Faithlife Sermons

A Promised Salvation

Romans   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Have you ever watched any of those videos where people begin celebrating too early? A runner mistakes the placement of the finish line and so they put up their arms in victory and let up on their running, only to be passed by another runner. A goalie in soccer blocks a shot and runs off the field going nuts, while the back spinning ball bounces back into the goal. Or my personal favorite, a receiver catches a long pass, and is so far in front of the defense that he prances into the end zone casually dropping the ball two inches before passing the goal line. Mistakes in sports can be humiliating and cause a team to lose a game. But mistakes in understanding righteousness cause so many to lose their souls to an eternal hell. I don’t want anyone here to make these mistakes.
Paul points out three of them in the passage we are looking at this morning. The first mistake we tend to make is misunderstanding what we can do; we misunderstand ourselves. The second is that we misunderstand what God does; we misunderstand God. Finally, we misunderstand what faith does; we misunderstand faith.
Misunderstanding ourselves
Misunderstanding God
Misunderstanding Faith
Romans 10:4–10 ESV
For Christ is the end of the law for 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). 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.

Misunderstanding Ourselves

To get the full impact of these three mistakes that Paul is pointing out, we need to go back to the verses we read last week. Because that’s where we see the first mistake. We misunderstand what we can do. We misunderstand ourselves.
Romans 9:30–31 ESV
What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.
These verses come on the heels of Paul reminding the people that if God had not stepped in and saved a remnant of people, that Israel would have gone extinct just like Sodom and Gomorrah. And so he asks an anticipatory question, “Are you meaning to tell me that Gentiles, who didn’t put forth diddly squat for effort actually received righteousness, but the Jew who has worked his entire life to attain righteousness didn’t!?” That doesn’t seem fair. Remember that question in verse 14, “Is God unjust?” He keeps asking questions and answering to show how it may seem God is unjust, but really is just.
But notice the difference. The Gentiles who received righteousness, received it because it was a righteousness that comes about by means of faith. The Jews were seeking one that comes about by means of works of the law. There are many who still make this mistake. They pursue right standing with God by trying to do better and be better by obeying the law. We misunderstand our ability to obey. We misunderstand what we are able to accomplish. Remember that without Jesus in our lives, we are considered to be people of the flesh. We are born as people of the flesh. And Paul wrote,
Romans 8:7 ESV
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
He didn’t say that it is hard to obey God’s law. He didn’t say we just need to buckle down and get to work. He says we don’t submit to the law; in fact, we cannot. We overestimate who we are and what we can do. And what is the result? We stumble when it comes to Jesus.
Romans 9:32–33 ESV
Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. 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.”
The Jews and many non-Jews just cannot understand that they cannot please God on their own. So when Jesus comes into the picture, they trip over him. They are offended by the notion that they can’t just pull themselves up by the bootstraps and soldier on. But Paul calls on them to not let this happen, but instead repent and believe on him rather than trip on him.
There are people in this world, perhaps even some here that are trying to just do good, do right, be whole, be one. Your desire is noble, but you misunderstand yourself. You need Jesus.
There may be those here who misunderstand themselves in that they think that while they have Jesus, they need no one else. Lone-Ranger Christians. Yet God, in grace, has given us older men and women to guide us, love us, and help us. He has given us younger men and women, boys and girls, to energize us, grow us, and loves us. To think we can be Lone-Ranger Christians is an issue of a haughty spirit and as we know, a haughty spirit comes before the fall.

Misunderstanding God

But it is not only a misunderstanding of ourselves, but the second mistake that we make is misunderstanding God.
Romans 10:1–3 ESV
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
Paul’s desire is that his brothers and sisters would not stumble over Christ, but believe in him. Rather than being dashed to pieces on the rock of offense, they would be saved from their own misconception of self. He testified about their zeal for God. When Matt was preaching last week, and we came to this verse, my mind wandered for a moment, “The lost have a zeal for God? I thought no one seeks after God.” So how do we reconcile these truths of Scripture? Because what Paul wrote was that the lost can have a passion for God. How can one have a passion for God, but not seek God? The answer is that they misunderstand who God is and what God is about.
Paul’s zeal for God, prior to Christ, took him to the point of persecuting the church. The Sanhedrin’s zeal for God took them to the point of crucifying the Messiah that they had waited for for millennia. Both believed sincerely that what they were doing was what God desired. It turns out that they did not understand God nor what God was doing. They were ignorant, as Paul wrote in verse three, of the righteousness of God. I know its been months since we’ve been in Romans 1, but we need to go back
Romans 1:17 ESV
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Remember that this is not referring to the fact that God is righteous, but that God gives righteousness. Like when we talk about the love of Christ. It is love that Christ gives to us. This is the righteousness that God gives to us. Paul and the Sanhedrin, being ignorant of the righteousness God gives, do whatever they can (going back to that first mistake) to try and please God and show him how sincere and zealous and passionate they were. Because they misunderstood who God is, they did not submit, put themselves under, subordinate themselves so as to receive God’s righteousness. Which means they refused Christ. They’d rather have the law because they think the law will help them in their endeavor to accomplish a good and right standing with God.
Romans 10:4 ESV
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
You see, most people understand that the law is not the end. It is merely a means to the end. But they still misunderstand the end—the goal of the law, thinking it is righteousness. But the law is actually a means to Christ Jesus. Only when they receive Jesus and so are “in Christ” do they receive all that Jesus is and has—including righteousness.
The world thinks sincerity or passion is all that is necessary; maybe some in here. But the path to hell is paved with sincerity and passion. Christ came to reveal God to us. To see Jesus is to see the Father. We cannot have God without Jesus. That’s what we see throughout the New Testament. Instead, they treat him like a cosmic boss. If I put my head down and work and do what I’m supposed to do, God will promote me to heaven. That is not true.
Matthew 7:21–23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Misunderstanding Faith

Which takes us to the third mistake. We first misunderstand ourselves. Then we misunderstand God. But finally, we misunderstand faith.
Romans 10:5–8 ESV
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);
Here we see the contrast between those who seek to establish their own righteousness rather than receive it from God’s hand. Paul paraphrases Moses in verse 5 and explains him in verses 6-8. Verse 5 basically says, that if you’re going to establish your own righteousness, then you had better do it and do it perfectly. But often, those who proclaim to trust in Christ are still trusting in themselves because they still want to add to faith, misunderstanding what faith is and what faith does.
A righteousness that comes from faith does not seek to work to attain it. This goes back to 9:30. The Gentiles didn’t pursue righteousness but attained it. How? By faith. Faith doesn’t say, “It’s there for the taking. All you have to do is trek up to heaven and get Christ.” It doesn’t say, “It’s there for the taking; all you have to do is cross over the abyss, the sea (in Hebrew), and get Christ.” No! Moses’s (and Paul’s) whole point was that the work has been done for you. God has done it all. It’s there in your heart and in your mouth. Remember this is written to the church—the Christians in Rome. It’s so close you can feel it. It’s so close you can taste it and speak it.
It is this word, that is so near, that produces faith. That’s what he means by calling it the word of faith. The word, the very gospel of Jesus, produces faith within us. That’s why Paul is all about proclaiming the gospel.
Romans 10:9–10 ESV
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.
This is God’s radical gospel! It changes everything! Believing the gospel brings salvation to you. You don’t go up, go out, or go down in order to try and get it yourself. It is right there. Believe it and it will save you. It will cause you to renounce all other lords, all other gods, all other masters. It will save you from God’s wrath and give you peace with God. You believe unto righteousness, unto right-standing with God.
We must stop misunderstanding what faith is and what faith does. While faith causes us to move and live for God, it does not say, “Go get Jesus.” It says, “Jesus is here and will save you; believe it.”
The world misunderstands faith. They want you to put faith in faith. Just believe in something. Again, so long as you are sincere. But that’s not how it works. Misunderstanding faith causes strife in the church because we can so easily add to faith other aspects. We doubt someone’s salvation because they don’t speak “Christianeze.” We put second and tertiary issues on the same level as primary doctrines. Tattoos, drinking, smoking, and other things become Shibboleths to test if someone is truly a believer. Brothers and sisters, we must be careful.

Conclusion

As we finish Romans 9:30-10:10, I hope we see the eternal and deadly mistakes that so many make when it comes to themselves, God, and faith. It’s possible that some here are making one or more of these mistakes even now. You think you can do what needs be done on your own. You think that your passion, your zeal, your sincerity is enough, but it isn’t. You think that faith has demands, when it only brings you to believe the gospel.
You receive a promise in these verses. It is the promise of salvation. You will be saved if you simply believe. It is just as simple as that, though it is not easy. It will mean bowing the knee to God and confessing Jesus to be Lord rather than yourself. Only then, do you receive his righteousness.
Beloved, we need to be reminded of this gospel too. Paul wrote this to believers in the church because it is so easy to lose sight of its simplicity. We make it more complicated than it is.
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