Romans 10:9-17 – 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
“In our house, we don’t talk about politics or religion.” Have you heard that? Said that? There’s not much we can agree on as a society anymore, but that’s universally accepted. No talking about politics or religion. Can you remember where that’s found in the Bible? It’s not! To not talk about politics is one thing. But religion? “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” The devil wants to keep people out of heaven. He knows that faith in Jesus comes from hearing God’s Word. So what’s the best lie the devil could spread to keep people out of heaven? Not, “sin more.” We sin plenty on our own. How about, “Don’t talk about Jesus.” The devil loves silent Christians. “We don’t talk about religion.” Can you see who that comes from?
The devil’s lie is working—really well! A new study of Christians just found that 47% of Christians under the age of 35 think it’s wrong to share your faith in Jesus with someone who doesn’t believe. Almost half of Christians my age say it’s wrong to share your faith. That might sound surprising, except it shouldn’t be. This is the world I’ve grown up in. “Faith is a personal matter,” right? “All gods are really the same,” aren’t they? “The last thing you want to do is offend someone,” right? The devil’s lie is spreading really fast: “Don’t talk about Jesus!”
Thanks for being willing to hear Jesus’ point of view today! Here’s how the Bible puts it: If you “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Faith is in your heart. It’s believing. What does a Christian believe? The Bible is very specific: God raised Jesus from the dead. A few years ago, the Christian Ken Ham and the atheist Bill Nye held a debate. Bill Nye asked: “What would convince you that Christianity isn’t true?” Ken Ham said: “Jesus’ body. If you can find Jesus’ body, all this falls apart.” People have spent 2,000 years trying to prove that Jesus didn’t rise, but they can’t. It happened! Your faith has a foundation. You stand for something. Not all gods are the same, because only Jesus rose from the dead! I’m with him!
But having faith isn’t just in your heart. That might sound strange, but having faith isn’t just in your heart. Listen again: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” What other body part is involved? Your mouth. Faith is not just a personal thing in here. Faith in your heart will always find its way into your mouth. What do we confess? “Jesus is Lord.” There aren’t a bunch of gods. Jesus is Lord! Having faith in God means confessing that Jesus is the ruler of your life. I’m not. Jesus is. What Jesus says goes! This is the faith that saves: Believe in your heart: Jesus died and rose for me! Declare with your mouth: Jesus is Lord! It sounds really simple, isn’t it? Heart and mouth.
But is it really both? Yes! “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Jesus said: “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What’s in here comes out here. Make sense? If what comes out is bitterness, what’s in here? But if what’s in here is Christ, what’s going to come out? If my heart is filled with Jesus’ love and forgiveness, what’s going to come out of my mouth? Heart and mouth. Believe and profess. This is what it means to be a Christian!
So, what if we don’t ever talk about Jesus, profess Jesus, share Jesus? That’s okay too, right? Everybody knows you don’t talk about religion! Except here’s a sad, scary reality: Lips that don’t speak about Jesus mean there’s a heart that doesn’t believe in Jesus. Isn’t that what Paul’s saying? We want to separate heart and mouth. “Oh, I really believe, but my faith is just between me and God.” And God says, “No it isn’t!” You are the lights of the world. You are God’s witnesses. “Go and make disciples.” If I’m not telling others about Jesus, then I need someone to tell me about Jesus! Don’t believe the devil’s lie. There’s no such thing as a silent Christian!
Except, even Jesus was silent once. Do you remember when Jesus was silent? “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). When Jesus was falsely accused of our sins, he didn’t open his mouth. When Jesus suffered the punishment that we deserve, he kept silent. Have you ever thought about that? We keep silent to avoid trouble and suffering. Jesus kept silent to endure trouble for us. To let all of our sins be laid on him. He was silent for our silence. He was silent so we could be forgiven and saved.
That’s the gospel—the good news! How do you know that? How do we know Jesus did all of that? Only through the Word! You only know about Jesus because someone shared God’s Word with you. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” The Word of God is what puts faith in our hearts. The Word changes lives. So, “how, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” See how this works? So who told you?
As I was packing up my books for our move to Green Bay, I found an old book that I didn’t recognize. It was a WELS hymnal printed in 1917. I didn’t know why I had it, until I opened the cover. Someone signed his name inside in 1917. “Henry Nass, Jefferson, WI.” Henry Nass was my great-grandpa. I never met him. I don’t know anything about him. He wasn’t a pastor. I don’t even know what he did. But I know one thing: Henry Nass believed in Jesus. He told his son, my grandpa Paul, about Jesus. My grandpa told his son. He told me. “Faith comes from hearing the message.” That worn hymnal is my story. What’s yours? Now, whose story can you be a part of?
Maybe you’re still afraid. Can I tell you a secret? I am too! It’s hard to talk about Jesus with others. What if we’re rejected? What if they don’t listen? What if it affects our relationships? There are a lot of “what ifs,” aren’t there? It’s always easier not to say anything. But faith comes from hearing the message! Can I share with you my prayer? King David once prayed: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15). If King David was going to declare God’s praise, what did he need? God had to open his mouth. “Lord, open my lips.”
God’s good at that! He did it for Isaiah. Isaiah was a great prophet in the Old Testament. Surely sharing God’s Word was easy for Isaiah, right? Not! Remember our first lesson? When Isaiah saw God on his throne, what did he say? “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). Was he right? Yes! Who was he to share God’s Word? Fear! What changed? An angel took a cool from the altar, touched Isaiah’s lips, and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:7). Forgiveness! How did Isaiah respond: “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). Fear to forgiveness to faith. God opened his lips.
Now go to Peter—Jesus’ disciple. Surely talking about Jesus came easy to him, right? Not! Jesus jumped in his boat, did a miracle, and how did Peter respond? “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8) Was he right? Yes! Fear! So what did Jesus say, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10). Forgiveness! Peter left everything and followed Jesus. Fear to forgiveness to faith. God opened Peter’s lips. See how this works? Is our story any different? Full of fear. Full of sin. But Jesus comes to us and forgives us and sends us. If we’re going to speak our faith, where’s the strength going to come from? Jesus! “Lord, open my lips!”
In Colombia, I met a pastor named Henry Herrera. Know how he become a Lutheran pastor? A friend at the Levi jean factory where he worked kept telling him about Jesus. Now, years later, those two friends from the Levi jean factory are the two pastors at the church in Colombia. Except Henry isn’t just a pastor at his church. Each Monday, he gets on a bus and rides 10 hours to preach to a little mission group in another city. Then he gets on a bus for five hours to another city and another little mission group. Than seven more hours home. Every week. I asked him, “Why?” “What do you mean?” he said. “How can they believe if we don’t preach to them?”
Imagine what God can accomplish through you and me and our church as God opens our lips to speak about Jesus. Maybe some of you one day will become pastors and teachers. Did you know that there are over a hundred churches that need pastors right now? There are even more teaching vacancies too. “Here am I, send me!” But these verses weren’t written for pastors. They were written for Christians! Every one of us knows people who don’t have peace in Jesus. So what do they need? “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” Isn’t this what we’re about? Connecting Jesus with people in our city. I’ve sensed a thought around here that evangelism is when we reach out to people who speak Spanish in our neighborhood. Hum… How many of you speak Spanish? That can’t be our evangelism. Evangelism is when God’s people—wherever they live, wherever they work, whoever is in their family—profess their faith to the people in their lives. Our mission field are the people you know. There are 894 members in our church and two pastors. If we’re going to have an impact on our city, it’s not through me speaking Spanish. It’s through every one of us opening our lips and speaking about Jesus!
So, “Lord, open our lips!” Remember God’s promise: “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Shame has no place in a Christian’s life. Jesus took our shame away when he died on the cross. He covers our fear with his forgiveness, and then he gives us faith in his promise: “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” We don’t need permission to share the gospel. We just need opportunities. When my wife’s had a bad day… “Lord, open my lips.” When my kids are scared in the night… “Lord, open my lips.” When that guy opens up in the check-out line, “Lord, open my lips.” “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”