WELCOME to another episode of Monday Reverb … THANKS for joining us.
This theme for this week is remembering the Lord’s saving works.
The selected passages are Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28, Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b, Matthew 14:22-33 and Romans 10:5-15.
- The Old Testament reading, from Genesis 37:1-4,12-28, recounts the beginning of Joseph’s saga that landed him in Egypt after being sold by his brothers into slavery.
- The passage in Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45 includes a reference of Joseph’s rise to prominence, along with encouraging God’s people to recall the Lord’s wonderful works through thanksgiving, praise, and rejoicing.
- In the Gospel reading, from Matthew 14:22-33, we are presented the dramatic story of Jesus and Peter walking on water where Jesus saves Peter from sinking when Peter’s faith falters.
- The epistolary text, in Romans 10:5-15, refers to the nearness of God’s word and the beauty of believing and sharing this word of good news with others.
SPEAKING OF LIFE
PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT +
Small Group Discussion Questions
From Speaking of Life
- Can you think of a story where your memory “saved you?”
- Discuss the importance of reminding one another of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
(End of Part 1)
2.1 Text Review
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
who bring glad tidings of good things!”
2.2 Sermon Notes
God’s Work for All
Romans 10:5-15 (ESV)
If you have ever had to write an academic paper, you will know that when you are making a point it will be stronger if you can cite other sources to support what you are saying. There is an advantage to bringing in other voices who are saying the same thing to strengthen what you are saying. We have a passage today where Paul has an important point he wants his hearers to understand. And he certainly takes advantage of citing other sources for support. We will see in this section that Paul is going to quote many Old Testament scriptures to support his claim.
Admittedly, this section belongs to Paul’s longer argument from Romans 9:30-10:21 where he is seeking to establish Israel’s blame for its present predicament of being on the outside of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ. They have no excuse, Paul argues. And that argument falls within Paul’s longer discussion that runs from Romans 9 to Romans 11 regarding Israel’s fate. So, we are breaking into the middle of a longer issue Paul is addressing. We will have to reserve Paul’s conclusion about Israel’s fate for another day. But for today, we are going to see how Paul pulls in some Old Testament sources to support the claim that he makes just one verse prior to our reading.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4 ESV)
That’s a staggering claim that has implications for you and me today. So, let’s take a stroll through Paul’s scriptural proofs that he uses to substantiate the claim that Jesus is the end of the law as a means of attaining righteousness to everyone who believes.
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). (Romans 10:5-7 ESV)
Paul begins his argument by quoting Moses from Leviticus 18:5. Essentially, Paul is pointing out how keeping the law was seen as the path to righteousness. Paul is citing this as the reason for what he just said previously. In verse 3 (Romans 10:3), Paul has pointed out that the Israelites were seeking to achieve their own righteousness apart from God’s righteousness. And then again, in verse 4 (Romans 10:), Paul is claiming that the whole goal of the law in the first place was to bring people to Christ to receive the divine righteousness in faith. In short, Paul is showing that Israel wanted to achieve their own righteousness, when in fact righteousness can only be received as a gift. Israel’s true sin is resisting God’s grace.
How does Paul arrive at this claim? He is looking at the Old Testament scriptures through the eyes of faith. He further makes his point by combining a quote from Deuteronomy 9:4 which says “Do not say in your heart” with a quote from Deuteronomy 30:12-13 which says:
It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” (Deuteronomy 30:12-13 ESV)
Paul is interpreting this passage in light of who Jesus Christ is and what he has done. So, we shouldn’t be too surprised that how Paul uses this quote and how it was once understood will amount to a radical transformation. Paul seems to be interpreting Moses as the prophet who is pointing to Christ as the fulfillment of the law. By pulling in Deuteronomy 9:4 with the partial quote of “Do not say in your heart”, Paul is able to make the same point about the Israelites’ desire to establish their own righteousness apart from God. Let’s look at that passage in the full to see how Paul finds the connection:
Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, “It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,” whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. (Deuteronomy 9:4 ESV)
Did you catch what Paul did there? He has powerfully quoted the words God gave to Moses to say to the Israelites as proof of what he (Paul) is claiming. Namely, it is not their works that give them any standing with God. It is God’s work of grace all the way down. That’s a pretty strong source to say the least. And with that lead-in he construes Deuteronomy 30:12-13 in terms of Christ. He gives us his interpretation in parenthesis. “‘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).” Paul is stretching the impossibility of attaining our own righteousness with these questions. There is only one who has ascended into heaven and descended into the abyss. We had no part in God’s grace to send his Son down to us from heaven or in raising us up in him. Our salvation, and hence our righteousness, is a work of God that is given to us by grace.
There’s a great line in the movie Forest Gump where Lieutenant Dan asks Forest, “Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?” To which Forest replies, “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.” In that scene it is Lieutenant Dan who holds the view that our righteousness, or being with God, is something we must do. Whereas Forrest Gump gives a response that mirrors a life of faith. He never presumed that he should be looking, high or low, for Jesus. That is, in a sense, what Paul is saying here. God has found us and saved us. We were never intended to go looking for Jesus to find our own salvation.
Now Paul will go further by pulling in a quote from Deuteronomy 30:14:
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); 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. (Romans 10:8-10 ESV)
Paul is seeing the “word” that is near you as the word of the gospel which he is proclaiming. Or more to the point, Jesus is the Word proclaimed to us. Jesus is the one who has been sent by the Father to us. It is God’s own righteousness and faithfulness that result in Jesus being sent to us and raised from the dead on our behalf.
And this “word” is nearer to us than we think. Jesus is not an ideal to live up to or a principle to put into practice. He is a person to receive as the gift of God.
It is not our works that God responds to; it is his own works of righteousness and faithfulness that free us to respond to him. And the response we are now free to make is a response of belief.
Paul sees this belief expressed by the mouth from the heart. When Paul says, “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,” he is not giving us a new formula to follow for salvation. He is not giving us certain words to say or a sentiment to hold in our hearts that will now qualify us for salvation. That would run counter to Paul’s very argument. By confessing with our mouth and believing in our heart, we are agreeing with what God has done in Jesus Christ, and we are putting our full trust in that work of grace.
- We are confessing, which means to agree with, the reality that righteousness has now been secured in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
- And we are not just saying the words, we are believing them, meaning we are trusting in his work of salvation and not our own.
It may be worth clarifying at this point what Paul is not saying.
- He is not saying that it doesn’t matter anymore whether we obey God’s word to us or not.
- He is not saying that it doesn’t matter what choices we make or what actions we take in our lives.
- On the contrary, there is now all the more reason to obey the Lord.
The confession we are making is essentially that Jesus is Lord. And he is a righteous Lord. Notice that Paul used the word “justified” – meaning made righteous, and the word “saved” – referring to salvation, as roughly equivalent terms. Also confessing and believing are put as parallel ideas. So, we trust our salvation is to be made righteous in the Lord.
Why would we then go on to live unrighteously? We were saved to enter the righteousness that can only be found in Jesus. We were created to be holy. Our confession is to agree with this, and in our longing for God’s completed work in us, we strive to work out the salvation that Jesus has given us.
(Note Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:5-11, 10-11, Isaiah 45:23)
One of Paul’s favorite phrases is “obedience of faith.” That’s the difference between working for righteousness and working out righteousness. We do not obey the Lord in order to qualify for salvation; we obey the Lord because we trust that he has saved us. We obey him out of our trust in him, our faith. If we believe the Lord is good and righteous, and has saved us to be who we are created to be, why would we not want to do what he commands us? His commands are given to call us further into his righteousness. The Lord is not trying to weigh us down with arbitrary rules or regulations. He is calling us into the righteous life he shares with the Father by the Spirit.
Now that Paul has made his case regarding righteousness that comes as a gift over and against a righteousness earned by our own works, he goes further to show a wonderful implication from this reality:
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.” (Romans 10:11-13 ESV)
Paul quotes from Isaiah 28:16, which refers to God’s cornerstone laid in Zion as a sure foundation and how those who put their trust in this cornerstone will not come up short. Again, he is reading this scripture considering Jesus Christ, who is our true cornerstone and foundation. Paul does not quote the entire verse as he zones in on the aspect of faith. Then he uses the word “everyone” and “all” twice to show the implication of salvation coming by grace and not works. If the works of the law were the only way to attain salvation, then the rest of the world will be left out, as the law was only given to Israel. Paul is making it clear there is no distinction between Jew and everyone else. What God has done in Jesus Christ is to make available for “everyone” and “all” the salvation given in Jesus.
Israel should have known that this was God’s intention all along. After all, he called Abraham to be a blessing to all the nations. But somewhere along the line the Israelites turned that calling into a calling of elitism. They saw themselves as the only ones qualified for God’s favor on account of keeping the law, which of course they failed at. But, in Jesus, God has fulfilled his promise to Abraham and his purposes in Israel to bring salvation to the entire world. And that salvation comes to “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.” Paul is now quoting from Joel 2:32 to make this point. His references are adding up. It is evident how Paul wants to show the importance of and the implications of salvation by grace and not works. The entire world is at stake.
From Joel 2:32 we see the echo of scripture from beginning to end. God answers those who call out to him. This is the character of God. He does not turn a deaf ear to our cries. He sees us in our sins and runs to save us. He is not waiting for us to save ourselves before he will listen to our calls. And he is calling us to himself today. He has turned his ear to your call to him. What comfort in knowing that the Lord of the universe does not only listen to a few who think they have found a way earn his favor. No, in Jesus, his favor rests on you and in that favor, he moves to save you completely as you trust him to do so.
Then Paul concludes with a series of questions:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15 ESV)
With these rhetorical questions Paul launches into a different section with Romans 9-11, in which Paul will make the point that the gospel message has been proclaimed and heard, but not received by Paul’s fellow Jews. That discussion is reserved for another sermon. But for our purposes today, we can see in these questions that the church has a calling to participate in getting the message out to the entire world. As believers who have entered into the joy of the Lord’s salvation, we are compelled to bring the good news to others so they too can put their trust in the Lord and be saved. As we do this, we can anticipate, like Paul, that our words may also fall on deaf ears. However, it is not our words that gain a response; rather it is Jesus, the Word, who gets the response. So, we can rest in his good timing and purposes, knowing that his Father’s heart is turned to those we reach out to. Like Paul, we too may have to live in the mystery of why some respond to the gospel and others don’t. But also, like Paul, we can share the gospel in hope, knowing that it is God’s work and not ours that has the final say.
For the final verse, Paul chooses to quote from the Old Testament once again. This time from Isaiah 52:7. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” With this reference we may be given a picture of what God is working out in those we proclaim the gospel to. The quote gives the picture of the “beautiful feet” of those who are preaching the good news. In order to notice a person’s feet, one must bow their head. This description from Isaiah speaks of the humility that is needed. If one is to receive salvation as the gift it is, it can only be received with bowed head and open hands. In other words, like Paul’s fellow Jews, any pride that insists on working for our own salvation and justifying ourselves, leads to a position of achieving and not receiving.
God works in the heart of each one of us to bring us to a place of humility, a place where we are ready to receive from him and not from ourselves. It is only from this position of humility that we can receive the gospel of salvation held out to us in Jesus Christ.
We can share with others that Jesus is Lord, in the hope and assurance that Jesus is working to bring about a response of faith, in his good timing and in his way. In this way, we too remain humble, and with bowed heads and open hands we receive from the Lord his work of sharing himself with others.
Small Group Discussion Questions
From the Sermon
What significance did you see in Paul relying so heavily on quoted Old Testament references?
- The OT scriptures support his points (from a NT perspective)
- The thought of God saving Gentiles is NOT a new idea. It was always God plan to save Gentiles.
Discuss ways we attempt to earn our salvation rather than receive it by faith.
- Attending church service regularly
- Doing good works to become accepted by God
The sermon made a distinction between working for our salvation and working out our salvation. How would you explain the difference?
- Our salvation is in the future …
- Our salvation is a present reality. (Ephesians 2:8)
- Our salvation is a present reality, but we can lose it …
- our salvation is sure
- Our salvation depends on us …
- Our salvation depends on Christ …
- Our salvation is in Christ (2 Timothy 2:10)
What stood out to you in how Paul interpreted the Old Testament in light of Jesus Christ?
- Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the OT Scriptures. (Matthew 5:17)
- The Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ … so the Law was to lead people to Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:24-25)
- Jesus Christ is the end of the law, as a means of attaining righteousness before God. (Romans 10:4)
Paul’s implication of salvation by faith and not works was that everyone can now enter the salvation of the Lord. What does this say about who God is?
- God is the Lover of all humanity.
- God is no respecter of persons.
- He knows everything about us … and loves us anyway.
Discuss Paul’s quote from Isaiah, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
- Whom are the “those” referring to?
- How does God view them?
- Why do you think He views them that way?
Did you see any additional insights from this verse?
How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”