- Rom. 9:1-11:36
As we continue our reading of Paul's letter to the Romans, chapters 9-11 deal with GOD's rejection of the faithless and wicked Jews while preserving a remnant of faithful people, His acceptance of willing Gentiles, and His promise to accept those who are willing and come to Him, regardless of their nationality. The top difference between those who were approved by GOD and those who were rejected is faith. Faith is produced by hearing the word of GOD (Rom. 10:17.)
Unfortunately a common misunderstanding among believers arising from these chapters is that faith is all a person needs in order to receive forgiveness of their sins. Consider the following verses:
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 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. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Rom. 10:8-13 NIV)
If we just read these verses alone, it sounds like Paul is telling us that all a person must do is believe and confess Jesus as Lord in order to have their sins forgiven. This is what the majority of "believers" today teach must be done in order to receive forgiveness of sins. Sadly, this isn't all that GOD requires. The believer must die with Jesus in the likeness of His death, as we read yesterday. The believer's sins are forgiven at the point at which they are baptized in water. Here's what Paul said earlier in this same letter to the Christians at Rome:
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
(Rom. 6:3-8 NIV)
Consider the inverse of these verses: All of us who weren't baptized into Christ Jesus weren't baptized into His death...if we didn't die with Christ in the likeness of His death (immersed into a "grave"), we believe that we will not live with Him. That's scary stuff. We best obey all of GOD says, rather than only part. These verses are true, when you understand what true belief does—true belief prompts action (see Heb. 11). Too many people rely on what their parents, grandparents or their pastor thinks about salvation rather than what GOD said.
GOD's plan all along was that the faith demonstrated by willing Gentiles who came to Jesus for forgiveness would inspire the Jews who had rejected Jesus to jealousy and provoke them to seek GOD and return to Him. This way, those who had been cast off would be welcomed back to the family of GOD.