First Sunday in Lent (February 14, 2016)
- First reading
- Deuteronomy 26:1-11
- Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
- Second reading
- Romans 10:8b-13
- Luke 4:1-13
Romans 10:8-13 | New Living Translation
In fact, it says,
“The message is very close at hand;
it is on your lips and in your heart.”
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Our lectionary passage from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome is short, but very powerful. It is a “gospel” passage – this passage preaches the Good News. This is very similar to the the passages that we looked at on Ash Wednesday. We learned that we should return to the Lord – that today is the day of salvation. I think that is is interesting that we complicate the gospel so much. Is living for Christ easy? Will turning to Christ make your life easier? Probably not. After all, Jesus called us to take up our cross daily. But here at the beginning of Lent, we have this call to return to the Lord and today we are presented with a simple gospel invitation. What is necessary to become one of God’s children?
- Declare that Jesus is Lord – Does Jesus have authority over you (not the church, but Jesus?) Is He your ruler? Yes, those are scary thoughts – to turn your life over to Christ and live for him completely – no longer living for yourself, but living for Christ. You live by His rules – not the rules of the church, nor of the culture, nor of society, but Christ’s rules. He has complete authority in your life? If you can do that, you have completed the first step. Again, it’s not easy, but I think it is worth it.
- Do you believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day? This is a key piece of theology. So many times we talk about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, that his blood paid the sacrifice for our sins. This is important, but even more important is the fact that Jesus rose from the dead – to conquer sin – to conquer death – to conquer the grave. If you believe that Christ was raised on the third day, you will be saved. This is wonderful news!
- You will notice that we must believe with our heart – this is not just head knowledge – but a deep intimate knowledge – deep with in our heart that you are justified – that is just as if I had never sinned. That is amazing. We are restored to the relationship that God designed way back in the beginning.
- The we must declare our faith – This Good News is not something that we keep to ourselves – we must share it.
This Good News is for all – Jew and Gentile – we all have the same Lord, who will – and this is important – save ALL who call on the Lord. As Wesleyans, we believe that all of humankind can be saved – not just the elect. Jesus died – for all of humanity for all time – once and for all. That is a great thought. Jesus death and resurrection transcends time and space.
I would encourage you today – if you don’t know Jesus, to seek Him out. This is a great season to do that. What a great way to prepare your heart for Easter. What a great way to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. What a great way to be thankful for what Jesus has done for us.