80) The Romans Road to Salvation?

Ever heard of the Romans road? It is a set of scriptures taken from the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Roman Christians. The order in which these verses are selected from the book Romans are routinely used as bullet points, which provide an outline for the Evangelistic message of our modern organised Churches around the world.
Late Rev. Billy Graham for example, was well known for using these verses in his sermons. Here are the main verses, which are used to support the Evangelistic message and are supposed to help people come to a point of repentance from sin and turn to faith in Christ as their redeemer. Note that even though well intended and many people have come to know Christ through this message, it is partly based on toxic theology.

Point 1 – Everyone needs redemption
Romans 3:10 King James Version (KJV)
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:    

Romans 3:23 King James Version (KJV)
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Point 2 – The price of sin is death (or rather eternal damnation)
Romans 6:23 King James Version (KJV)
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Point 3 – Jesus Christ died for our sins
Romans 5:8 King James Version (KJV)
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Point 4 – Redemption is obtained through belief in Jesus Christ, the sinner’s response
Romans 10:9-10 King James Version (KJV)
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

And

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Point 5 – With redemption comes peace with God. He is no longer angry with us.
Romans 5:1 King James Version (KJV)
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 8:1 King James Version (KJV)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

These are the main verses although there may be a variety of verses more or less added like John 3:16 to underline the same idea; Man is inherently a sinner, and lost and when they die without Jesus in their heart, they will go straight to hell, and be tormented for eternity. If they repent, confess their sin, and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior they receive the new birth, become a child of God, and when they die, they go straight to heaven.

Before I continue, I acknowledge that some version of this outline has been preached around the globe for the last several hundred years. Many millions of people, maybe you as well, have at the point of hearing a message like the outline above, had a genuine sense of conviction and committed your life to Jesus. Some may have even had a dramatic emotional and spiritual experience at the time of conversion. I was definitely one of those. Those moments were real, and these memories are sacred, deserving of being the highlights in people’s experience and journey with the Lord. So, what ever I explain next may provide a completely new insight but is nevertheless intended to protect the sacredness of your own conversion experience.

Hermeneutics – the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts

First a few ground rules. One should never just pick any verse and attempt an interpretation without a wider view of the immediate context. We must be aware of what was said before and what comes after the verse. We must apply “audience relevance”. This means asking the questions: “who said it or wrote it, and to whom was it said or written?”.

Here is a golden rule: The Bible was not written to us. Yes, the Bible was also written for our benefit, but the scriptures were first addressing those who were the immediate target group and who lived in that day and time when the relevant books and epistles were written. We must therefore consider the Geopolitical and Socio-Geographical circumstances at the time of the one writing as well as of those being written to. A key factor important for us to consider with regards to Hermeneutics is that we have some understanding of the ancient Hebrew origin of all scripture in the Bible. We know that the Old Testament, or rather the Tanakh as the Jews name their scriptures was originally written in Hebrew language. It is only in the 3rd century B.C that a beginning was made to produce a Greek translation of the Tanakh known as the LXX – Septuagint.

Scholarship is increasingly validating the case now as well for a Hebrew original New Testament. Examining all the evidence, the conclusion can easily be made that the New Testament was first written in Hebrew and then also translated into Greek. This a logical conclusion. You only need to consider that the writers of the New Testament were themselves Hebrews who all grew up in a culture and tradition dominated by the Old Sinaitic Covenant, the Levitical Priesthood, and the sacrificial system in the midst of the Roman occupation. That generation of Hebrew New Testament writers were barely coming to grips with the revelation of their Messiah and the New Covenant. They were living in a transition period of almost forty years where both the Old and New Covenant were running along side each other. After Christ’s ascension it still took at least 15 years before the Non-Jews were accepted into the fellowship of the New Covenant. Our true faith is indeed based on the Hebrew scriptures of both the Old and New Testament.
In fact, the pre-supposition that the origin of our New Testament is solely of Greek language, seems to have created a perceived impassable gulf between the world of the New Testament people in the Bible and the world of the Hebrew people in the Old Testament. Say that the writers of the New Testament were in fact Hebrews and just as much part of the same Hebrew people of the Old Testament and a quick “duh” moment arises. I will go as far as to say that if you imagine that our whole Bible both Old and New testament is purely of Jewish and Hebrew origin, suddenly we as non-Jews by genealogy, can begin to see and understand that we have been planted as wild branches into a good olive tree.
Many enlightened experts have come to the same realization that the New Testament was originally a collection of Hebrew works. The Bible’s Hebrew writers were led by the Holy Spirit to write in their native Hebrew language, just as Paul was spoken to from on high in the Hebrew tongue, Acts 26:14.

Our Greek manuscripts are the result of the Hellenization of Jews who were in exile during the Babylonian captivity after which the many generations later could not easily avoid the Greco-Roman influence within the Roman Empire. The consequence is that we see the substituted names and common titles of our heavenly Father and God, in the Greek as: Theos (θεός), instead of YHWH ( יהוה ) Yahweh, and His Son Jesus, in the Greek as, Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), instead of Yehōshu’a  ( יְהוֹשֻׁעַ ) of which Yeshua, or Yashua are more of a short version like Mike is short for Michael. Our modern Bible translations use the Hellenized names given to the Hebrew worthies in the New Testament, such as Hezekiah appearing as „Ezekias“ (Mat. 1:9), and Juda or Yahudah as Judas (Mat. 1:2). Beyond just the names, the organised Christian Church throughout history has been tainted with Greek thinking, and Hellenized creeds, through the infusions of a Greek-translated New Testament.

Having trolled through a plethora of studies and findings regarding the believers of the first century before 70 A.D, it appears that we see a mix of language being used by the people of that day. Especially in the land of Judea and the city of Jerusalem.
By observation, most scholars are approaching their studies with an either – or paradigm. Some are proponents of the idea that Hebrew was the spoken language of the Jews in those days and they did not have access to the Greek Septuagint translation of the Tanakh. Others contend for Aramaic being the spoken language, and then there is the group who want all Jews to have become Hellenised, reading the Greek LXX Septuagint and Hebrew was hardly used anymore.
Admittedly Greek was the „lingua franca“ and „language of commerce“ throughout the Roman Empire. Greek being the common language of the Roman Empire, the Septuagint must have been popular among Jews living under Roman rule. As the work of the Septuagint began in and around 280ish B.C and was finished around 130 B.C it would be conceivable that a Septuagint version was available in every main synagogue by the time Jesus was born. In that first century era, the usage by Greek speaking Jews of the Septuagint begun to eclipse the use of the Hebrew Tanakh.
Important to note is also that the Septuagint comes as an accurate translation from an older Hebrew text than the Masoretic Hebrew text that was in use in the first century. This older Hebrew text was lost when the Israelites were taken to Babylon.
(Note: even the Ark of the Covenant went missing at the invasion of the Babylonians. On their return from exile and the rebuilding of the Temple, the Ark was never recovered. Since then up to 64 A.D shortly before the Parousia when the sacrifices in the Temple were halted, there had been no Ark behind the veil in the Most Holy Place) One example, which authenticates the Septuagint, is the existence of the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is the oldest existing version of the Torah and is much closer to the Septuagint than Masoretic Text.

Not withstanding that, whilst I believe that much of the New Testament was indeed written in Hebrew, which was the native language of most of the New Testament writers, we must acknowledge that many of the Manuscripts that have survived are Greek in nature. There is a case to be made for both the fact that the Hebrew language and Hebrew ancient culture is the roots and origin of our New Testament, and there is good evidence to suggest that Jews in Jerusalem and Judea and the wider Roman empire were bi- or – multilingual. The Dead Sea scrolls reveal that multilingualism existed in Judea in the first and second century of the Christian era. In addition to Hebrew, some Jews also spoke Aramaic or Greek or both. Different levels of Jewish society, different kinds of religious training and other factors will have determined who spoke what.

Even though our current manuscripts of the New Testament are largely of koine Greek, the thoughts and idioms are Hebrew of origin. The overshadowing of original Greco -Roman influence throughout the first century has led to the current Theology which finds many of its doctrines roots in Greco-Roman thought including Greek Mythology instead of ancient Hebrew thought. The current but now widely exposed false Christian doctrine of hell and eternal torment is a clear example of the influence of Greek Mythology, which reaches as far back into history as ancient Pagan Babylon.

Having established the strong Hebrew heritage in the New Testament with a glimpse into the life of a Christian-Jew living Jerusalem in the first century, I will now take the same scriptures as used above, and apply “audience relevance”. In doing so it will leave us to draw immediate conclusions, which the serious Bible student and truth seeker can not ignore.

Point 1 – Everyone needs redemption
Romans 3:10 King James Version (KJV)
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

This is true universally. No one could earn their way into heaven and eternal life by means of their holy lifestyle, genealogy or social status. The Jews to whom were given the Covenants, the promises, and the Torah (the Law of Moses) needed a Savior just as much as every other human being throughout human history. God wanted to save all, therefore He made sure that no one was capable to obtain their right into redemption, so that He could be the one to guarantee reconciliation of all in Christ.

Romans 11:32 King James Version (KJV)
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Romans 3:23 King James Version (KJV)
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Remember Hebrew 1:3 says that Christ is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,..

Some have said that the Father is like the Sun and the Son is like the rays of the Sun. When people say that the Law of Moses is God’s standard of righteousness reflecting His nature, they are so wrong.

2 Corinthians 3:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament (Covenant); which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

Paul explained that as long as the Old Testament or the Tanakh was read, or when Moses was read, which would be the Pentateuch or also the Torah and the Law, their remains a veil upon the heart. It means that the Law and even including the whole Tanakh would still obscure the ability to see the true nature of God unless we have a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus reflects the true nature of God the Father. (John 14:9) When we compare ourselves with Jesus we know that no one even comes close to being like the majesty and glory of Jesus.

Point 2 – The price of sin is death (or rather eternal damnation)
Romans 6:23 King James Version (KJV)
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

No the verse does not say “eternal damnation”. It says death. How have people projected the suggested addition of eternal perpetual torment into the word death here? The word death is simply the Greek word Thanatos, referring to physical death. Admittedly, if used metaphorically then it is correct that any consequence or suffering in this physical life because of sin is a form of death or dying the death. It is certainly the opposite of experiencing the Zoe – the quality of life that God has given us in Christ. What is crucial to understand is that the word sin here is the word hamartia and carries the meaning “to miss the mark”.

This is incredibly significant because the Greek word “hamartia” is a noun. A noun denotes a person, place, or thing while a verb describes the action of a noun. The most used Greek word for “sin” in the New Testament is “hamartia” and it describes sin as “a principle or source of action, or an inward element producing acts; abstract for concrete; a governing principle or power, or an organized power acting through the members of the body.”  This verse is not even referring to any actions of sin, such as sex, and drugs and rock ‘n roll. The word sin here is referring to the death that was passed on to the generations from Adam, independent of our actions. The word wages is not necessarily a soldiers pay, but compensation.
Compensation is awarded to someone in recognition of loss. The only problem is that the best the nature of sin could compensate us with is death.
Thank God for the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus instead.

Point 3 – Jesus Christ died for our sins
Romans 5:8 King James Version (KJV)
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The verse above is a key statement. God demonstrated His love towards us first not because we were such good Christians, but whilst humanity were still sinners by nature. You may have read my other articles where I explained that two thousand years after the death and resurrection of Christ we are not born into this world as sinners. This is true. The Apostle Paul was talking about himself and the generation of his day who were sinners from birth by nature but that through Christ’s death and resurrection they had been raised with Him (Colossians 2:12). In addition to that, the power of the finished work of the cross affected all of time and space for all generations.
We can see here that God is and always has been the initiator. We only respond to his goodness. When Christians or religious people say that we must love God, I will let you know right now that this is impossible. We cannot first love God and then He will love us back. A child responds to the parents love towards them. God loves us and when we have that revelation and experience His love for us, we will love Him back.

Point 4 – Redemption is obtained through belief in Jesus Christ, the sinner’s response
Romans 10:9-10 King James Version (KJV) 
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Redemption is not obtained by anyone believing. Your faith does not make it so. Redemption on behalf of humanity was obtained by the faith of Jesus only. Our personal faith is the response to what Jesus obtained by His faith.
And whilst we are at it, God first provided eternal redemption for all of humanity. Does everyone know it? Obviously not. The organised Church has done an appalling job at telling the world the full truth. Instead the organised Church has done a great job in proclaiming a message of conditional love (which does not exist) with a threat of eternal torment if people do not accept Christ. Preaching a half truth has proven to not do anyone a favor long run.

I have had people tell me that teaching people they are already forgiven and redeemed is dangerous. They say that because allegedly telling them that will not save them from hell. They also say that what I am implying is that if everyone is redeemed already, we do not need to do any evangelism anymore. Wow, those superficial statements are clearly not very well thought through.
I am more passionate than I can even describe in words with a sense of mission to tell people the truth. There is a real need to proclaim the real Gospel effectively around the world. People need to hear this good news. They were forgiven, made right, and accepted before God, they will go to heaven and so will all their loved ones. How can I not be excited? Also, I am sure people everywhere in the world are waiting for this message. They will confirm that they are more drawn to this kind of message than one where we beat them over the head first to convince them that they are sinners, with the threat of hell, and then say that God loves them.
I behold the suffering, the pain, the fear, and the despair in the world, and I have a message of hope and light for people instead, and now you do to.
I am also not even going to discuss hell here because I have spent many articles on the subject. What I will say to preachers around the world, including those whom are friends of mine; „if you consider yourselves experts in the field of theology, will you please make the effort and also study this out on behalf of the people you preach to. If hell truly doesn’t exist…well, you have an obligation to come up with scriptural evidence. Not fabricated evidence.“

Confession

Confession is hugely important for a Christian who seeks to renew their mind with New Covenant truth. Confession means: „to say the same thing God says“, about anything. With regards to redemption, we ought to say that we are forgiven, made righteous and accepted in Christ, because that is what God says about us. I would need to spend a series on confession because the concept has multi layered truths that require more space to really cover this powerful topic. Just consider for now that you are not confessing something to make God accept you or give you anything. Confession is a positive affirmation. In the modern words of psychology and NLP, it is called autosuggestion or self hypnosis. Your confession has more to do with your own meditation. It is an exercise. A means to help write the Gospel truth in your own consciousness. For any person to confess the Lordship of Jesus over their life and their believe in the resurrection of Christ, especially when they first respond to the revelation of their redemption in Christ, it can release tremendous power in their soul. This is that wonderful conversion experience I was on about earlier.
Of course, that is not the context here in Romans 10. And for the ardent student of scripture you will have to agree that Romans 10:9-10 is in the middle of the topic where Paul talks about his desire for the Jews to be saved. And now saved from what? Hell? So, they can have eternal life?
No, here we once again stumble across the eschatological context of when the Jews of that day, openly confessed their faith in their Messiah, they would be saved from what was about to happen in their generation.

Jude 1:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with (amidst) ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

And

1 Peter 4:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

At least two thirds of the New Testament contains either direct or indirect references to this coming of the Lord in Judgment upon apostate Israel. Paul wanted to see them saved from the destruction that was about to come upon Jerusalem and Judea. Those who did put their faith in Christ had the promise they would be saved and delivered once the Roman armies approached the city in 67 AD.

Romans 10:13 King James Version (KJV)
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Point 5 – With redemption comes peace with God. He is no longer angry with us.
Romans 5:1 King James Version (KJV)
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 8:1 King James Version (KJV)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Please note the above title for this point number 5: With redemption comes peace with God. He is no longer angry with us. Correct. Let us specify. With the realization and revelation that we have already been given redemption comes that sense of peace with God. Redemption was already provided two thousand years ago through Christ. The wrath of God ended with the abolishing of the Old Sinaitic Covenant in 70 AD, and God has not been angry with the world since. He never will be angry again. Does God get grieved? My answer: Scripture suggest He does. I believe God gets intensely grieved. Not because we do something wrong. God is grieved because people do wrong and hurtful things because they do not recognize how much God loves them and what God has done for them. It grieves Him to see people self-sabotage. It grieves Him because they do not need to believe destructive ideas and display hateful behavior.

Here is a beautiful verse for thought, which Christians so often mis-quote.

1 John 5:12 King James Version (KJV)
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

And there goes the angry preacher, you see? If people do not have the Son, they cannot have eternal life. Yep, but the word ”have” is Greek word Echo.
Translate this verse right it reads:
He who echoes the Son, echoes life; and he that echoes not the Son of God echoes not life. Well, that puts many without the knowledge of the true Gospel in that category. That does not mean they are not redeemed. It means that in their own personal internal awareness and in their lifestyle the life of Christ is not echoed. Paradoxically speaking: I have met some wonderful people who were not Christians, but were loving and of golden character. Whether they were aware of it or not, I believe they were daily echoing the life of Christ. You know what? If you look carefully at people around you, you will see Christ echoed in people everywhere.

Conclusion

In the last few months I have witnessed Christians argue their case that people must first confess their sin, then repent, and then accept Jesus, because those are the conditions upon which God will grant them mercy.
The tonality in their voice gave me chills down my spine. Their willingness to approve of God’s mercy upon people is withheld until those „sinners“ meet these conditions.

I really believe the Lord grieves over the many who hold to this philosophy. They are such a huge part of the pain in this world. They have the cart placed before the horse.
It is like that worship song “Lord have mercy on us” by Graham Kendrick released back in 1986. The song has a beautiful catchy melody and throws people in a church service into a delightful emotional state. However, the lyrics are sadly so wrong and 180 degrees in conflict with the Gospel truth.
God gave us mercy 2000 years ago in Christ and what is more is we do not need to beg him for mercy. If you sense compassion for the need in this world, how much more you think God has compassion. The compassion you feel is probably God’s compassion working in you.
God’s mercy and grace and love is here ready for anyone who wants it. God’s is not holding it back or waiting for people to confess their sin, and repent and accept Jesus.
If we proclaim the truth, people will come to the realization of their redemption through Christ and God’s love and mercy for them. That is the essence of repentance – metanoia – a change of mind and persuasion of the truth.

The ultimate example Jesus gives us of the Father’s love and His undying ever present undeserved Love and Mercy for us is found in the story of the Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32.
The son returned home and wanted to confess all of his sins. The Father had „0“ interest in what he had done. He was just overjoyed with the return of his son.
His brother was not so happy with his return, and was very judgmental of his actions. He did not think his brother deserved to be allowed back in as a son and be celebrated.
He wanted him to earn his welcome back first. Sounds very much like religion to me.

The Prodigal Son