A Wrong Understand about the Righteousness of God (Romans 10:1-4)
Concern for Your Religious Neighbor
Many of our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors are religious but ignorant about God’s righteousness. Ignorance does not mean that they are lacking in intelligence but are lacking in knowledge and understanding. Paul is concerned for the Jewish people as we should be concerned for those closest to us. We must (like Paul) have a desire for their salvation and pray to God for their salvation.
The End of the Law
The law was never meant to save anyone. Paul clearly pointed out in (Romans 3:1,19-20) that the Jew being under the law had an advantage over the Gentile because its purpose is to keep one from boasting. The law brings the knowledge that we have sinned. Once a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ the laws purpose has come to its end. The Gentile was never under the law, it was the Jew who was under the law; therefore, the Jew had this advantage. Nor does the Gentile come under the law after conversion as some believe. In Christ, both Jew and Gentile are not without the law of God but under the law of Christ. (1 Cor. 9:21) The law of Christ is Christ. This is not to say that we should ignore the Old Testament. The Old Testament should be interpreted in light of Christ.
Righteousness Based on Faith for Whoever Believes (Romans 10:5-13)
Who Will Ascend to Heaven and Who Will Descend into the Abyss?
Paul is very powerful in his use of Old Testament Scripture but take note that he does so in light of Christ. He begins by sighting the wrong Jewish understanding of Leviticus 18:5 and uses Deuteronomy 30:11-14 to argue against this wrong way of understanding righteousness. Romans 10:6-10 is Paul’s exegesis of Deuteronomy 30:11-14 in light of Christ. In (Dt. 30:12) Moses speaking about law or word tells Israel, “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?”. Paul changes law or word to Christ (law and word are synonymous). John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In (Dt. 30:13) Moses speaking about law/word tells Israel “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?” Paul sighting the Septuagint says, “descend into the abyss” and again changes law or word to Christ. In (Dt. 30:14) Moses tells Israel, “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.” After making it known that the law or word is Christ he expounds on this saying, “that is the word of faith which we are preaching?” Jesus Christ is to be preached and trusted in and not the works of the law!
The Word of Faith is for All People
Paul then goes back to Isaiah 28:16 which he had previously sighted in (Rom. 9:33), the stumbling block and rock of offense. Paul clearly makes known that the stumbling block and rock of offense is Christ and he says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” The point Paul is making here is WHOEVER! Paul emphasizing WHOEVER speaks of their being no difference between Jew and Gentile and binds the Isaiah passage with Joel 2:32, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The very same passage that Peter sighted in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost when he was preaching to Jews (cf. Acts 2:21).
Responsibilities (Romans 10:14-21)
Someone must be sent to preach the gospel
The gospel is the greatest news in the history of the world, but it does no good if you do not have the opportunity to respond. In this text Paul provides a rhetorical chain of questions that would have appealed to the recipients of this letter and is a very sound logical argument even in the modern church. Imagine that there is a relative of yours that you do not know, nor have you ever heard about. This relative was a rich man but he lived as a popper. He died with 10 million dollars in the bank and left you his entire fortune. If you don’t know, are you going to be able to use the money? First, you have to hear the news. Second, the news must come by a messenger. Third, the messenger must be sent.
The hearer has the responsibility to repent and believe
Being sent to preach the gospel to the lost is no guarantee that they will believe. Paul sites Isaiah 52:7, then he comes back to the fact that someone must first hear about Jesus to have faith in Jesus less they give up preaching. “Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ,” this should be on the minds of every Christian regarding our neighbors.
Admonition against unbelief
Paul quotes Psalm 19:4, then he returns to the theme of the unbelieving Jews. In Romans 3:1 Paul asked what advantage the Jew had over the gentile. The answer that he gave (Romans 3:2) is that they have the Scriptures. These unbelieving Jews had all the advantages over the Gentiles by having the Scriptures. Paul quotes Moses and Isaiah. The Scripture was known as the law and the prophets; by siting Moses and Isaiah he is saying the totality of Scripture testifies against them. The gentiles who did not have the Scriptures believed when they heard about Jesus Christ. Romans 10:18-21 is an admonition against the unbelief of those who have access to the Scriptures and have heard the gospel. Keener said:
Psalm 19:4 refers in context to the testimony of creation. If Paul refers to the context and is not simply making an analogy, it may be relevant that Jewish teachers often grappled with the question of whether Gentiles who had not heard the truth could be held responsible for it. They concluded that Gentiles could at least infer the oneness of God from creation and thus should avoid idolatry [c.f. Rom. 1:19-20]. The Gentiles may not have heard all of Christ’s message (Rom. 10:17), but creation itself made them hear enough of it to be responsible for doing right. The Jewish Diaspora had more knowledge than the Gentiles had; having the law, they had every reason to believe, and word about Christ had already begun to penetrate most Jewish centers of the ancient world.
Who is responsible?
God made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them (Ps 146.6). God created man (male and female) in His own image (Gn 1:27). A day and an our is coming in which God will judge the world in righteousness (Ps 96:13). The unrighteous will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Mt. 25:31-46) “When I come to understand that on the cross Jesus took the wrath of God I deserved (Rom. 5:9) and averted it for me (Rom. 3:25) so I could have his righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21), this unavoidably leads me to an understanding that he also has averted it for every human being on the planet (1 John 2:2), and that righteousness is available for all who repent and believe (Phil. 3:9).”John Piper said: “No one who enjoys the forgiveness of Jesus can be content to hog it for himself. He is not the propitiation for our sins only. There are other sheep that are scattered throughout the whole world. Their sins, too, are covered. And the last commandment of Jesus was “Go make disciples out of them from every people.”
Some questions to consider
Do all people have access to the Scriptures and the gospel? How will they repent and believe if they do not know the good news? How will they know the good news unless someone delivers the good news to them? How will they deliver the good news unless they are sent? All Christians must be involved in missions whether they are the ones going or they are the ones sending. How are you currently involved in missions?