What Does “Believe in Your Heart” Really Mean?
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead you will be saved (Rom 10:9).
We’ve all confessed (give assent to or acknowledge) with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and understand its importance to our salvation, but what about the “believe in your heart” portion of the verse?
In Romans 10:10 Paul goes on to say that it’s with our heart that we believe and are justified. The Greek word translated justify is from dikaios which means to be innocent or holy. The King James translates this word believe unto righteousness meaning that our belief in the resurrection is what brings us our righteousness, allowing God to regard us as though we’re innocent of any sin and therefore holy.
The notion of a bodily resurrection is as old as the Bible itself. It’s contained in what is arguably the earliest written book of the Bible.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)
The Church in Corinth had difficulty understanding this, so in 1 Cor. 15 Paul devoted a whole chapter to their questions about resurrection going as far as to state, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor 15:7) Yet today, many who call themselves Christian still don’t believe it. Liberal theology does not require belief in a bodily resurrection, and even among Evangelicals, it’s sometimes spiritualized away. We know that if we believe the Bible we are required to believe in a bodily resurrection, but do we know why it’s required?
There’s More Here Than Meets the Eye
John the Baptist introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of world (John 1:29), not just the sins of the Jews or even of those Jews and Gentiles present at the time, but the sins of the world. Every violation of God’s law that ever had been or ever would be committed was to be dealt with. Of course, this didn’t mean the world would no longer be a sinful place, or that everyone would be saved, but that the penalty for the sins of the world would be borne by the Lamb of God for the benefit of all who chose to accept it. Here’s how it happened.
In Roman crucifixions, a sign was posted above the head of the one being executed, listing the broken laws for which his life was being taken. It was meant as a deterrent for those watching the public executions. In Jesus’ case, the sign said “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” indicating his crime against Rome was treason. In Col 2:13-14 we’re told that in the spiritual realm another sign was also posted. It listed all the sins that mankind ever had or ever would commit. It explained why His life was really being taken.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross (Col 2:13-14).
Notice it says He forgave us all our sins. Not just the ones we committed before we were saved, and not just the ones we commit by accident. He forgave all of our sins, even those we commit willfully and repeatedly.
Hebrews 10:12-14 says that Jesus offered for all time one sacrifice for sin and then sat down at the right hand of God, because by that one sacrifice He has made us perfect forever. His death took place on one specific day in time, but its effect applies across the span of time to all the days of every man. We only have to ask for God’s forgiveness to receive it.
But Jesus actually did much more than bear the punishment due us. 2 Cor 5:21 says that God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. In other words, while on the cross, He became the physical embodiment of sin. God can not dwell in the presence of sin, nor even look upon it (Haba 1:13) and so He had to turn away, separating Himself from His Son. For 3 hours light was taken from the world and for the first time in eternity, the two were not one.
If the ultimate punishment for sin is complete separation from God, Jesus suffered it then. It was the only time in the entire ordeal that He complained, crying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:45-46) When He had died, His punishment over, He no longer personified sin and the light was restored.
What’s The Point?
After His resurrection, Jesus looked like other men to His disciples and the 500 eyewitnesses who saw Him (1 Cor. 15:6). He walked with His disciples, talked with them, ate with them and permitted them to touch Him to assure themselves He was not just a spirit, but a man with flesh and bone (Luke 24:36-43). His was a bodily resurrection. Later He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
Now here’s the point. Remember, God cannot be in the presence of sin or even look upon it (Haba 1:13). Jesus had taken upon himself every sin of mankind, past, present, and future. If even one was left unpaid by His death, Jesus couldn’t be in God’s presence and would still be in the grave (Rom 6:23). His resurrection is proof of yours. If you cannot believe that God raised Jesus from the dead then you cannot believe that all your sins are forgiven and that He will raise you up.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For in Adam all die so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor. 15:20-22).
On that Sunday morning in April of 32AD, as the sun was rising, the priests in the Temple were preparing for the festival that always begins on the morning after the first Sabbath after Passover. It was First Fruits, signifying the beginning of the spring harvest for the Nation of Israel.
And Mary was going to the tomb with some other women to complete the burial process that had been interrupted by the holy days following the crucifixion. But the tomb was empty. The Son had risen, the First Fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
That empty tomb was the clearest sign we have ever received that the Lord had accomplished His mission. The Lamb of God had indeed taken away the sin of the world, all of it.
The essential gospel is that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and that He was raised on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Believing this is the only qualification for salvation. We are sinners in need of a savior. Jesus died for our sins, and to prove that His death was sufficient for us, God raised Him from the dead on the third day. Believing in our heart that God raised Him from the dead is our assurance that He will raise us, too. Selah