As I always mention, an introduction is always in order. In chapter 1, after Paul introduces himself, his credentials, and his audience, he begins to speak about the subject that we have now termed in our understanding, RADICAL DEPRAVITY, detailing it in 1:18-32, giving both reasons and examples regarding the terrible and approaching wrath of God.
Chapter 2 becomes a little more specific, addressing a specific target audience – the Jew in their midst – that perhaps had come because of some kind of agreement that Jesus was a man to follow, but still relying on their own Jewish ritual, rite, sign, or even membership of the specific group for their salvation. Paul went on to explain that there is no ritual, rite, sign, place, set of words or actions, or membership of any specific earthly group that has salvific effect. That salvation [soteria] only comes from one source for everyone – from Christ alone, by grace alone through faith alone, as the theologians of the Reformation put it. Romans 3 talks about the straight up gospel, and tells us not only why we need to be saved from that coming wrath, but the hows and the whens and all of that.
Then in Chapter 4. we saw Abraham, the Old Testament example of justification by faith. The chapter discussed in detail that Abraham was not justified by following the Law, which came 430 years after Abraham, or by circumcision, because this covenant was a unilateral covenant that God performed all by Himself before circumcision was ever given as a symbol of the Abrahamic Covenant – and certainly WELL before the Mosaic Covenant. Then in Chapter 5, we saw how that extended to all of us who believe now, and talked about how this “justified” us before God, or “acquitted” us before God of the unrighteousness by our great Substitute that took our place to pay for our sins, having lived a perfect life before God and then knowingly and willingly surrendered it. That’s right, Jesus was no victim – he was an active participant – as was the rest of the Godhead in this plan. However, the chapter briefly spoke about something else that will be the subject of chapter 6 – sanctification – the process whereby God uses the difficulties that He allows (I argue engineers) in our lives to make us more like His son; this will literally take the rest of your life. But we must choose to yield to God and His work in our lives through the Holy Spirit within us, and that is the problem.
Although we have been born again, or redeemed, or saved, or regenerated – whatever term you are comfortable with here – and although we are renewed in our spirit by the indwelling Holy Spirit, we still live in the flesh and in the world system that is controlled by the father of lies. Our own flesh is what we are to consider as dead – but it isn’t easy, because it for now is still alive and it fights us, being still enslaved to sin through death. And that is what the entire subject is in chapter 7, which then breaks into chapter 8, where Paul starts to talk about the implications, but more, the power behind this new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Christ, also known as the Comforter, the third person of our Godhead Trinity. Last time, in chapter 8, we talked about how Christ set us free and how the Holy Spirit has assisted in every aspect of our salvation, and how a person’s changed behaviour is the evidence that Christ has saved said individual – that they no longer focus their minds on the things of the world, or the “flesh” according to Paul, but instead they focus on the “Spirit,” or rather pleasing the One that has set them free from the penalty, power, and someday the presence of sin in their lives. The next thing he talks about in the second part of chapter 8 is that there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus, and then he defines exactly who that group of people is in verses 29 and 30 – and we need to have a theological understanding of that text – that those that God foreknew, he predestined to belong to His Son, and he called them, and then He justified them, and then He glorified them (all in the past tense, that is, the action has already been completed, which infers an eternal security among other things). It is this group of individuals that God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit will lead all the way to glory to be with and to be like His Son Jesus Christ. We may not know what that looks like, but we can be sure that it will be – glorious!
In chapter 9, we dealt with the topic of Sonship of believers from a perspective that as we discovered left it not in the hands of the seed of Abraham, or of any of the other fathers, or of the will of man, or actions of man, but in God’s almighty hand alone. The perspective was that of Paul, speaking specifically of those that were given the promises of adoption as Sons, and the Law, and all the blessings and all that – that all those that God chose as Sons are to inherit, and that there is in fact no difference, which is his stated topic in chapter 10.
Here is a summary of my textual analysis for Romans 10:
KV10: Faith in Christ is translated into obedient action
1-4: Righteousness only comes through Christ
5-13: Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of ALL who believe
14-17: Human responsibility is NOT nullified by our election
18-21: Everyone HAS heard – so will you follow?
We must remember that Romans 9 through 11 is where Paul is speaking about physical Israel, who are still a nation today. What Paul is arguing is that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles in Christ, who is the fulfilment of all Old Testament prophecy. I know my tendency is to divide how I deal with this chapter and its contents in two: When talking about the nation of Israel and how God will deal with them, I lump it together with chapters 9 and 11, where Paul is speaking of his own Jewish brothers. However, when Gospel conversations come around, I will freely quote from this chapter where it talks about what the Scripture says about righteousness that comes by faith in Christ. I’m not wrong to do that, either. In fact, I like to start in verse 8: “But what does it say?” It’s a great place to start if you want to draw together what the Word of God says about salvation. Then I will read through verse 13, and look the person in the eye and ask if that is what they would like to do. Some of you have even seen me do this! And sometimes, I even get a yes!
However, I’m not really being theologically honest with myself when I ignore the greater context of, say, vv.1-4. Paul feels so strongly about his brothers and sisters in the flesh needing salvation, that he would trade himself for them. I’m not sure I could say that even about my own siblings. I could say it about my kids, though, so I do understand the passion that Paul has on the subject. But recall that the context here is chapter 9, where God does all the choosing and the willing, and God alone saves and makes a child, and then matures that child, all by the power of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. This is an integral understanding of the context of chapter 10, so let’s dig in and see what it has to say to us.
KV10: Faith in Christ is translated into obedient action
This is a sort of turning point that will be finally brought together in chapter 12 with the very first “therefore,” but from this point, Paul is starting to explain the details of how one can find faith in Christ Jesus, and start to follow after Christian. He hasn’t put all the finishing arguments on his case yet, but you can begin to trace it now that it is not enough just to be justified before God. We must also be sanctified by Him, and this requires our obedient cooperation. We will see this material again. And again. And again. It is actually essential that we do so, for it says in Hebrews 12, the very last book we studied together, in verse 14, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” We will NOT see the Lord if we will not obey, and that is the only way I can read that. Why?
1-4: Righteousness only comes through Christ
We have seen this information before, and it is repeated here. Righteousness before God can ONLY come by faith (or belief) in Christ Jesus. This is what ALL the Apostles believed and taught, and it is the truth that they passed down to the church fathers. It is what has been seen clearly by all true believers since then, and passed down to this present day. Belief itself is not enough; it must be married to our behaviour. Doctrine must espouse duty. We must move from “knowing” the will of God to “doing” the will of God! And it all starts here. Let’s get into the chapter.
1: Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
- Paul here is speaking of his fellow countrymen, and his prayer is the same one he has prayed for all that he has come across, not only those of Jewish extraction, but Gentiles like Titus, and even half-Jews like Timothy! ALL are included, though Paul is actually praying for natural sons of Israel here. (A bit of an application, it is our duty to also pray for everyone WE come across like this.)
2: For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
- How did Paul know about their zeal for God? He once had that very same zeal. He was a Pharisee of the strictest sect, both of his parents were Jews which gave him pedigree and not half-breed status. I can personally tell you that half-breed status gets you nothing but trouble from both breeds. For those of you that don’t know, I’m part Mohawk. But we’re talking about Paul. He had such a zeal that he went as a private citizen and Pharisee to the leadership of Israel in Jerusalem and asked for warrants to seek the lives of followers of the Way of Jesus. He raided villages and put to death men, women, and even children. When Paul met the risen and supernatural Christ on the road to Damascus, he was on his way with warrants to imprison and persecute any of that Way he could find. THAT was zeal. Saul of Tarsus is how he was known then. I have recently seen the 2019 movie Paul, The Apostle, and they portray him as an old man hashing out the book of Acts with Luke while in Mamartine prison. These memories were portrayed as ones that tortured him even then at the end of his life. I recommend the movie, by the way, if you haven’t seen it.
3: For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.
- The basic problem that Paul identifies here for Israel is that they did not KNOW about God’s righteousness. Although God had servants that proclaimed all day everyday that people had to believe. What did they do instead? They tried to establish their own righteousness. Doctor John MacArthur put it this way. They invented for themselves a God that wasn’t as holy as He really is, and then formed a false view of themselves and in that view, they were more holy than they actually were. WE must take care not to do the same. WE can invent a Jesus that will be okay with our sinfulness, and not the real one. The REAL Jesus wants us to obey Him and be made holy through our trials, by the way. He has the same moral standard today as he had in the days of Moses, where all of this started. We have a written record of what He considers important in Exodus 20, and in other places. We must instead by believing that Christ is enough, subject ourselves to the righteousness of God.
4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
- You see, we MUST not invent a false Christ that will allow us to continue in our warped view of ourselves. We are not some person that is now already perfect. Anyone who believes that is in violation of 1 John 1:8-10 which reads, “8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” Verses 8 and 10 are what Israel had done. They had raised for themselves a false standard of behaviour that brought upon them expectations that not even God had. No, we must be those that end our struggling with the dos and don’ts of religion and simply believe Him.
So, because the Jews rejected God and His standard of righteousness, and created their own false standard of behaviour, they have blinded themselves in many ways to the Gospel. If you’ve ever tried to witness to an orthodox Jew, you’ll know that they often view themselves collectively as the suffering servant of Isaiah 52 and 53. It’s just self-willed blindness that God Himself is going to deal with, although that’s really next chapter.
5-13: Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of ALL who believe
There have been those through the history of the world that have had that faith in God that reckons them as righteous. We’ve considered examples in our study of Romans, too. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David, just for examples – and there are many, many others – all of these had faith that God would save them. It has always been this way. There have even been examples of non-Jews saved by faith recorded for us in the Old Testament. Rahab, Ruth, Abraham’s servant, Abraham’s father, Melchizedek, just to name a few. It has ALWAYS been this way. Before Jesus came and died for our sins on the cross, these believers would simply look forward to the work of Messiah. Now after His death, burial, and resurrection, we can look back and see the whole plan laid out for us – but all of us look to the same Messiah. Messiah is the Hebrew word that is translated into Greek as Christ. In English, it simply means “Anointed One.” He is the Lord of all those through all of the history of mankind that have believed on Him. This righteousness is a big deal, too. Depending on the righteousness you want to establish for yourself, you are potentially condemning yourself to hell for eternity. Let’s see what I’m talking about.
5: For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.
- If you want to make your standard of righteousness the Mosaic Law like Israel did, you are welcome to do so – but you will rise or fall then based on your adherence to that law. That’s all Paul is really saying here. He’s said this in detail in earlier chapters in Romans, and he especially speaks of it angrily to the Galatians.
6: But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down),
- In fact, Paul is telling the church at Rome that God has even explained this in the Old Testament Law. This quotation is from Deuteronomy 30:12-14 through verse 8, and Paul in his way is expositing that passage to his readers and to us. The net upshot of what Paul says here is that we should not sink into pride and do this for ourselves. What is he saying not to do in this verse?
- He is saying we are not able and should not attempt to ascend into heaven ourselves to bring Christ down. It would not be the first attempt mankind has ever made at this – Genesis 10 and 11 tell us of a great tower that man designed to try to reach the heavens to face off with God. (It didn’t work, by the way – and God ended up confusing all our languages over it.) And not only should we not try, we are simply unable. We have literally nothing to add.
7: or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”
- Paul continues to exposit the meaning of Deuteronomy 30:12-14 here. In like fashion as we should not, indeed cannot ascend to heaven, we should not and cannot descend into the abyss to bring Christ up from the dead. We are not capable of participating in His redemptive work, and we should not try. We have nothing to add, remember.
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 are preaching,
- Finishing up his exposition on Deuteronomy 30:12-14, and recalling for us the context of v.6 where Paul talks about how the righteousness of faith speaks, he quotes Deut. 30:14 by asking the question, “But what does it say?” I consider this to be the operative question about salvation by faith, and you all should as well – “What does the Word of God say about righteousness based on faith?”
- Then Paul tells us – that the word [Gk., rhema, that which is said or spoken, the subject matter at hand] is near you! The subject matter, that righteousness based on faith is in your heart! The subject matter is at hand. Now Paul is not saying that the kardia is a thinking organ like the brain, he is speaking if the Greek idea of the Conscience and how it affects a person for positive (or negative) purposes and deeds.
- That word is in our mouth [stoma, lit. the mouth, fig. the organ of speech]! It took me quite some time to realize it, but Paul is not simply saying something pithy and quaint. He is saying that this is a decision of conscience and one that should also be spoken publicly. We’ll see more on that in a moment.
- What word is that? The word of faith, which we are preaching. We are speaking of that righteousness based on faith! There is nothing mystical or of vain intellectuality here. This is all straight up – it is the gospel – it is how God justifies those He has called, as per Romans 8:30. So how does it happen?
9: that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
- And that’s what I’m talking about! If you will confess [agree, acknowledge] with your speech organ [mouth] Jesus as [your] Lord [kurios, master, king, one in authority over, lord], and believe [pisteuo] in your heart [remember the idea of a conscience, the controlling motive force of you] that God resurrected Him from being dead, You. Will. Be. Saved!!!
- Paul is saying this is something that must become your driving force, and so much so that you will speak that not only is Jesus Lord of all, that He has become YOUR Lord, and you are now set free from your old master of sin, and are now a slave [doulos] of Jesus Christ. If this regeneration has happened in you, you are now saved, and you are a new creation in Christ! You are now different than you were only seconds ago! For me that happened on June 18 of 1985. Think about when it happened for you if you can recall it.
- I usually look for some kind of response to a person I am sharing the gospel with, and then talk about the new creation, and then tell them when our church gathering next meets. Most of the time, they show up! But why is this idea so important?
10: for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
- Paul is very straightforward at the best of times, and here he is especially and exquisitely so. Your heart [conscience] is the thing that believes [is persuaded]. With your mouth [with which you vocalize], you express your agreement or acknowledgement that Jesus is your Lord, and that faith that must be expressed results, in its expression, your salvation. It is a gift given by Christ alone, by His grace alone, through faith alone. And it does not matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile or somewhere in between or so far off the scale that you are purple! Faith in God has always resulted in the justification of the believer. Now that the details are known it seems even easier to believe.
11: For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
- This is a rough quote from Isaiah 28:16. “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame [Heb., “in a hurry,” and therefore ashamed, the reason for the hurry-up].
12: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;
- This is what Paul has been driving at the whole time. There is no distinction in Christ between Jew and Gentile. In Ephesians 2:14, he “broke down the dividing barrier” so that He could make “the two into one new man,” (v.15) to establish peace and “reconcile them into one new body,” the corporate man, the church. There is no longer any distinction or partiality. In Colossians 3:11 it says, “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” Thee is no black, white, red, yellow, or brown. There is no male or female (Gal. 3:28) with regards to this justification by faith. EVERYONE is saved the same way – through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone.
13: for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
- This is that kind of “whosoever” that the cultural Jew would shy away from at all costs, and probably out of pride. They were the Jews, God had given THEM all the stuff concerning the adoption as mature offspring, the Law, the Promises, like that – and because they had invented a God that was not as holy as He really is, and a standard that they could hold up that God did NOT make, and the pride that they had fallen into as those that God had blessed originally with those things, they blinded themselves, and as a result, will not listen whenever the gospel is preached.
- Still, this is the good news for anyone that will take it and be saved. ANYONE! And before you start telling me about God’s Elect, I will ask you if you know who besides you that might include. Oh, you don’t know? Well then, it is your responsibility to share this, and we’ll see that in the next section.
14-17: Human responsibility is NOT nullified by our election
In Bible College, my Systematic Theology professor referred to himself as a 1/2-point Calvinist. As much of a laugh as that gave me, I could tell that he had not ever really engaged on the topic with an intelligent person of the Calvinist persuasion. It probably would have been hard for him, because he felt like he had to let you know that he was the smartest guy in the room. Maybe he was. I won’t ever claim to be. But I have read the scriptures, and I know what they say, and they consistently do not support the views of one Arminius, where we get the term Arminian (followers of Arminius). The thing that really seemed to set him off was the whole Sovereign Election and Definite Atonement Doctrines of Grace. When I asked him honestly what Ephesians 1 and Romans 8 were talking about in terms of foreknowledge and predestination, he gave a handwaving explanation about how God looked down the proverbial tunnels of time and chose based on our response that he could predetermine. Now having just studied that with me in Romans 8:26-39, you can probably guess what I thought of that. That’s a low view of God. I mean think about it. He believed that God had to look and learn, and worse, based on our response. Beloved, I’m telling you all truthfully that there is not any time in all of eternity past that God did not know everything or had to learn something, especially something based on some response a peon like me would make.
Doctor Smith’s whole argument against Calvinism was that it would lead to a worldview where we did not have to preach the gospel because God would save His Elect anyway, and we wouldn’t really have to pray either. What Dr. Smith believed all 5-point Calvinists believe in is referred to as Hyper-Calvinism. Those folks spend more time trying to figure out why people aren’t in their special club than they do reading the word, and sometimes that’s the only reason they read the word – to separate and exclude. If you ask me, that makes them a sorry lot. But a Hyper-Calvinist is most often also a hard determinist that does not believe in or acknowledge the concept of human free will.
If I were a hard determinist, I would believe that nothing that anyone ever did because God has already decided what will happen. In a sense, that is true – but that does not invalidate the concept of free will in humans. I mean how could it? God still holds us responsible for the actions we choose to make, and that’s a fact. Jesus indicated that it might even be possible to deceive the Elect, depending on your reading of Matthew 24 and 25, and Luke 21. Is it all decided ahead of time? Do men have free will? These are all questions of philosophy that are difficult enough to answer. Doctor R.C. Sproul started a ministry to do just that called Ligonier.org, and I’ll leave the really deep stuff to him, or his recordings that you can access through that website. What I do know is that being chosen of God does NOT nullify the will of man, because God still rightly holds us responsible for our actions, and Paul is about to demonstrate the point.
14: How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
- This discussion starts kind of slow, but it makes a very interesting point, and blows a Hyper-Calvinist out of the water, so it’s worth looking at. Let’s look a phrase at a time to catch the nuances.
- Howe will they call on Him whom they have not believed? Paul’s point here is that if there is no belief in the heart, there will be no calling (a la v.13) with the mouth. If there is not faith, there will be no verbal acknowledgement. And if there is a verbal acknowledgement without faith, what you have is called a false conversion.
- How will they believe in Him if they have never heard of Him? That’s a valid question. That’s why God sent forth people to say the message with their words and lifestyle. Especially words, though.
- How will they hear without a preacher? God sends people to say the message with their mouth. These people are called preachers. They preach or proclaim that the Lord Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty due for our sins and to impart to us His own righteousness so that we could be acquitted of sin before God the Father.
15: How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”
- And how will those proclaimers give their message if God does not send them? And before you start talking about Joel Osteen as a joke, I will tell you that he too is sent. I don’t think he is sent by God though. That’s my opinion based on what I have heard of his teachings. No, GOD sends HIS OWN teachers to teach people about the good news of Jesus Christ.
- The Old Testament quote is from Isaiah 52:7 which reads, “How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'” The phrase in Greek “bring good news of good things” may be translated, “preach the gospel of glad tidings.”
16: However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?”
- And even in Isaiah’s day (the quote here is 53:1a) they knew that not everyone believed the report. Not everyone that hears the news will see that it is good, and not all will accept it. We know this because not all have accepted it through history. Did Nero? Caligula? Diocletian? I could continue that list pretty easily with names like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, Tito, Franco, Khaddaffi, Hussein, Khomeini. The list is very long and getting longer.
- Who has believed our report? What report? The report of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins. The point here I think is that the Jews by and large rejected the message and willingly became blind. They certainly did not believe the report.
17: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- It is important to note here that saving faith does not come by the means of meditation, centering oneself to act, mysticism, intuition, study of philosophy, or anything other than hearing. Specifically, it only comes by hearing the Word of Christ. It does not depend on great quests done in even Jesus name, it is not found by the great inner search for truth, it comes from hearing the Word of Christ.
- Paul is saying that Jewish tradition is specifically of no effect. The study of the Mishnah or the Talmud or the Kabballah is pointless – salvation only comes by knowing that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins so that He could by means of substitution transmit and impart His righteousness to US. If you come to what you call salvation by any other means, you were not saved. If that offends you, I am sorry you are offended, but I would rather you be offended and turn to Christ than to be unoffe3nded, tripping along in your happy and lost state until you die, and then be damned to hell for eternity. Sometimes you need to be shaken so you will awaken.
It is, after all, your responsibility to respond in obedience whenever you hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
18-21: Everyone HAS heard – so will you follow?
There have been times over the years that I have been speaking with someone about Christ and the good news of salvation that they will stop me and ask me the following question: “But what about those people in deepest, darkest Africa (or the Amazon rainforest, or any other remote place) who have never heard the message?” It seems like a legitimate question, but it’s meant to be something that deflects you from pursuing their lost soul. At some point I learned to answer that deflection like this: “I will have to personally trust God for them – I know God WILL reach out to them if He hasn’t already – but I’m not speaking to them, I’m speaking to you here and now. And YOU HAVE heard it – so how will you now respond?”
My simple point is that EVERYONE HAS heard. It is up to you to respond in faith, and if you won’t do that, you’re condemning yourself already. You still have the responsibility on you to believe that Jesus died for YOU and repent (turn away from) your sins.
18: But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.”
- The quote is Psalm 19:4. What Paul, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit is saying is that God has revealed Himself to everyone at least through natural revelation, and that is all that is really required to know about God and understand. I once heard it put like this: “When God invented autumn, was He trying to tell us something?”
19: But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, “I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION, BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU.”
- Even Israel cannot say that God didn’t tell them. The quote here is from Deut. 32:21. God even told His chosen people that He would uses the people of a Gentile nation to make them jealous and angry. He said it right there in what has been called “The Book of the Law” elsewhere in Scripture. No one can have the excuse is the point. And it doesn’t end there.
20: And Isaiah is very bold and says, “I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME, I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME.”
- That’s Isaiah 65:1. I like the way the NASB renders this: “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.” God says, “I allowed it! They were looking, and I allowed them to seek AND find me – without the Law, and without them even asking!” But what does is the experience of God with Israel?
21: But as for Israel He says, “ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.”
- This is Isaiah 65:2. Israel was nothing but disobedient and stubborn (that’s what obstinate means). Moses calls them that in Exodus 32 – obstinate. Stephen, the church’s first martyr, used this same word in Acts 7:51 in reference to the crowd of Pharisees that had gathered around him: “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” (Be careful of your audience, Stephen was murdered at the end of this chapter, although he got to go home early and with full pay!)
It is truly a fantastic apologetic and gospel chapter. However, we must remember the overall narrative here – this is the three-chapter pack that is about Israel and why they are at least currently spiritually blind toward Christ and the cross – and He was ONE of them! I had an old boss that was Jewish, and he once told me (unasked) what HE though about Jesus Christ (and I quote) – that He was just another Jew-boy that made good. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I had to chuckle. How self-deceived do you have to be to reject the notion that you’re NOT a good person (and I could demonstrate that to him) and then reject the Saviour? Well, it must be as Paul says – all Israel is spiritually blind to Him and His saving grace. And they seem to have blinded themselves on top of that.
With that overall context, Romans 10 is a truly great gospel chapter. It not only preaches the gospel, but it reveals the logistics of the plan of God behind the Gospel – that they cannot believe if they have not heard, they cannot hear without a preacher, and there can be no preacher if God has not sent one! His plan involves people that share the gospel in words, and those words are to persuade [bring faith] others as to their veracity [truth] so that they will believe [be persuaded] that Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the grave to pay the price for our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And that’s chapter 10!
Next time, chapter 11!