Last week we began our study of Romans 10:5-13. Today, we will finish our study of this powerful section of God?s Word. I want us to take a look at the last five verses of the study that we began last week. Turn with me to Romans 10:9-13 and let?s begin.
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13 NIV)
If you will remember our study from last week then you will remember that we talked about how the vast majority of the people of our society today believe that simply trying to live a good life is the best we can do when it comes to ?trying? to get to Heaven. If this is your idea of the path to Heaven then you won?t catch any flack from most of those around you, but if you believe that Jesus is your only means of being reconciled to God and your only hope of Heaven, then you will catch the wrath of the masses.
Today, as we study Romans 10:5-13, I want us to come to understand why we hold this belief about Jesus. This is such an important study for you and me. I hope that you will really focus for the next few minutes, take out a pen and paper, and take some notes so that you can review them over and over again until they become part of you. There is a distinctiveness about Christianity that is unparalleled by any other philosophy or religion that has ever existed in the world. The sad reality is that fewer and fewer Christians today are holding to these age-old beliefs. Let me give you a couple of examples.
The PBS television program, The Online NewsHour, broadcast an interview with several people a few years ago during the Easter season. The hot topic around Easter is always, ?Was Jesus who Christians say He was?? Richard Ostling interviewed two Bible scholars, Dr. Marcus Borg and N. T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England. The two men represented two divergent views of Jesus. Dr. Borg, concerning the resurrection of Jesus, said during the interview.
I think the resurrection of Jesus really happened, but I have no idea if it involves anything happening to his corpse, and, therefore, I have no idea whether it involves an empty tomb, and for me, that doesn’t matter because the central meaning of the Easter experience or the resurrection of Jesus is that His followers continue to experience Him as a living reality, a living presence after His death. So I would have no problem whatsoever with archaeologists finding the corpse of Jesus. For me that would not be a discrediting of the Christian faith or the Christian tradition. (Online Newshour, March 28, 1997. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/religion/jesus_3-28.html)
Dr. Borg says that he believes the resurrection of Jesus really happened, but not in a literal sense, Jesus was not physically, bodily resurrected by God from the dead. That is why it wouldn?t trouble him if archaeologists found Jesus? corpse. Dr. Borg believes that Jesus? followers really believed He was alive so it was true for them, whether or not it is was literally true at all.
Dr. Borg is a member of The Jesus Seminar, a group of about 150 Bible scholars who study and vote on everything said by Jesus in the New Testament. The Jesus Seminar concluded in 1995 that ?the empty tomb is fiction.? They believe that the belief in the resurrection of Jesus was developed by the visionary experiences of Peter, Mary Magdalene, and Paul. Interesting isn?t it?
Dr. Billy Graham once told TIME magazine, “If I were an enemy of Christianity, I would aim right at the Resurrection, because that is the heart of Christianity.” Dr. Graham and Dr. Borg are light years apart from one another on the centrality and importance of the resurrection of Jesus.
Let me give you a quote from two other Bible scholars who are also participants in the Jesus Seminar. You have probably seen Father John Dominic Crossan on television at some point in the last few years as he has become a popular Bible scholar on shows that deal with historical Christianity and the like. Father Crossan, concerning the resurrection of Jesus, had this to say, ?I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time brings dead people back to life.”
Let me give you just one more quote before we move on. Dr. Thomas Sheehan has been Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University. He has received many awards and written several books. Dr. Sheehan is also a member of The Jesus Seminar and he said, concerning the resurrection of Jesus, “Jesus, regardless of where his corpse ended up, is dead and remains dead.”
You have to remember that these men that I?ve quoted are not hardened atheists like Sam Harris who has written a book called, ?The End of Faith,? or Dr. Richard Dawkins who has written a popular book called, ?The God Delusion.? The guys I?ve quoted are self-professed Christians, so-called authorities, that others look to for wise counsel about matters of faith. If these guys are right about the resurrection then we are in trouble.
Someone may ask, ?Is the resurrection really that big of a deal? If they found Jesus? remains would it really change what we believe about Jesus that much? Wouldn?t His teachings still hold great power and comfort for us today?? I will defer to the Apostle Paul in answering that question. Paul wrote to the folks in Corinth and said,
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:12-17 NIV)
Paul believed that the totality of our faith hung on the reality of Jesus? resurrection. He said that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead then his preaching was useless and so was the faith of the followers of Jesus. Paul also said that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead then we are still in our sins. For the theologians I?ve presented to you, the physical, literal resurrection of Jesus is nearly irrelevant, but for Paul, the resurrection of Jesus was central, pivotal. Everything that Jesus said and did hung on the reality of the resurrection.
Just a few months ago, in April of this year to be exact, there was a poll conducted by the folks at Rasmussen Reports concerning the resurrection of Jesus. Here is what they found.
Eighty-five percent (85%) of Catholics believe Jesus rose from the dead along with 86% of Protestants and 97% of Evangelical Christians. (Rasmussen Report, April 11, 2009)
Do those numbers alarm you? 85% and 86% of Catholics and Protestants believe that Jesus rose from the dead. You might say, ?Yes, but 97% of Evangelical Christians still believe.? I have to tell you, the resurrection of Jesus is so central to the faith that 97% is a low number to me. C.S. Lewis, in his book, Miracles, had this to say about the resurrection.
The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts…The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say that they have seen the Resurrection. (C.S. Lewis, Miracles, pg 234-235)
Let?s go back to our Scripture for this morning so that you can better understand why I?ve taken the time to bring laser-like focus on the validity and centrality of the resurrection of Jesus. In Romans 10:9-10 Paul writes,
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10 NIV)
Did you notice that Paul says that our being ?saved? is a mouth and heart issue? God has provided the Gift of His Son for you and me. Our sin was dealt with on the cross when Jesus paid the price for our reconciliation with God. Jesus? resurrection from the grave validated everything He had ever said or done. Now, what will do with those facts? Will you believe it in your heart and confess it with your mouth?
Did you notice that Paul states two important truths that those who are followers of Jesus believe and confess? First, the followers of Jesus confess that ?Jesus is Lord.? Secondly, the followers of Jesus believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead. Pretty straightforward don?t you think? I want to take some time to take a look at each of these foundational tenets of the faith.
?Jesus is Lord.? The statement is found on bumper stickers, plaques that adorn walls, and bookmarkers, but the statement is much more than a slogan or mere verbiage my friends. The Greek word, ???????? (kurios) means, ?Master, Lord, he to whom a person or thing belongs, the owner; one who has control of the person, the master, Sovereign.” The title is given to God and Jesus. What is interesting is that the word used here in verse 9 is used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible for ?YHWH.? The Hebrew word, ?YHWH,? the name by which God revealed Himself, is used over 6,000 in the Hebrew Bible as the personal name of God. Those who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek felt that God?s name was so holy and majestic that human lips shouldn?t speak it so they used a Greek word, ?LORD,? to translate it. Wherever you see ?LORD? in all capital letters there you will find the Hebrew name, ?YHWH.?
With that understanding, can you see that what Paul intends in his statement is that we understand that when we confess, ?Jesus is Lord,? we are truly saying that Jesus is God. He is the Sovereign King over all creation. He is God in the flesh. He is not a teacher, humanitarian, healer, social activist, or philosopher, He is God! The writer of Hebrews wrote,
1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV)
Jesus is the ?exact representation? of God?s being. That is why Jesus said, 9 ??Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9 NIV)
?Jesus is Lord.? More than mere sentiment. More than a catchy slogan. The phrase represents the core of our beliefs, the focus of our passion, and the direction of our lives. If we believe that Jesus is Master and Lord then our lives should reflect that truth. His commands become our conduct. His will becomes our heart?s desire. His glory becomes our main objective in every aspect of life. Wherever our lives are out of sorts with His will and His ways, then we adjust our lives rather than adjust what we believe about Jesus.
In the first century, Christians lost their lives because they refused to say, ?Caesar is Lord.? For those early followers of Jesus, there was only one Lord, one Master, and one King. They would rather be tortured and killed, thrown to the lions, or covered in pitch and used to light Nero?s gardens than to deny their King. That is exactly what it means to ?confess.? It?s not merely saying a phrase, but it is living the life.
The next tenet of the faith that Paul holds before us is, ?believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.? Christianity, in a nutshell, finds its identity, not in an experience or a moral code, but in a person and His name is Jesus. If what Jesus said was not true, every word that He ever spoke, then Christianity is proven to be false. Jesus said,
18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:18-19 NIV)
Jesus said that He would be mocked, flogged, crucified, and die. He also said that He would rise from the dead to life. Who, in their right mind, would make such a bold statement if in fact they did not believe that it was true? Furthermore, if Jesus had not risen from the dead, then everything else He said would be brought under a cloud of suspicion. Jesus predicted His death and resurrection. The fact that God raised Him from the dead validates everything He ever said and did. Jesus was who He said He was.
Earlier in our study of Romans we learned that Paul stated that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by this one act, His resurrection from the dead. In Romans 1:1-4 Paul wrote.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God– 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:1-4 NIV)
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead not only validates everything Jesus ever said, but it has implications for our own lives as well. Because Jesus lives, we who are in Christ can live a new life. Paul wrote,
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4 NIV)
Paul said, in his letter to the people of Corinth, that if Christ has not been raised from the dead then we are still in our sins. Since we know that Jesus was raised from the dead that assures us that we, who are in Christ, are forgiven of our sins, we are cleansed by His sacrificial death, and justified before God because of His resurrection from the dead. There are many benefits for you and me as a result of Jesus overcoming the grave. Chuck Swindoll has written,
The benefits [of the resurrection] are innumerable. To list a few: Our illnesses don’t seem nearly so final; Our fears fade and lose their grip; Our grief over those who have gone on is diminished; Our desires to press on in spite of the obstacles is rejuvenated…Our identity as Christians is strengthened as we stand in the lengthening shadows of saints down through the centuries, who have always answered back in antiphonal voice: ‘He is risen, indeed!’ (Charles Swindoll)
This past week, as I was studying this section of God?s Word, it dawned on me that there is a very deep connection between believing in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead and confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord. If you and I truly believe that Jesus lives, that He came to do all that the Father had given Him to do and that He accomplished it completely, then the affect upon our lives will be, that we want more than anything in life, to live for Him and make Him known.
Make no mistake about it, there are many Christians in our society today who say that Jesus is Lord. They even say that they believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, but their lives betray their words. They are like those in Isaiah?s day who went to church with their Bible under their arm, they knew all of the hymns, and even put a check in the plate, but their hearts were far from God and their passion in life was somewhere else. God said of these folks.
13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. (Isaiah 29:13 NIV)
What good does it do to simply go through the motions, to carry on a charade of commitment when it isn?t there? God knows our hearts. Others may hear us talk about Jesus and expound upon our love for Him, but God knows our hearts. God does not want us to half-heartedly commit to Him; He wants us to so love Him that nothing short of complete surrender will ever satisfy.
Paul was a passionate man before he ever came to know Christ. He took a lot of pride in his accomplishments and his pedigree, but once he came to know Jesus he could not get enough. Everything else in Paul?s life turned grey in comparison to his all-out desire to know Jesus. He wrote,
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-9 NIV)
?I want to know Christ.? ?I?m not ashamed of the gospel.? This is the heart of the Apostle Paul. Is this your heart? Is it my heart? Last week we discussed the changing tide of belief in our society. You can believe anything you want to believe, you can live any way you want to live, and you?ll hardly ever be confronted with the relevance or correctness of your choices, unless you unashamedly follow Jesus.
I got a phone call this past week from a friend of mine who had gone to a meeting the night before. The conversation suddenly turned to Jesus and what everyone in the room thought about Jesus. The conversation was less than flattering. One after another spoke with up with their cynicism, skepticism, and outright contempt for Jesus. Their target was broader than simply Jesus, it reached out to all of those who are stupid enough to believe all that ?Bible stuff.?
Folks, this saddens me, but it certainly doesn?t surprise me. Neither should it surprise you. The more familiar you become with history the more you will realize that the followers of Jesus have always been maligned and mocked. What is important for you and me to remember is this: it is not important that society understands our love for Jesus. It is important that we understand Jesus? love for us. If we understand that, then the slander, mocking, and persecution will not matter in the least. Our eyes are fixed on the One who gave His life for us.
How about you this morning? Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead? Do you simply have a ?head knowledge? of that fact, or has that reality transformed your life so that everything pales in comparison to living for Him? Do you confess that ?Jesus is Lord?? Is He ?Master? over your life? Does His will dictate your every decision? If not, then do you desire to come to Jesus and give Him the reigns of your life? If so, then won?t you come forward and give me your hand as you give Jesus your heart?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
August 16, 2009