Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
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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.
I. ANYONE WHO SEEKS TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS
BEFORE GOD WILL BE DISAPPOINTED (9:30-10:4).
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
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).
II. BY CONTRAST, WHOEVER BELIEVES ON JESUS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS WILL
NOT BE DISAPPOINTED (10:5-13).
A. In Christ, righteousness before God is fully accomplished
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.
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
C. In Christ, righteousness before God is universally available
1. This means that whoever believes on Him - without distinction
- will be saved.
2. Paul proves this by quoting from Joel 2:32.