In a relatively short time, two of my family’s friends have died suddenly. They both have died relatively young. They both had goals and dreams they wanted to accomplish in life. They both had children still at home. And yet, both are now gone.
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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 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. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:8-13, ESV
Paul’s words here frame the most important message we can share: how one can be saved by Jesus. I know some folks dismiss these words as nothing more than a fairy tale. However, I share these words because I believe them and I know that both of my friends did, too.
Note what the words don’t say. They make no mention of church roles, what you did in ministry, or even how often you attended church. They don’t balance your good deeds against your bad ones. They don’t start with the premise that folks are okay, basically good, and just need to avoid the big stuff. Rather, the words start with the basis that we need saving, that we will be put to shame otherwise, and that this is universal: everyone is in the same spot.
The way to salvation is easy: confess and believe. Basically, have real faith. Okay, that’s not so easy. However, note that there isn’t a checklist to accomplish. There isn’t a scale to maintain. There are no “whammies” that suddenly take you out of the running, nor any “power ups” that put you back on track. These words speak to belief. That’s because Scripture is clear that once we’ve sinned, we can’t undo the mark that sin leaves upon us. Only God can. Without God, we can’t be saved.
My desire is that everyone I know or come into contact with would seriously consider what the Bible says about Jesus, about sin, about forgiveness, and about grace. That’s a lot and it might be difficult to find where to start. My typical recommendation is the Gospel of John followed by the other Gospel accounts. Read Jesus in action. Learn what kind of man He was and is. Understand why we call him God and why we say He is the only way. I understand some will read all of it and walk away unconvinced. However, because I truly believe this message, it is incumbent upon me to share it.