Text: Romans 10:8b-13
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
In Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer attempts to reconcile the seemingly contradictory beliefs of God's sovereignty and man's free will:
"An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities. Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.
"On board the liner are scores of passengers. These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port.
"Both freedom and sovereignty are present here, and they do not contradict. So it is, I believe, with man's freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God's sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history."
As we think about freedom most of you know what it is. Some of you here and quite a few in our church fought for the freedom that we in the United States today enjoy. Most, I believe, would say that freedom isn’t free but came at a great cost. Yet, many in regards to salvation and our coming to faith believe that the cost of Christ’s death didn’t procure it but that our decision does.
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim;
Paul Asks this question to those who will read his letter and it is also applied to you and me as well.
“Faith and confession are here mentioned as the two requisites for salvation. So near is the redemption of Jesus to every person in the world, in the Word of the Gospel-message, that it is necessary only to believe with the heart and to confess with the mouth in order to become a partaker of all its blessings. If any person believes in his heart and confesses with his mouth that Jesus is the Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead, then he has the faith which will give him salvation.”
Kretzmann NT Vol. II Pg 55
For you and me we must ask ourselves this question: Is Jesus the savior of the word or did he just make a path that we must choose?
Is Christ’s work sufficient?
Martin Luther in his book, The Bondage of the will, speaks of man’s free will and his ability to choose where he says:
—"It would be ridiculous to say to a man standing in a place where two ways met, [You see] two roads, go by which [ever road you choose], when one only way was open."—
http://www.truecovenanter.com/truelutheran/luther_bow.html (99 of 283) [12/12/2002 11:41:13 PM
The path to faith is closed except through the working of the Holy Spirit.
As the Spirit works through the Gospel faith emerges in those apart from Christ … and they believe. To paraphrase Luther, the road that had been close has now been open by God’s Spirit and by the gift of faith in Christ’s work you now believe and are directed down the way to everlasting life that God has ordained from the foundation of the world.
St. Augustine had this to say:
God's mercy ... goes before the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing to make his will effectual.
Augustine of Hippo, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love.
Why some and not others? We may ask.
It is through our own sinful eyes that we at times determine who is saved and who is lost … not knowing for sure.
Some time ago, I was asked to do a funeral for a man I didn’t know. I talked with his wife and she was looking for a Lutheran pastor because he had been baptized and raised in a Missouri Synod church until he went into the service. He served in WWII and Korea and for the remainder of his life looked to those who knew him to be not a religious man.
He was Baptized and raised in the faith and to you and me he may have looked to have departed from it.
But, the promise of the Lord is that:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28
It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the Lord by his Spirit, as this man looked at the certainty of his death repented, asked for forgiveness and was saved.
It is the blessed hope and sufficient working of our loving God by his Spirit that I proclaimed at his funeral the means of grace … word and sacrament, that at his baptism he was marked as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.
Earlier in Romans 9 Paul made this gift clear:
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
God who in mercy has called you will now bring about the means for your belief.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8-9
God’s gift of grace in Christ is brought about by His gift of faith in this same Jesus so that you may believe.
God is both the cause and the means by which belief is secured.
So when you confess with the mouth and believe in the heart …
God has brought about your conversion and has secured your salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Confession and belief are God’s gifts to you!
Christ is the one who conquered sin, death and Devil for you. He took all the Devil could give and though tempted was without sin. This brings peace to you and me as we think about his sinless life and atoning death, given for the forgiveness of sins for the whole world as we walk his way during Lent.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit