SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
Embracing Jesus as Lord of All is the Key to Salvation
Key Verse: If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
At the risk of seeming simplistic, how one may be saved from sin is not complicated. We have the Apostle Paul to thank for that. Yet millions of people who call themselves Christians remain uncertain of their salvation. How is this possible?
The obvious answer is confusion and misunderstanding about the gospel. The scripture for today’s lesson can shed some light on the mystery of salvation.
Since Paul wrote it, let us look at
his experience of salvation. He was a devout Pharisee opposed to the emerging
Christian movement. Then, on the
This was the key to Paul’s salvation. He embraced with all his heart the early creed of Christians: “Jesus is Lord.” It was this act of surrender and affirmation that transformed Paul’s whole life. Even a cursory reading of his letters reveals the new ambition that consumed Paul – to live his entire life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Clearly Paul had “faith” in Jesus Christ. However, his faith in Jesus was not an act of his will, but a gift from God. He affirmed that he was saved by grace “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). What may not be clear to some is the way Paul speaks of faith.
He does not say, “Have faith in Jesus and you will be saved by grace.” Look again at Ephesians 2:8 and observe that saving faith is God’s “gift” to a seeking, repentant sinner. Accepting this premise removes the idea that faith is something we do. Instead, it is a gift from God. We can refuse the gift of faith, or accept it and by so doing receive salvation as a gift as well.
The gift of faith enables us to “call on” the Lord and to “believe in” him. How does faith come to us? Faith “comes from hearing” the good news of God’s mercy, the unmerited favor of Christ dying for our sins. And, Paul says, this good news comes “through the word of Christ,” proclaimed by the believers who are “sent” to proclaim the gospel!
Realizing that many in his own day were confused about salvation, Paul offered this simple pathway to peace with God: “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Remember now that the “faith” to make this confession, and this surrender to Jesus as Lord, is a “gift from God” and not “our own doing”!
Here Paul offers what for us is a beautiful promise of God. Confess Jesus as your Lord and believe in his resurrection and you will be saved. Two concepts must be explored: what the Lordship of Christ means and what being “saved” means.
When Paul quoted from the Old
Testament (Joel ),
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” he was
demonstrating the unity of the Old and New Testaments. Jesus, the Messiah who
has now appeared, is “the Lord” spoken of in the Old Testament. When God raised
Jesus from the dead, he made him Lord of all. All of God’s promises to
Confessing that Jesus is Lord is to choose his authority in our lives while renouncing all the lesser gods that clamor for our loyalty. The Romans understand Paul. They bowed to the Emperor for Caesar was Lord. Paul says, “No! No one but Jesus can have first place in our lives!” His meaning was clear: either Jesus is Lord of all in our lives or he is not Lord at all.
To be “saved” for Paul was to become “righteous” in the sight of God. Salvation, righteousness, and justification are interchangeable words for Paul. Salvation then is being made righteous in God’s eyes, though it is the righteousness of Christ in us, and not our own, that God sees.
The beautiful verse from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians clarifies this truth for us: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (). In light of our earlier comments about the “gift of faith,” notice the words in bold type, “by faith.”
Let us come back to the question of why so many Christians do not have assurance of salvation, why so many say in bewilderment, “I hope I am saved.” The answer lies in whether Jesus is truly Lord of our lives or merely one of many “lords” we serve. If we do no more than “join the church” and pay “lip service” to Jesus as Lord, then we settle for a counterfeit salvation. Assurance of salvation comes alone through the confession of Jesus as Lord and the surrender of our lives to his Lordship. When we embrace this kind of relationship to Christ, we understand that salvation is not “being perfect” or struggling to be good but enjoying our acceptance as a child of God “saved by grace through faith.”
For 45 years Oswald Chambers has helped me. This year I am reading again his powerful devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. Repeatedly, he brings me to my knees in a fresh understanding of what it means to be saved.
Chambers points us that to be crucified with Christ is not to say, “I have made a determination to imitate Jesus Christ,” or, “I will really make an effort to follow Him,” but “I have been identified with Him in his death.” Then he says, “Once I reach this moral decision and act on it, all that Christ accomplished for me on the Cross is accomplished in me. My unrestrained commitment of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to grant to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.”
Mull over the words, “unrestrained commitment.” This surrender to Christ Chambers also describes as “abandonment to Christ.” It is what some of us speak of as being “sold out to Jesus.” When Jesus becomes Lord in this radical sense, we receive more than the assurance of our salvation. We become aware that the power of God is released in the world through believers who proclaim the good news. It is this power that can save everyone, anywhere, anytime, who calls on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
That is why we need to be as fully surrendered to Jesus as we know how to be, and fully willing to invite others to confess him as Lord and be saved from their sins.
A final question: why should we make complicated what God in His wisdom has made quite simple? The answer: we should not! When the gospel is proclaimed in simplicity, those who believe are saved. The result is still the same as that witnessed by Doctor Luke in the first century, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts ).
+ + + + (Contact Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org)