“If you declare with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Paul grieves for his fellow Jews, who, with zeal to please God, try to cover themselves with their own righteousness. They were still attempting to obey the law perfectly rather than accept the free gift of Christ’s righteousness. It is the contrast between the “do” of the law and “It is finished” of the cross and resurrection.
It must grieve God that, in our sinful, fallen state, even Christians, who know of Christ’s free forgiveness, still feel they have to do something to earn their salvation and God’s favour. We need to be still and let God come near us with his love, and then that love will flow into lives filled with love for our neighbour.
Paul echoes the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:10–14 as he farewells the Israelites. He urges them, “turn unto the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul” (verse 10) and assures them that God is not a distant God, far off in heaven, but a God who is near to them, with them every minute of their lives. We do not have to work to find God, go up into heaven and drag him down, or somehow go down into the deep to raise Christ up from the dead. All this has been accomplished. Christ has come down from heaven, leaving behind his power and glory, to share our humanity. He lived a life without sin and suffered and died for our sins, going down into the deep to conquer Satan, and then was raised from the dead. The “do” of the law is done, replaced by the “It is finished” of the cross and resurrection.
With open hearts, we accept this free salvation, and with our mouths, praise our gracious God and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, confess that Jesus is Lord. It is sometimes hard to accept that we can do nothing to earn our salvation in a world obsessed with achievement and “doing”. Whatever we do in thanks and praise and love is through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you have worked powerfully to bring us to faith. Fill our hearts with joy, praise and eagerness to confess your great love to the world around us. Amen.