The Gospel According To Paul 8
Our last study began with God's election
of Israel as His chosen people. In Chapter 10 we'll see how they came to be
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that
they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God,
but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the
righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did
not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there
may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4)
With all his heart Paul wanted the Jews to receive the gospel message.
Remember, last time he said he would give up his own place in eternity if he
could get them to accept theirs. (Romans 9:3) But like many legalists in
the Church today, the Jews of Old Testament times overlooked God's message of
Grace, searching instead for a set of requirements they could fulfill to earn a
righteousness of their own.
Don't misunderstand. Our Lord didn't abolish the Law. (Matt. 5:17)
He brought it to completion by obeying both the letter and the spirit of its
requirements, and by fulfilling its prophecies. Having been released from the
Law's condemnation by His obedience, everyone who believes is now free to
accept God's righteousness, a righteousness imputed to us by faith.
Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law:
"The man who does these things will live by them." [Lev.18:5]
But the righteousness that is by 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 deep?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the
dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth
and in your heart," [Deut. 30:13-14] that is, the word of faith we
are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is
Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you
will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified,
and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture
says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." [Isaiah
28:16] For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is
Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who
calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." [Joel 2:32] (Romans
When Moses offered Israel the choice of life or death in Deut. 30, he
said it was neither too difficult for them to comprehend nor beyond their
reach. They didn't have to ascend into heaven or descend into the depths of the
sea to get it. The words were in their hearts and on their tongues. (It has
always fascinated me that the Hebrew name for the Book of Deuteronomy is
"haddebarim." It means, "The Words." Maybe that's why
Jesus quoted from it more than any other book of the Bible.)
And it's even more so with us. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
Agree that He's God become man, our Creator incarnate. Believe in your heart
that God raised Him from the dead. Remember, Paul was writing to people who
were already saved, and now he explained what their beliefs meant.
Here's why believing in the resurrection is necessary. When Jesus went to
the cross, all of our sins were placed upon Him (Colossians 2:14). When
that happened, God had to abandon Him (Matt. 27:46), His eyes being too
pure to look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13). But when Jesus came out of the
tomb He was seated at the right hand of God (Ephes. 1:20) Put it all
together and you'll see that if even one of our sins placed upon Him remained
unpaid, He'd still be in the tomb. He could not exist in the Presence of God.
Put another way, if all of our sins were placed on Him and if He's now in the
Presence of God, then all our sins must have been paid for on the cross. Every
one of them. So His resurrection is proof of ours. If you don't believe in
His then you can't believe in yours.
From the wellspring of belief in our hearts the words of our salvation come
flowing out of our mouths. Jew or Gentile, it's all the same.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how
can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear
without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are
sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring
good news!" [Isaiah 52:7] (Romans 10:14-15)
When reversed, this series of questions lists the steps toward salvation.
Messengers are sent from God proclaiming the Gospel. The people hear and
believe, call upon the name of the Lord, and are saved.
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says,
"Lord, who has believed our message?" [Isaiah 53:1]
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is
heard through the word of Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they
"Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the
ends of the world." [Psalm 19:4]
Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
"I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you
angry by a nation that has no understanding." [Deut 32:21]
And Isaiah boldly says,
"I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who
did not ask for me." [Isaiah 65:1]
But concerning Israel he says,
"All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate
people." [Isaiah 65:2] (Romans 10:16-21)
In using a quote from Psalm 19 Paul was claiming that in addition to
all the messengers God sent them, the heavens themselves brought the Gospel
story to Israel. Indeed our knowledge of the Hebrew Mazzaroth, corrupted by Babylon into the Signs of the Zodiac, shows that God wrote the Gospel in the stars as a
means for his ancient people to teach their children.
And if the Gentiles, considered to be spiritually ignorant, could understand
it, surely Israel had no excuse. God didn't form the Gentile nations and live
among them like He did the Jews, but they found Him nonetheless, while Israel, with God in their midst, lost Him.
They had no one to blame but themselves. Having worked to the point of
obsession to establish their own righteousness, they overlooked the most
important ingredient, faith. Having rejected Him, they became the rejected.
But as we'll see next time, it won't be forever. As He had Jeremiah tell
them, He will never forget His chosen people.
This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees
the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves
roar— the LORD Almighty is his name:
"Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the
LORD, "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me."
This is what the LORD says:
"Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of
the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel
because of all they have done,"
declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:35-37)
Then, just to be sure there'd be no misunderstanding, He had
Ezekiel say it this way.
"I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an
everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I
will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them;
I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know
that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.
" (Ezekiel 37:26-28)
In our next study we'll see how these prophecies will be fulfilled when
Israel is brought back to God. And we'll also see that even during the
centuries of rejection God has used His chosen people to bless all of humanity,
fulfilling His promise to Abraham. Selah 03-03-07