Day 192 – “if you confess with your lips…”

Today’s reading: Romans 10

Today we read a famous verse that sometimes is used to support the idea that ALL one has to do is, “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior” and have faith and you will be saved.

From Romans:

… 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.

As a Catholic, I would, of course, agree that one must believe that Jesus is Lord and that he was raised from the dead, but let us also look at the verse more closely.

First, one should not read any verse of scripture as being a trump card that somehow negates multiple other verses.  Therefore, while we can and probably should consider this verse as a sort of an indispensable minimum for salvation it is not the only thing one must do.  In fact, Paul just got through saying in Chapter 8 that we must, “suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Second, we must consider what Paul means by “confess with your lips.”  Does he mean only one time?  Nothing in the verse suggests that is the case.  In fact, the context of the verse suggests that by “confess with your lips” Paul means continuous evangelization.  In Chapter 9, Paul described at length how the Jews, despite being the chosen people and having the best opportunity, missed the Messiah because they heard but did not listen.  In the beginning of Chapter 10, Paul is saying that Israel must be called out of ignorance.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them [Israel] is that they may be saved.  I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened.  For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  For Christ is the end of the law [end as is ‘Purpose of’ or ‘means to an end’], that everyone who has faith may be justified.  … The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach);  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.

Read closely, we can see that what Paul is saying is that Israel did not understand that the purpose of the law was to establish them in the right disposition to accept the Christ.  FOR SOME, who the word is near (on their lips and in their hearts) the law is successfully allowing them to hear and accept the Gospel.  Those people have an obligation to evangelize or “confess with their lips” to bring about the conversion of those remaining in ignorance.

But notice, Paul does not elevate evangelization with preaching!  All are obligated to evangelize, to spread the Gospel through personal relationships but only those who are sent can preach…

But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?

And who can send someone to preach?  As Paul has told us previously, the Church, which is the Body of Christ and speaks for him, has the authority to send preachers.

Tomorrow: Romans 11

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