THE CRITICAL QUESTION

In Romans 10:8 - 13 Paul gives his fullest statement in this letter about the focus of the faith by and through which we are justified (acquitted). It is not simply ‘faith’ that justifies – as if ‘faith’ in and of itself has saving power and saving significance, or any value in God’s presence. Nor is it faith in any ‘god’ we might choose to create or imagine.

It is a very specific ‘faith’:

It is faith that acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord, that is, that Jesus Christ is God.
It is faith that believes Jesus was raised from death by God the Father, thus affirming his deity.

This is the second foundational point – the identity of Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Lord - over which Israel stumbled (9:32-33).

In rejecting Jesus as Lord they rejected the very God in whom they thought they believed.

In rejecting the real deity of Jesus Christ they rejected the God who had redeemed their ancestors from Egypt.

In rejecting Jesus’ equality with God the Father, they were actually rejecting God.

It is this issue of the identity of Jesus Christ by which not just the Jews’, but everyone’s, eternal destiny is decided.

John drew attention to this:

‘He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God’ (John 1:11, 12).

Jesus stated it clearly:

‘Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son’ (John 3:18).

‘I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins’ (John 8:24).

All of the New Testament promises of salvation are given to those who believe in him.

Eternal life is repeatedly promised only to those who believe in him (John 3:15,16; 6:40,47; 11:25,26).

It is those who believe in him who will never go thirsty (John 6:35).

Those who believe in him are indwelt by the Spirit (John 7:38).

Those who believe in him do not stay in darkness (John 12:46).

Why is this so important?

Why is believing in Jesus Christ as Lord the critical question?

It is because Jesus Christ really is God.

To receive in him is to reverse our Genesis 3 rejection of God.

To acknowledge him as Lord is to undo our Genesis 3 rebellion against God.

To believe in Jesus Christ is to repent: to change our minds, to turn back to the one true God.

Jesus himself said:

‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me’ (John 12:44, 45).

‘If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. ... Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:7, 9).

And the opposite is true: Because Jesus Christ is God, to reject Jesus Christ is to reject God.

That is why our response to Jesus Christ, our response to his question ‘Who do you say that I am?’ is critical.

Our answer determines our destiny: we are either saved for eternity, or continue in our state of condemnation and separation from God.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2020

Visit these studies for discussion of this critical question.