History, Not Philosophy
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 10:8b This is the message of faith that we proclaim:
The message of salvation is constituted in such a way that faith can respond to it. God created humans to be able hear the Gospel and believe it.
It is a communication that can elicit faith. Faith does not require breathtaking miracles. It can believe without seeing wonders. Faith looks at facts, reflects on them, and then makes a yes or no response based on them.
God has revealed enough through the life of Jesus and in the teachings of the Bible to make faith possible for anyone who truly wants to believe. The concept of justification by faith in Jesus is very understandable. It is not beyond human intellect to comprehend. It has been adapted to meet the inquisitiveness needs of even the most skeptic and most sinful people.
The information that brings faith is straightforward and accessible. Thus, there is no acceptable excuse for rejecting it. There is no confusion or perplexity, as there is in much of human-textbook philosophies.
A German philosopher once said, “Only one man in Germany understands my philosophy, and he doesn’t understand it.” I thank God this kind of “garble-de-gook” is absent from the message about salvation.
“O! how unlike the complex works of man,
Heaven’s easy, artless, unencumbered plan!...It stands like the (magnificent sky) we see,
Majestic in its own simplicity” (Cowper).In the verses of our text, Paul was desperately trying to help everyone see how simple the Gospel plan actually is. The righteousness that years of colossal toil could in no way earn may be received in one moment by faith.
Salvation is so uncomplicated that its very simplicity causes some to stumble over it. God had to make it simple in order to make it “receivable” by all. The plan of salvation was not written only for those with refined genius. It was written on every person’s level, and speaks to all.
Anyone who hears the Gospel one time can never plead ignorance as a valid excuse for not being saved. God has made His requirements very understandable. There is ample light for any who wish to see.
God has not spoken to us in obscure enigmas when it comes to the basics of faith. He has not kept our minds in suspense or tormented us with complexities. Salvation is clearly explained in Scripture.
I know the Bible is full of mysteries and things hard to understand. However, the Word is very plain with regard to this matter of salvation.
A theologian once said it would take him at least 50 years to satisfy his mind on the main issues of theological controversy. Actually, it could easily take longer than 50 years, but the saving truth of the Gospel can be apprehended in 50 seconds. Redemption is rooted not in perplexities, ambiguities, obscurities, or confusing speculations, but in understandable historical facts: people are sinners, God became a man, the God-man died for sinners; the God-man rose again, the God-man will save sinners.
Being omniscient is rarely a prerequisite to knowing something well. We do not have to know everything about astronomy to enjoy the sun. We do not need to know a lot about refraction to enjoy a rainbow. We do not have to be well versed on Earth’s rotation to enjoy a beautiful sunset. And we don’t have to understand the book of Revelation in order to be saved.
Salvation does not require that we be a scholar regarding the details of predestination, suffering, or the second coming. All that is necessary is for a sinner to repent of sin and turn wholly to Jesus for salvation.
Romans 10:9a If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,…”Verse nine contains the word of faith Paul preached (v. 8). Here is the message that can cause faith to blossom in a person’s life.
Salvation hinges on accepting the fact that Jesus is Lord. “Lord” has always been Christianity’s verbal test of faith. In Paul’s day the word was commonly used in the sense of “Master, Owner” in three ways.
One, the Jews used “Lord” to refer to YHWH. Their Greek Old Testament used this word in place of God’s name, which they considered too holy to pronounce. Two, “Lord” was used to preface the names of Greek gods (e.g. Lord Zeus, Lord Apollo). Three, “Lord” was used to designate Caesar as deity. Roman citizens were expected to declare Caesar is Lord.
Being required to believe and say “Jesus is Lord” was no flippant obligation. It was an important act having serious consequences. For Jews, it meant saying Jesus is co-equal with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
For Greeks, it meant renouncing all the gods of Olympus, and turning to Jesus as their sole God. For Romans, it meant no longer worshiping the Emperor as Lord. In all three instances, Jesus was to be deemed supreme.
This is still a prime essential. No one can be saved unless he or she acknowledges the Lordship, the primacy, of Christ. A sinner must confess Jesus is Lord, God of very God, and then submit to Jesus as Master.
Salvation is not a matter of religious talk in general. This debating is fairly acceptable in the world, but it is not the message that brings faith. The word that brings faith is the word that places Jesus at the forefront. Such talk stifles the world’s discussions, but it is the only word that can bring faith.
Romans 10:9b … and believe in your heart that God raised Him from
To be born again, a person must believe in the resurrection of Jesus. We could not have a personal relationship with a person we considered dead. We must believe that the Jesus who died is the Jesus now alive in Heaven.
The resurrection is the vital central fact of redemption. It confirms everything Jesus said about Himself, and is the ultimate proof of His deity.
One reason for the huge success of Christianity is; it is grounded in historical fact. It is not just one person’s opinion against another’s. There is a resurrection to deal with. Jesus came from the dead and was seen by over 500 witnesses. His resurrection is the keystone in the arch of Christian faith.
Romans 10:9c … you will be saved.
“You” here is a singular pronoun. This fact drives this phrase directly to each individual’s situation. In this matter, God deals with us personally. He wants us to acknowledge Jesus is God and to believe Jesus lives. Believe it, my friend. It is the word of faith.