“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
These verses form one of the mountain peaks of Scripture. The significance can hardly be overstated. On one level, Paul just gives us the simple good news of how we can be saved. And then, on another level, these verses encapsulate so much of the Bible’s overall message. It is a place where it all comes together: Israel and the Gentiles, the law and faith, our sin and true righteousness — and how Jesus is what it’s all about. Paul touches it all in these verses.
Jesus, the Better Word
Leading up to verse 13, Paul had told us how Israel as a whole misread the Old Testament. He lays out in detail Israel’s failure to understand God’s righteousness, which is to say: they didn’t connect the dots to Jesus (Romans 10:3–4). Paul then draws a parallel between God’s word to Israel and Jesus himself.
Like that ancient word, Jesus has come down from heaven — we didn’t ascend to him. Jesus has been raised from the dead — we didn’t go bring him up. Paul’s point here is to be clear that the gospel is not about human striving. We didn’t work for this. We didn’t earn this. Jesus has done the work and brought himself near. That’s the way it is and that’s the message proclaimed. Now, do we believe it?
If we believe — if we embrace this truth with our hearts — and if we confess — if we speak it with out mouths — we will be saved!
These two expressions, believing and confessing, describe the one reality of faith. Believe in your heart because everyone who believes in Jesus will not be put to shame (Isaiah 28:16). Confess with your mouth because everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved (Joel 2:32).
This is good news. No more white-knuckled laboring to establish our own righteousness. No more vain endeavors to impress God by how good we think we can keep his law. No more searching up or down and everywhere in between for someone to come help us.
The Word Is Here
Jesus Christ has come to this earth. He walked in our shoes and persevered in every way imaginable. Where we can’t but fail, he was faithful and obedient and righteous and true. And then he went to die for us. The King went to suffer for his people. He took upon himself all of our guilt and shame, all the wrath we heaped up for ourselves by our rebellion against God.
Jesus died for us, and was buried. Then on the third day, he was raised from the dead victoriously. He was raised to be received by faith, for us to turn from our sin and embrace him. He is now ascended and reigning. His kingdom is coming. His word is being proclaimed.
His word is here. The word that declares God has acted, that God has done it, not us. The dead-end road of our effort is exposed. Here is the Word, now, and everyone who believes will be saved. In him, in his marvelous light, we are made alive. Our dead hearts now beat, our lungs are filled with his breath, and we are awakened to run — and run we will. No more guilt. No more shame. Now we are free — free to follow Jesus, the truth, the life, and the way.