Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.
Another stop along the Romans Road today. You might recall, there are a number of verses that lead us along the path of salvation in this letter from Paul to the believers in Rome.
The first marker is the Human Condition and that we are all sinners — Romans 3:23 and 6:23.
We then learn that God’s Plan for all of us is the hope we have in Jesus — Romans 5:8.
Today’s signpost is often referred to as the Sinner’s Response.
We always have a choice. Even in this crazy season we’re in right now. We can opt to stay at home on the couch in our sweatpants and eat lots of junk food. Or, we can do things that make a real difference in our world.
What is the faith response after realizing that we need a savior and that Jesus is that Savior? 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, NIV). It’s that simple! It’s all about believing it and speaking it.
Have you noticed how many times Paul quotes the Old Testament here in Romans? He certainly knew his Torah!
Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.” (v11, MSG). I loved this verse even before I looked to see where it was in the Old Testament. Deep in my heart, I trust God. I know I’m His son and He’ll never leave me nor forsake me. I’ve never regretted following Jesus.
But what’s really cool here is the additional layer of the context… Paul quotes Isaiah 28. Here we discover the part of the Trinity that we are trusting is Jesus. And so the Lord says, “I’m laying a firm foundation for the city of Zion. It’s a valuable cornerstone proven to be trustworthy; no one who trusts it will ever be disappointed. (Isaiah 28:16, CEV).
The Psalmist, Paul, and Peter all mention Isaiah’s Cornerstone. Dig into the ritual of laying a cornerstone at a city gate or a building in the Ancient Days and you discover that the ceremony often included the shedding of blood, a sacrifice. Typically, from a lamb. Jesus, as Zion’s Cornerstone, is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy! Whoa! Paul affirms here in Romans that because Jesus laid down His life for you and me, we can trust Him! And this is the Cornerstone of the city of Jerusalem!
Men and women will disappoint us and we will disappoint others. But, as we follow Jesus, we will never be disappointed in the selfless Cornerstone!
Continuing our look at today’s signpost along the Roman Road. What is our response to our need for salvation? Paul says it like this:
It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” (v9-10, MSG).
And then, the cherry on top, the very simple act of faith, from the prophet Joel: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”(v13, NIV. Joel 2:32).
You can see that the Evangelist takes seriously the importance of sharing this Good News. Everyone has a response upon hearing it. But despite Paul’s best efforts, and countless preachers thereafter, not everyone chooses.
You can hear the anguish in the Apostle’s voice at both the outset, and the conclusion of the chapter: “Dear friends, my greatest wish and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.” (v1, CEV).
And Isaiah said about the people of Israel, “All day long the Lord has reached out to people who are stubborn and refuse to obey.” (v21, CEV. Isaiah 65:2).
It’s no wonder Jesus regularly said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15 is the first of six times).
© 2020. Rich Ronald.