Year C – Lent 1 – Romans 10:8-13

 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13 ESV)

Summary–In this section of the letter to the Roman Church, Paul explains how the Jews of his day wanted to follow God through obeying rules but failed to find Him, while the Gentiles, who did not seek God through their own ability, but looked to Christ, found Him.  Why couldn’t the Jews find God?  Well it wasn’t because the law that they tried to follow was somehow lacking.  The law is perfect.  It wasn’t because they didn’t work hard enough.  No amount of work could make them right with a Holy God.  They sought the righteousness of the law but failed to see what the law pointed to, namely Jesus Christ.  The Jews “stumbled over the stumbling-stone,”.  (Rom 9:30–33).   Paul compared the righteousness of the law with the righteousness by faith in Jesus as the end or purpose of the law. In today’s text, we hear Paul proclaiming salvation to all who believe in Jesus Christ.  We also hear Paul’s warning against putting faith in your own strength in earning salvation.  As Paul put it: “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” (10:9). 

Insight–The season of lent reminds us of Christ’s suffering at the hands of the Jews.   They persecuted Christ for His message of hope to the Gentiles.  Jews could not understand what Christ was offering.  Gentiles didn’t deserve God’s salvation; they were dirty and didn’t walk according to the law.  They believed that works of the law would save them from the judgment that was to come.  As Christians, we know that our works cannot save us.  There is no manner of scrubbing we can do to rid that sinful dirt under our fingernails.  But we must be careful that we don’t miss Paul’s teaching on how we are saved.  We are saved in Christ by grace through faith alone but not with a faith that is alone.  Paul tells us that what we believe in our hearts must be confessed with our lips.  We must confess Christ with our actions to those around us and not just in the quietness of our own hearts.  If you act one way throughout the week and then change your spots on Sunday morning, you are falling into the same type of error that the Jews fell into.  Our faith becomes a work that saves us.  See how Paul ties two Old Testament verses together in our passage to make his point.  With Isaiah Paul says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame,” and with Joel he says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” True saving faith comes from believing in Jesus Christ and calling on His name.  This offer is for everyone, to the Jew and the Greek.  You have been offered salvation through Jesus Christ.  Don’t worry about the embarassment that could come from letting others know what you believe.  Don’t worry about not being clean enough to come before the Lord.  Just put your faith in Him and you will be saved.   

Catechism–(Q) Who will be saved?  (A) Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Prayer–Father God we thank you for your free offer of salvation to all who put their faith and trust in your Son.  We praise you for the riches you give us beyond what we could ever earn or deserve.  Your love abounds, Lord.  We ask that you give us the courage to proclaim with our lips and our actions to those around us what we believe in our hearts.  You deserve all glory, honor and praise.  In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Contributed by Mike Fenimore

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