This chapter offers the solution to the problem Paul addressed in Romans 9:30-33 “that Israel’s lack of experiencing God’s grace wasn’t because He withheld it from them but rather that they sought His favor by works and by rejecting grace.” The key word in the 10th chapter is a word that tends to upset folks, “SAVED!” It bothers folks for two reasons:
a. Its use presupposes that someone needs to be saved
b. Its use presupposes that a person isn’t saved but is lost or fallen
Paul is explaining in this section:
- Vs. 1-13 Why the nation rejected Jesus
- Vs. 14-17 What the remedy is for their rejection
- Vs. 18-21 What are the results of their continual rejection
The broader application will reach beyond the Jews and their need to salvation to all of humanity. On the heels of God’s sovereign election this chapter deals with human responsibility. God’s choosing is always consistent with His nature but never outside of our responsibility and freedom to choose.
Vs. 1-13 Reason for rejection
Vs. 1 Despite Paul’s earnest desire for his countryman to be saved and God’s desire that none shall parish Paul finds two things necessary that he can participate in this work:
- Vs. 1 Prayer: The willingness to go to God for men
- Vs. 8 Preaching: The willingness to go to men for God
Ill respective of man’s rejection we are still told that we are to pray for their salvation and speak to them about the benefits of receiving Jesus. You would think that Israel as a nation would have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of their Messiah and been prepared to receive Him. For 100’s of years they had the prophecies concerning Him and the Law that spoke of the necessity of receiving Him. But when He came like exactly as was foretold the nation rejected Him as John wrote in John 1:11 “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” In these verses Paul outlines four reasons for their rejection:
- Vs. 1 They didn’t feel a need to be saved: Israel saw that other’s (Gentiles) needed salvation but that they didn’t. When Jesus came He told many parables that illustrated this problem. Furthermore, the salvation they felt they needed wasn’t spiritual it was political from the Roman dominance and occupation.
- Vs. 2 They were zealous for God: Ever since they had returned from the Babylonian captivity they felt that they were cured from their idolatrous ways. They had cleared the temple of outward idols, worshipped, and served only the true God, they were so committed that they had even elaborated on God’s law implementing traditions making them equal to or defining the intent to the law. Sincerity, on its own is never enough, we must have passion for God the right way. They had the dangerous combination of religious zeal and biblical ignorance which produced a deadly outcome! People can read and study the Bible all the time but fail to apply its essential teachings in their own lives.
- Vs. 3 They were proud and self-righteous: They had become proud of their religious works in keeping the law and refused to see their own sins and thus their need for a Savior. Their ignorance was not based upon a lack of opportunity it was based upon arrogance and a refusal to admit their own short comings.
- Vs. 4-13 They misunderstood their own law: The law told them they were sinners in need of a Savior, the sacrificial system spoke to them that without the shedding of blood there was no remission of sins. It wasn’t that they were indifferent to righteousness, it was that they fully sought to have it on their own terms rather than by faith. Theirs was righteousness by self-effort rather than righteousness by faith. In other words, their problem was not “educational” it was “transformational”. The law is a great diagnostic tool but offers us nothing for treatment or cure!
Vs. 6-7 Moses soon understood that the law wasn’t going to work as he brought down the stone tablets with those “10 rules” and right in front of him were 3 million folks who had been breaking all 10 of them before he ever read them to them. That is why there is a sacrificial system within Judaism as the author of Hebrews states in 9:22 that “all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” To take up our works as a basis of God’s acceptance is saying that Jesus work isn’t adequate to make us right before God.
Vs. 8-10 So what are we to do if not keeping the “10 rules”? The first thing Paul tells them that they won’t have to do is go searching for the answer it will be near them the “Word of Faith”. The mouth symbolizes the outward man and his intellectual comprehension that is understood in words. The mouth without the heart will lead to hypocrisy but the heart without the mouth leads compromise. It can take a lifetime to have a change of heart, that’s why we ought to be careful about what we allow to captivate our hearts. Our hearts will break before they let go of something and even when broken they will take a long time before they move on.
So, then what we hear in the gospel is believed upon in the heart and confessed or agreed verbally as the truth. And what we verbally agree upon is that Jesus is LORD and as LORD he has forever shown that by being raised from the dead. Notice that Paul didn’t use the word “Savior” though that is true what makes our confession unto salvation is the agreement that He is LORD over our life, all of it. Greek scholar A.T. Robertson said, “No Jew would do this that had not really trusted Christ, for Kurios in the Septuagint is used of God. No Gentile would do it who had not ceased worshipping the emperor as Kurios.” A Jesus who is not LORD over all our life is not a Savior over any of it.
- He is Lord over our past, forgiving our sins
- He is Lord over our present, dwelling with us and guiding us, directing us away from things that will separate us from enjoying His presence.
- He is Lord of our future, leading us to our final transformation into His glory.
The question we need to ask ourselves and others is not: “Is Jesus your Savior?” but rather “Is Jesus your Lord?”
Vs. 14-17 Remedy for rejection
Vs. 14-15 This next section answers the question to what happens to those who have never heard of Jesus. Paul outlines FIVE STEPS TO SALVATION which is given here in reverse order:
- Whoever calls: Paul emphasizes that every person’s individual personal conviction and response. Far too many folks think that going to Church regularly and hearing the truth makes them “saved” but Paul says that each and every person must call on the Jesus to be their LORD.
- In Whom they Have believed: To have belief, the mind has to be engaged not just emotions stirred as they will have no understanding of why their emotions are stirred and won’t know what they are believing in. The gospel is not given until people have been given something to believe, something that their minds can grasp what is being offered and why it is personally good news for them.
- Him who they have heard: This implies that there must be a message, something that they have heard. The amazing thing about Christianity is that there is a message that is verifiable in history, geography, and archeology. As such Christian truth is an objective truth and does not rely on a “burning in our bosom” or some other emotional response. The truth we respond to is a truth that can stand and even invite the skeptic.
- How shall they hear without a preacher: Before the message you have to have a messenger. There is a great mystery in this to me as the delivery method God chooses to use to distribute Good News is very flawed as he chooses to use humans. Yet with that said I suppose that the reason for this is that those of us who are messengers can say like were here on the info-mercials, “I’m not just a spokesperson, I’m a constant consumer!”
- How shall they preach unless they are sent: Before you can have a messenger you have to have someone that is willing to be sent. Make no mistake about it as it is God who sends and equips those He sends with the message. This week I’ve been reminded to make sure that as an individual and a Fellowship that we continue to “fish for men” in the freshwater lake of “un-churched” and not the pond that most within Christianity fish in, the pond of “catch and release”!
Vs.16-17 This passage serves as the basis of the Church’s missionary program, but first it stood as the only way Israel could be saved, which is calling upon the name of the Lord. A veteran missionary once said that there are four reasons why the church must send out missionaries:
a. Mark 16:15 “Go into all the earth”: The command from above!
b. Luke 16:27 “Send him to my father’s house”: The cry from beneath!
c. Acts 16:9 “Come over and help us”: A call from without!
d. 2 Cor. 5:14 “The love of Christ constrains us”: A constraint from within!
Yet even with the five steps to salvation just outlined we still see many who will not respond, as Paul clearly says that “not all obeyed the gospel”. Yet that doesn’t take away from the reality the faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Like it or not the responsibility is still upon the hearer. Faith is aroused by the hearing of the Word but the person hearing it still has to choose to obey its message.
Vs. 18-21Results of rejection
Vs. 18-21 There are three results to Israel’s rejection:
A. Vs. 18 Israel is still guilty: Israel had the benefit both of the law and the prophets as well as seeing God’s work in their past and presence, as such they had both the Word and Works of God witnessing against their present rebellion. Israel had heard but would not heed, no wonder Jesus said eight times while among them, “to Him who has ears to hear to let him hear!”
B. Vs. 19-20 The message goes to the Gentiles: Israel rejected her Messiah and God sends the Word of salvation to those that will hear and be saved. This is what Moses had said in Deut 32:21 recorded here in verse 19. It was also an act of grace which is recorded by Isaiah in verse 20.
C. Vs. 21 God still loves Israel: This final quotation is also from Isaiah; and while Israel has set aside God, He has never set them aside. In fact, individual Jews are still coming to Christ daily and have been every sense the resurrection.