The Book of Romans
The emphasis of chapters eight and nine was God’s sovereignty with respect to man’s salvation. The focus of chapter ten deals with man’s responsibility or man’s freedom to accept or reject God’s way of salvation. God’s sovereignty and Man’s responsibility are both taught in the Word of God. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility do not compete but cooperate. If God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility seem to human intellect to be contradictory it is because human intellect is not capable of fully understanding God’s thoughts and ways. Romans 11:33, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Paul’s desire to see his people, the nation of Israel, saved and his description of Israel’s present spiritual condition teaches three great truths concerning man’s responsibility for accepting God’s way of salvation. 1) Israel is lost because of her rejection of God’s way; 2) Israel’s remedy is the same as the Gentiles; and 3) Man’s responsibility is the same for both Jew and Gentile.
I. Israel is Lost, Vs. 1-4
- V 1, Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. Paul’s desire and prayer shows that Paul saw that his people were in rebellion against God in that they would not accept the righteousness God offers in Christ. Israel had a God given religion, but they needed to be saved. They had religion but not righteousness. They were religious but did not have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Because of their religion they did not feel the need for salvation.
- V 2, For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. Ever since Israel’s release from Babylonian captivity the nation has worshipped the only true God and has tried to establish righteousness as taught in the law. But their zeal was not based on knowledge. They were sincere and committed, but sincerity and commitment will never save the soul. Romans 3:20, Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
- V 3, For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Israel was ignorant of God’s righteousness, not because they had never been told, but because they refused to learn. The ignorance that Paul refers to was willful, stubborn resistance of the truth. They would not submit to God’s sovereignty. They were proud of their own good works and religious self-righteousness and would not admit their sins and trust in God’s Savior, Jesus Christ.
- V 4, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. “ End” means fulfillment, that is, Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the law. It can also mean “goal” or Christ was the object to which the law led, Israel was ignorant of God’s righteousness because they failed to comprehend what the law was intended to do. The law reveals sin and shows that people cannot establish their own righteousness by keeping the law. Christ came and fulfilled the law, then offered mankind His righteousness through faith in Him.
II. Israel’s Remedy the same as the Gentiles, Vs 5-12
- V 5-8, For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach. There are two kinds of righteousness, by works or by faith. Man righteousness can never measure up to God’s righteousness. There is no need for anyone to ascend into heaven to bring down Christ and there is no need to ascend into the deep so that Christ might be resurrected. Paul is saying that God’s sovereign plan of salvation is complete. Everything that needs to be done has all ready been done. Mankind cannot add one thing to God’s sovereign plan of salvation.
- Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30:10-14 to demonstrate that righteousness by faith is not inaccessible. Deuteronomy 30:10-14, If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. The emphasis is on the heart, the inner condition, and not mere outward acts of obedience. God’s righteousness is as near as a person’s mouth and heart. All that one must do, from the heart, is repent, trust in the salvation work of Christ, and confess that belief.
- V 10-12, For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. Paul is saying that man needs to bring into agreement his confession and his life. It is with the heart that an individual believes. Reference to the “heart” refers to the total personality, the entire being. When an individual makes a public confession of faith they need to be sure that their heart is in agreement with what is coming out of the mouth. Paul emphasizes the universality of salvation. There is no distinction between the Jew and the Gentile, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” For the Jew and the Gentile to be saved they must all come to Christ the same way, by faith.
III. Man’s Responsibility the same for both Jew and Gentile, Vs. 13-21
- V 13-20 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. Man’s responsibility in God’s plan of salvation is two-fold. 1) Both Jews and Gentiles have a responsibility to call on the name of the Lord in order to be saved. 2) Both Jews and Gentiles who are saved have a responsibility to share the Word with the unsaved.
- V 21, But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. Isaiah 65:2, I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts. While Israel has been set aside, individual Jewish people can and are being saved. God’s favor of the Gentiles did not change God’s love for the Jews. God is long suffering. II Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God sovereign will is that the Gospel is to be shared with both Jews and Gentiles. God is long suffering not willing that any should perish. God’s sovereign plan is that salvation is only through the salvation work of Jesus Christ. Man righteousness is nothing compared to God’s righteousness. Man’s responsibility is that all must come to Christ the same way, by faith, trusting in the salvation work of Jesus Christ.
Created and Researched by Pastor Dennis Baker
Zion Baptist Church
3485 New Baumgartner Rd. - St. Louis, MO 63129 - Phone: 314-846-1867