 6:26 When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them.