…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 the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)
On Saturday afternoon, Grace Church Southall spent the afternoon on the streets of Southall sharing the Good News (Gospel) that “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). But not only did we as a church share this Gospel, we also enthusiastically invited local people to a special evangelistic service which was held the Sunday after.
There was one particular conversation I felt I must write on. It was with a Muslim man called Mohammed who lives directly opposite the church on Kingston Road. As my wife and I knocked on his door to speak with him and invite him, he took one of our invitation cards and read the words aloud ‘Can Jesus Really Change My Life?’ in a casual sort of way.
He then turned to me and said “who is Jesus?” Just as I was about to respond to his question, he quickly threw another question at me: “what is His name?” As I prepared to respond to this question, he again changed the direction of the conversation and began answering his own questions. After some dialogue, I recognised the point he was trying to make. His problem was with the name ‘Jesus’. He could not understand why Christians called Him ‘Jesus’. Furthermore, he suggested that ‘Jesus’ would not and could not hear us because we were calling Him by a different name to what he had in mind. Was Muhammed suggesting Jesus was limited in His ability to hear and respond?
I have a few thoughts on this; despite the fact that I am no etymologist (specialist in the study of words and their history). Granted that Jesus would not have been addressed in the way we would pronounce the name today in English i.e. Jesus (Jee-zuz). It is more likely that it would have been Yeshua or something like that. However, it should then also be noted that Jesus would not have been addressed in Arabic either (Isa) since this language really only spread during the 6th and 7th Centuries A.D.
Various languages have pronounced the name in slightly different ways. For example: Arabic: Isa; Hebrew: Yeshua/Joshua/Jeshua; Greek: Iēsous; Latin: Iesus. However, the point behind this response is to highlight a major and fundamental flaw in the argument of those who claim that God only responds to a particular language.
Consider the Scriptures for a moment:
“…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.” (Romans 10:9)
No constraint, criteria or complaint is placed against the person who truly obeys the above verse. God simply calls for a confession and a belief in the person and saving work of Jesus. Consider another verse below:
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)
Again, the Scriptures are clear as stated above. It does not say everyone who calls on the name of the Lord in English, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew or Hindi will be saved. Consider the words of Jesus for a moment:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
These are the words of Jesus Himself. Salvation is based on the saving work of God; not on our ability to pronounce or use a particular language. Finally, consider the New Testament Apostle Peter’s words:
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)
The ears of the Lord are open to the righteous; not to the well spoken or linguist. Verse after verse after verse confirm the simple truth that salvation is based on God’s mercy; not man’s ability.
I think Muhammed’s problem is that he think’s he can earn his way into God’s favour.
May the Lord give you ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to respond to His divine command to believe in His Gospel. Whoever you are and wherever you may be, I urge you to call on the name of the Lord. The God of the Bible is mighty to save.