God doesn’t expect from us what only Christ could do. From us He expects faith in that very work.
Romans 10:6-8 “But the righteousness based on faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘‘Who will descend into the abyss?’’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim).”
Paul is using popular phrases of the day, which was also a quote from Deuteronomy 30:11-14, to further make his point that man cannot do the impossible, that is, save himself. Paul is basically telling his readers that God isn’t expecting them to do the things that only Christ can do, i.e. ascension and resurrection. You can see the hyperbole here: trying to save yourself is as easy as ascending into heaven or coming back from the abyss, and thankfully that is not what is expected of us. No, the “righteousness based on faith” knows that Christ has come near you (He came down from heaven); He has come near you (He was raised from the dead), and all so that you would believe on Him and live.
Study/Meditation: How is trying to achieve salvation on your own merit comparable to trying to ascend into heaven or descend into the abyss? What solution has our loving Father provided us?
*Father, thank You for not expecting me to do what I have no ability to do. Thank You for bringing me into fellowship with You. Amen.
God requires perfection; therefore, we require Jesus.
Romans 10:5 “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on that law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.”
There is but one standard by which anyone can enter into the presence of the Almighty, and that standard is perfection. Jesus said, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) This standard was true in the Old Testament (Numbers 4:11; 20:12), and it is proclaimed as true in the New Testament (Galatians 5:3). As Paul quotes from Leviticus 18:5 in today’s verse, he is reminding his readers that keeping the commandments perfectly has always been the prerequisite to eternal salvation. No one, save the One, has ever done that, could ever do that. This is the reason why the law as given in Leviticus was followed by enumerable sacrifices instituted to attempt atonement when these laws were broken—“when” these laws were broken, not “if”. The Law of Moses was given to point all people to Christ, the only One who would keep it to the letter and then sacrifice Himself for His children who could never do so. God never meant for the Law to be attempted and then slide us in on good behavior. It had to be kept, to the letter, for entrance into heaven. Our inability to do that was always meant to point us to Christ.
Study/Meditation: Why were the sacrifices of the Old Testament still inadequate for atonement? Why was Jesus’ atonement the only one that would satisfy God’s requirements?
*Father, You are righteous and holy, and only Jesus lived perfectly. Thank You for His sacrifice so that I might live, too. Amen.
Obedience is the fruit of justification, not the root of it.
Romans 10:3-4 “For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
It’s a difficult task to convince someone that being good enough is the wrong way to attain eternal salvation. After all, doesn’t it follow that conforming our lives into God’s perfect righteousness is exactly what a righteous and holy Lord would want? That was precisely the argument Paul was facing with his Jewish brethren. His answer as to their ignorance about true knowledge is given in the fourth verse, but he also addressed it in Romans 3:21-22 and particularly in Philippians 3:8-9, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” When we start to add our attempts at righteousness to Christ’s perfect righteousness as a means to salvation, we diminish the complete work of God’s Son on our behalf. Truly, our imperfect obedience is the fruit of our justification, not the root of it.
Study/Meditation: Look again at Romans 3:21-22. What has Paul already taught in regards to the righteousness of God and the truth of it? How is obedience to the law still important for the believer?
*Father, thank You for the complete righteousness of Christ that was imputed to me for my salvation. Your mercy is beyond measure. Amen.
The only sincere belief that saves is the sincere belief in Jesus Christ as Savior.
Romans 10:2 “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”
What Paul is making clear to his Jewish brethren and is extremely important for us today is that sincerity of beliefs will not save you. Well intentions and zealous spirituality or religion will not result in eternity in heaven, unless these are rooted and founded in Jesus Christ. Today we often think that God will accept the sincere efforts of well-meaning folk, no matter what form those efforts take, just as long as they are sincere. Paul tells us that this zealous behavior is not according to knowledge that saves. We must not sacrifice right teaching and correct doctrine for sincere beliefs or practices. God’s Word is explicit in its account of saving knowledge, and this is only in Christ. Nothing outside of God’s Son saves, no matter how well you believe it.
Study/Meditation: Why is diligently seeking God not enough? What is the only way to truly and diligently seek Him?
*Father, the only way to You is through Jesus Christ. Thank You for His sacrifice that made the way for me to live in eternity with You. Amen.
Believers should long for all men to be saved and know the love of Jesus.
Romans 10:1 “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.”
What is the correct response to the plight of unbelievers in the face of the knowledge of God’s sovereignty? Do we simply say, “Well, God is in control. There’s nothing I can do.”? Or should our responses be akin to that of the Apostle Paul, who has just spent the entirety of Chapter 9 teaching that God is sovereign over salvation? Shouldn’t our response be like his for a world that does not know God? John Piper uses the following illustration to make this point: What if a plague had ravaged the human population and you knew that your neighbor had not received the vaccination that would save his life? Wouldn’t it be correct for you to inquire as to why he hadn’t gotten it? Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to convince him to get the very medicine that would cure him from certain death? We do not know God’s will for the lives of every man. We only know the charge we were given by Christ, to preach the Gospel to the entire world. We also know from examples like Paul that our hearts should rightfully break over those who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior and that we should burn with a desire to share with them the only means to life—Jesus Christ.
Study/Meditation: Read what Paul writes later in Chapter 10, verses 13-15. What does he teach about our responsibility in spreading the Gospel to all peoples?
*Father, give me a heart that longs for the salvation of the lost. Give me a longing to spread the Good News to my neighbors and family. Forgive me when I fail, but help me continue to try. Amen.
Jesus is the Cornerstone. All who believe in Him will be saved.
Romans 9:32b-33 “They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’”
“Cornerstone” is a popular reference to Jesus in the Bible. The New Testament writers refer to Psalm 118:22 which names Christ as the rejected cornerstone. Then Paul and Peter tell their readers in the New Testament that our “Cornerstone” has become the “Stumbling Stone” to many. Why does Jesus’ very existence as our Savior cause so many to stumble? The answer comes in His very own words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) It is offensive to natural man to be told that he cannot get to God on his own terms, that his sin is so detestable that he needs a Savior like Jesus to eradicate his sin. It is also offensive to man to think that there aren’t many ways to God. Popular ideas state that there are a myriad of ways up the mountain and that one need only find his or her path to heaven in order to be gladly greeted there. The teaching Paul is presenting to the Jews and to us in this passage says that this is not true and it offends human nature at its core. However, we must know this above all else: Jesus plus anything else equals hell. Jesus alone, grace alone through faith alone brings eternity with God. “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”
Study/Meditation: In what specific ways have you seen today’s society stumble over the Cornerstone? Why do you think this is so?
*Father, thank You for Your Son, the Cornerstone, who supplied the only way that I can live in eternity with You. Amen.