By David Baumann
A Reading from Romans 10:1-13
1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not based on knowledge. 3 Not knowing the righteousness of God and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
5 Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 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), 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 one believes with the heart, leading to righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, leading to salvation. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 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. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
In 1952, Dr. Bill Bright, founder of the Campus Crusade for Christ, developed the “Four Spiritual Laws.” They were printed into a small tract to be used by evangelists to bring people to Christ. The four spiritual laws are a summary of biblical teaching about the meaning of life and salvation in Jesus. The laws are: 1) God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life; 2) every human being is a sinner and separated from God; 3) Jesus is God’s only provision for salvation; in him, our sins can be forgiven and we can have a right relationship with God; and 4) put your faith in Jesus as savior in order to receive the gift of salvation. Those who want to come to saving knowledge of Jesus are encouraged to pray a simple prayer such as, “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot get to heaven by my own efforts. So I place my faith in your Son Jesus, who died and rose again to give eternal life to those who love him. Please forgive my sins and help me to live for you.”
All of Paul’s thoroughgoing teaching about salvation, about the unique position of the Jews and the inclusion of the Gentiles, about predestination and calling, faith and the law, can be boiled down to what Bill Bright wrote in his tract. There has been, and probably still will be, a lot of discussion about the meaning and methods of baptism and confirmation, liturgical preferences, discipleship, etc. But the gospel message goes to the heart of the matter — where all these other questions take their place. As Paul wrote in today’s lesson, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” That’s the simple truth.
David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Manicaland – The Church of the Province of Central Africa
All Saints Church, Chevy Chase, Md.