Evaluating the “Romans Road”

Growing up in Baptist circles it was common to hear talk of the “Romans Road” plan of salvation. I was taught this as a child and many still today have this concept of sharing Christ. So today let’s consider the traditional “Romans Road” and see if it measures up as a sound way to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

So the “Romans Road” starts off with telling people that they are lost.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
Romans 3:10
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

There is technically nothing wrong with this but I would start back with Adam and Eve and explain why mankind was under the penalty of sin. Then explain how each person is responsible.

Next the person is to be told that God through Jesus Christ provides the gift of eternal life. (Note that some hear also do include John 3:16 and don’t fully stick to the “Romans Road”.)

Rom 6:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:8
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us

Here we see it mentioned that Christ died for us. That much is true. But note that the Romans Road leaves out the cross and shed blood not to mention other things like the burial and resurrection of Christ. I find this incredible given the fact that the surrounding verses in Romans touch upon the blood etc.

Next the person is to confess / pray while believing God for salvation.

Romans 10:9
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:13
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Using the two verses above is really where this falls apart. Even if you were to add in say I Cor 15:1-4 above, you would be giving a false way to receive salvation here.  We must understand that Romans chapters 9 through 11 are written in regards to Paul’s desire and teaching concerning national Israel. Throughout he uses the word “saved” and “salvation” to both speak of God’s wrath on Israel nationally, yet also to the salvation spiritually of the “remnant” with the remnant being those of Israel that believe.

So for Romans 10:13 Paul is talking about calling upon the Lord for deliverance from wrath upon the nation. Before a person can do this however, they need to be one that believes for justification.

We must note that at this point the person leading another down the Romans Road has a number of options in telling the person how to receive salvation. For some they emphasize confessing Christ as Lord as in making Christ Lord of your life. Others take it the pray and ask Jesus into your “heart” route. Some take it in the willingness to confess and turn from sins route. Regardless, they are taking a passage and misapplying it due to misunderstanding the thought progression and context.

The other thing here is that the salvation sometimes spoken of in verses like 10:13 is not talking itself about eternal life.

The person sharing the Romans road is then to state that the result of salvation is peace with God and safety in Jesus Christ. But think of this, is there really safety and forgiveness in Jesus Christ if a lost person 1) didn’t really know the content of the gospel and 2) really didn’t understand how to receive it by faith alone in Christ alone?

Typically what happens is that the person witnessing shares some semblance of this with a person and then, if the unsaved person is willing, prompts the person to pray and ask Jesus to save them or pray and confess sins or pray and submit to Christ as Lord asking Him to save and help them live right. It may even be something of all of the above. I have seen all of that type of thing taught in churches throughout the years. It is all over the internet as well as far as “how” to receive Christ as Savior.

Romans 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

But if the person remains unsaved because you messed up sharing the gospel and sharing the method of receiving eternal life then telling them that they are eternally secure at that point it only further pushes them into falsehood. This is because the person may think they are saved when indeed they have either been fed a cross-less gospel or a faith plus method of receiving eternal life. Either way that is a tragedy.

Let’s instead as believers tell people the truth. Let’s tell them that they are under the penalty of sin going back to Adam. Let’s say that Jesus Christ the Son of God that took on flesh to die as a perfect sacrifice for mankind in order to appease God’s eternal wrath on sin. Let’s tells folks how Christ lived a sinless life, died on the cross shedding His blood, was buried, and rose again for our justification. Today He is seated in heaven having entered the holiest of holies by way of His perfect sacrifice. He remains there always making intercession for those who will receive His blood purchased salvation by faith.

In the comments section feel free share what verses you would use to share the gospel or witness to a lost person. And bottom line, let’s not go down the traditional “Romans Road”.

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41 Responses to Evaluating the “Romans Road”

  1. Dennis Clough says:

    Never been happy with the Roman Road approach.
    Many have come to Christ through it however. I personally use JOHN 5:24. It has all elements of the Gospel plus assurance of salvation for believers.
    It has the perfect outline for a gospel presentation.

  2. jimfloyd12 says:

    Thanks Dennis, yes some have come to Christ through it. Though often it takes a while to get through the confusing parts. I saw many children come “forward” to trust Christ repeatedly hoping that this time the prayer would take. It often took a bit of time before they understood that all they needed to do was trust Christ alone. Sadly some never got to that point being deceived or being told they were saved for praying a prayer after someone.

  3. Mary says:

    Yes Dennis, he is a false teacher, the reason you may not have picked up on this is that the false gospels that are out there are so subtle. This is one of satans specialty, I recommend you read Michael Bowens book, its free on line, called ‘The Horror of the Great White Throne Judgment’.

  4. alice says:

    Thanks Jim for alerting us in using the ‘Roman’s Road’ for presenting the Gospel to an unbeliever.
    I worry about using Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved’. as a condition for salvation, that is one needs to ‘confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord’. If that is a requirement for receiving salvation, then how can a person who is unable to speak out loud due to some disability or a medical condition such as a cancer of throat / vocal chords or a result of a stroke, is therefore unable to speak out loud or has a stuttering issue with speech problems or born mute or dumb due to cerebral palsy or some intellectual brain impairment, then is that person ‘saved’ because that person is unable to speak out loud with his/her mouth?
    Also what if a person lives in a predominantly Muslim country or a Communist country such as North Korea where Christianity is forbidden to be preached or practised, and is afraid to speak out loud concerning his personal faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour but has trusted Him in his own heart privately after hearing the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4 ( through the internet), because of resulting persecution and imprisonment or even possible death penalty, does that mean this person is still ‘lost’ because he/she has failed to ‘confess with the mouth’?
    And if publicly ‘confessing Christ as Lord’ is a necessary condition for salvation, then the question to ask is: before how many people, just 1 or 2 or before a whole Church? and how often does one have to do this in order to prove this person is /saved’?
    Is trusting with my heart in Christ alone, through His death, burial and resurrection enough for salvation or do I have to also ‘confess with my mouth Jesus as Lord’ publicly in order to be saved and receive eternal life?

  5. jimfloyd12 says:

    Alice,

    That is my point why we should not use that verse when witnessing to the lost. Confession of the mouth in that context is not talking in reference of eternal salvation, but the believing from the heart, is.

  6. jimfloyd12 says:

    Virgil,

    I am no fan of Wilkin’s cross-less gospel either. And yes Israel was under the law, but salvation is and was then still by faith. They simply looked forward. We now have reading to look back to the cross

  7. jimfloyd12 says:

    No, I don’t believe that tract does what it should have done. People need to know what they are being saved from and how it is that Christ provided it

  8. hollysgarcia says:

    Vernon, they were looking forward to the promises and the prophecies of the Messiah. Whether they understood fully at that time, the disciples (all but one) were declared clean (saved). They would come to a more full understanding of Jesus being crucified for them, having loosed the bonds of death, He conquered sin, death and the grave by giving His life for us and rising again from the dead (1 Cor 15:50-57 and Col 2:13-15). In Acts 2, it is clear they understood, and the Holy Spirit was given, baptizing people into the church.

  9. jimfloyd12 says:

    Sorry Virgil, Christ himself witnessed what type of death he would die. Think of his conversation with Nicodemus. 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

    Or in John 12
    32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

    33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

    That statement occurs more than once. The prophets spoke of it and there were more than enough types for shadowing it. It doesn’t matter if the disciples were looking more for an earthly kindgom and only understood some of his statements once the cross had taken place. Remember, Abraham was justified by faith. It is the same for us. They did not all have the same amounts of special revelation given but the had enough to believe or not believe.

  10. jimfloyd12 says:

    Yes, exactly Holly

  11. hollysgarcia says:

    Sorry, I meant Virgil. Yes, when Jesus spoke of the Spirit and these things in John 3 to Nicodemus He asked him why he didn’t understand these things being a teacher of Israel. Isaiah 53 is just one of the prophecies, there are many of the crucifixion. Galatians 3:8 says Abraham was preached the gospel 🙂

  12. Dan Lash says:

    It is sometimes difficult to know exactly what Romans 10:13 means. However we need to practice systematic theology and compare it to all the many times in Scripture that teach that a person is place into an eternally right relationship with God by hearing and believing the Gospel of grace.

  13. jimfloyd12 says:

    Dan,

    I agree. I, a while back, put up the faith alone page just so people could easily refer to and compare all those verses that indicate clearly that salvation is received through faith

  14. I confess that I’ve been through a lot of evangelistic phases in my time, including 4 Spiritual Laws, the Romans Road and Chick’s/Comfort’s lordship salvation lists. I now rest solely on what Paul said the content of the saving Gospel is, 1 Cor 15:3-4. I will add to that Christ was raised for our justification, but what Paul had told the lost Corinthians is THE saving good news. Nothing else is, including Bob Wilkin-ese content from John 3-5, where the Cross had not happened yet and Israel was still under law.

  15. Hypothetical:

    A convicted lost person knows nothing of Christ except John 3:16 and John 5:24. He knows nothing about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for his sins and justification. Those two verses are the limit of his Bible knowledge because they were the main focus of a Bible tract he was given. Believe those two verses, the tract concludes, and he will get eternal life.

    Question: if he does what the tract tells him and believes those two verses, is he saved?

  16. Jim,

    re: looking forward to the cross

    If anyone would have been looking forward to the cross, it would have been the Twelve.

    1. Luke 18:34 tells us the disciples understood NOTHING about the cross when Christ told them what was about to happen. They clearly were not looking forward to the cross.

    2. Matthew 16:22 tells us Peter was willing to STOP Christ’s death. He clearly was not looking forward to the cross.

    3. The reason they were not looking forward to it is found with Paul. He said what God did at the cross was a previously hidden secret — hidden from everyone, including the Twelve. No one knew that God would be placing the sins of the entire world upon the Son, thereby saving all who believe by grace through faith in that fact, Jews and Gentiles alike with no distinctions.

    4. Paul said it was a secret that God was going to do this. That means no one could have been looking forward to it, much less saved by looking forward to it. And as we see above, they weren’t.

    Posted with all love and respect.

  17. hollysgarcia says:

    Thanks Jim. Obviously since the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, we should all strive to keep it clear and not hinder it with our own traditions and misused passages.

    Whether people may or may not have been saved hearing the Romans Road is not salient, it is only important that we are clear and do not corrupt the simplicity that is in Christ. Nor bear long with those who do. Thanks for doing this.

  18. One last thing, then off to work.
    The O.T. indeed foretold that Messiah would die and rise again. That’s the fact Christ opened their minds to see. But it does not say He would die for the sins of the lost Jew/Gentile world, all of which might be saved by grace through faith. That good news was the mystery hid in God.
    Put another way:
    There was the preaching of Christ as the Seed of David according to the flesh (Rom 1:3). That’s the Gospel of the Kingdom, called the Great Commission and preached at Pentecost by Peter.
    THEN, when Israel was set aside as stumbled and blinded, we have the preaching of Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Rom 16:25). That’s the Gospel of the grace of God. THAT is the good news that saves today.
    They are not the same good news, however.
    Both gospels both key on Christ, but each on a different aspect of Him that Paul made clearly distinct…according to the flesh (by which we can’t know Him, 2 Cor 5) and according to the mystery (by which we are established in Him).
    That’s not my teaching. PAUL laid down that distinction for us. We must see it and respect it, else confusion reigns.

  19. I don’t have a problem with the so-called “Romans Road”, if we stay on the road and not jump from destination to destination.
    God’s “Romans Road” does not jump from 3:23 to 6:23 to 10:12, but goes verse by verse methodically. The best verse to read after 3:23 is 3:24, and so on. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 really are for the saved to get a grip on what the Christian life is, so to bring the unsaved there without the establishment of chapters 1-5 will cause confusion if those verses, even 6:23, are read in context regarding what the apostle Paul was talking about.
    I usually present the gospel of Christ with 3:19-27. Yes, the resurrection is not explicit, but I can go to many passages and show that Christ indeed died for our sins and rose again.
    1 Cor 15:1-4, Rom 4:25, 2 Tim 2:8, …

  20. jasonc65 says:

    How is it that Jim and Holly’s February 4 posts seem to be addressing Virgil’s posts that came the next day? Do posts travel through time? lol

  21. jimfloyd12 says:

    I saw that, they are out of order for some reason

  22. jimfloyd12 says:

    Virgil, my concern was simply the people understand salvation is and was received through faith alone regardless of dispensation.

  23. Virgil, my concern was simply the people understand salvation is and was received through faith alone regardless of dispensation.

    Dear Jim,

    I agree.

    The question is, faith in what?

    “Faith in Christ” some will say.

    Well, okay, but every cult in Christendom can and does claim that but we know they’re not saved.

    No, it’s GOT to be more precise than that.

    And Paul’s gospel is very, very simple because it’s very, very precise. What he told the Corinthians they’d believed when they were saved is all we need tell the lost today. If we’re saved, it’s what we ourselves believed: Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (for our justification, acc. to Romans: 4:25). Given that content, which is ALL a person needs to know to be saved, I don’t see the need to even go to the gospel of John, as many do, and I seriously don’t know why they feel compelled to do so.

  24. jimfloyd12 says:

    I think it is because they are usually emphasizing the method

  25. Good point…it’s reduced to a formula for ease of understanding (or ease of delivery?) but it can turn a dozen ways into a false gospel that won’t save anyone who believes it. That’s why I stick with 1 Cor 15:3-4.

  26. sam says:

    How about acts 16:30,31 the phillipian jailer asking what must i do to be saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and thy house. Would like your opinion if that would be sufficent as a gospel .Thanks Jim

  27. jimfloyd12 says:

    Sam, that verse is helpful as to clarify the method of receiving eternal life. But you would still want the person to know why they need to be saved, who Christ is and how He paid their sin debt

  28. Curtis M says:

    Acts 16:30
    keep reading
    And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

  29. Sam,

    Jim is right. Using 16:31 out of its larger context is not sufficient.

    I think we can safely assume that the jailor must have heard Paul and Silas praying and singing, and presumably preaching, all night long (Luke tells us that’s what they were doing), so one could also assume he already heard Paul’s gospel during the night, and since Paul didn’t tell him in v. 31 about the DBR of Christ, just to believe, which the jailor did.

    And that’s the problem: no one can know what the saving gospel is from that passage alone — “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved…” Believe WHAT about Him? 16:31 doesn’t tell you. By itself, it is not enough.

    Go with 1 Cor 15:3-4.

  30. Curtis M says:

    Coulpe more verses..
    “Tell Thee Words”

    Acts 10 :6
    He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

    Acts 11:14
    14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

  31. sam says:

    Ok thanks for the answers i just was wondering how many add on details are necessary as Paul didnt spell out anything in particular that was essential except believing since he was directly asking about salvation.I appreciate the feedback.

  32. Curtis, you’re right and that further shows using 16:31 apart the actual saving content of the gospel of grace (the DBR of Christ) is inadequate, as would be using John 3:16, 5:24, etc in isolation.

  33. jasonc65 says:

    Even 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 would be inadequate with John 1:1, since it does not by itself say that Jesus is God.

  34. Not sure I’m getting your point. When Paul reminded the Corinthians of his gospel, which they believed, did he mention having told them to believe Christ is God in order to be saved?

    If 1 Cor 15:3-4 is inadequate, what IS adequate? (again, if I”m getting your point)

  35. jasonc65 says:

    My point is that exclusive focus on any one passage can cause us to miss something important. And the deity of Christ is important according to John 8:58

  36. Trevor says:

    You made great points but didn’t give a good alternative for the traditional Romans road..

  37. jimfloyd12 says:

    Trevor,

    That’s because there is not a one size fits all formula or string of verses. People are free to come up with their own way to share the gospel from scripture. Just don’t fail to discern what the person you are witnessing to needs to have covered and don’t add in verses that are about steps of obedience for believers. I can give you an example later. And I have asked people to comment on verses they like to use. There are many that can be used.

  38. “You made great points but didn’t give a good alternative for the traditional Romans road.”

    Paul didn’t use “the traditional Romans road.” He used what he says he used in 1 Cor 15:3-4. Please break this down because I’m very curious: if that’s what the apostle to the Gentiles saw souls saved with when they believed…the saving Gospel he received by revelation, I remind you…what’s insufficient about it?

  39. Someone said that Romans chapters 9, 10 and 11 are parenthetical passages and directed to Jewish believers?

  40. jimfloyd12 says:

    Yes, those three have Israel in mind so therefore one has to take note of that when determining the meaning. Though there are still applications for all.

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