...if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
(the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 10, verses 9-13, NIV)
I heard this reading in church on Sunday, and I had to write to you, buddy. Surely there must be a mistake, brother Paul... maybe it was because you were writing this letter to the Romans, and not to us faithful folks. You're just watering down your message for those heathens, right?
I mean, come on ... don't I have to DO something? Don't I have to clean up my language, get holy as God is holy? Don't I at least have to come to church, sing in the choir, serve, tithe...do *something*?
And that word EVERYONE? Don't you mean everyone who comes to church, o wonderful apostle Paul, o former dispenser of the Law? Or everyone who believes as we believe? Folks who worship as we worship? The ones who use the right hymnal?
Didn't you mean to say, "everyone who is righteous?", Paul? The good folks - like us? The ones who pay our taxes and live good lives and send our kids to school? The respectable ones? I mean, what if we had to let the rifraf in? Those sinful folks, Paul? What kind of church would we have then?
And you really slipped a cog with putting the word "Gentile" in there, brother Paul! I mean, come on - those people are sinners, bubba - sinners with a capital "S"! They're disgusting! They eat filth, they don't know how to cleanse themselves, their very LIFESTYLES are abominations! We wouldn't even let them into the temple! We certainly wouldn't dare let them be priests or servants in worship! So if they can't even be a part of our church, how can they POSSIBLY get into Heaven?
But there it is. In our Scripture.
Believe in your heart, and you are saved.
No difference between observant Jew and disgusting Gentile. None. No wiggle room there. Their practices, much as we despise them, don't keep them out.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." No asterisk, no footnote, no escape clause, nothing. No matter what anyone else tells you, it's there in the Bible. The Bible we all profess as the inspired word of God.
And yes, even me.