Who doesn’t love road trips? Grab a can of Peace Tea (Razzleberry, obviously), a bag of Trolli sour gummy worms, and your best friends. Pile into the friend’s car with the fullest gas tank, and you’re bound for a good time. Some of my favorite college memories involve a group of friends crammed in a Ford Escape heading to the mountains for the day, the wide open road ahead of us.
My favorite road trip I’ve ever taken was not to the mountains. There was no Peace Tea, gummy worms, or a group of my closest friends. I didn’t even have to drive my car. This trip was on the Romans Road, one of the most popular witnessing tools in existence because it steps a sinner through the process of coming to faith in Christ.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Christian life is a journey, and this is where it begins. So please buckle up as I take you on a road trip through the book of Romans.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
I love sports. Volleyball, basketball, soccer–you name it, I’m down for a game or two. My love for athletics is most likely due to growing up with two brothers. Unless I wanted to play in my room by myself, I had to learn to keep up whatever the game.
Baseball was a particular favorite of ours. We spent many summer evenings in the front yard throwing pitches, batting homers, and running invisible bases. As a result of being forced to pitch for many years, I’ve developed a decent throw.
But try as I might, I will never be able to throw a baseball from my house in Selma, IN, to Indianapolis, IN–a span of about 69 miles. Granted, just because I can’t throw a ball that far, doesn’t automatically mean someone else can’t.
In 1957, Canadian baseball player Glen Gorbous, the outfielder for the Omaha Cardinals, broke the world record for the longest baseball throw by catapulting a baseball across the stadium to land 445’10” away. That is a massive lob, but 446 feet still doesn’t come close to the 69 miles we needed. Good effort, Glen, but not good enough.
An impossibly vast distance separates us from God, and try as we might, we will never cross that chasm without His help.
People all over the world live trapped in the lie that if they are “good enough” they will earn their way to heaven. They cling to the hope that if they give money to the poor, perform random acts of kindness, and generally live moral lives, God will have no other choice but to grant them entrance into His kingdom.
But here’s the truth–God doesn’t consider our “good” works to be good. He compares our righteousness to filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Even our most virtuous, well-meaning deeds condemn us. God is a holy God and cannot allow sin of any kind into His perfect heaven.
When God created the world, all of creation was flawless. Sin had not yet entered the world, and man lived in perfect communion with God. Then mankind decided to try things their way. Disobedience brought sin, and sin brought physical and spiritual death.
Man’s choice separated us from God as a result. From then on, if a repentant sinner wanted access to God, he must impart his sin on an unblemished animal (often a lamb) and offer it as a sacrifice, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). The sacrificial system became a way of life.
So what then? Did God leave us to wallow in our filthy sin separated from Him forever? Praise the Lord that this is not the end of the road. We still have a couple more stops to make.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Now that we’ve discussed that the wages of our works don’t buy a ticket to heaven let’s see what they actually can get us. Oh, that’s right–death. The death referred to in this verse is eternal separation from the Father in hell. Our evil deeds have consequences, and because God is just, we cannot go unpunished.
Romans 5:8 finally offers some relief from the disparaging news we’ve received. The verse proclaims, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus Christ left His home in heaven to walk among us. Throughout his life on earth, He never violated God’s laws. His blameless life makes Him the all-sufficient sacrifice to pay the sin debt we owe, thereby abolishing the sacrificial system; He is the spotless Lamb. His vicarious death saves us from condemnation for our transgressions; He is our only Savior.
This knowledge brings us back to the second half of Romans 6:23. “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What makes a gift a gift? It’s free.
My science teacher in high school used to say, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” To be honest, I don’t remember what scientific principle he was trying to illustrate with that adage, but its truth stuck with me nonetheless. It’s nearly impossible to get something for nothing. Someone somewhere has to pay.
God knows we can never afford the cost of salvation. So He freely offers us eternal life in heaven with Him because Jesus has already paid the price. Does eternal life sound like a gift you want to accept? Here’s how.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Step One: Confess
For all my fellow word nerds out there, the word “confess” in Romans 10:9-10 is the Greek word homologeō. This word carries with it a couple of different meanings. One definition (used in the passage above) is “to profess or declare openly.”
By confessing that Jesus is Lord, you’re outwardly expressing your inward faith in Him. You’re saying that Jesus is Lord over all and that He is Lord over you. Merely believing in the existence of God is not enough. You must surrender your heart and acknowledge your need for Him.
While we’re in the process of confessing, let’s discuss another meaning of homologeō. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The word “confess” in this verse means “not to deny, to admit oneself guilty of what one is accused of.”
Romans 3:23 already told us that everyone has sinned. Acknowledge those sins before the Lord and repent of them. He promises to forgive you. I’ve heard people give the excuse, “I’ve done too many bad things. God would never forgive me.” Read 1 John 1:9 again.
Nowhere in that verse did God create an unrighteousness limit as if He would only forgive your wickedness to a certain point. He said “all unrighteousness.” God forgives and cleanses the iniquities of those who humbly confess them to Him, no matter how terrible or many.
Step Two: Believe
If you don’t mind (or even if you do), I’m going to indulge my inner word nerd a little longer. “Believe” in Romans 10:9 is the Greek word pisteuō. In this context, pisteuō is used to mean “to put confidence in one, to trust one.”
The Scripture tells of an event that may be hard for most people to believe: the resurrection. Think about it. A man died, stayed dead for three days, then all of a sudden, he’s out and about appearing to His disciples and picnicking with them on the beach?
If Jesus is Lord over all, this claim isn’t actually hard to believe. As Lord, He has power over death, and we can trust our lives to the One who has conquered the grave. Because He lives, I can have confidence that I will live forever with Him.
Step Three: Call
The final step is to call out to God. In doing so, confess Christ as Lord, ask for forgiveness for your sins, and believe that He, as the risen Savior, can do what He promises to do and give you the gift of eternal life. God says that upon doing these things, you will be saved.
The choice seems simple to me. Accept Christ and live, or reject Him and perish. I implore you to choose the former.
Thank you for joining me on this road trip. Believing these truths is the first step in a life-long journey of faith in Christ. I can’t guarantee that you won’t experience unexpected detours or speed bumps, but I can assure you when you reach your final destination in heaven, you won’t be disappointed.