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"Disappointed/Not Disappointed"
Romans 9:1-29

Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
August 25, 2004

We live in a day and age in which it's hard for people to believe in something that can be theirs for free. But then, that's not something that's exclusive to our day only. Human nature has always struggled with the idea of righteousness being something that God gives freely by grace through faith - apart from our works.

The Jewish mind, which Paul addresses in chapters 9-11, viewed the law as the means of righteousness before God. It would reason: (1) God gave His law so that, by my following it, I can be righteous; (2) I have followed God's law; (3) therefore, I am righteous. Whoever trusts in their own righteousness, however, will be disappointed. But the truth - to which the Gentiles had turned through the gospel - argues differently: (1) God has revealed His standard of righteousness through His law; (2) I have failed to keep His law; (3) therefore, I am unrighteous before God and need a Savior. In this section, Paul argues that all who thus trust in God's gracious gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ - whether they be Jew or Gentile - will not be disappointed.

A. Though many from among God's covenant people did not believe, this didn't mean that God's promises had failed. Paul argued that God's promises had always been fulfilled through His elective choice (9:1-13) - always a choice to show mercy (9:14-18), that always fulfills His ultimate purpose of revealing His glory (9:19-23) and that even extended to include the Gentiles (9:24-29).

B. Yet, though He remains sovereign in His choice, Israel is still responsible for its unbelief.

1. This is because, while the Gentiles pursued righteousness by faith, Israel sought to establish a righteousness before God on the basis of works of the law (9:30-32a).

2. They were not wrong to pursue righteousness. The problem was not in the pursuit, but in the method. They sought it by works rather than by faith. In this respect, they stumbled over the "stumbling stone" (Isaiah 28:16), who was Christ. Whoever believes on Him, as the Scripture promises, will not be "disappointed" (9:32b-33; see also Isa. 53:4-6).

C. Thus, Israel displayed a faulty understanding of righteousness. They had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge - and are thus disappointed in their efforts.

1. Paul longed for their salvation, and bore witness of this zeal for God; but explained that, not knowing about the righteousness that has God as its source, they sought to establish their own through works (10:1-3a)

2. In so doing, they failed to subject themselves to the righteousness of God - which is found in being driven by the condemning power of the law to Christ for salvation (10:3b-4; see also Gal. 3:21-24 and John 5:39-40).


A. In Christ, righteousness before God is fully accomplished (vv. 5-7).
1. Paul argues from a quote from Leviticus 18:5. If someone were to live under the law, they'd have to keep the whole law and live by it. Breaking it at one point alone is enough to make one guilty before God (James 2:10).

2. Someone might argue that this wasn't fair. But then again, Paul quotes from an adapted quote from Deuteronomy 30:12-14 to illustrate the contrast that, what the law could not do, God has fully accomplished through Christ (Romans 8:3-4).

B. In Christ, righteousness before God is freely accessible (vv. 8-10).

1. He then, from the same adapted passage in Deuteronomy, shows us that the righteousness of God by faith is not far away, but very near. We do not have to go up to heaven to get it, or descend into the abyss to retrieve it.

2. It is literally as near as our own mouths and hearts.

a. Through confession by the mouth that Jesus is Lord (that is, all that the Scriptures has declared to be true of Jesus).

b. By believing in our hearts that He has been raised from the dead (that is, all that the Scriptures has declared to be done through Him).

C. In Christ, righteousness before God is universally available (vv. 11-13).

1. This means that whoever believes on Him - without distinction - will be saved.

2. Paul proves this by quoting from Joel 2:32.

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