“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.” Rom. 10:9
During the first few centuries, the Christian church exploded with converts. Because they came from diverse backgrounds, it became evident that they needed instruction in the faith to keep them from developing heresies and misrepresenting the truth. Once they completed catechism, they were eligible for baptism and participation in the Lord’s Supper. The process could take up to three years; only those who were serious remained. Yet, the Apostle Paul reduces salvation to one simple act of faith: confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead.”
“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.”
As a Christian I struggle with the ignorance, bigotry and narrow-mindedness I see portrayed in the media by “so called” followers of Christ. Anger and hatred are mixed with political activism that is closed to civil discourse and honest debate. Whether it comes from the left or the right, mingling Christianity with divisive issues does a disservice to everyone. It marginalizes anyone who does not share your views and reduces Christianity to a bumper sticker.
At the heart of the faith is Jesus. The dividing line is his divinity, death and resurrection. Divinity has been debated from the first century; his death and resurrection were disputed from the moment the tomb was found empty. Accepting the story of God’s incarnation as a baby in Bethlehem is inoffensive—who doesn’t like babies, angels, animals and peace on earth. Add a few nice sayings like, “Love your neighbor,” and all is well. Taking that same man and equating him with God and believing that his death was necessary because of sin, is beyond the comprehension of billions of people. Who then can be saved?
No matter your age, gender, level of education, or ethnicity, we all come to Christ through faith. While there are good and sufficient reasons to accept the truth of Christianity, we first come as children: trusting in what we do not see; responding to a voice no one else can hear.
N. T. Wright, a famous 21st century theologian says: “[Arguments about God are] like pointing a flashlight toward the sky to see if the sun is shining.” C. S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
Lord, We can be confused by theological debates, heresies and misguided Christians. Yet, we were created with a longing for God and we keep returning to that simple faith: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Amen