9 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. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Sometimes we are not sure if we are saved and going to heaven when this life is over. After all, can it be that simple? Mutter a few words about Jesus, accept a documented historical fact that He came back to life and we have our golden ticket to heaven. It is difficult to accept this is all it takes because it seems both too good to be true and too bad to be true.
First, this sounds too good to be true because it goes against our socially-embedded DNA of what it means to be saved from something, or to get to a good place. It is too easy, because we know we must always work for what we want. From our wee days of playing tag, we understood we need to run hard and fast to escape the catcher to be safe (“Home” zone). Then we went to school, and we learnt that we need to put in effort to make the grades or training so that we could get the grades or place well in the competition. Even winning over or pleasing important people in our lives requires work. So when we see today’s verse, we may think saying a few words and believing a fact is no “real” work at all, too good to be true to be trusted upon, surely we have to do something “real” to get something this good.
Second, what this verse says about us is to be too bad to be true. You say, “I am not a bad person, and definitely not as bad as so-and-so. The genocide plotters, war conspirators, the child abusers, sex and drug traffickers and such deserve hell but I do not. I am not a bad person, I’m good. I am definitely not that bad.” Then this verse comes along and implies, “No, you’re bad, you’re so bad that there is nothing you can do to earn your right to heaven. Your only shot at heaven is casting your hope on Jesus and everything He did and represents. Nothing else works.” This is too hard to accept, we have been told we are good – or somewhat and occasionally good – and we have at some point been told we did good jobs for our family, friends, teachers, clients, colleagues and bosses. While those tasks may count for something on earth, they count for nothing with regard to our eternal destination. This can be devastating to acknowledge.
Yet, it can only be too good and too easy to be true because it was immensely difficult and bad for somebody else. That somebody else is Jesus. And we really are that bad and will stay that way because of the sinful nature we were born with that cannot be shaken off. We cannot escape ourselves unless somebody else comes to defeat death (the consequences of sin) and gives us the power and an ever present guardian to help us see and break the chains of our sinful nature. That somebody else is Jesus. So when we say we believe God raised Jesus from the dead and Jesus is Lord, we are admitting our sinful nature and our sin (i.e. we are very bad), and we need Him to save us (i.e. too good and easy for us but very bad for Him).
Although we may only say out loud the words of this prayer once, consider what happens thereafter if we are sincere about what we said. As we grow in our relationship with God, we know Him more and understand ourselves more, we realize it is not about working to stay “saved,” but about being genuine about calling Jesus “Lord” by daily ceding the right to direct and rule our lives, daily learning to hear His voice, and daily following His lead, not ours.
Thoughts for the day
- Are you saved and know you are going to heaven when you die? How good a person do you have to be to get to heaven for sure? Today you can get clear assurance you are going to heaven when you ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin, invite Him into your heart as Lord to direct your life.
- Spend some time reflecting how bad and difficult it was for Jesus, so that there could be such a good and easy way for you to be saved. Thank Him!
- If you claim to be a follower of Christ, scan through the areas of your life and check whose lead you are really following in each of them (yours or His)?
Dear God and Heavenly Father, thank you for saving me for heaven at so much cost and pain to you because I cannot do anything or enough for myself for this. Point out to me areas of my life where I have only paid lip-service to calling you Lord and help me to surrender the king seat there to you. Amen.