by Rich Bregitzer
(St. Louis, MO)
“…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. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”
I don’t know how it started, but somewhere along the line my family got engrossed in the issue of which one of us have the best looking feet. It’s definitely not my mother, but I won’t get into the specifics…suffice it to say that each toe looks like it wants to walk in a different direction.
The main argument, in the family, is between my sister and me. My toes posses a finger like quality whereas my sisters are freakishly minute and it should be a physical impossibility for those tiny tootsies to balance the rest of her.
I know many people are extremely self-conscious about their feet. In this scripture Paul is explaining to the Roman reader using a passage from Nahum 1:15 that God sees the person that brings the message of salvation through Jesus as someone who is beautiful inside and out even to down to their toes.
This is sort of a backward verse because it begins with the end result and attempts to explain how salvation occurs which is how the verse begins.
Let’s look at the verse in reverse.
v. 17 “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”
Faith doesn’t magically occur out of the blue. Our faith is born from the experience of hearing a message proclaimed or from the observation of some event that we come to realize could also be applicable in our lives.
So we have seen or heard or engaged one or more of our senses in such a way that we are firmly persuaded about the outcome. For the Christian this would be eternal life and a temporal life made more hopeful in the light of God’s mercy and grace. In essence faith is a firm persuasion or as Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
v. 16 says, “But not all have obeyed the good news…”
Let me speak to the messenger in you. You can use everything at your disposal to proclaim the truth that Jesus came to forgive and to save sinners from spiritual death. You can have convincing arguments, tens of thousands of dollars worth of training, you can try your hardest…and you should because God sees the messenger that brings the good news as beautiful. However, not everyone will believe or obey.
What you say might fall on cynical ears that will never accept it, but say it anyway.
What you say might be a seed that is planted that will not germinate for several years, but say it anyway.
And then maybe, just maybe, what you say might change someone’s life for the better the moment it reaches his or her ears.
v. 15 says, “And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
This goes back to the great commission and the command that Jesus gave us to go and to preach the Good News. If we don’t go that will be one less person affecting the world for change. The unchurched, unsaved, unloved among us may not hear the good news unless we bring it to them.
The thing to remember here is that they probably have heard it before, but this doesn’t mean we shrug our shoulders and give up. There are many ways to tell a story and possibly it will be the way you tell the good news that breaks through to someone even though they’ve heard it all before.
v. 14 says, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?”
This is a neat verse because the verse itself is also backwards. Because we need preachers so that they can hear and its only when they can hear that they can then choose to believe and once they’ve believed then they can call on Jesus.
This verse is meant to inspire us to action and compassion for the lost.
v. 13 explains that once those mentioned in v. 14 have believed and now can call on the name of the one in whom they believe; that being Jesus that the unbeliever that is now a believer enters into salvation. The scripture says, “For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I love how inclusive this verse is. Everyone that calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; the churched, the unchurched, atheists, politicians, murderers, Satanists, agnostics, Gnostics, deists, the educated, the uneducated, the tattooed, the pierced, the self-loathing, the unloved.
When we go out to share the message are we selective in whom we share it with? I think it’s important to use wisdom in all situations. Neither Jesus, nor Paul, remained in areas that were hostile towards them, but they also ministered to the “undesirables” to those caught in adultery, to the demoniac, to tax collectors, to lepers…to all walks of life.
What is this term “saved” mean in the verse? In this scripture, in particular, the people Paul is talking about are being saved from a life with no relationship with God. Paul is instructing the Romans to proclaim Christ and to save these others from a lives that would be otherwise based on untruths, that would be spiritual ignorant or worse; spiritually bankrupt.
In v.12 Paul writes, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all who call on him.”
Here Paul more clearly defines the term “everyone” found in v.13. He mentions the demographic he is hoping to minister to and the one he is hoping the Roman Christians will be reaching out to.
And what about verse 11?
v.11 says, “The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”
This little verse is not in very many commentaries and yet we have it in the Bible nonetheless and that makes me think it’s important. To this point in the message we’ve gone through getting out there and winning folks over to Jesus for the salvation and we’ve made sure to mention that this is for everybody and now we have Paul telling us that believers will not be put to shame. Why?
I think this verse speaks to our humanity and especially to our inability to let go of our past, but also to our immaturity as God’s children.
What I mean is that even as believers we are still human and we do not always have all the answers for every situation that life throws our way. The devil will come at us and attempt to rob us of our faith. Just walk into any room outside a church building and begin to talk about Jesus and you’ll almost certainly be confronted by someone that will try to make your faith seem irrelevant or insignificant.
It’s not easy to walk away from these situations and that is why Paul gives us, the believers, such an easy to remember reminder…”No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”
No matter what the rest of the world may think or say to you Paul gives you that for the sake of your faith.
I’ve put verses 9 and 10 together: ““…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. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.”
It fascinates me that what you have hear is basically Paul giving the Roman church the lo down on how the church is to behave towards those outside the church as it pertains to the great commission. 2,000 some years later we go to church to hear the word proclaimed and explained and then we meditate on that, hopefully do a little of our own study to make sure everything the preacher said checks out and then we go out to the rest of the world to share with them the stuff we learned and the relationship that we have with Jesus.
Which brings us to the public declaration of faith. This bit of scripture, in some Baptist circles, is sometimes referred to as Romans Rd., the road leading to salvation. Whatever some may call it I think it’s a precious declaration of our association with God through Christ Jesus.
Let’s try an experiment. Listen to what I say and if you believe it, in your heart, repeat after me:
I confess that Jesus is Lord
I believe God raised him from the dead
Most everything else about Jesus doesn’t matter much if you don’t believe those two sentences. What difference does it make if Jesus said some good stuff? Or if he walked on water? However, if you believe he is Lord and that means of everything and if you believe he came back from the dead then we know we are dealing with someone more than just a speechmaker or evangelist or prophet.
We are saved by the God of all there is; through Christ Jesus. We are in a relationship with the Alpha and Omega, the King of all king, Lord of all earthly lords, the Creator of our ability to believe and the magnitude of this immenseness is made mind boggling by the fact that he longs for us. AMEN
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