Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan
is 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians
Today's scripture focus
is Romans 10:5-13
5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Faith is essential, absolutely essential.
And here, Paul starts by, once again, quoting from the OT. And basically Moses says, if you're determined that you're going to make it to heaven by keeping the law, then that's what you're bound by, and perfection is the requirement, and you've got to live that way all the time. Which is, of course, absolutely impossible. So, if that's the way you think you're going to get into heaven, good luck to you.
sums it up....
The man who pursues salvation by law keeping will stand or fall on that effort. Second, it is impossible to stand. Third, falling means eternal cursing. That's it. You put yourself under obligation to keep the law, you won't do it, you're cursed.
And then comes v6-8 which I find extremely confusing at first reading. Thankfully, MacArthur explains it well. First he starts by reviewing the fact that God chose Israel, redeemed Israel out of Egypt, and made a covenant with Israel - not because they deserved it, not because they fist loved Him, but because of His sovereign choice, His love, His grace.
Chapter 29 verse 9, the same idea, "Keep therefore the words of this covenant and do them that you may prosper in all that you do." In other words, be obedient to the words of this covenant. And why kind of covenant is it? It's a one-sided covenant, folks, did you get this? God determined to love you. God determined to call you. God determined to redeem you, make you His peculiar people for no good of your own but all of His mercy and grace. Now respond to that by obedience. That's the whole point of Deuteronomy, respond in obedience because of God's saving grace.
And based on that framework of grace, Paul paraphrases from Deuteronomy 30:11-14
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
Don't think that you have to respond to God by ascending into heaven or by descending into the deep to collect the truth. Don't think you have to go on some impossible journey. The righteousness of faith is available, verse 8, is near you. It's in your mouth, it's in your heart, it's been revealed. It's in the covenant of grace you simply believe and receive it.
You see, the Jews were trying to do the impossible. They were trying to ascend to heaven. That's what a work system does, save yourself, get up, crawl up to heaven on your own. Descend into the deep. Those are two kind of Jewish proverbs. In fact, to be high and afar off was a Jewish way of saying something is unattainable. Thou art high, it says of God, that art very high. It says of the wicked, God sees them afar off, that is there's no way to reach them. To the Jew to be high in the heavens or deep in the depths, to ascend to heaven, to go down to hell was to do what was impossible. So he reaches back to Deuteronomy 30 and says Moses says that the righteousness of faith is not available just for those who can do the impossible. It's available for anybody. It's right there. Rather than say Moses said, or Scripture says, he says the righteousness of faith speaks like this...don't think you've got to do the impossible, keep the law. Don't think you've got to scale your way to heaven by perfection, by some esoteric experience, by some philosophical speculation, by some legalistic effort you're going to vault yourself into heaven. You can't get the message that way.
And then Paul adds to the Deuteronomy passage these little parentheticals that are just marvelous in verse 6, "Don't say in your heart, Who can ascend to heaven? How can I attain it? Parenthesis, that is to bring Christ down." What does he mean by that? As if you had by your own effort to crawl up to heaven to accomplish the bringing down of the messenger. In other words, don't think you've got to go all the way up there as if to bring Christ down, He already came. Listen, works righteousness is a flat out denial of the incarnation. It says, "I've got to do it on my own, I've got to get up there, nobody ever came to do it for me."...And when you try to crawl up to heaven to gain your own righteousness and to crawl up into God's domain to gain the truth, you are denying the incarnation of the Son of God who brought it to this earth. You don't need to do that.
And, he says, in verse 7, who's going to...don't say in your heart, Who will ascend into the deep? Who can go way down, the opposite of the heaven? In other words, from one end of the universe to the other, who can attain these truths? Who can descend literally? Paul uses the word abyss, abussos, who can go into the bottomless? Who can go into the depths? Back in Deuteronomy the word used there has to do with the sea. But it's the same idea. Deep down in the caverns of the earth that hold the waters, deep down in the pit, the abyss, hell, the bottomless place, whatever you want to call it, it's the same concept. You don't need to go all the way into heaven to pull Christ down and you don't need to climb way down into the pit to find some truth. Why? Do you need to do that...I love this...to bring Christ back from the dead? That's the resurrection. What a thought. He has been deep in the pit. He has been as deep as the pit gets. He's been in the bottomless place. And right in the midst of hell's carnival when He was dying on the cross and His body was still there and they were celebrating His death, He greeted them in the pit and proclaimed His triumph over them.
So we learn from the words of Paul and Peter, He's been there and He came out. And the righteousness of faith says you don't have to go to heaven to bring Christ down, that denies the incarnation. And you don't have to go to the depths of the earth to bring Him up, that denies...what?...the resurrection. You see, a works righteousness system negates the work of Christ and that's what this whole point is saying. They were ignorant, yes, of the person of God. They were ignorant of the provision of Christ and of the place of faith and trying to go up to heaven and pull down the message and dig down into depths of some kind of experience into the other extremity and pull it up from there...was a denial that Christ had come and brought it to them and descended in to the pit and come back and claimed the victory. To seek to attain righteousness on your own is to deny both His incarnation and His resurrection. And the language of self-righteousness says God hasn't brought to us anything. The incarnation didn't bring us anything, there is no incarnation, there is no resurrection of Christ, there is no righteousness of faith, we've got to attain it by going to the heights and the depths. And all they're doing is denying Jesus Christ.
But Moses says, verse 8, what does it say, "What saith it? The word is near thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart, it's right there. You don't have to go anywhere to find it." God doesn't mock the sinner. God doesn't laugh at the sinner. God doesn't scorn the lost soul by mocking him with an offering of salvation that is utterly unattainable and expecting him to go on an impossible quest. Jeffrey Wilson writes, "The sheer perversity of unbelief is shown by the many who prefer to undertake an impossible odyssey rather than put their trust in an accessible Christ."
What does it say? It's near you...it's near you. How near? It's in your mouth. It's familiar to you. The message of salvation is familiar discussion. I mean, people even in our society are like those Jews to whom Paul speaks or refers here. We know the gospel, people in our society know the gospel. It isn't some foreign thing to them. It's common that Jesus came, common knowledge that He came, that He died, that He rose, everybody knows that. It's in their mouth. It's common discussion, it's familiar stuff. God has made the word of incarnation and the word of resurrection a familiar word. It's not only in your mouth, it's in your heart. People think about it. Jewish people read about it, heard about it, talked about it. The truth's familiar. What truth is it? Look at the end of verse 8, "It's the word of faith." The truth about salvation by faith, salvation by faith, salvation by believing not attaining.
And how do we receive this faith? The answer is in v9-10. By faith (believing in our hearts) and confession with our mouths. In v9 Paul's still referencing Deuteronomy 30 which talked about the mouth and heart and so he keeps them in that order here. But in v10 he reverses it because that's the actual sequence of salvation.
When you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, that God raised Him from the dead, and you confess it with your mouth, Christ's righteousness is imputed to you - you are righteous, you are forgiven, you gain access to God. You also receive salvation which means you've been saved from hell, redeemed from the pit, delivered from your sins. Both technically mean the same thing, but salvation focuses on the negative (what you've been saved from) and righteousness on the positive (what you've received, what you've become).
Salvation and righteousness comes from believing in your heart, in the very core of your being. What do you need to believe? That God raised Jesus from the dead. Why that? Because the resurrection confirms and proves everything else that Jesus said, did and claimed in His ministry.
In other words, the resurrection, the resurrection was the ultimate approval substantiation, verification of the ministry of Christ. It showed that He indeed was God in human flesh, able to conquer death, hell, Satan. It showed that He had lived a perfect life for death had no right to hold Him, there was no sin for which He must pay. It showed that He conquered death, all of that, that the Father approved of His work on the cross and took Him out of the grave and set Him at His own right hand.....The resurrection was the Father's stamp of approval, an infinitely holy God put His stamp of approval on the work of Jesus Christ. So when you say you are to believe in your heart that God hath raised Him from the dead,....that you believe in your heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, you're saying something that's far more than just believing in an isolated event. In essence, what you're saying is that you believe that this is the incarnate God who came into the world God in human flesh, lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary death, went into the grave and conquered death, came out the other side having purchased salvation for us, is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, some day will come as the Father's appointed judge and King to judge men and to rule the world forever. That's all bound up in the resurrection....
The resurrection says He is Son of God. The resurrection says He is Messiah, He is Savior. He is the ultimate lamb, the sacrifice for the sins of the world. He is the perfect one, the sinless one, the one exalted at the right hand of God, the one to be the judge, the one to be the King. The only Savior, the judge of all men, the conqueror of death, the coming King, the eternal monarch of glory, all of that is bound up in the resurrection. And that's what we're called to believe....
And it's not just believing the resurrection to be an historical fact, it's believing what the resurrection actually did, all that it meant, all that it implied.
It is when you see in the resurrection the divine verification of all that Jesus claimed to be and do, that's the issue. It's believing that.
Knowledge is not enough.
you can know what you have to know, you can believe what you have to believe, you can fear God's judgment, feel conviction for your sin, desire eternal life, be religious and go to hell. It has to be more than knowing, believing, fearing judgment, desiring forgiveness, eternal life, being religious....
True saving faith acknowledges Jesus as Lord...
Will you acknowledge Jesus as your sovereign ruler? That's the issue.
We need to fully submit every area of our lives to the lordship of Christ.
Who does this apply to? To whom is salvation available?
Absolutely. every. single. person.
And apparently the phrase in v 11 isn't "will never be put to shame" so much as to not be disillusioned or disappointed. The gospel will always accomplish the work God intends for it to accomplish.
But this gospel is available to everyone. Jew or Gentile - there is no difference. And, oh, was that so incredibly offensive to the Jews. They should have known it was true (they knew the story of Jonah, after all!), but they refused to accept it. But it is
true. Anybody who calls on the name of the Lord, anyone who believes God raised Christ Jesus from the dead and all that signifies, anyone who is willing to submit to His Lordship - they will be saved.
Tomorrow's scripture focus
: Romans 10:14-15
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage
passage: Acts 18:19 - 19:41