Saturday 30 September 2023

R O M A N S   10  

 There is so much reluctance to believe and accept that a man who died on a Cross 2,000 years ago in a land on the other side of the world was raised from the dead.  More so, that people actually believe he lives on by His Spirit in their lives today and influences their way of life. Even some clergy fail to accept the facts of both His birth and physical resurrection.

    Belief demands commitment and faith and trust, which is not given by the majority, and it is that lack of faith that Paul writes about in his Letter to the Romans.

    Paul was specially and uniquely called by God to be an Apostle to the Gentiles, but he never forgot his own Jewish people.  This Letter was directed to the Jews who were carrying a mistaken belief, but its teaching is equally applicable to us, as all Paul’s Letters are. When Paul speaks, God is speaking through him, and the wonderful thing is we have those very words spoken all those many years ago in our Bibles these days.

         Turn with me to the 10th Chapter of Romans.

Paul states he prays for them to be saved.  The word ‘saved’ is one that upsets people, carrying with it the image of being assailed with the question ‘are you saved brother/sister?’.

 I read of one man’s experience in a theatre when another man pointed to an empty seat and asked if it was saved.  The first man replied, ‘no, but I am’, and the person asking quickly moved away.

 Paul speaks of people who have a zeal for God, but such does not lead them to salvation.  The problem is so many people do not believe they need Jesus’ sacrificial death to make them right with God, they can earn that by their own efforts.  Just be honest, be a good citizen, etc.

 Verses 6/8 show the contrast between the righteousness based on faith and that which comes from the law, now fulfilled in Christ. At one time there was just a written set of Law,  but God caused his Son to go through a cruel death, before bringing Him from the realm of the dead.

 The Jews believed all they had to do was obey the Jewish Law which God had given them, and that made them righteous in God’s sight.  The Law however was given to the Jews to show them that is not enough, for no one can keep all the Commandments, and just as with a chain if you break one link the chain is totally broken, so as no one can keep every commandment perfectly, the lot are broken.  The Mosaic Law was given anticipating the coming of Christ, and when Paul states Christ is the end, it means the law is no longer binding,c and is replaced by Christ Himself as the means of salvation.

 Verse 9 states, ’if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’. The whole Christian message is close to hand, on the lips and in the heart.

 We are in fact at the doctrine of justification by faith; ‘by grace you have been saved through faith, it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God and not by your own works.’  God in great mercy, is ready to pardon all who accept that Jesus died on the Cross, as a penalty payment for all our individual sins, and God raised Him from the dead.  If we confess that we believe this, God grants us His righteousness.

   Why do we need God’s grace?; because all men and all women are by nature spiritually dead, and separated from God.  Grace is the unmerited favour of God.    Grace saves us through faith; nothing more, nothing less. than salvation is by grace.” Something in us always wants to add to God’s free grace. It’s humbling to admit that we can do nothing to earn our deliverance from sin. Grace must be free,  or else it is not grace at all. Three words; grace, saved, and faith.

Grace is the source, Faith is the means, and Salvation freely given and received by faith alone is the result. We are saved by grace through faith:

Think what heaven would be like if you had to earn your way there. People would be trying to outbid each other, and probably boasting how important they had been in the world.

When I was being inducted the Rural Dean, who was a real traditional English gentleman (and there’s not many of us about), introduced me to a man, and mentioned some of the positions he had held in his Church, and the man was really indignant because some obscure committee was omitted.  There really are people who join the Church for egotistic reasons.     Heaven would be just like that, if you had to earn your way there. But it won’t be like that, when Jesus died on the cross, he paid the full price for your salvation. God alone gets the glory in your salvation. Jesus did all the work when He died on the cross.

Grace also means that some people think they are too good to be saved. That is, they may have such a high opinion of themselves, that they think they don’t need God’s grace. They may admit they are sinners, but they don’t admit they are spiritually dead. They may think they’re sick because of sin, but not truly dead. God’s grace cannot help you until you are desperate to receive it.

We have admit to the fundamental fact that we live in an evil world, and we all become tainted and lost, but by the grace of God, He gives us an opportunity to come to Christ and be saved. The majority of people do not consider they need saving, as they think their lives are already safe.  The thought they are sinners is mortally wounding, as one Vicar discovered when he put a notice outside his church saying this Church is here for sinners; half his congregation were absent the next week.  Sin is not just murder, theft and immorality; it includes pride, jealousy, envy, anger and hatred.

Salvation is never gained by earning it, or by trying to be good, or by the good outweighing the bad, but simply by acknowledging that Jesus Christ has done it all on your behalf.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." The important thing, therefore, is to bring people to that place. It is not just a routine matter, it involves our whole being. The heart must be involved, that is, the inner consciousness, the deep conviction of the will. Then the mouth must acknowledge it. There must be a willingness to consciously confess that Jesus is Lord

    That sounds simple enough, believe and be saved, but it is evident from reading the New Testament, that not everyone who claims to believe has the faith which saves. Jesus himself warned that on the Day of Judgment many will claim to have been His followers, but He will say to them, ‘depart from me. I never knew you.’

    What then does it mean to believe?  The answer may determine our eternal future.   Millions have not the slightest idea of what it really meant to be a Christian.  People have been attending church years, listening to the Bible being read, singing praise to the Lord, and have been very religious, yet have never come to the time when they have acknowledged Jesus as Lord, yet the Bible calls on us to do so.

Look at God’s promise in verse 11. “As the Scripture says, anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. You may be disappointed in your friends and loved ones. Husbands and wives are disappointed with each other from time to time. Children are disappointed in parents, and parents are sometimes disappointed with their children. Friends leave us, family members forget us, and business partners double cross us. But no one who trusts in Jesus will ever be disappointed.

Paul draws out a further implication in verse 12: “For there is no difference between Jew nor Gentile.” The Bible states, ‘God has no favourites’. No group, or race, or culture, has a special claim on God’s grace.

Paul  asks, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?" So there has to be belief. That means the mind has to be engaged.  Behind the belief, Paul says, is a message, something heard. "How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?"  This is why it is so vitally necessary for preachers to stop prevaricating, and dodging the only reason for their presence, which is to preaching the message God gave us.

The glory of Christianity is that it has a message that is grounded in history. It is objective truth, not just something that someone has made up.  . It is not some feeling that you are following that you hope will work out; it is the story of historic events. One of these events, is the coming of Jesus as a baby in the manger of Bethlehem, the coming of the wise men from the east and the uproar and unrest that it caused in the kingdom of Judea, beginning with Herod the king himself. That is all part of history. 

Then there was the resurrection. and the events that followed in the church. These are all historic events -- objective truth. The great thing of the Christian faith is not that we are presenting some philosophy, but a faith that is grounded in events that cannot be explained away. That is our message.

Over the years since the birth of the Church, men and women have travelled the world to tell others of the gospel; they invariably were men and women with brilliant minds, ready to risk their lives in the cause, at the same time making great financial sacrifices to do so.  Likewise there are those who gave up careers and position to serve Christ in His Church in every country, something very special must have made them do so. 

Behind the message, of course, is the messenger.   The message has to be communicated. and the way that God chooses is through the preaching of the Word and the praying of Christians, the yearning of their hearts over those who are not yet saved. People are touched by God by various mans, perhaps through a poster, a friend, an occurrence in one’s life, but the principal way is through the preaching of the Bible.

The Bible states that it is God, who adds to the number of people attending a Church.  In the book of Acts, He did so because the people were devoted to the teaching of the Apostles.  Therefore, if we seek to have God add to the Church today, we should be sure that all preaching and teaching will be that given by the Apostles, and left for our learning in the New Testament.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.  The Lord has promised good, His Word is our hope secure.


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