The need for a hero to save the day lasts throughout our lifetime, although as we grow older our definition of a hero might change or broaden. While it is more than a fictional cartoon the Bible teaches us that the human condition is somewhat similar to Pearl Pureheart’s predicament. The villain is not as simple as the Oil Can Harry character though and we are not tied up to the train tracks per se. It is Sin which holds us captive, we are in dire straits and there is no escape (Mt. 19:24-26; Jn. 8:34; Rom. 6:6, 16-17; 2 Tim. 2:26). But who will come to our aid? As the train of “judgment” barrels towards us, we wait for a Hero to call out, “Here I come to save the day!” In Romans 10:8-13 the apostle Paul proclaims that that hero is Jesus Christ who is Lord.
Like Pearl who must call out for Mighty Mouse to come save her, it is necessary for us to call upon Jesus. Paul says that we must “confess with our mouth” and “believe in our heart” that Jesus is Lord (v. 9). This confession is not merely a mental recognition of fact, it is an audible proclamation of what is true: Jesus is Lord. Belief is also involved. Once again, this is not just something we know as a fact. For example, it is not that I know the sun is still shining even on a cloudy day because I’ve flown in an airplane through a cloud barrier and have seen it with my own eyes. It is because I believe it is shining whether I can see it or not. Confession and belief partner together with a combined result. First, confession brings about salvation (v.l0) and faith produces righteousness (that is a restored relationship with God). Simply put when we cry out in faith for our Hero Jesus Christ we are saved (vv. 9, 13). We are no longer destined to bear the punishment for our sin (1 Cor. 5:10, 21). Instead we are destined for eternity with Him (1 Thes. 4:17).
But why is the title Lord used here instead of the one meaning Savior? A little Bible history is helpful in this case. The Greek word for Lord, kurios (pronounced cure-ree-oss) is often used for the name Yahweh in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures dated from the time of Ptolemy II (3 B. C.). In fact when Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 30:4, Isaiah 28:16, and Joel 2:32 in this passage he is quoting them from the Septuagint as does Jesus when He quotes the Old Testament throughout the Gospels. This is because Greek was the common language of New Testament times (much like English could be considered the common language of business today). Once we understand the history it is easier to see the connection. Yahweh was the Savior of the Old Testament. He saved Noah from the flood (Gen. 7:16). He saved Israel from Pharaoh’s army (Ex. 14:21-31). He saved them in the time of the judges (Jud. 2:16). He saved kings who obeyed Him and prophets who proclaimed Him (Ps. 18:1-3; Jer. 15:19-21). He saved Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan. 6) and Jonah from the belly of a great fish (Jon. 2:1-9). And the list goes on! So it is no surprise that this Name is associated with the greatest saving act of all (Gal. 4:3-5), the one that assured your eternal salvation (Rom. 5:6; 1 Pet. 3:18).
While the popular culture of my childhood had no trouble putting cartoon characters into peril where only one super hero could save them, our culture today is less likely to remind us we need a Lord and Savior. We take pride in being self-made and self-sufficient. Ironically, the psychiatric and counseling professions are filled with patients who struggle with failures and addictions they know they are incapable of conquering alone. There is a huge relief in knowing that no matter how large or small your foe may be that when you call upon the Name of the Lord (Rom. 10:13) the Savior will respond! While some physical mishaps could befall us, it is often the result of our own choices. But in terms of salvation, we will never be disappointed by the saving grace of Jesus Christ (v.11). Human heroes come and go in popularity, but for those who believe and confess by faith that Jesus is Lord an abundance of spiritual riches await (v.12).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 2/7/2016