It’s good to pause every now and then and explain why we do what we do in this thing we call the ‘sermon’ each week. During the preaching portion of our Sunday morning gathering we employ and enjoy a style of preaching called expositional preaching. Which means that the preacher doesn’t aim at saying anything new but only seeks to say what God has already said, such that the point of the text in view, for that week, is the point of the sermon. In this sense the preacher must make it his aim to be a server, who’s tasked with taking the Chef’s meal and bringing it to the table without adding to it, taking away from it, or changing it in any way, shape, or form. In this way, we seek to sit underneath the authority and illumination of the Scripture, rather than using the Scripture to support our own message. If this is done, the text will be rightly handled, man will be both humbled and encouraged, and God will be glorified. We believe this is done best not randomly but orderly, as we work through books of the Bible. So, when we come to specific passages week after week we come to them in their own context, having already examined the verses that come before while also anticipating the verses that come after.

This is our goal, we don’t do it perfectly, but we do aim to be faithful handlers of God’s Word. Let’s pray that God would come now and aid in this.

As was just mentioned, when we move through the Scriptures it is essential to remember the context of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. So, as we once again find ourselves in Romans 10, we cannot forget the large argument of Romans 9-11 which we’re now in the middle of. This three chapter section is something of a response to the first eight chapters of Romans as Paul seeks to instruct us on what role the Jew and Gentile has in the history of redemption. That’s the big picture going on in these three chapters.

But, zooming in a bit, today we come to Romans 10:5-13, and thus, we cannot forget what Paul has just said in 10:1-4. There, not for the first time, Paul speaks on the theme of righteousness. That as zealous and religious as the Jews were and are they not only were ignorant of God’s righteousness, but they sought to establish their own righteousness, ultimately showing their refusal to submit to God’s own righteousness. v4 then tells us where God’s righteousness is revealed and most clearly seen, “For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Having laid this groundwork on righteousness, the Law, Christ, and believing in Him…Paul now expands on these very things in v5-13. I do think v5-13 is simply Paul expanding on all that is contained in v4. But see how he does it. First he brings a contrast before us, between Law and faith. Second he moves on to our common confession, and thirdly he delightfully lists out the magnificent and splendid consequences that come our way in the gospel. So, I’ve titled this message, ‘Gospel Threads’ because all of what Paul says here leads to the gospel, speaks of the gospel, and displays the gospel of the Lord Jesus. See first…

A Contrast (v5-8)

“For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 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)…”

Immediately after speaking of Christ being the end and purpose of the Law in v4, Paul goes straight into a contrast between the righteousness based on Law and the righteousness based on faith. Do you notice how he personifies each of these two as if they can speak? That’s the contrast, what the righteousness based on Law says (v5-7) verse what the righteousness based on faith says (v8). Look at v5. Paul goes to Moses, specifically where Moses writes about the commandments of God in Leviticus 18:5, “…if a person does them, he shall live by them…” Once again, Paul is reaching back to the OT using this verse to point out what is truly intended by God in the Law. If you perfectly obey the Law, and keep the Law, at every point, for all time, you will find life through your obedience. This is salvation by works, and, it’s possible. If, our works are perfect. That’s what he’s saying in v5. That’s what the righteousness based on the law says. See then the contrast in v6, where he states what the righteousness based on faith says. While Paul reached back to quote Leviticus 18:5 before, now in v6-8 he reaches back and quotes Deut. 30:12-14.

But before I go into it, you should know many people are uncomfortable with what Paul does here. They see him going back and quoting Deut. 30 and inserting Christ into it. See the brackets? Those words Paul puts in brackets aren’t there in the original OT quote, they’re Paul’s own additions he makes to explain his point. Some have said Paul is adding to Scripture here. Some have said Paul’s work with Deuteronomy is fanciful, or underhanded. Some say Paul is crossing a line he shouldn’t cross by putting Jesus into a text He has no business being in. Still others seem to have a bigger problem, saying Paul is pitting Moses against Moses here, as if what Moses says in Lev. 18 is different than or in contradiction with what Moses says in Deut. 30. What do we do with this? Do we throw our hands up and conclude Paul to be a snake oil salesman? And from that do we conclude that we can no longer trust the Bible? Of course not.

Remember one grand reality. Paul is not writing on his own. God the Holy Spirit is carrying him along and inspiring him to write these very words. When we remember this, all these ‘issues’ are handled. If Paul really were writing on his own, and doing whatever he wanted to do, we’d have problems. But that the Scripture itself says the NT is inspired or breathed out by God, means we should trust what it says. Even if we can’t understand the connections being made by the authors. So, with this in mind then, let’s go back to the question. What is Paul doing with his use of the OT here? Well, I think he’s aiming at both Jew and Gentile in Romans 10, trying to convince us of gospel truth, and to do so he goes back to Lev. 18 and Deut. 30 and reads it and interprets it in light of Christ. Lev. 18:5 really is true. If we were to keep all the Law, all the time, we would find life, in every meaning of the term. But, Paul knows that none of us can keep the Law, so he goes to Deut. 30 to urge us away from the righteousness based on Law, and to urge us toward the righteousness based on faith.

See how he does it in v6-8. The righteousness based on faith does not require anyone to work their way up to heaven through obedience to the Law, for God has already sent Christ down to us from heaven. Nor does the righteousness based on faith require anyone to work to bring Christ up from the grave, for God has already raised Christ from the dead. In other words, the righteousness based on faith isn’t a call to come and do, but a call to trust in what God has already done in Christ. v8 then rightly says, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart…” Church, who is the Word? The Lord Jesus, identified in John 1 as the Word of God, who was in the beginning, who was with God, and who was God. Who, in the fullness of time, became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word, Christ that is, is now truly near us. As God once made Himself and His ways known to Israel through the Law by bringing His commandments near to them, so now He has made Himself and His ways known to Jew and Gentile by Christ coming near to us.[1]

Or, in light of v4 and Christ being the end and purpose of the Law we could say, God’s Word is now near His people in a way it has never been before.[2] So, while the righteousness based on the Law says “Work your way to God” and leaves us despairing because we can’t…the righteousness based on faith says, “The work has been done by Christ, the righteous One, put your trust in Him.” How gracious of God?! This is really where the rubber meets the road for us here. Why does all of this matter? What God commanded us to do in the Law, He Himself gives to us through the gospel. This is the ‘word of faith we proclaim’ as it says in v8b.

We’ve now seen the first of the three gospel threads Paul pulls on in these verses. See the second one next in v9-10.

Our Confession (v9-10)

“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

What we should note right away about this second thread in v9-10 is its connection with the first thread in v5-8. It is a connected thought. You see that? v9-10 don’t exist out there on its own as if they were the only two verses in Romans 10. It gets its foundation in v5-8 and takes v5-8 one step further, describing to us how this righteousness based on faith comes home to us. v8 speaks of the mouth and heart, so naturally v9-10 continues with the same Deuteronomic language and images. v9 begins with the mouth and moves to the heart, while v10 begins with the heart and moves to the mouth. Both make the same point: confession is made with the mouth, and belief occurs in the heart. While both are necessary, there is an order present here. What begins in the heart moves its way up and out of the mouth. That seems to be the pattern. But I don’t think the order of mouth or heart first is the main thing to see here. If Paul’s emphasis is on our confession we see him put the mouth first, but if Paul’s emphasis is on the root of the belief in a person we see him put the heart first.[3]

I think the big idea of these two verses centers on our common confession. Ask this question, ‘What do we confess with the mouth and what do we believe in the heart?’ Two things: Jesus as Lord and Jesus as raised from the dead. These are not just throw away ‘no brainers’, this content, these two things, are what actually makes Christians Christian.[4] Have you thought about that? Perhaps you’ve forgotten it? Christian faith has content to it. Content, that isn’t to be refashioned or rethought or remade in every generation to fit the culture or our current time. This content remains forever. Over all of history it remains the same! In all nations it remains the same! And notice, it’s content about a Person. A person who is not just any common person, but a person who was, who is, and who is to come. A person named Jesus, who is Lord. Who is Lord regardless what you say about Him. Who is Lord regardless if you reject Him. He has always been Lord, He always will be Lord. No one makes Him Lord. Jesus is Lord. That’s what is believed in the heart and confessed by the mouth when we’re saved by Him. Many might say ‘I’ve made Jesus the Lord of my life’ and though well intentioned, we must be reminded, we haven’t made Him Lord of our lives, He has always been Lord, over us and over all else. What changes when one becomes a Christian is that instead of rebelling against His Lordship we now submit to Him as Lord. Jesus is Lord.

But see the second item of our confession, Jesus as raised from the dead. This is literal physical resurrection in view here, not a kind of spiritual resurrection, as if all Easter means is that Jesus’s life continues on the lives of His followers. Nonsense.  He was dead and He now lives! There’s a lot that’s silently loud in this isn’t there? That He was raised from the dead means He was once alive and was put to death. That He was once put to death, brings us to the reason why He was put to death. Which points us to the great love of God in sending His Son to save us from death. So yes He died, but He was raised. So we rejoice! That He rose from death means death has been defeated and that we too will one day rise from death when He returns to destroy the very presence of death once and for all.

Jesus is Lord, Jesus has been raised and is alive well, reigning over all as Lord today. Those who believe this in heart, will what? See v10? Will be justified, or made righteous, and be saved. We’ve come full circle now. How gracious of God?! The righteousness God has requires in the Law He gives in the gospel. Not just generally to all, no. God gives His righteousness to those who believe in Jesus. This is the righteousness of faith!

See the last thread Paul pulls on in v11-13.

The Consequences (v11-13)

“For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In this last thread of our passage this morning Paul will drive his case home to us his readers, by going back to the Scriptures. I do hope that having seen Paul do this again and again instructs us and reminds us of the importance of not only knowing the Scriptures but building our entire worldview on the Scriptures. Where does Paul go when he eagerly desires to make his case and convince his hearers? He quotes the Scripture. Church, where do you go to make your case to another, ‘My pastor said…’, or ‘John Piper said…’, or ‘Charles Spurgeon said…’ Insofar as these fallible men have followed Christ we can follow them, but they’re fallible! May our case ever be built as Paul’s is built here, “For the Scripture says…”

Well what do the Scriptures say? Paul lists out three splendid consequences that come our way when we believe in Jesus. First in v11, coming from Isaiah 28, all who believe will not be put to shame. Second in v12, the Lord of all bestows His riches on those who call on Him. And third in v13, coming from Joel 2, all who call on Him will be saved. No shame, riches of glory, salvation.

Conclusion:

The big idea of our passage is that we should seek the righteousness based on faith, not the righteousness based on Law. Faith then, not works, is how God saves us and keeps us. I think we get this. But do we really get it?

When we sin against God, when we stray from God, when we don’t feel close to God, why is it that we so often conclude that we’re not Christians. You know the voice inside that resounds when we fail, ‘You, a Christian? Ha! You really still trying to convince yourself of this? Give it up man, you’re not a Christian, look at what you did. I don’t think you’ve ever been a Christian.’ Church, if we soar in faith when we obey and doubt our faith when we sin, aren’t we merely returning to Law? The gospel says God’s perfect righteousness comes to those who do not work but trust in the One who has done the work for us. Is this you? You’re all trusting in something! May it ever be Christ, for He alone can save!


[1] Douglas Moo, Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2018), 671.

[2] Ibid., 675.

[3] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans – Saving Faith (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1985), 143.

[4] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 90-95.

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