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Thanks for joining me in Deacon Alfred Sturges’ Christmas Challenge to read a chapter of Romans, each day, until Christmas. Here’s Chapter 10. Let’s see what wisdom it carries for us today…
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.2 I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Salvation Is for All
5 Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say?
“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because 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. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 16 But not all have obeyed the good news;[c] for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
19 Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
So, Paul begins by saying not to discuss who is going to Heaven and who to Hell, but to: “confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
And Paul says there is salvation for all who believe. What a simple doorway to Heaven, to everlasting life, to God. Confess and believe! Could God make it any easier? Who wouldn’t do it? Who wouldn’t want it? Right?
I was baptized as an infant in the Lutheran church, and was confirmed in the same church, then later became an Anglo-Catholic Christian.
Several years ago, a Baptist gentleman asked me, “Have you been saved? Have you confessed with your lips that Jesus is Lord?” Though I believed I was saved at my Baptism and thought I’d personally confirmed that at my confirmation, and I truly did think Jesus was the Lord, I had to think for a moment. Had I said the words? Really meant them in my heart. Paul says we should do so. Is there a formula, a string of words we must say? While I’m sure it’s all about where your heart is when you say this prayer, why take chances? That evening, I got down on my knees and prayed the words, really meaning them in my heart. While I’m sure that prayer didn’t hurt my soul, later, I realized that I say the same words each Sunday during Mass. They’re in the Nicene Creed, found in our 1928 Book of Common Prayer that we use during our service, and are a part of many Christian services:
I BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.
The words above truly seem to be a confession that Jesus is Lord. And if we say them, we should believe them in our hearts. God makes it all so easy. As the last lines of this chapter say, 21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
Who, in their right mind, wouldn’t take the hand of God when offered? I don’t understand. Whatever denomination or non-denominational Christian or seeker we are, the word is near us, on our lips and in our hearts. Say them!