Confessing Your Faith
[Romans chapter 10]
This week in the book of Romans we will be moving on to chapter 10. The apostle Paul was a Jewish man just like Christ was, and his zeal for their conversion is well documented. But chapter 10 talks about combining Judaism and Christianity into one faith, and how to live that faith as a lifestyle. Let’s get started with Romans 10 beginning at verse 1.
“Brothers, my desire and my prayer to God for the Israelites is that they might be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God, and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Moses described in this way the righteousness that is by the law: ‘the man who does these things will live by them’ . But the righteousness that is by faith says: ‘do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven (that is, to bring Christ down) or who will descend into the deep?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The Word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart’, that is, the word of faith that we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame’. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call upon Him, for ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10: verses 1-13, NIV)
What does this tell us? First and foremost, it was Paul’s hearts desire that his own people, the Hebrew nation, should be saved. Paul remarks concerning his own people the Hebrew nation, “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God, and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” The Hebrew nation asserted that their salvation was derived from the Old Testament, specifically the Law of Moses that encompasses five books of the Bible from Exodus through Deuteronomy. The supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ has replaced the old law with the new covenant of the shedding of His blood for the forgiveness of sins. “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame’.”
Even if you don’t own a Bible, the Word of God can and should be written on our hearts and in our minds. We can carry Jesus around with us, dwelling within us, as we go about our daily lives. So let’s do a little self-examination here and ask a couple of key questions. Do I truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Lord over the earth? And, have I made Him Lord over my life? Or to put it another way, is there anything in my life that I put ahead of Jesus? Is my job, my home, my car and even my family something that I place ahead of God and His kingdom? These are not easy questions for some. It’s all a matter of having correct priorities in life.
The next most important question we can ask ourselves here is whether or not we truly believe that God raised Jesus from the dead after He was crucified. For many this question is a no-brainer since they were raised as Christians from childhood. Others come to this knowledge and acquire this faith later in life as they search for deeper meaning in their everyday living. But there can be no doubt that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day after He was crucified. This theme is stated repeatedly throughout the New Testament, and it is prophesied in the Old Testament as well.
“Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame”. If you believe in Jesus, you have a faith that is foolproof and untouchable. Your faith is something that no one can take away from you. It remains with you throughout your life provided that you maintain and practice it every day. Furthermore, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. Saved from what, you may ask? What is it that we should be so afraid of? The answer can be summed up in two words: eternal death. To believe in Jesus Christ means that those who truly love Him can pass from death to eternal life when our physical lives are over and our bodies wear out. Those persons who do not believe, or who believe in false gods such as money or what they see on TV, die forever when their lives are finished. And there will be a final judgment after this present world comes to an end, which is inevitable and which will happen very soon. So, we can either live once and die twice, or we can live twice and die only once, after which we will pass from death to eternal live in Christ and live with Him in heaven forever without end. The bottom line here is that eternal life in Christ is not something that happens only once and then it’s over. Eternal life in Christ by His resurrection from the dead is an ongoing process that is happening continuously within our hearts and minds. St Paul comments on this further down in this passage of Scripture when he says the following:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?’ ” (Romans 10:14-15 NIV)
As you can see, belief is an ongoing process. It is not something that happens only once and then it’s over. You can’t call upon the name of Jesus unless you believe in Him. And you can’t believe in someone you have never heard of (how silly would that be?). By the same token, how can we hear the good news about Jesus without someone telling us, such as by reading this Bible study as you are doing today? How can this good news be preached and taught if no one is sent? Make no mistake about it, God has empowered me to put up this website for the benefit of new believers who are without a doubt searching for ultimate truth. This is particularly true for the multitudes who are on the Internet, but who wouldn’t touch a traditional church with a ten foot pole. He has charged me with this very mission, which I will continue to fulfill to the very best of my ability outside the boundaries of organized religion, or “Church, Inc.”, as I call it. And, how do we as new Christians come to this new set of core beliefs? St. Paul summarizes this very question further down in this same passage of Scripture when he quotes from the Old Testament prophets.
“But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘who, Lord, has believed our message’? Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ. But I ask: ‘did they not hear’? Of course they did: ‘Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’ Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, ‘I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.’ And Isaiah boldly says, ‘I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me’ But concerning Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.’” (Romans 10, verses 16-21, NIV)
Paul’s very words right here amounts to a summary judgment against his own people. Did Israel not hear the Gospel when Paul and others such as the apostle Peter enunciated it to them? Did they not understand me, he wrote? Back when I first became a Christian in 1992, this was my experience exactly. A Christian business associate had been talking to me about the Lord for months. At first I was very skeptical because I had had a strongly negative experience with the Catholic church when I was growing up. But God pursued me through my friend all during that time. He used my friend as a conduit for His power because He was seeking me, knowing well in advance of myself that He had big plans for me and a solid pathway for my life. The main point here is that God loved me first, rather than the other way around. Now Jesus wants to do the same for everyone whether they are reading this message today or not, whether they believe it or not. He is reaching out to you personally to reveal Himself to you. And He will be found by numerous individuals like myself, whether we were seeking Him or not.
This is the best news of all. God loves us so much that He has sent Jesus to each and every one of us. And Jesus has a plan, initiated by His heavenly father to bring us all under His wing. This includes yourself. So let’s rejoice and be happy about finding God whether we were searching for Him or not, because in so doing we will gain a righteousness that is by faith just as Isaiah and Moses did. We can be sure that He has already found us and has loved us first. He has thought about us long before we ever thought about Him. Let’s all start today to live our lives to the fullest extent possible just because we know that this is God’s plan for our lives. We can maintain a better outlook on life and have a much-improved self-image by loving Jesus because He loved us first. I challenge all my readers to do this. Watch and see how much your outlook on life improves when we reciprocate God’s love for us. It’s the best thing we can do for ourselves at this moment. By doing so, the peace of Christ that surpasses all human understanding will be with us everywhere we go.