Thursday, May 11, 2017, 9:19 a.m.
Dear Church Member,
The reason I am writing you today is to ask you a few simple questions. Do you know what your church believes? Have you read their statement of faith, and their purpose and vision statements? Have you also checked these out against the Word of God to see if they are entirely biblical, in context? What I mean is, do these statements teach the gospel of our salvation in the context of scripture, as a whole, or do they pull scriptures out of context and build their doctrine around only a few select scriptures, while ignoring the rest? And, do you know what your preachers preach with regard to the gospel, which may differ from their official statements of faith? And, have you checked out what your preachers teach against the Word of God?
The reason I am asking these questions is that I am finding more and more churches across America who have diluted the gospel of Jesus Christ and who have reduced the message of salvation to a broad road that many can travel, rather than the narrow road that only a few travel (Matt. 7:13-14). They do this by building their doctrine of salvation around just a few select scriptures, the primary one being Romans 10:9-10, which says:
“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Now, to the Jew of that time this meant one thing, while to the average American today, this might mean something entirely different. For instance, if a Jew of that time acknowledged publicly that Jesus Christ is Lord, the promised Messiah of Israel, the Christ, the Son of the living God, it would most certainly mean persecution, rejection, and possibly death, much like it might mean for a Muslim today. The same was true if he believed, in his heart of hearts, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins, and that God, the Father, resurrected him from the dead. For to believe something in our hearts is to believe it with the center of our entire being, and to believe this, for a Jew, would mean a transformation of heart, mind and lifestyle, for he would have crossed over to the other side, basically.
Yet, in America, the term “Lord” appears to be mainly just a title given to Jesus, much like Christ, or Son of God, but it doesn’t actually mean that he is the person’s owner-master, for that is clear by what is often prayed to receive Christ, and is even more clear by the lifestyles and the beliefs which follow a large percentage of these confessions, from all appearances. And, making a verbal confession of him appears to be a mere formality, and not an actual heart confession that Jesus Christ is now owner-master of their lives. As well, if we believe in Jesus in our hearts, i.e. in the core of our being, it should transform us in lifestyle, thought, word and deed, and not give us an excuse to continue sinning against God without guilt or remorse.
So, what is the context of Romans 10:9-10? Well, chapter 10 begins with these words:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”
So, who is he talking about? He is talking about the Jews. They were seeking to establish their own righteousness by keeping the law, which they could not do with absolute perfection, anyway, which is why Jesus had to die for our sins. They had zeal for God, but it was not according to truth. But, notice what it says here. The problem was not only that they were trying to be righteous through human effort, but they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. So, what does that mean? If we are subject to someone or something, we are placed under the authority and control of whatever it is we are subject to. As well, God’s righteousness is his divine (judicial) approval, i.e. it refers to what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes (biblehub.com).
Now, I understand here that we are only approved by God because of what Jesus did for us on a cross in dying for our sins, and via God-given faith in him, and that we cannot attain this righteousness by our own human effort. Yet, God-given faith is divinely persuaded of God as to his will for our lives, and if God-given, indeed, then it is in line (in agreement) with his holiness, and his righteousness, i.e. what meets God’s approval, i.e. what is right in his eyes, such as holiness, godliness, truth, uprightness, purity, etc. So, if we subject ourselves to his righteousness, this means that his godliness, holiness, truth, purity, and righteousness are in authority and in control over our lives, i.e. Jesus is truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and we are his bond-slaves, and no longer are we living to please our sinful flesh. For, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
Going Back Further
Ok, so what actually takes place in the life of someone who believes in Jesus with God-given faith? We read in Romans 6 that we died to sin, so how can we still live in it any longer? It goes on to say, basically, that we died with Christ to sin, and that we were buried with him through baptism (immersion) into death, i.e. through participating with him in death to sin, so that we might walk (in lifestyle) in newness of life (spiritual rebirth). “Our old self was crucified with him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (vv. 6-7). So, believing in Jesus is not just escaping punishment in hell and having the promise of heaven when we die. When we believe with God-given faith, we die to our old lives of living for sin and self, so that we can now conduct our lives in newness of life, no longer enslaved to sin, but now as bond-servants of his righteousness.
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 20-23).
God, through sending Jesus to die on a cross as our offering for sin, “condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:3b-4). So, what is the requirement of the law? It demands full obedience to God’s moral laws, which no one could do, which is why Jesus died. Yet, it is not fulfilled in us who merely confess faith in Jesus Christ. It is fulfilled in us who conduct our lives, not according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with and empowered by) the Holy Spirit of God.
In other words, God-given faith in Jesus Christ results in lives transformed of the Spirit of God, which then results in us now living our lives under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and not under the control of the flesh. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (v. 14). So, “we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (vv. 12-13). Do you see what this is saying? A mere prayer is not enough to save us from our sins. If we are living (in lifestyle) by our flesh, we will die in our sins, yet if by the Spirit we are putting to death the acts of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. A saved life is a changed life.
And, this is the context leading up to Romans 10:9-10. If we believe in our hearts concerning what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection, it means we die to sin that we might live to righteousness. It means we no longer live (walk in lifestyle) in sin. We don’t make a practice of sin, thinking God’s grace covers it all. Instead, by the Spirit we are putting sin to death in our lives daily. And, if we confess that Jesus is Lord of our lives, it means he is owner-master, and we are his bond-slaves, and that his righteousness and holiness now rule in our lives and we are under his and their control.
Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016
Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9
Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.
Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.
Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.
Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.