Summary: Salvation is Near You. It’s in His Word. It’s in your words.
Have you seen my glasses? I just had them here somewhere. What? They’re on my head? Oh, thanks.
Have you ever frantically searched for something that was right by you all the time - like your glasses perched on your head, a pencil behind your ear, or a wallet in your coat pocket? Such a panicky search at best will make you feel foolish; at worst it can be quite traumatic.
Another kind of frantic search that can not only cause trauma, but end in tragedy is the search for salvation. Many people search high and low for salvation never realizing it’s right by them. They spend years reading books, comparing religions, and even embarking on costly pilgrimages to find the answers to life when in reality the truth was always near them. Perhaps that even describes you. If you’re on a search for salvation the Apostle Paul has something to say to you. You don’t need to make a Herculean effort to find it. Salvation is near you – it’s in His Word, and it’s in your words.
In chapters 9 and 10 of his letter to the Romans, Paul laments the fact that many of his own people, the Jews, God’s chosen people, were not members of God’s kingdom. The reason for that was that many had refused to believe in Jesus as the Saviour of the world. Many Jews had rejected Jesus because they were looking for salvation in the laws and commands that God had given to Moses instead of in the promises that God has given to us in Christ. Paul explained their position this way. “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”(Romans 10:1-4).
There’s a huge difference between the law and the gospel isn’t there? The law demands while the gospel promises. Paul explained the difference between the two this way. “5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by 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 deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:5-9).
The law demands that we work for our salvation, putting heaven out of our reach. The gospel’s message, however, brings salvation to us by telling us who Jesus is and what he has done. That’s why we can say that salvation is near - it’s found in God’s Word, the Word that tells you about Jesus.
God’s Word that leads to salvation teaches us that Jesus is Lord. That’s more than just saying that Jesus was a swell guy and a good teacher. It’s saying that Jesus is God. Many people think that it’s foolish to believe that Jesus is God but it’s really the other way around. It’s foolish not believe that Jesus is God because otherwise his death on the cross would be worthless. Had he just been a man Jesus’ death could not have paid for the sins of the whole world. It would be like trying to put out a 5-alarm fire with a garden hose. You need more power than a man has to put out the fires of hell.
Not only do we learn from the Word that Jesus is Lord, we also learn that he was raised from the dead and that assures us that we too shall rise on the last day. We can be certain that Jesus was raised from the dead because we have eyewitness accounts of his resurrection. Those eyewitnesses are trustworthy because they were once sceptics themselves. Think of Thomas. He refused to believe that Jesus had risen until he could actually put his hands in Jesus’ nail marks. Thankfully for us Jesus did appear to Thomas and allow him to check out his hands and his side. But it wasn’t just Thomas who was the sceptic. All the disciples had doubted. They had at first refused to believe the women’s report of the angels at the tomb and how Jesus had appeared to them. They too only believed after Jesus himself appeared to them behind the locked doors.