Summary: Making Romans 10 applicable to today is crucial to understanding salvation. The context includes salvation, evangelism, and Israel’s obstinate rebellion.
In this chapter Paul continues his explanation of what happened to Israel. Last week in chapter 9 we learned that God hardened their hearts because they were not pursuing God’s righteousness but their own. And just as God chose Israel to be his people as a light to the gentiles, He has now chosen the gentiles to be his people to make Israel jealous so they will come back to him.
So what? What does this have to do with us today? I’m glad you asked!
What happened to Israel can become our story if we do not learn the lessons it teaches us.
The point of chapter 10 centers on the definition of righteousness and how it is spread to others. How is sinful man made right with Holy God? Here in Rom. 10 once again we have the way of righteousness explained.
Paul says, "There’s two kinds of righteousness taught in the Bible: One by Law and One by Faith.
Here is the description of them in order. Righteousness by law is put this way... "The man who does these things will live by them" Lev. 18:5
In other words, being righteous by the law requires that you keep the law and you will have life. No problem, right? Everybody can understand that. Do what the law says and live, right? Just do it correctly and it will work, right? The only problem is… we can’t do it.
Mark 10:17f tells about when a rich young ruler once came to Jesus and said, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered, "No one is good but God..." (That was a strong hint about how many of us are good.) Then Jesus said, “Keep the commandments.” The rich young ruler said, "Which ones?" An observant reader said, “How Jesus kept from laughing, or crying, I’ll never know.” But Jesus answers him by quoting several of the commandments. Then the rich guy says, "All these I’ve kept from my youth, is there anything else?"
Had this man really kept all the Laws of God? No. But did he think that he had? Yes! He was very confident in HIM... self. But it seems that he really knew that his life was not as secure as he wanted it to be. So he asked... “Is there anything else?”
This scene pictures the nation of Israel described by Paul quite well: Self righteous in legalism, but blind to the real meaning of the law. When we listen to Jesus in Matt 5-7 He peals back the surface of the law to expose what those laws really mean. The one about adultery... guess what? Even if you look with lust, you just broke that one. And the one about murder? Hating puts you in the same boat. And the one about loving your neighbor but hating your enemy... Well, check out that reference in the Law again, because it never said “hate your enemy.” In fact, the whole point of the law is to reveal the holy character of your father in heaven who, by the way, is good to all humanity. The point of the law is to show you what God is like. God’s law reveals God’s character. We who sin are flawed at reflecting that character!
Has anyone ever fully kept the law of God? Only one. Jesus. That’s why Jesus is the end of the Law. The fulfillment of the law. He is the only one who has ever kept it.
It seems that the Jews who pursued righteousness in the way of the Law did not submit to the righteousness from God that is by faith.
The righteousness that is by faith is described in 6-13 (read)
Now let me see if I can put these pieces together so that we understand what is going on here.
Righteousness by faith has to do with these things:
1. Christ coming from heaven
2. Christ being raised from the dead
3. Our mouth confessing that He is Lord
4. Our hearts believing that He was raised from the dead
Salvation is for anyone who trusts him and everyone who calls on his name.
How I wish we could look at this and see the glorious beauty of the gospel of God’s grace. How I wish that this passage were not so abused by some who use it to strip away baptism or obedience from the gospel.
If we could only come to this text the way it was written, we would see that what God has give us here is a righteousness that He paid for Himself because we couldn’t. He has made us right by sending us the One who fulfilled the law that we could never keep. Our righteousness is by faith because we didn’t do it!