Romans Miniseries Part 2
Being part of a family can be pretty awesome. You have the joy of the relationships in the family. You get to know everyone and everyone gets to know you. You’re part of something, you belong. And there’s also the pride of having that name and that history, along with the inheritance.
But some people don’t have the greatest of families. The fact is that none of us chooses the family we are born into. We have no say in our last name or our inheritance, if we get one. There are good fathers who treat their children right and there are bad fathers who squander the family wealth and inheritance and leave their children with nothing
God isn’t that way. He uses a completely different way to make his family. He doesn’t do it based on your background, where you grow up, you race or ethnicity. He does it based on your trust in him, your faith in the promise of his son Jesus.
It’s like getting into the best family you could possibly imagine. But you don’t have to do anything special. All you have to do is trust in God’s goodness and mercy to let you in. All you have to do is follow Jesus and obey him.
Back to Romans 9-11
We’ve looked at Romans 9 and how Paul deals with the chosen people, his people of Israel, not all being chosen. How God opened the doors to the Gentiles through his mercy even though they didn’t try to that like the Israelites did.
Now we’re going to look at Romans 10 and how he talks about getting into God’s family. It’s not what the Israelites thought, that they are simply descendents of Abraham, the first chosen person. Becoming chosen isn’t based on your heritage, background, or ethnic group.
We all join God’s family the same way Abraham did. Not based on what we are but based on choosing to trust in God’s promises. This is the only way to become one of his children and part of his family. This is how God chooses us because we trust in him.
Paul’s Hope (Romans 10:1)
We discussed in Romans 9 that these three chapters are all about Paul’s hope that his people, Israel, will come to God through Jesus Christ. All three chapters are colored by this hope. We see it once again in the opening verse of chapter 10.
Paul sees that his countrymen have fallen into the trap of thinking they can do the law to be part of God’s family. This is true but they have not had faith in God’s promises. They expect that when they do the law and fulfill God’s covenant that it’s good enough.
Paul tells us that his heart’s desire, his longing, is that his people will be saved into the family of God (Romans 10:1). He has been trying to talk himself through God’s sovereign choice of Abraham and Isaac, as well as Jacob.
But he also sees in his own ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles that God has opened the door for them to be part of his family as well. The only way this can happen is if people have to come to God through the promise of his son Jesus rather than their own genetics and ethnic origins. Just because the Jews are Jews doesn’t mean they are spiritual Israel.
Righteousness Versus Faith (Romans 10:2-7)
Paul now has to explain how his people as a nation have missed it. Don’t think Gentiles can’t miss it also. They never had a shot in history in the first place. They only come to God through his grace and faith in him. The problem is that the Israelites are caught up in following the law and making their own righteousness instead of trusting in God’s righteousness (Romans 10:2-3).
The Israelites are full of zeal but it is for a knowledge of their own righteousness rather than a knowledge of God’s righteousness in them. They followed the letter of the law thinking that was enough to make them righteous. They must put their trust not in their own ability to fulfill God’s law as a path to righteousness but God’s promise.
Isaac was the first promised son but not the last. Jesus was the final promised son, coming straight from God to finish God’s plan of salvation (Romans 10:4). Instead of making our own righteousness, Jesus came to put his righteousness on us. Instead of trusting in our own righteousness, we must put our trust in his righteousness.
Paul compares our own righteousness with the righteousness of Christ. He starts with the righteousness that comes from the law, the righteousness we think we can earn for ourselves by following every commandment to the letter.
Moses says that if we commit ourselves to gain righteousness through the letter of the law we are responsible to live by every law (Romans 10:5). This means there is no wiggle room for us to fail. Righteousness can only be gained by perfectly following every law. But no one in human history except for Jesus has ever done this.
Instead of relying on our own righteousness through the law that God gave, we can gain righteousness through faith in the promise of Jesus. We don’t need to worry about ascending into heaven based on our righteousness. We can leave that up to Christ through faith (Romans 10:6-7).
The Message of Faith (Romans 10:8-13)
Faith in Christ comes through the message of the gospel, the good news of Jesus. God’s Word is the foundation for faith in him. That is why we look to see what it says. Paul reminds us that God’s Word tells us that the word is near us, in our mouths and in our hearts (Romans 10:8).
What does that mean? Paul clarifies that the word that is near us is the word of faith. This is the word we believe in our heart and speak with our mouth to know Christ, to begin a relationship with him.
He outlines the way faith works in us to bring God’s salvation, whether we are Jews or Gentiles. This is how we become part of God’s family. Every part of it matters and every part of it must happen for God’s work to begin in us.
First, we confess with our mouth what we believe in our heart, that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). The resurrection of Jesus is the linchpin of faith. He died for our sins but was raised for the hope of eternal life. The forgiveness of sins followed by eternal life completes God’s plan of salvation.
- Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
- Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.
- You are saved.
What’s happening under the hood: we believe in our hearts and that trust, that faith in God that all of his promise is true is what justifies us. Belief in God justifies, not doing the works of the law (Romans 10:10). Then we confess our belief that Jesus is the Lord of our life and on the throne of our heart, confessing the salvation that has already happened in our life and heart (Romans 10:10).
And the great thing about salvation is that anyone who trusts in Jesus will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11). The law made a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Jews had the law of God to guide them but Gentiles relied on their consciences. Neither save the soul. We must trust in Jesus, God’s promised son.
But when we confess Christ as our Lord and believe in his work of redemption there is no distinction between any of us. Jesus is Lord over everyone who follows the process to be saved (Romans 10:12-13).
This is what Paul’s fellow countrymen lacked and had to do. Following the law to its letter would not lead to salvation unless they saw Christ as the end of the law (Romans 10:4). As long as they relied on their own ability their righteousness would never be enough. And this is why Paul longed for his people to hear and know the gospel that saves (Romans 10:1).
Ears of Faith (Romans 10:14-21)
this means that there is only one way to bring the opportunity of salvation, the message that brings hope, to everyone, including Paul’s people. People don’t believe in Christ because they haven’t heard of him (Romans 10:14).
They can’t call on God with their mouths or believe in their hearts if they don’t hear the message of salvation through the gospel. It requires the proclamation of the gospel, whether that is preaching or witnessing (Romans 10:14).
It is through proclaiming the gospel that people here and have the opportunity to believe in their hearts and speak with their mouths the confession of faith in Christ. But the preacher or proclaimer must be sent by God (Romans 10:15).
This is one of the reasons Paul always began in the synagogues in every city that he went to. And if the people did not believe after hearing (and he always saw a remnant of some who did) Paul would take the message to the Gentiles. Everyone deserves to hear the gospel no matter what their background, ethnicity, or life situation. God wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).
Just because people hear the gospel doesn’t mean they all believe it and obey it (Romans 10:16). That is the risk those who proclaim the gospel bear. Some will not believe in only a remnant will be saved. But it is not because Christ only offers to some. He offers to all but belief does not always happen every time the gospel is proclaimed.
The Jews heard the gospel through the law and the prophets throughout their history, and yet only a remnant of them believed. But hearing the word of Christ through the gospel is the only way to belief in him (Romans 10:17).
Paul asks two questions about the Israelites who have yet to believe in the gospel. Have they not heard or have they not understood (Romans 10:18-20). He says that they have heard because creation, the skies and heavens, crying out the truth of God’s proclamation from Psalm 19:4.
On the question of the understanding of unbelievers, especially Israel, Paul refers to Moses and Isaiah. In Moses’ song in Deuteronomy 32, God talks about how Israel made him jealous by turning to idols. They understood what they were doing.
So God said that he would turn to another nation (Romans 10:19). In history this probably referred to the exile but now may be used by Paul to refer to opening the gospel and the kingdom to the Gentiles.
Second, Paul quotes from Isaiah who prophesies that God turns to another people instead of his chosen people who have spurned him and ignored him from the beginning of Isaiah 65. This is the prophecy of God opening his arms to the nations, or the Gentiles.
Paul finishes with the God who opens his arms to a people who reject him, the chosen people he has carried along through the wilderness to the promised land all this time. But they have turned to other gods. The God who is rejected by the nation he made rejects them.
What a way to end this part of Paul’s argument! He leaves us in such a dark place that we have to come back for more and read Romans 11. No one wants to be left at a place where God has taken all of this time and effort to make for himself a people that reject him completely.
But don’t worry. There is hope and it is coming in Romans 11. Tune in next time to look at Romans 11 and see how Paul begins to resolve the situation between Jews and Gentiles through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the making of his great Church.