8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:8–10, NKJV).
Does this passage teach sinners are saved by praying and asking Jesus to be their Savior? If so, it does it without mentioning prayer at all. Yet, this is exactly how some use it as they tell people to pray and ask Jesus to save them. The Bellingham Baptist Church (Bellingham, WA) has a teaching pamphlet that says, “Pray and ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior,” which then quotes Romans 10:9. But, to “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus” is a profession of faith, not a prayer to God. For example, in Acts 8:36-37 when a lost soul asked what was keeping him from being baptized (to be saved, Mark 16:16). He was told by the preacher Philip, “If you believe with all your heart, you may,” to which he answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” When this believer confessed his faith, he was ready to be baptized and saved by Christ according to Christ’s word (Acts 8:38; Mark 16:15-16). Belief and confession that Jesus is the Son of God are unto (in the direction of) salvation. The believer who confesses faith will repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37-38). The word of faith the apostles preached says to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, confess Him as Lord, repent before God, and be baptized to be saved (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38). Reread today’s passage; Prayer is conspicuously absent. We must be careful not to add to God’s word.
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:1–3, NKJV).
Israel was lost. Only the gospel of Christ, not the Law of Moses, would save them (Rom. 1:16; Acts 4:12). Therefore Paul, himself a Jew who previously persecuted Christians, earnestly desired and prayed for their salvation. He was convinced their zeal for God did not save them. Misguided by their allegiance to the Law, they refused to submit to God’s plan of salvation. Even now, many religious people who are zealous for God contradict the gospel in their zeal (Matt. 7:21-23). We should not confuse passion for God with God’s approval. Scripture says God wants sinners to be saved and “to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). God will not save us from our sins when we are ignorant of the truth of Christ (John 8:24). The example of Israel warns us not to establish our own way of salvation like they did (“their own righteousness,” Rom. 10:3). They believed their salvation was through the Law of Moses and rejected “the righteousness of faith” revealed in the gospel (Rom. 10:4-8). We must be careful not to make a similar error. We must submit to God’s righteousness by faith in Christ and obedience to His gospel (Rom. 10:3, 9-13; 6:17-18). Then we can be confident of our salvation, regardless of whether we are a Jew or a Gentile (Rom. 8:1-2; Gal. 3:26-29).
33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things (Mark 6:33–34, NKJV).
As the crowds pressed around Jesus and His apostles, finding time to rest a while (or even eat) was difficult (Mark 6:31-32). Instead of being anxious and upset at the people for interrupting their search for a place to retreat, Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the multitude (v. 34). He saw them as untended, scattered, and wandering sheep. Consequently, Jesus began teaching them many things. We correctly conclude Jesus knew the solution to this problem was hearing God’s word. Why? Because faith comes by hearing (and receiving) the word of God (Rom. 10:17; Luke 6:46). Teaching God’s word to feed lost, struggling souls is an act of compassion (Matt. 9:35-38). Most likely, lost souls do not know what they truly need. Jesus did not begin by addressing what people thought they needed (i.e., their “felt need”). Instead, he gave them what they actually needed, the word of God, that fed their souls the food “which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27, 33-35, 44-48). More than physical food, we need the teachings of Christ to lead us to green pastures, still waters, and paths of righteousness that restore our soul (Psalm 23:1-3; Matt. 11:28-30). Let us show His compassion and teach others His word of salvation and eternal life.
And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all (Luke 6:19, NKJV).
We are told of “a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed” (Luke 6:17-18). Significantly, “power went out from” Jesus that healed them all. These healings were not the trickery of an illusionist or a scam artist. Divine power cured the sick and banished tormenting spirits. It is not lost on us that Jesus knew when healing power went out from Him. Jesus knew a woman with faith touched His garment and was healed even as the throng pressed around Him (Mark 5:27-34). “But Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out of Me” (Luke 8:46, 43-48). Here is today’s lesson: God knows when even one sinner reaches out to Him in faith, repents, and obeys His word for salvation (Luke 15:3-7; Mark 16:15-16; Heb. 5:9). He is aware of each of us and saves us one at a time. God’s saving power in Christ goes out from heaven’s throne and heals each lost soul with divine forgiveness (Luke 15:17-24). God cares and knows your plight. He loves you so much His Son died for your salvation (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). Like the woman whose faith compelled her to touch the garment of Jesus for physical healing, may each of us reach out to Jesus in faith, trusting Him to heal our souls from eternal death (Rom. 6:1-4, 16-18, 22-23).
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11–13, NKJV).
The grace of God is His favor toward sinners, unmerited, undeserved (Eph. 2:4-7). His grace is rich in mercy and spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:7; 2:7; Rom. 3:24). Today’s passage gives a simple yet profound explanation of God’s grace and our response to it. (1) The grace of God has appeared to all men (v. 11). God has not limited His offer of grace only to predestined chosen one whom He will save. Calvinism’s predestination, unconditional election, and limited atonement are false and deny the universal offer of grace (Acts 10:34-35). Since not all are saved, grace must be accessed or received (by faith, Rom. 5:1-2; 2 Cor. 6:1). (2) The grace of God brings salvation (v. 11). We would remain dead in our sins without God’s grace in Christ. We cannot redeem ourselves from sin; We cannot earn our salvation. We praise the glory of God’s grace by which we are redeemed and accepted in Christ (John 1:14, 17; Eph. 1:6-8). (3) The grace of God teaches us to stop sinning (v. 12). We learn from “the word of His grace” to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Christians fall from grace when they practice sin (Gal. 5:4; Rom. 6:1-2). (4) The grace of God teaches us how to live (v. 12). The power of God’s grace is seen in lives lived for Christ (Acts 11:23). (5) The grace of God assures our hope (v. 13). As we practice righteousness, we stand in grace and rejoice in hope, sure of our eternal life in Christ (Rom. 5:2; 1 John 3:3-7; 5:13). Indeed, God’s grace is amazing.
31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die (John 12:31–33, NKJV).
The purpose for which He came into the world was about to be fulfilled (John 12:27). Soon, Jesus would be crucified. His obedient death would glorify His Father (John 12:28; Heb. 5:8-9). Some thought they heard thunder or an angel when the Father spoke approvingly to Jesus from heaven (John 12:28-30). Note some crucial things accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross. (1) Christ’s death judged the world. The world judged Jesus worthy of death, yet His death would judge the world guilty of sinful injustice in need of salvation (Luke 23:39-41; Matt. 27:54; Acts 2:22-23). (2) Christ’s death cast out Satan. The devil lost his grip on holding men and women captive in sin when God accepted the death of Jesus as an offering for sin (1 Cor. 15:56-57; Heb. 10:10). By His death, Jesus destroyed the power of sin used by the devil to destroy souls (1 John 3:8). (3) The crucified Christ would draw sinners to salvation. The Son of Man was lifted onto an instrument of execution to die for all who are dead in sin so that we can live in Him (John 3:14-16; Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:24). Jesus glorified the Father by obeying His will and dying on the cross. The gospel calls us to honor and glorify Jesus by hearing, receiving, and following His word (Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 3:17; Luke 6:46).
Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not (Luke 3:15, NKJV).
John was not the Messiah. He came to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Luke 3:4; Isa. 40:3). As the Lord’s messenger, John preached “a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,” preparing hearts for the Lord’s coming (Mal. 3:1; Mark 1:4; Luke 1:17). He was the promised Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 11:7-10; 17:10-13). John’s work excited the people’s expectations of the Messiah (Luke 3:15). Sadly, those expectations were often misguided. Many looked for a military leader to deliver Israel from Rome (John 6:15, 26; Luke 24:21). Others expected Him to support the traditions they bound (Mark 7:1-13). What are your expectations of Christ? (1) Some expect faith in Christ to bring them wealth and health (the prosperity gospel); A perverted gospel (1 Cor. 4:11-13; 2 Cor. 12:7-10). Many faithful ones are impoverished (Heb. 11:37-38). (2) Some expect Christ’s grace to allow them to continue living in sin; A perverted gospel (Rom. 5:21-6:2). Grace will not abound when we continue in sin. (3) Some expect Christ to save them by faith only; A perverted gospel (Mark 16:15-16; Heb. 5:8-9). An obedient faith saves, not faith only (James 2:24). (4) Some expect Christ to save them because of their sincere conscience; A perverted gospel (Rom. 10:2). The blood of Christ washes away sins, not sincerity (Acts 23:1; 26:9; 22:16). (5) We should expect Christ to bring salvation to sinners without the doctrines of men. He does (Acts 4:12; 10:34-43; Rom. 1:16-17; Gal. 1:6-12; Col. 2:20-23). Expect Jesus to save you when you believe and follow Him (John 8:12, 31-32; Matt. 7:21-23).
29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29–32, NKJV).
Simeon confidently waited with hope for the Messiah, the “Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). By revelation, the Holy Spirit told him he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26). Simeon took the child in his arms in the temple and praised God with stirring words that still fill our hearts with joy and hope. Simeon saw God’s promised salvation in the Child Jesus (v. 30; Isa. 51:1-6). The salvation he saw was not national victory over the Roman occupation of their land. God’s salvation for Israel was deliverance from their sins (Matt. 1:21). This salvation was not only for Israel but also for the Gentiles (v. 32). Jesus, the light of the world, would shine His truth brightly upon Israel and the nations (Isa. 9:1-2; Matt. 4:13-17; John 1:4; 8:12). God prepared salvation from the clutches of sin and death (1 Cor. 2:9). The birth of Jesus was an integral part of God’s preparations to redeem us from sin (Heb. 10:5, 10). Our hope in Christ is sure and steadfast because salvation is sure in Him (Heb. 6:19-20; Acts 4:12). Like Simeon, may we never grow weary but “eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20; Heb. 9:28).
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell (Colossians 1:19, NKJV).
Jesus Christ is exalted and magnified by the Father as He is the fullness of God’s redemptive work. Ephesians 1:10 provides a parallel: “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” Paul summarized the fullness that dwells in Jesus Christ in Colossians 1:14-18. (1) Redemption is in Christ (1:14). Salvation from sins is only in Jesus (Acts 4:12). (2) He is the image of the invisible God (1:15). When we see Jesus, we see the Father, for He manifested Him to the world (John 1:18; 14:9; Heb. 1:3). (3) He is the firstborn over creation (1:15). He ranks above everything seen and unseen because all things were created by Him, through Him, and for Him (1:16; John 1:1-3). (4) He is eternal (1:17). His “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2, NASB). (5) He holds all things together (1:17). He is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). (6) He is the head of the church (1:18). The church is His body, those saved by His blood (Eph. 1:22-23; Acts 2:47; 20:28). It is “the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). (7) He is the first cause of everything (1:18). He is the Creator. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). (8) He is the firstborn of the dead (1:18). Raised, never to die again, He has power over death (1 Cor. 15:20). (9) He has preeminence over all things (1:18). He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). All we need to live with God now and eternally is in Jesus Christ. Praise be to God for such a Savior!
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1, NKJV).
The second chapter of Acts records a transformative moment, a pivotal point in the Scriptures. The Day of Pentecost was also known as the Feast of Weeks (Num. 28:26; Deut. 16:10), the Feast of Harvest (Exod. 23:16), and the day of the first fruits (Num. 28:26). This Pentecost would be a day of harvesting souls, the first fruits of the gospel. Many “first” things happened that day. (1) It was the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-16). The first day of each week continues to call saints to assembled worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Heb. 10:25). (2) The apostles preached the first gospel sermon opening the way to salvation. They used the keys of the kingdom, opening the door to salvation for sinners (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; Acts 2:40). (3) Sinners heard the plan of salvation for the first time. The apostles told those who believed the gospel to repent and be baptized to be forgiven of their sins (Acts 2:36-38). (4) The first gospel conversions took place. About three thousand did so and were saved (Acts 2:40-41). Christ still saves souls this way. (5) The first church came into existence that day. The church of Christ came into being. The Jerusalem church increased daily as the Lord added saved ones to His church (Acts 2:47). After Pentecost, Acts 2 records the first kingdom worship of the church (Acts 2:42) and the first acts of church benevolence (Acts 2:44-45). Acts 2 records the fulfillment of kingdom prophecies from Psalm 2, Isaiah 2, Joel 2, Daniel 2, and many more. Acts 2 has been called the hub of the Bible. Indeed.