This little tidbit from Romans 10 is oft quoted:
"If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved"
But that gem is rarely understood. We simply don't have working definitions of the key words in this verse. What does it mean to confess Jesus as Lord? What does it mean to believe that God raised him? And, perhaps most importantly the question that is most urgent for the future of American Christianity, what does it mean to be saved?
I sound like a broken record, but if being saved means "I get to go to heaven when I die," then we've got it all sorts of backwards. If we are just waiting for our just rewards because we said the right prayer and (looked like) we did the right things, then we are setting ourselves up for a serious disappointment.
If we have our ticket punched and are waiting for Jesus to come, like Calgon, to take us away, we would be well served by going back and really looking at what it means to confess and believe, because, dear friends, these things are not passive, past tense activities - these are life changing and ongoing activities.
Confessing that Jesus is Lord isn't something you tell God. He knows it already. It is something you tell your family, friends, co-workers, bosses, politicians, news reporters... it is something you tell by word and deed to every person, power and principality within your circle of influence.
Believing that God raised Jesus from the dead isn't an intellectual assent confined to the recesses of your mind. If God did raise Jesus from the dead, and the Kingdom of God has started to invade the kingdom of the world, then you have a part to play. You are called to work alongside God in the restoration of his Good Creation from the power of sin and death. If Jesus was raised from the dead, then you have a lifelong task - help God raise the rest of us too. When your whole life is turned toward God, well then you are saved, and heaven will be a nice reward, but in the mean time the work is never done.
Confess, believe, and be saved. Simple enough?