- The Explore the Bible lesson for April 26 focuses on Romans 10:5-15.
As with most of the Bible, the text for this lesson is a bottomless pit of information beyond our capacity to fully understand. We can read a passage of Scripture we remember as far back in time as our childhood, but it takes on a newer and deeper meaning every time we read it. Scripture hasn’t changed—only our understanding of it. This passage from Romans 10 is no exception.
The first time I was baptized, I was 8 years old. My dad had wanted me to wait until I was older and mature enough to fully grasp the importance of that decision. One weekend my parents were out of town. My sisters and I were farmed out to some family friends my parents trusted absolutely.
While they were gone, I made my profession of faith that Sunday morning. By the time my parents came home, the date of my baptism was scheduled. Dad never once questioned my decision once it was made.
It is also true that, while he was waiting on me to mature, he never doubted that God would take care of my salvation, whether I was fully mature or not. It was a simple faith he had. It was my father’s simple faith in God’s merciful provision of salvation that has modeled for me, to this day, what it means to trust God, simply and completely.
Yet, only four years later, I worried that I had believed correctly the first time, that I needed to make my profession of faith again and be baptized a second time. All I remember about my second baptism is that, on the way home from church that night, I began doubting my salvation again.
Trust in God’s grace
That doubt was nurtured daily by my inability to trust that God had saved me. My doubts about my salvation plagued me more years than I care to reveal. Suffice it to say that, even after I “surrendered” to the call of ministry my junior year in high school, I continued to doubt my salvation. All because I didn’t fully accept and trust that there was nothing I could add to what Jesus had done in order to acquire my salvation. I could only accept it as the free gift of God in Christ—or not.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Romans 10:12-13). Put simply, our salvation is rooted in one thing, the generosity of God. God’s saving grace generously is available to any and all, Jew or Gentile.
This was a very big announcement to the early Christians. God could and would save anyone who called out for grace, not just those already steeped in religiosity.
This is still a big deal. There is no classification of race or religious identity that gains any of us a greater portion of God’s grace.
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Consider the thief on the cross
The thief on the cross who called out to Jesus illustrates this perfectly. Drawing close to his impending death, the man whose racial and religious backgrounds are still unknown to us, simply called out, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’” (Luke 23:42).
After being trained in virtually every method of “evangelism,” those words of the thief keep reminding me that, too often, we make getting “saved” too complicated. We recite the “sinner’s prayer” and ask nonbelievers to repeat it verbatim. We comfort ourselves by believing that, if they pray that prayer sincerely and honestly, they will be saved.
Grace is not transactional. It is not God doing something for us because of what we’ve done for God. Our being “saved,” simply and profoundly, means turning our hearts to God in faith, even childlike faith. The thief was saved by pleading with Jesus, “Please remember me.” Or, “Jesus, no matter what, please don’t forget me.”
If those words were good enough for the thief, shouldn’t they also be good enough for any of us?
Through Christ alone
Far too often, when a lifelong believer dies, it can heard about him or her: “They were such a good person! If anyone is going to make to heaven, they will certainly make it.” When we say that, even though it is meant as a compliment to the deceased, we betray our as yet immature ability to accept our salvation through Christ and Christ alone. We reveal we still believe there is something we can add to what Jesus did on the cross.
The greatest moment in human history was not the day man first set foot on the moon. It was that day when God came from heaven to earth and, in Christ, provided all that would ever be essential to make it possible for us to be “saved.”
We can either trust that what God did, in the crucified and risen Christ, was enough or not. It is that grace through faith in Christ, the gracious gift of God (Ephesians 2:8), that we encounter saving grace. And so is our peace with God and our world between now and the day when our faith becomes sight.
Glen Schmucker is a writer and blogger in Fort Worth. He has served as a Texas Baptist pastor and as a hospice chaplain.