In the time that Paul is writing his letter to the Romans, it was more often than not, dangerous to confess Jesus Christ. For Jewish and Gentile converts could lose familial and friendship relations and suffer great economic sacrifice.
“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:10
In the time that Paul is writing his letter to the Romans, it was more often than not, dangerous to confess Jesus Christ. For Jewish and Gentile converts could lose familial and friendship relations and suffer great economic sacrifice. They could also experience ridicule, physical abuse, imprisonment, even martyrdom. It is still so today in some parts of the world. Christians are dying for the name of Jesus in many places today.
Sadly, confessing the name of Jesus in our own culture today, may meet more with utter indifference than with threats of imprisonment or martyrdom. On the other hand, there are real and concerted efforts on the part of some, many of whom are in positions of power, or in education, particularly at the university level, who are attempting to either force religion out of the public square, or to discard it altogether, claiming it to be nothing more than myth, or some sort of psychological madness.
But Paul, who was intimately familiar with the threats that could arise for confessing Jesus Christ to the world, tells us something very important here. “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” (verse 8) Because we believe in Jesus in our hearts we are justified, and because we confess him with our mouths, we are saved. We have nothing to fear from those who despise Jesus. As Paul reminds us, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (verses 11-13)
This is why we must not only believe in our hearts, but confess Jesus to others with our mouths, for how else can they come to know Jesus and what he has done for them? We are called by Jesus to preach the Good News to all the world. (Mark 16:15) Paul argues further on this matter by writing, “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (verse 17) Paul teaches us something else at the end of this passage too. It is important for us to know and to practice the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ: “But regarding Israel [those who hear but do not understand, or those who rebel], all day long I stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contentious people” (verse 21) Though we may be ridiculed, or maligned for our faith, we must still boldly confess Jesus and pray for those who persecute us. Forgiveness and praying for those who persecute us, is at the very core of our Christian belief. (Matthew 5:44)
Jesus, we believe in your love and your grace. Give us the courage of our convictions in you so that we may boldly confess your name to all with love, kindness, compassion and, when necessary, with forgiveness and our prayers. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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