Summary: This is the eleventh message in a series over Romans 6-11. The series examines how we now live under God's grace. This looks at how the responsibility for the choices in our lives weigh on our own shoulders.
"The buck stops here" is a phrase that was popularized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office. The phrase refers to the fact that the President has to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions. Truman received the sign as a gift from a prison warden who was also an avid poker player. The expression is said to have originated from poker, in which a marker or counter (a knife with a buckhorn handle during the American Frontier era) was used to indicate the person whose turn it was to deal. If the player did not wish to deal he could pass the responsibility by passing the "buck", as the counter came to be called, to the next player. However, this concept has begun to fade from the American landscape, more and more people refuse to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. The truth is that it is easier to blame someone else than to take responsibility for your actions. As we come to Romans chapter 10, Paul will clearly place the responsibility for man’s sinful and lost condition squarely where it belongs. The responsibility for man’s sinful condition squarely rests upon the shoulders of each of us. We cannot hide behind God’s sovereignty or blame the devil, the buck stops with us. By using the example of his own people, he clearly shows that they only reason someone will be lost is to willfully reject the Gospel. As we make our way through this passage, we will discover that there is no passing the buck or excuses. The responsibility for our condition before God rests with us.
I. Understanding why God rejected His chosen people.
A. The people of Israel had great zeal for God but it was misplaced.
1. Paul longed for his fellow Jews to come to salvation in fact, he prayed for this on a regular basis.
2. They worked hard to obtain God’s favor by their works without realizing that this was beyond their ability.
3. The error of the Jewish people was that they strived to please God based on their own merit rather than by faith.
4. Paul modeled this Jewish zeal before he met Christ, his actions showed that righteousness was something we achieve instead of something God gives.
5. The Jews were consistently missing the mark because they were working too hard to become righteous.
B. Although the Jewish people had good intentions it was not enough to save them.
1. Just because we have good intentions when we start something in no way guarantees that the results will be good.
2. Having good intentions does not guarantee that someone will follow through and act upon them.
3. Good intentions in no way guarantees that we will love God with all our heart, soul and mind.
4. Many people who claim they have the best of intentions will never succeed in making anything more than a half-hearted attempt.
C. Paul will support his point in this chapter with four indisputable facts.
1. The Jews had possessed God’s word for centuries and had anticipated the arrival of the Messiah for centuries.
2. God has made salvation available to everyone, not just to a select few.
3. There will always be those who will refuse to accept the Gospel message about Jesus Christ.
4. Despite the continued unbelief displayed by people the Gospel message is still being offered.
II. Understanding our responsibility before God.
A. Since God has made the Gospel available to everyone, each one of us is responsible.
1. Even in Moses’ day God did not hide the Law from them, He made the message available to everyone.
2. In fact, Paul is showing that doing the will of God is not out of our reach which was an argument that many try to use.
3. The word that Moses spoke was to be obeyed, the word that Paul speaks must be believed.
4. Normally the Greek word for “word” is logos but here the word used is rhema to refer to the message that Paul presented.
5. The point is that the Gospel Message and salvation is not beyond the reach of anyone.
B. The Gospel is offered freely so each person is held accountable by God to accept or reject it.
1. The Gospel will replace the fear and uncertainness that exist in our hearts with bold confidence because our hope and trust rest on the promises of God.
2. The message is offered to both Jew and Gentile, both groups continually struggle with the problem of sin and are in need of God’s gift of salvation.
3. God does not pick and choose who will have the opportunity to be saved, it is freely made available to everyone.