Friday, September 30, 2016

Good Roots Yield Good Fruits

Peter Leithart at First Things has an interesting short post on the chiastic structure of Romans 10:9-10.  Here are the formatted verses:

A.  Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
B.  and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
C.  you will be saved.
B'.  For with the heart one believes and is justified,
A'.  and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

After an examination of the structure, Leithart ends with:
Substantively, the double use of the root indicates that salvation doesn’t come from heart belief alone.  Salvation results from the work of two organs, the heart and the mouth.  Heart-belief is absolutely necessary, but not sufficient to achieve salvation.  The interior heart has to emerge into the public forum, verbalized in confession.
While I mostly like the piece, the lest sentence gives me pause, because it seems ambiguous.  Leithart appears to make the confession of faith in a public forum a necessary work to be worked in order to procure salvation.  This is never the case as good works, prepared beforehand by God, are to be walked in subsequent to salvation.  The proper understanding of this passage is to see that confession and belief are two aspects of a single reality.  Belief is evidenced via outward expression.

Works without faith is self-righteousness, while faith without works is fideism.  Both scenarios leave us as the walking dead.  Life comes solely through the Word of God given to us that we might believe, confess, and do it, as Paul goes on to quote from Deuteronomy 30:14:
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).  (Rom 10:8)
If we believe the finished work of Christ is “for me,” then what (and Who) has been given abides within and is naturally expressed by what is confessed, (i.e., by their fruits you will know them).

What do you confess?  What fruit to you bear?

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