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CHRIST THE ONLY WAY, AND RECEIVED BY FAITH ALONE
1. “Brethren, truly the desire of my heart and my prayer to God in their behalf is for salvation.
2. “For I testify to them that they have a zeal of God, but not according to perfect knowledge.” The Jews in Paul’s day, like the fallen churches in all ages, had some knowledge of God, but it was not the experimental sort, such as enables us to know Him personally in practical and real salvation.
3. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness; but did not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Righteousness arising from legal obedience is nothing but our own counterfeit self-righteousness, which is “filthy rags” in the sight of God. The only hope of humanity is the righteousness of God in Christ, imputed unto the broken-hearted through faith alone, and wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost in regeneration. We have a most wonderful Savior, very God and perfect man. In His divine capacity He has a righteousness peculiar to His divinity, which He will never impart, but retain forever. In His human capacity He has a righteousness peculiar to His perfect humanity, which He will never impart, but eternally retain. Meanwhile He has a third righteousness arising from His perfect obedience to the divine law, actively in life keeping it and passively in death verifying it. This third righteousness, which is neither essential to His Godhead, nor His manhood, nor His perfect Mediatorial character, lie procured for all His guilty, ruined brethren to relieve them of condemnation and establish them irreproachable before the divine law for time and eternity. Since Christ Himself is the only human being who ever did or ever can keep the law, having become our Substitute in death and our exemplar in life, since faith in its very nature is the only appropriating grace, we must all receive this righteousness by faith alone. Here Paul condemns the Jews for “going about” to establish their own righteousness instead of receiving the righteousness of God in Christ by simple faith. The world is still full of people “going about” to establish their own righteousness. I was on that line nineteen years, intervening between my conversion and sanctification. Perfectly honest and sincere, kneeling before God, I made my consecration to the best of my knowledge and ability. Meanwhile a voice said to me, “Now, if you want to be holy and all right with God, you go ahead and perform every duty just right, and you will find your heart clean and your life cloudless sunshine.” I thought it was the voice of God, but it was that of the enemy, decoying me away lest I might by simple faith receive the Omnipotent Sanctifier, who was at that time standing right by me, and ready in a moment to give me the boon for which I went sighing and crying nineteen years. Thus making my consecration, instead of receiving sanctification by faith in the present tense, I renewed my covenant and resolved to do much better than ever before. So, leaving the Sanctifier standing by, I again and again proceeded with this “going about” to establish my own righteousness, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God through Christ by faith, every time only to be mortified by finding that I had grieved the Spirit by offering Him another pile of filthy rags, all this time postponing the blessing which Omnipotent Grace waited to bestow in a moment. The churches are this day filled with this fatal “going about,” running themselves down, working up their human institutions to glorify God with the little filthy lucre which He does not need, instead of magnifying Him with the glory of holiness, which is alone acceptable in His sight.
5. “For Moses thus describes the righteousness which is from law, which a man having done, shall live in the same.” None but the unfallen angels and Adam in Eden ever could keep the perfect law and have spiritual life in so doing. Hence, after the Fall, there has never been a human being on the earth, except Jesus of Nazareth, who was competent to keep the law. He kept it for all of us, and we, by perfect submission and doubtless faith, avail ourselves of His substitutionary obedience, actively in life and passively in death, to perfectly satisfy the law in our behalf, Opening the pearly gates to our happy ingress.
6. “For the righteousness of faith speaketh thus: Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend up into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down;)
7. “Or, Who shall descend into the abyss? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)
8. “But what saith the Scripture? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.
9. “That if thou mayest confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10. “For with the heart it is believed unto righteousness, and with the mouth it is confessed unto salvation.” When our Savior gave the commission (Matthew 28:20), He said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.” While the glorified man Christ is up in heaven interceding for us, the spiritual Christ is on earth and omnipresent. “Deep”. in E. V. is “abyss” in the Greek, which literally means “bottomless,” applicable to the center of the earth, which is evidently the fiery location of hell, and the only locality which is bottomless. Thither the human soul of our Savior descended while His body lay in the tomb, proclaiming His victory in the pandemonium, and crossing the intervening chasm into the intermediate paradise, “Abraham’s bosom,” meeting the thief the same day he was crucified, and “leading captive” all the Old Testament saints, there waiting in joy ineffable the completion of the redemptive scheme and the sealing of the Abrahamic covenant with His blood, leading them up with Him, invisible, because they did not have their bodies: accompanying Him for forty days on earth previous to His resurrection, and ascending with Him into glory, the first fruits of the triumphant Mediatorial kingdom (1 Peter 3:19; Ephesians 4:8-10; Acts 2:27-31). In this grand culminating argument, Paul affirms the beautiful facility of the salvation plan, since Christ, our only and omnipotent Savior, is omnipresent, and we have nothing to do but believe “with the heart unto salvation,” i. e., heart faith, believe into it, keep on believing until you get it. Then, when you do conscientiously receive it, confess it with your mouth to all the world, perpetuating your unfaltering testimony through time and eternity. We must remember that we are not saved through mental faith, such as wicked men and devils have, but through the real spiritual faith of the heart. The popular churches are filled up with people who have nothing but intellectual faith, like the devils in hell, who are very orthodox, giving us a perpetual illustration of the unsalvability peculiar to intellectual faith, otherwise they would all be saved and get out of there in a hurry. Your heart is your spirit, your immortal self, filling your whole body. This spirit is the man himself who fell in Eden, utterly losing spiritual life, and consequently literally and totally depraved; the mind not utterly falling, as in that case they would have become idiots; the body not totally falling, as in that case they would have dropped dead in their tracks. On this residuum of body and mind surviving the Fall, Satan has built up great systems of materialistic and intellectual religions, girdling the globe, serving as passports of his deluded millions into hell, being utterly destitute of spirituality and salvation. I have seen many join the church on a merely intellectual confession of faith. As well take in a lot of devils so far as salvation is concerned. Heart faith which brings salvation always opens the mouth and tells its own story. The churches are filled up with poor, dead dummies, a withering burlesque on Jesus Christ, who is here both to raise the dead and cast out all the dumb devils. Oh, what a sensation would this bring into a great popular, dead, dumb church False religion makes the church still and dumb as a graveyard. True religion makes the church active, demonstrative and uproarious like a graveyard on the resurrection morn.
11. “For the Scripture says, Every one believing on him shall not be ashamed.” The masses of church members are ashamed to pray at home and in public and talk for Jesus on the streets, from the simple fact that they are full of sin. Get rid of all sin, and your shame is all gone forever.
12. “For there is no difference between Jew and Greek,” i. e., no difference between church member and outsider, as salvation through Christ alone and by faith alone without church rites is free for all. “For the same Lord of all is rich toward all who call upon him.” Calling upon the Lord is praying. So you begin to pray and keep on, never stopping, and God will see that you get to be a millionaire, rich as Croesus in heaven’s gold; pearls and diamonds beautifying your very physiognomy with holiness to the Lord.
13. “For every one whosoever may call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Oh, how the generations have been dumfuddled by intriguing priests, playing off on them the church ordinances, i. e., water baptism, sacraments and even multitudinous rites, ceremonies and institutions of their own invention, inflating them with lying delusion that they can be saved thereby, all a trick of the devil to lead them away from Christ, who alone can save, and who can only be received and appropriated by faith. You must remember that these counterfeit preachers all claim that they have faith, yet it is nothing but dead, intellectual faith, peculiar to wicked men and devils, which never did have any salvation. If they had the genuine spiritual faith of the heart, you would hear from them in a ringing testimony to the power of Jesus to save to the uttermost, “as he who believes with the heart always confesseth unto salvation.” Oh, the wonderful simplicity of the plan of salvation! You see from this verse that you have to do nothing to be saved but “call on the name of the Lord,” i. e., begin to pray now and keep on, never stopping. Rest assured, wonderful things will happen; you will shine and shout, and in due time sweep through the pearly gates.
14-17. Here Paul beautifully elaborates the divine economy of salvation through faith, superinduced by hearing the Word through the preachers sent of God, whose very coming is a harbinger of heavenly benediction.
18. “But I say, Have they not all heard? yea truly: their voice has gone into all the earth and their words unto the ends of the world.” How do we reconcile this statement with the preceding? But a minority in Paul’s day had ever heard the verbal gospel. The same minority on earth as to the auricular proclamation still obtains. The solution of the problem is the simple fact that the holy Ghost, who is the only real Preacher on the earth, men and women only serving as telephones, is actually in every nation under heaven, having spoken to every responsible human being in every age and race. Therefore, Paul says (Chapter 1:20) that even the heathens are left without excuse. While human agency is God’s appointment and a glorious means of grace, yet the great Gospel Preacher is everywhere speaking to every immortal soul and preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ.
19-21. Here Paul beautifully alludes to God’s merciful call of the Gentiles, simultaneously bewailing the stupidity and perversity of the Jews.
“I was found unto those who sought not after me.” This is a vivid allusion to the call of the Gentiles, to them a universal surprise. Not only is this true of the Gentile world, but millions of individuals have been saved speedily, and to their own unutterable surprise, when they went seeking curiosity and fun, suddenly caught in the lasso of the Holy Ghost and wonderfully saved. The proud, haughty ‘squire in West Virginia took his wife and daughter and went to a camp-meeting. The afternoon is wearing away, he and his wife are in the carriage homeward bound. The daughter lingers unseen in the crowd till their patience flickers, and the mother goes to hunt her up and bring her. Finding the proud, giddy girl all torn to pieces, prostrate in the straw and crying for mercy, and, undertaking to get her away, she too is thunderstruck, falling in the straw. The haughty ‘squire, his patience all ebbed away, raging mad, with bold threats, rushes into the red-hot altar to pull away his wife and daughter and take them home. Meanwhile a strange weakness pervades his entire body so he can do nothing, and thinks only of personal escape. Running ten steps, he falls prostrate on the ground, is carried back to the altar and laid down with his wife and daughter to spend the ensuing night in mutual agony, crying to God for the salvation which, with the glorious day-dawn, breaks in on them with a heavenly sunburst, so, to their unutterable surprise, they all mount the carriage and go home, shouting happy in the kingdom of God.
Twenty-seven years ago a very intelligent wicked man came to my meeting, cursing me and making fun of what he called my “converting machine.”
That man got wonderfully saved and turned preacher. Oh, the infinite mercy of God in thus surprising millions with the salvation which they never sought till He caught them with the lasso of the thunderbolt of conviction.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 10". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28