Rethinking Romans 10:13
“For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
I was trolling the internet the other day and Googled “Sinner’s prayer”. I found many websites promoting the prayer that “saves”. One of those sights, peacewithgod.net, gave steps to have a “real, lasting peace through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Start your journey now.” “Step 1- God loves you and has a plan for you (John 3:16; John 10:10), Step 2- Man is sinful and separated from God (Romans 3:23; 6:23), Step 3- God sent his Son to die for your sins (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 14:6), Step 4- Would you like to receive God’s forgiveness? We can’t earn salvation; we are saved by God’s grace when we have faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. All you have to do is believe you are a sinner, that Christ died for your sins, and ask His forgiveness. Then turn from your sins- that’s repentance. Jesus Christ knows you and loves you. What matters to him is the attitude of your heart, your honesty. We suggest praying the following prayer to accept Christ as your Savior. ‘Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose again from the dead. I trust you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will.'”
Several things jumped out at me but what I find very interesting is that for Steps 1-3 they gave chapter and verse. However, there was not one verse in Step 4 for this prayer or any other prayer for that matter. It is obvious, by their own lack of sighted scripture, that there is no prayer that “saves” recorded in scripture. This idea is foreign to the Gospel of Christ. It is foreign to the Gospel that the Apostles preached and declared. There is nothing in the writings of Peter, Paul or John that even remotely suggest a prayer of salvation from condemnation. In Acts 16, Luke writes of the encounter Paul had with the Philippian jailer. He asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul’s response was “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” We also find Luke telling of the meeting between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. In this encounter, Phillip was sent by the Holy Spirit to meet up with the eunuch. Scripture tells us that the Ethiopian was reading the prophet Isaiah. Phillip approached him, “joined himself with him” and asked if he understood what he was reading. He told Phillip how could he understand without someone to explain it to him. The next question that the eunuch asked was,”Is the prophet speaking of himself or another” Phillip proceeded to explain from scripture that the prophet spoke of another person and his name was Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. As they traveled they came upon a body of water and the eunuch asked, “What hinders me from being baptized? ” Phillip’s response like Paul’s is very instructive, “If thou believest with all thine heart, you may.” Then the eunuch confessed to Phillip his faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God. In both these meetings, you do not find Paul or Phillip say “Pray and Believe, only BELIEVE.
Now that we have set forth that the “sinner’s prayer’ is not taught in scripture, let us turn our attention to the “proof text” that is used to justify leading a lost sinner in a prayer to “close the deal”. The way this verse is used you would think it was the only verse in Romans 10. It is not. In fact, to understand this verse you must understand the context in which it is found. In the section in which Romans 10:13 is located it consists of Romans 9, 10, and 11. Paul introduces his subject matter in chapter 9:1-3, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not…That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Also we see in 10:1, “Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Then in chapter 11 verse 26-27, he explains that one day “all Israel will be saved”. So what day will that be? It will be when Jesus comes to set up his kingdom as he takes his proper place in the temple. The prophet Zechariah declares that day, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all nations that come against Jerusalem.And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication: and they shall look upon me whom they pierced, and they will mourn for him, as one that mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one is in bitterness for his first-born.” (Zechariah 12:9-10). Zechariah 13:1, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sins and uncleanness.” In these passages we see that Israel will one day be redeemed to God by Jesus Christ. They will experience “…repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21).
Now, back to Romans 10:13. If you will do your due diligence, you will see that verse 13 is actually a quote from the Prophet Joel chapter 2. Joel is speaking to the nation of Israel. You will note in verse 1-17, the prophet explains that there will be a great and furious army coming from the north, that is yet to be fulfilled. The invasion of “locusts” is designed and controlled by God to bring the nation to repentance. Then in verses 12-17 you see that the nation indeed heeded the call to repentance. Here we have the principle of Repentance toward God and Faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. The proof of faith is shown starting in verse 28, “And it shall come pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit…” (Remember that only Believers receive the Spirit). So it is, Israel has been delivered from the penalty of sin. The nation through faith passes from death unto life. It is after the nation experiences salvation from sins penalty that Joel declares, “…that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered…”
This brings us to the question, “What are they asking deliverance from?” Obviously, the deliverance is from “the day”, the day of trouble. With this in view one must take Romans 10:13 in the context of Romans 9-11, Zechariah, and Joel in order to fully understand its meaning. The “calling on the Lord” in verse 13 is for deliverance from the day, the day of evil. Looking at Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for deliverance from temptation and evil (the evil one).
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