I. The Roman Road 

It is likely that the vast majority of my readers have heard mention of the “Roman Road.” Perhaps some of you have even practiced various aspects of its approach or, based on your religious affiliation, have applied its concepts in your own approach to Jesus Christ and salvation. To put it simply, for those who may need a refresher on its basic beliefs, the Roman Road can best be described as an approach used by various religious denominations to lead one to Jesus Christ and secure an individuals eternal salvation. Let’s take a look at the five basic steps involved in the process that is referred to as the Roman Road: 

  1. Everyone needs salvation because we have all sinned.
  2. The Price or Consequence for sin is death
  3. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He paid the price for our death.
  4. We receive salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
  5. Salvation through Jesus Christ brings us into a relationship of peace with God.

The following website (link here), states that the “Romans Road lays out the plan of salvation through a series of Bible verses from the book of Romans. When arranged in order, these verses form an easy, systematic way of explaining the message of salvation.

Going further, the article then establishes what they believe to be the systematic approach of the Roman Road that defines the following: 

  • Who needs salvation.
  • Why we need salvation.
  • How God provides salvation.
  • How we receive salvation.
  • The results of salvation.

Thus, if one were to then accept the fundamental teachings of the Roman Road, you would then be moving upon the path of truth that would lend to God’s free gift of salvation. Here is one particular approach down the Roman Road as expressed by many: 

  1. Admit you are a sinner
  2. Understand that as a sinner, you deserve death.
  3. Repent
  4. Come by faith, believing Jesus Christ died on the cross to save you from sin and death.
  5. Pray a simple prayer
  6. Don’t doubt
  7. Receive, through faith in Jesus Christ, his free gift of salvation.
  8. Tell someone about your decision to become a Christian

In fact, according to this paradigm of salvation, you can say a simple prayer just about anywhere to be saved and become a Christian. Here is a sample prayer (link here) which is as follows: 

Dear Lord,
I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. AMEN

II. The Starting Point of the Roman Road

It is important to note that the basis for these core teachings, especially the point of “receiving salvation”, is built upon the platform of Romans 10:8-13. Is Romans 10:8-13 the  inspired Word of God? Absolutely! Does it specifically declare “if thou shalt confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved?” Absolutely it does! It should be that simple, right? Wrong!  Let’s look at the portion of scripture that has defined the underlying doctrine of “confession unto salvation”. 

Romans 10:8-13 (KJV)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 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.

At face value this would seem to clearly define how one is saved, correct? In fact, this seems to be further solidified in vs. 13, “for whosoever shall upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Based upon these statements, it would seem that the doctrine of “confession unto salvation” is built upon a strong, solid foundation of Biblical truth. Based on this, it really does seem that all I need to do in order to be saved is to just confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that Jesus died for my sins, forgave me, and then, following this pronouncement of faith; accept Christ into my heart. 

Unfortunately, this is where the Roman Road comes to a dead end and a large sign stating “Road Closed” bars any future progress. Why is the road suddenly closed? In one word; context

III. Context is Everything

It has been said that “scripture without context is pretext” (author unknown). Literary Context is defined as: (1) the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect (2). the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.

In other words, meaning is found in context or, to put it another way, context shapes meaning. Consider the word “stop.” If you are driving down the road and see that word on a red octagonal sign, you come to a complete stop. However, if you read that word on a banner advertising a gas station on the next exit, you do not come to a complete and sudden stop. Why? The context of that word gives it its meaning. In similar fashion, the word of God utilizes the same principles of literary context: context shapes meaning. 

Have you ever heard the argument that posits one should never judge another because the “Bible tells us not to judge?”  Sure you have! Is the statement, “judge not,” in the word of God? Yes it is! However, the application of these two words are often divorced from literary context. Let’s take a look at it: 

Matthew 7:1-6 (KJV)
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Is it responsible to merely take the first two words of the first verse and develop a doctrine and present it as a Biblical truth? No it is not! The context of verse one is clarified by the following five verses. Who exactly is Jesus directing these statements to? Read through it one more time and the answer is very obvious: Jesus is speaking to hypocrites. Putting everything in proper context, one understands that the mote and beam are metaphors for sin and Jesus is telling the hypocrites, “you better be careful in judging others because the measure of judgment you dish out to others is going to be reciprocated in your own lives for your own sins that you refuse to deal with.” 

What is Jesus doing? He is challenging the hypocrites to first examine themselves before they take it upon themselves to judge the sin in others.” Nothing in the context of the six verses implies that we are not to “judge sin.” Instead, when taking scripture in context (not viewing scripture from a tunnel, but instead, flying overhead and getting an aerial view) we can easily see how we are to judge righteous judgment only after we have examined ourselves and sought to ensure that our own sin is not clouding our judgment and causing us to make decisions from the platform of hypocrisy (see. 2 Corinthians 13:5). We simply do not have time to navigate the myriad of scriptures that are taken out of context, but suffice it to say, context is everything!  

IV. The Context of Romans 10

Now that we have established the importance of context, let us apply those same important principles to Romans 10. What is the context of Romans 10:8-13? Let’s read it again:

Romans 10:8-13 (KJV)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 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.

Who is Paul talking to? Why is Paul writing what he is writing? What has propelled him to make the statements he makes in the above text? If you read that portion of scripture without establishing context, then your meaning is established without context. So, to answer the question: “who is Paul writing to or about,” we need to look at the surrounding text. Let’s look at some of the surrounding text, beginning with the last two verses of chapter nine and the first seven verse of chapter ten. 

Romans 9:31-33 (KJV)
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Earlier in chapter nine, Paul expresses the sorrow and grief that he is experiencing. Why? Israel, the ones who had been given the promises, the law, the covenants, and exclusive service to God, “hath not attained to the law of righteousness.” Why? “Because they sought it not by faith but as it were by the works of the law, for they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 

Paul is talking about Israel (the Jewish nation) and how they stumbled because of the stumbling stone. What was the stumbling stone? Look at I Corinthians 1:23 which declares, “…Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block”.  So, when you transition into Romans chapter 10, Israel is the subject of Pauls writings and he is writing about the salvation of the “house of Israel”. Let’s look further as context is established: 

Romans 10:1-7 (KJV)
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above🙂 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

Paul, continuing to speak of the Jewish nation (Israel), writes to the conglomerate of “saints in Rome” (whom Paul had yet to come visit in person) that his “heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel” was that “they might be saved!” This is very important because Paul is establishing the context of his address to the Roman church. Whose salvation is Paul referring to? Israel’s!

Then, following this desire and longing of Paul to see the Israel saved, he begins to explain how Israel does not lack in their zeal for God, but sadly, their zeal is “not according to knowledge” Simply put, they cannot comprehend and grasp the work of Jesus Christ who is the “end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” What is Paul doing? Paul is explaining the fundamental reason why the majority of Israel is not saved! 

What is the fundamental reason that the house of Israel is not saved? Israel has a faith and heart issue! It goes back to their stumbling block-Jesus Christ. They refuse to believe the things that are being preached about Jesus and, out of their hearts (typically used metaphorically of the mind) they continually express resistance and anger against the idea that Jesus is the promised Messiah who died for their sins and then conquered death, hell, and the grave by being resurrected. 

This is very, very important! Nowhere in any of these verses is Paul addressing the Christian church and telling them the plan of salvation. Paul is not telling them “this is how you get saved.” Paul is discussing the fundamental reason why the house of Israel is not saved. What is that reason? The majority of the house of Israel continues to stumble at the person of Jesus Christ. Simply put, Israel has a belief issue; they do not believe that Jesus is God and thus they do not belief that Jesus is Messiah. Instead, they continue to challenge the veracity of this claim with underlying thoughts of the heart such as: 

Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

Israel has a “heart problem” that originates from their ignorance of who Jesus Christ is. This “heart problem” motived by unbelief is consistently picked up throughout the New Testament. Here are a few verses expressing this issue with the unbelieving Jews. 

Hebrews 3:10-12 (KJV)
10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Acts 7:51 (KJV)
51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Acts 28:27-29 (KJV)
27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

Having established this context, you can then move into the following verses of Romans 10:8-13 with the understanding that Paul is explaining why Israel is not being saved. Paul is not telling the church the “model of salvation.” 

Romans 10:8-13 (KJV)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 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

Paul is explaining what it will take for the unbelieving Jews to be saved! Guess what, before you can preach to them about baptism in Jesus name and everything else accompanying the Gospel (death, burial, and resurrection) they must first believe that Jesus Christ is both Lord and God! Think about this with me! Would you try and convince an atheist to be baptized in Jesus’ name, knowing that the atheist didn’t even believe a God existed? How absurd would it be to jump ahead and establish the core values of the Gospel to someone that doesn’t even believe Jesus is God? 

This is exactly what Paul is addressing to the Roman Church. Before the Jewish nation can respond to the Gospel and subsequently be born again of the water and the spirit (Jn. 3:5) they must first believe in their heart that Jesus Christ is God and that Jesus was raised from the dead. Not only must they believe it, they must confess it! One is expending a lot of energy trying to teach unbelieving Jews that they must be “born again” if one cannot first establish that Jesus is is both God and Messiah. 

V. Believing and Confessing in Action

Believe it or not, there is evidence of these kinds of Jews  whom Paul was speaking of actually believing in their heart and confessing with the mouth. To set the stage for this evidence, we must first begin with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in the book of Acts. 

According to scripture, Jesus had commanded the disciples and other followers that, before you go and become witnesses of me, go “tarry in Jerusalem…until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49). This “power from on high” indicates several important facts for the reader. 

  1. The Disciples (and other followers) did not have power
  2. Though they believed and confessed Christ as God and Messiah, they were not ready to be witnesses
  3. The “power from on high” is called the “Promise of the Father.” 

Thus, when one moves into the book of Acts (also written by Luke) we see a reiteration of what had been commanded in Luke 24:49, prior to Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Again, the book of Acts refers back to the “promise of the father” as the primary reason why the disciples (and other followers) are waiting in Jerusalem. They are waiting to be “endued with power from on high.” Let’s pick up in Acts, where Luke explains the process a little more clearly. 

Acts 1:4-8 (KJV)
4  And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6  When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7  And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

There are four things to emphasize here:

  1. They were towait for the promise of the Father” (vs. 4)
  2. The promise is revealed to be thebaptism of the Holy Ghost” (vs. 5)
  3. After they receive the Holy Ghostthey would receive power” (vs. 8)
  4. This receiving of the Holy Ghost (the Promise) that gave them power would enable them to be witnesses

So, we find the disciples and other followers (about 120) waiting (tarrying, just as Jesus commanded in Luke 24) in an upper room in Jerusalem. Let’s ask several questions:

  • Q:What are they waiting for?
  • A:The Promise of the Father.
  • Q:What is the promise of the Father?
  • A:The Holy Ghost.
  • Q:What does the Holy Ghost do?
  • A:It gives them power.
  • Q:Power to do what?
  • A: Be witnesses. 

Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)
1  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Ok, so they receive the Holy Ghost (the Promise of the Father) which endues them with power from on high. They pour out of the upper room, speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, and other Jews from all over the world are present hearing this “spirit-filled” people magnify and glorify God in the language of each group present. Immediately, they think these guys are drunk and declare, “what meaneth these things?” 

Peter then stands up and preaches the first recorded sermon of the New Testament church (read it for yourself: Acts 2:14-36). To summarize, Peter essentially begins to preach to them that the experience they had just witnesses (the speaking in tongues and experience of the group of 120) was prophesied by Joel as the “last day outpouring of God’s spirit upon all flesh.” Then, moving further, Peter begins to preach to the Jews that are present about Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection. Remember, these Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. In fact, they had been part of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Suddenly, summing up his sermon, Peter declares to all the house of Israel: 

Acts 2:36 (KJV)
36  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

What happens next? Romans 10:9 happens! You know, “confess with thy mouth” and “believe in thine heart.” Watch…

Acts 2:37 (KJV)
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

What does it mean “they were pricked in their heart?” It means that the truth of Jesus’ identity and their sinful rejection of Jesus as the Messiah was suddenly seen clearly. In that moment they “believed in their heart.” The knowledge devastated them! They had crucified Jesus, who was both Lord and Christ! So what about the “confess with your mouth” portion? Look at the next statement: “men and brethren, what shall we do?” 

What just happened? Their ignorance was broken down and, having just believed in their heart that Jesus was indeed both Lord and Christ, they opened their mouth and their words gave confession of that believe when they asked:  what must we do to be right with God?” In other words, “WHAT MUST BE DO TO BE SAVED?? What does Peter tell them? Does he tell them that they were already saved? Does he tell them to repeat a simple prayer and accept Christ into their hearts? No! Look at what Peter tells them: 

Acts 2:38-39 (KJV)
38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Now, let’s move back to the context of Romans chapter 10 (and you may have to read through this article several times). Look at what follows Paul’s statements about “believing and confessing”: 

Romans 10:14-21 (KJV)
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? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. 19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. 20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

How will Israel be saved? They have to “call on him” (Jesus Christ), meaning “they must confess that Jesus is Lord and Christ!” But notice how Paul lays out the progression of reaching the unbelieving Jews and what will bring them to that point of confession. 

  • How shall they believe if they have not heard? 
  • How shall they hear if they don’t have a preacher? 
  • How shall there be a preacher, except preachers are sent? 

The answer brings us back to Acts chapter two and a preacher named Peter begins to preach to them the identity, mission, and purpose of Jesus Christ. Then, having “heard the preacher” they were “pricked in the hearts” (believed) and opened their mouths asking, “what must be do?” (confession). 

So, when reading through Romans 10, we begin to understand what Paul was addressing. Did the nation of Israel hear the Gospel preached? Of course they did! Paul was making it clear that they had heard but the issue with the nation of Israel was unbelief. They would never receive salvation as evidenced in the church until their HEART was changed and they believed! This is true with anyone! If one continues to live in spiritual darkness, refusing to accept the fundamental claim of Jesus Christ, how can they be expected to receive the Spirit of God? 

2 Corinthians 3:15 (KJV)
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

In the words of the Apostle Paul, I now ask you: “have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2). Perhaps you believe in Jesus Christ (just as the disciples did in Luke 24) and have “accepted Him as both Lord and Savior (just as the disciples did in Luke 24). However, accepting Christ is not the same as “receiving Christ.” We must go back to the fundamental question those Jews asked when they realized they were sinners: “what must we do?” 

The answer has never changed and it still remains: 

  • Repent
  • Be Baptized in the Name of Jesus for the Remission of your Sins
  • Ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost

How will you know you received the Holy Ghost? It will be evidenced by speaking with other tongues “as the spirit gives the utterance” This was the normative process by which people received the Holy Ghost.  

Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)
1  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 10:44-48 (KJV)
44  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Acts 19:1-7 (KJV)
1  And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2  He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3  And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4  Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7  And all the men were about twelve.

Remember what Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:5-8 (KJV)
5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Those born of the Spirit are likened to the moving wind. You can’t see the wind, but you can hear the sound thereof. The evidence of the wind is the sound the wind makes, so also those receiving the Holy Ghost, evidenced by the sound of speaking with other tongues as the spirit gives the utterance. 

A new heart is revealed by new speech…