Does salvation come by “believing,” alone?
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. – Rom. 10:8-10
Clearly, believing is the key factor to becoming a follower of Christ. According to this passage, believing is something that happens in our hearts, not simply our minds. We would have to believe in someone to truly follow them; thus believing is indeed a vital part of choosing to follow Jesus.
It is a key factor to faith as well. Hebrews 11:6 says that for us to come to God, we must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. People of faith must first believe.
However, “believing” is a starting point, not an end…what about “confessing with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord’?” What does that even mean? If I confess that Jesus is “Lord”, do I not then have to let Him be “Lord”? Can I claim He is Lord from my heart and not give Him Lordship of my heart? That seems highly improbable on the integrity level, doesn’t it?
Repentance, then, is the other part of this “Salvation” experience. If God is going to be Lord of my life, I have to repent of my sin. I have to want to let go of sin and desire the change only God can bring.
This is also shown in the following scriptures:
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. – Luke 5:32
46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. – Luke 24:46-48
When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life. – Acts 11:18
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. – Acts 20:21
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. – Acts 26:20
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
Is believing important? It is imperative! But apart from repentance, I believe that James would say:
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. – James 2:19
The difference is, that the demons’ belief in Jesus doesn’t lead them to repentance. They are not offered that option. Only people, made in the image of God, have been offered this great salvation.