Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You useless, ungrateful, blind 'Christian'

Over the next few blog posts, I will be dealing with the subject of spiritual maturity. Today, I will discuss why it is important. Then, I will offer different ways it must be acquired: These are not options - they are spiritual essentials, the diet and exercise of the soldier of God. If you are already active in these things, it is a good start. But, like an athlete, when your spiritual life plateaus, you must escalate your exercise.

Please carefully examine our text. I know it is often tempting to skim Scripture references, since you know I will reiterate the points in my own words, but on the subject of spiritual maturity, examining the Scripture yourself is essential.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

(2Pe 1:2-15)

Peter has then given us an outline for spiritual growth: faith -> moral excellence -> knowledge -> self-control -> perseverance -> godliness -> brotherly kindness -> love, which I will employ in the following posts. We are told if we follow this model for spiritual growth, we will never stumble. If we do not, however, we disgrace God and forget that we have been purified by the blood of Christ. We are useless and unfruitful, blind or (at best) short sighted.

I hope that stings. The apostle Peter says with the whole authority of God that if you do not possess those attributes in ever growing quantities you are useless, blind and have forgotten about what Christ did for you. It is a harsh condemnation, but it is true. If you drop the spiritual responsibilities we will discuss in the coming days – you are useless.

As we go through this journey, we are commanded to do it with diligence. Spiritual growth is not something we can take up and drop again as the mood strikes us. Either we make God a priority, or we don’t. If you don’t, stop kidding yourself about being a Christian. You are lulling yourself into a false sense of security. Honestly assess – is God a priority in my life? Can I make Him one?

Let us close with Paul:

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

(1Co 13:11)

Too many Christians are content to remain children. They speak like children, babbling in confused language and unable to articulate the faith. They reason like a child, unable to defend the faith from the weakest of attacks, because they have only ever focused on the ‘cool’ parts and the simple. That is no way to live. Therefore, as Peter, I will remind you of them even if you already know them, so you will be able to recall that at any time, if I still live or after I die.

Stick with me in the following days diligently, as we follow the path to spiritual maturity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Divine Discipline

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

(Heb 12:4-8)

If you desire a god who does not punish misdeeds, you desire a god who does not care about his creation. To destroy this world, God would need to expend no effort, He would simply cease holding it together by His power and it would be no more. It is because of His love for His creation that we are allowed to continue to exist – it is that same love that causes us to be disciplined by Him.

In our text today, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (whose name has been lost to us in the fog of time) opens with something very plain: Those reading his letter had not yet given up their lives fighting sin. Others before them had. Many after them would and countless Christians continue to do so today in China, North Korea, Indonesia and other places. To complain as we so often do of our trials and tribulations, whining that the temptation we face is too great to bear, is a disgrace to the memories of those who would sooner die than sin against the Living God. We give into our sin, claiming that we had no other choice and then we despise the discipline God has for us.

When chastened, we are identified as God’s children. While a man will indulge the illegitimate child who he wishes nothing more than to keep quietly hidden, the son who will bear his name will be ever corrected. Why? He cares about his son. He wants his son to be an honor to himself and to his father and to be the very best he can be.

If you do not feel the conviction of God when you sin, it is because you have not accepted Him as your Father. You live in freedom now because the heading of your ship is Wrath and He will not expend any effort trying to remold someone who will not bear his name and for whom it will come to no profit. But if you recognize your sin and come to Him for His forgiveness, you will be adopted as a son. You will be called by His name (as a Christian) and will be a beloved member of His household.

Christian, when the Lord rebukes you and punishes you for your sin, accept it as in your best interest. When a human father disciplines, he can be wrong. He can over-punish, under-punish, punish when none is due or make a thousand other mistakes. In His infinite wisdom, God will not do any of these. He will punish you appropriately for your sins so you will turn away from them and better serve Him. When we understand this, we can sing with David:

Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

(Psa 51:8)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ye Must Be Born Again, Pt 4

In the next part of the series on salvation, we consider the topic of baptism. Need I be baptized to be saved?

Let us begin with the baptism of Christ, our example.

Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he *permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

(Mat 3:13-17)
Was Jesus baptized for the remission of sins? Obviously not: Jesus had no sins to remove (2 Cor. 5:21). Why then was Jesus baptized? He says Himself: "to fulfill all righteousness." The word righteousness means 'righteous ordinances' or 'righteous practices.' Christ did not find it sufficient to do no wrong - He also did all that was right. Missing baptism, we can then conclude, cannot be a sin, but it is a righteous deed. It must then play no part in salvation, except the kind of works  (discussed in part 3).

Ye Must be Born Again, pt 3

Part 1
Part 2

Onward we go, to actually answer the question at hand. In the third part of this blog, we go to Jesus Christ speaking in the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 7. If you have never read this passage of Scripture, you will be surprised to see how heavily it has influenced modern figures of speech. The specific verse we are considering is:

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

(Mat 7:21)
However, it would be impossible to accurately study that verse while ignoring the context. What does this verse say? What does it not say? Let us dig in by jumping back a few verses to see what Jesus is talking about in general.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

(Mat 7:13-14)
Christ begins with a teaching that is as simple as it is offensive. This man, so widely accepted as a kind and loving teacher, flatly tells us that most people will go to Hell. You cannot accept all world religions, you cannot accept any doctrine you wish, you must find the narrow way and step through the small gate. All other paths lead to utter destruction. Is this the sanitized Jesus of popular culture? Or is this a real man, teaching a real, logical religion where actions have consequences and right and wrong are absolutes laid down by the God of the universe? Christ was not practicing 'gentle' or 'feel-good' preaching here. He knew that the issue was too serious to disguise. People's eternity was and is at stake.

"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "So then, you will know them by their fruits.

(Mat 7:15-20)
He then calls teachers who are hypocrites (clearly a shot at the religious elite present) ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing. They appear to be kind and innocent, but really they desire to devour you. Christ tells us we will know them by their fruits. If a teacher lives in flagrant disregard of God's Word, we will know they are false teachers who are luring us off the path of righteousness. Many 'evangelical' writers who have predicted the rapture at a date now passed have been divorced many times and their private lives already revealed their true colors before their prophecies failed. Look a few of these men up and you will see Jesus was not making idle chatter.

But He goes farther still. If someone is good at their core - transformed by God- their lives WILL reflect it. Jesus Christ knows nothing of backslidden Christians. He knows those who spoke His name externally and were never saved at all, but never one who is saved and can leave the faith. The Lord says that a good tree CANNOT produce bad fruit, not can a bad tree produce good fruit. This is not such a statement that should be understood to mean that a single sin proves someone is not saved and should be understood within the lens of inner spiritual warfare (which I have written on before, and may again). But without digging deeper into it, Christ's shocking point is clear. If you bear bad fruit, it is because you are a bad tree and bad trees will be thrown into the fire. This is how we will know those who claim to teach us (note that we are not given similar latitude in judging other believers, only those who would try to acquire followers). The good tree is not spared from the fire because it has good fruit. The good tree is spared from the fire because it is a good tree! That it has good fruit is merely the indicator of this internal fact.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

(Mat 7:21)
So here Jesus tells us that not everyone who claims to be His follower will be allowed into heaven, but only those who actually bear the fruit His followers WILL bear.

"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

(Mat 7:22-23)
They may perform miracles, but they also perform lawlessness which taints anything that may have been done with lip-service to God. They never had a personal relationship with Christ. He clearly says "I never knew you." Not "I knew you but then you left." Or "We never knew each other very well, what with you fishing on Sundays and all."Christ simply tells those who did not bear real fruit that He never really knew them. And then He banishes them from His presence into the outer darkness and fire. By their lawlessness (their bad fruit) it is apparent they were bad trees all along. God looks into their heart and He knows.

He closes with a parable:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

(Mat 7:24-29)
The house built on the sand may have been great with the name of Christ and wonderful works in it. It may have housed the poor and the needy and been filled with all sorts of good things. But there was sin in that house too. And no matter how great the house, if the foundation is false, it will fall. If your foundation is not the salvation that comes from sincerely calling upon the Lord of Hosts, what you build upon it is meaningless. That is the hard teaching our God has for us. If e do not build our lives on Christ, we are fools and all we have ever done will amount to nothing. The sooner we abandon our lifelong castle on the sand and move to the Rock, the more time we will have to build a new one which will withstand every storm.

Then are good works a part of salvation? No, no - a thousand times no. But they are the inevitable fruit. If we are truly saved, we will do the work of the Father and carry out His will.

See you next time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ye Must Be Born Again, pt 2

This is the second part of a blog post which began here.

The next concept of salvation I would like to turn to is repentance*. Do we need simply to trust in Christ, or must we also repent of our sins? If so, how successfully must we repent? If I repent of lying, but a week from now I tell another lie, did I repent successfully enough to be saved? What about 10 minutes from the moment of my salvation? Where is the line?

First, let's consider the Biblical basis for repenting (I choose only two passages among many).
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

(Act 2:37-38)
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

(Luk 13:1-5)

We will ignore the comment on baptism for the time being and focus on repenting of sins.

Imagine that you are standing in a very long tunnel, but very narrow. So narrow that you can only look to one side of the tunnel or the other. You have two options. Behind you, where you came into the tunnel, a great party is going on with then hang-overs still a long way off. In front of you, where you are currently contemplating going, is the God of the universe. To call on God, you must turn your back on sin - they are complete opposites.

CS Lewis compares feeling bad about a sin to a toothache. He recalls how, in his own childhood, when he had a toothache, he would hesistate to tell his mother. He knew that if he went to her, she would give him an aspirin and the relief he desired from the pain, but his mother would not stop at what she was asked for. He knew that he would have to go to the dentist and the dentist would not stop at simple pain relief; he would begin fixing everything. When we go to God for relief from the guilt of a particularly embarassing sin, we are met with an unpleasant reality. He will give us what we ask for and more besides. God does not bring a car into his shop to touch up the paint. He will change the oil, swap out the wiper blades, replace the bearings, install new brake pads and balance four new tires. Nothing leaves His shop short of perfect - even though we would like to. Repentance is when you realize what a miserable state you are in and turn away from your sin and turn to God. Shortly after our first scripture, Peter makes this clarification:

"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. "Moses said, 'THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. 'And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'

(Act 3:19-23 - emphasis mine)

 "Repent and return to God," he proclaims. "Then, rejuvinating energy will come from the presence of God, where you will dwell and the Lord will return quickly."

We then see it as an extension of what we already talked about. To call on God, you must believe that He exists, that He can save you and that He will save you. But you must also truly want to call on Him. You must know what He intends to do to you and accept it, in all of its glory. You must in your heart genuinely be willing to have your old self destroyed and replaced by God's perfection. That is repentance. It is not an idle sorrow or bemoaning, but a Godly sorrow. The kind of sorrow which causes action and change.

It is not possible to call on God and be saved while you are still living happily in your filth. We must realize our low, helpless estate before we will desire His hand to pulll us out and we must turn away from our lusts to turn to Him. If you were saved out of pride, conceit or a desire for attention, you were not really saved - you never really turned to God because you never really turned away from your sins. Duration of this repentance is a moot point. God needs only a moment to flood you with His life-giving Spirit and to transform you. Once you are saved, you will not be able to back to the filth from which you are pulled. You will constantly have the conviction of God bringing you back where you belong.

So then repentance is not something we are freed from, but something intimately tied up in calling on God to save us. But it must not be treated as a work, or as something different than faith.

Next time, we will still be on this topic. Feel free to leave your comments or questions.

* Repentance is church-speak which means 'to change course' or 'to return.' As repent has become a solely religious word, it has come to mean 'to regret sin'. I will use it only in the traditional sense.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ye Must Be Born Again, pt1

Happy New Year! After a hiatus during the holiday seson rush, I have resolved to blog every day in 2011 and hope you will join me in our journey through God's Word. On my last post, a question was posted in the comments, which I will endeavor to begin answering today.

Please clarify something for me:

I have been taught that salvation is the only way to heaven. But the quote-

"...he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter."

-seems to add onto that. Is it just that salvation is in God's will, or is it actually doing the things He would have you to do, as well as salvation?
The question, which appears to be relaively straight forward, actually opens a theologicxal can of worms (not to be mistaken with a can of theological worms. which would presumably house various heretics). We have walked into a much neglected difficulty. The Bible seems to prescribe different methods of salvation at different parts of the New Testament.  Picking a favorite version and clinging to that instead of harmonizing what the Bible teaches in total is a dangerous game I am not willing to play, but one which has lead to various divisions within the Christian community.

We will go forward on the principle of the Analogy of Scripture. Simply put, we find where the Bible is clearest and then use that filter to understand the second-clearest teaching, then the combination of these two to understand the third clearest and so on.

The clearest teaching of the Bible on salvation occurs three times - once in Hebrew and twice in Greek.

(Rom 10:13)
"And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

(Joe 2:32)

(Act 2:21)
Generally, when God uses almost exactly the same phrase three times, He intends for us to pay attention to it. In this case, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This passage does not say "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord and is baptized." It does not say "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord and thereafter does not commit any of the sins in Appendix B." It does not say "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord and is an upper-middle class Caucasian who regularly attends a church service where the King James Version of the Bible is used and an organ is played." Everyone means everyone.

But what does "calls" mean? Must we say a certain thing aloud? Does this mean that every person who is a professing Christian is saved? No and no. The original words in both Hebrew and Greek convey something entirely different from speech. Perhaps the clearest analog in our own lives is when a child calls on his father. Even if the sounds he makes are not real words, the child has intentioned in his heart to have his father save him and has in desperation made some noise vaguely like "Daddy!" When we call on the Lord, we need to be less like someone in a tract praying from a script and more like a child screaming for our Heavenly Daddy to help us, because we're hurt and we can't run anymore. We are helpless and need to be carried home.

We now turn to the context in Romans, where Paul speaks of the Jews - his ethnic people - who are lost in their sins. Certainly, the Jews who faithfully followed the Law of Moses were in some sense doing the will of the Father, but they missed the forest for the trees.

Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

(Rom 10:1-3)
If we attempt to be good enough on our own, our passion is misplaced. Here Paul dispels any hope we may have of salvation for all of the world religions. He clearly states, under the guidance of God, that ignorant zeal has not granted the Jews salvation. More importantly at the moment, this must inform our understanding of the method of salvation. The Jews and the Christians call upon the same God, aguably the Muslims as well. But two of these call in ignorance and are not saved. So simply calling on the name of the Lord in the usual sense clearly cannot be what Paul will mean in just a few lines. Last, we see in contrast to establishing our own righteousness "subject[ing] [ourselves] to the righeousness of God." To serve God, we must humble ourself before His goodness. We will keep that in mind as we carry on with our study.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

(Rom 10:4)
Here is another big theology idea. Verse 4 teaches that when we come to Christ, the law is no longer the vessel of ouyr righteousness. That is, no code of moral conduct will be our guide any longer. This should not be simplified to only the Law of Moses, because the point at hand here is giving up on the righteousness of our own actions and submitting to God's perfect righetousness. The word 'end' here implies a completion. Christ completes what righteousness by rules and regulations could not = he makes it perfect to everyone who believes. Believes in what? Why, the preceeding clause. If you believe that your righteousness is not your own, but God's - it is.

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.

(Rom 10:5)

If we truly follow God's commands, that will be our way of life, not just something we do. We cannot follow God's commands externally without keeping them internally. That is simply the way it works. He who keeps God out of his heart will not find God in his actions. This is very relevant to the question at hand, but we are not ready to approach it yet. We will return to this verse.
But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down), or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,

(Rom 10:6-8)

Since we are not as familiar with the Old Testament as Paul's target audience was, it will be instructive here to look at the passage Paul is alluding to: Moses' farewell address to the people of Israel.
"Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul. "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. "But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."

(Deu 30:9-20)
In context of the culture, Paul is likening complete salvation of the soul to a simple act of obediance. We need tot go up into heaven to bring Christ down to save us, or ascend to heaven for some special revelation. We need not go into Hell and conquer the grave ourselves. The simple formula for salvation is already in our hearts and our mouths - so plain that we can just claim it. Everything else has already been accomplished for us.

But, all of the other implications of that passage are before us as well. We have set before us life and death. Two paths diverge on this one central decision: We can accept Christ with the word already in our mouths, or we can reject Him. Life and prosperity or death and adversity. Blessing or curse. On this point we choose our side.  Paul continues - what is the word of faith already in our mouths?

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

(Rom 10:9-11)
Is the mute man then condemned to Hell? Of course not. "With your mouth" is an expression, indicating that you must not be ashamed of your change of heart, but proclaim it. Confess Jesus is Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead. Confess Jesus can save you, as your sovereign Lord and believe He has conquered the death from which He says He will save you.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

(Rom 10:12-13)
There, we see the erse in context, reaffirming what we already knew it said. To wrap up today's treatment of the topic, we see Paul address a version of our problem,. Need we believe, or only call?
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"

(Rom 10:14-15)
The answer is clear. We need only call - but to call sincerely, we must believe. To believe in truth, we must know. Pending tomorrow's investigation,let us suspect that a similar line of  reasoning will alleviate all 'different methods' and leave only the simple cry of faith.