Sunday, February 14, 2016

Is There Fine Print in Romans 10?

"Before you sign a contract you had better read the fine print to see what is not covered," so says Pastor Seltz of The Lutheran Hour.  He goes on to say that "God's promises are not like that... there are no exceptions, there is no fine print.  Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be put to shame.  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  You might be asking, 'Well, what does it mean to call on the Lord?'  Ah!  There's the catch, right?"  That's in the introduction to today's radio broadcast this first Sunday in Lent.  As he starts the actual lesson the above is repeated and then he asks, "Everyone?  Really? I mean, is there any fine print in Romans chapter 10?  You know about fine print, don't you?  Fine print spells out exclusions in contracts... Fine print says that even though it's being marketed is for everyone, it's not really for everyone.  So, is there any fine print in Romans chapter 10?  Does the word really mean everyone, or is there some fine print somewhere excluding people from this bold promise?  Where is the fine print in Romans 10?  Nowhere!  You won't find it there or anywhere in the Bible."  With all due respect, Pastor Seltz is wrong here.  Scripture, the Bible, DOES contain "exclusions" and even states that there will be some who cry out TO HIM "Lord, Lord!" who shall NOT enter the Kingdom of Heaven; in fact He will say to them, "depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matt. 7:21-23).  Part of "the fine print," if you will, limits entry into Heaven to those who "do the will of My Father in Heaven."  Simply calling upon Him is not enough, and the "fine print" is right there!

Attempting to prove his point, Pastor Seltz tells the story of the Pharisee and the Publican/Tax Collector who go into the Temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14).  The Pharisee boasts, "Thank you Lord for not making me like this tax collector..."  The tax collector humbly prays, "Have mercy on me, a sinner."  Jesus declares it is the tax collector who goes away justified before God.  Hmmmm, according to Pastor Seltz just "calling upon the Lord" is enough to justify, or save (keep in mind, he makes this equivocation in using this parable to support his argument for salvation).  So, per Seltz' earlier statement, the Pharisee should have been justified too!  Afterall, he too called upon the Lord, did he not?  Scripture tells us that the Pharisee did not leave justified.  So there we have yet another example of "fine print" which negates Pastor Seltz' premise.

Mt Claret Retreat Center, Camelback  Mountatin behind it.
Seltz goes on to tell another story, this one of a 21 year old man in Phoenix, Arizona who had decided to climb Camelback Mountain.  He made this decision without thought for any special clothing or gear - just a "strapping young man" who was full of courage.  However, as you may have guessed already, after getting about 50 feet up the side of a steep and shear rock face, he found himself unable to climb any higher and it was too risky to attempt to climb back down.  He was stuck, but he did happen to have a cell phone on him - so he called "9-1-1" and rescuers came out to save him.  He was saved because he gave up his pride and humbly called out for help.  Well, this climber happen to know the right number to call!  What if he had called the Mount Claret Retreat Center (a Catholic church and retreat center at the base of Camelback Mountain)?  The priests, nuns and/or office staff there would not have been able to "save" that young man - however, they would have known the right number to call to get him rescued!  The point we make here is just calling out for help may not be enough!  You have to call the right number!  When it comes to our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, Jesus gave explicit instructions (more "fine print" for Pastor Seltz) which specifically points out who is able to forgive sins.  Jesus gave this authority to a special group of men, the Apostles, who would become our first bishops in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and only THESE MEN had the authority to forgive sins, and sins THEY did not forgive are NOT forgiven (John 20:22-23).  In the same context, as Jesus sent our first bishops out, they too were to send others out in the same manner  (John 20:21) [typo fixed, thanks Nathan!].  So, going somewhere which does not have this apostolic authority means you're going somewhere which has no authority to forgive sins - you would therefore be still stuck on the side of Camelback Mountain, to use Pastor Seltz' analogy.  You would not be "saved."

One cannot read Romans 10 in a vacuum, apart from the rest of Scripture.  The "fine print" is there, for those who have eyes to see.

Overall, Pastor Seltz message is not too far off the mark, in fact, "the message" is right on - but when it comes to where/whom to call, he "missed it by that much."

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  1. Type-o;
    In the same context, as Jesus sent our first bishops out, they too were to were to send others out in the same manner.

    I think it should read "they too were to send others out in the same manner."

    Other than that, very good analysis. Thank you Scott.


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