If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
This is a beautiful explanation of how we express our faith and allow God’s grace to deliver us. It involves something inward and outward, and yet is wonderfully simple.
We are sometimes confused about what it takes to be “saved.” We may believe we have to please God, that we have to stop doing wrong, or that if we do enough good deeds then God will accept us. We think that God uses a scale, and if the good outweighs the bad then He lets us into heaven. If we go to church, don’t do anything really bad, and maybe even perform the right rituals then the balance will tip in our favor. But God is not impressed with our “good deeds” — He is the maker of the universe — what could we possibly do to impress Him? He is holy and every one of His works is good, how do we look in comparison?
God loves us and even though who we are is far from who He is He has made a simple way for us to get close, in fact so close as to be called His children. (The problem was not what we did or didn’t do, it was who we were.) He made that way by becoming one of us and taking away the guilt of our sins through His death and resurrection. That forgiveness allows God to come close to us, change who we are and transform us into His children. We could not do that ourselves, no matter how hard we might try.
All that God wants is for us to recognize what He has done, and we do that through faith. Inwardly we believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead, and outwardly we declare our belief. We don’t have to worry about whether we have done more good than bad, all we need is simple faith. God will transform us. The changes that God will make in us will lead us to live in love and kindness and create a desire to do good. But we are saved by God’s grace, not anything that we can bring about ourselves. All we have to do is believe it!