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Lecture 8 - Romans Chapter 10
God’s Present Dealings with Israel in Governmental Discipline
Having, as we have seen, vindicated in a masterly way the righteousness of God in setting aside Israel nationally because of unbelief, and taking up the Gentiles during the present dispensation of grace, the apostle now goes on to show that this deflection of the nation as such does not in any wise involve the rejection of the individual Israelite. The nation as such is no longer looked upon as in covenant relationship with God, nor will it be until it comes under the new covenant at the beginning of the millennium; when “a nation shall be born in a day;” but the same promises apply to any individual member of the house of Israel as to any individual Gentile.
In the first three verses (Romans 10:1-3) the apostle expresses his yearning desire and prayer for his kinsmen. He longs and prays that they may be saved, for though Abraham’s seed after the flesh, they are “lost sheep,” and need to be sought and found by the Good Shepherd just as truly as those “other sheep” of the Gentiles. But the pitiable thing is that, although lost, they do not realize their true condition. Filled with a mistaken zeal for God, marked by an outward adherence to Judaism as a divinely-established system, they are earnestly trying to serve the God of their fathers, but not according to knowledge; that is, they have refused the fuller revelation He has given of Himself, His mind, and His will through Christ Jesus. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
The term “God’s righteousness” is used here somewhat differently to the general expression, the “righteousness of God.” We have seen heretofore that the righteousness of God is used in two ways: It is God’s consistency with Himself, as one has expressed it, and thereby becomes the great sheet-anchor of the soul, because in the gospel God has revealed how He can be just and the Justifier of those who put faith in Christ; the sin question has been settled in a righteous way, as God’s nature demanded that it should be, ere He could deal in grace with guilty men. The second aspect is that of imputation. God imputes righteousness to all who believe. Therefore Christ, and Christ Himself, is the righteousness of the believer. We are thus made, or constituted, the righteousness of God in Him according as it is written in the book of the prophet Jeremiah:
“This is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness” (Jehovah Tsid-kenu).
But in these three verses where the apostle says, “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness,” it seems plain that he simply means that they are ignorant of how righteous God really is; therefore they go about attempting to establish a righteousness of their own. No man would think of doing this, if he realized for a moment the transcendent character of the divine righteousness. The utter impossibility of producing a righteousness of works suitable for a God of such infinite righteousness would cause the soul to shrink back in acknowledgement of his own helplessness. It is when men reach this place that they are ready to submit themselves unto that righteousness of God which has been revealed in the gospel. When I learn that I am absolutely without righteousness in myself; that is, without such a righteousness as is suited to a righteous God, then I am glad to avail myself of that righteousness which He Himself proclaims in the gospel, and in which He clothes me when I trust in Christ. “For Christ is the end (i.e., the object for the consummation) of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The law proposed a righteousness which I could not furnish. Christ has met every requirement of that holy law, He has died under its penalty; He has risen from the dead; He is Himself the righteousness which all need.
In the verses that follow, the apostle contrasts legal righteousness or a “by works righteousness” with this “in faith righteousness.” He cites from Moses, who describes legal righteousness in the solemn words, “The man which doeth those things shall live by them” (See Leviticus 18:5). This is law in its very essence, “Do and live.” But no man ever yet did that which entitled him to life, for “if a man should keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all”; that is, he is a lawbreaker. He has not necessarily violated every commandment. But a thief is as truly a lawbreaker as a murderer. And the law having been violated, even once, man’s title to life thereunder is forfeited.
Now the righteousness which is of faith depends upon testimony that God has given. Again the apostle quotes from Moses, who, in Deuteronomy 12:13-14, presses upon the people the fact that God has given testimony which man is responsible to believe. The testimony there, of course, was the revelation from Sinai. But the apostle takes up Moses* words, and in a wonderful way under the guidance of the Spirit, applies them to Christ. “Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” Christ has already come down. He has died. God has raised Him from the dead. And upon this depends the entire gospel testimony.
Therefore he goes on to say, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.” The gospel has been proclaimed; they have heard it; they are familiar with its terms. The question is: Do they believe it and confess the Christ it proclaims as their Lord? For in verses Romans 10:9-10 he epitomises the whole matter in words that have been used of God through the centuries to bring assurance to thousands of precious souls, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” (or literally, Jesus as Lord), “and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The heart is simply another term for the real man. The apostle is not trying to draw a fine distinction, as some preachers do, between believing with the head and believing with the heart. He does not occupy us with the nature of belief; he does occupy us with the object of faith. We believe the message that God has given concerning Christ. If we believe at all, we believe with the heart. Otherwise we do not really trust. “With the heart” man believeth. The confession here is not, of course, necessarily the same thing as where our Lord says, “Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven.” This is rather the soul’s confession to God Himself that he takes Jesus as Lord.
He then cites another Old Testament scripture from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 28:16), which declares that “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” In this way he proves that the universality of the present gospel faith is in no wise in conflict with the revealed word of God as given to the Jew of old. “Whosoever” includes the whole world. Already he has established the fact in Chapter 3 that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, so far as sin is concerned. Now he gives the other side of the “no difference” doctrine. “The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him, for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” To call upon the name of the Lord is, of course, to invoke His name in faith. His name speaks of what He is. He who calls upon the name of the Lord puts his trust in Him, as it is written, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, and the righteous runneth into it and is safe.”
The Jew had been accustomed to think of himself as the chosen of the Lord, and as the one to whom was committed the testimony of the one true and living God. Therefore the objector naturally asks, and Paul puts the very words in his mouth, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” And he follows this question with another: “And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” And this again with a third question: “How shall they hear without a preacher?” Nor are the objections ended with this, for again he says: “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” The Jew believed in God; he had heard of Him; to him preachers had proclaimed the message, and these preachers had been sent of God. But who authorized anyone to overleap the Jewish bounds and go with the gospel of peace to the Gentiles?
In reply to the objector, Paul reminds him that Israel who had all these privileges had not responded as might have been expected; not all had obeyed the gospel. And this, too, was foreseen by the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah sadly asked, “Lord, who hath believed our report?” indicating that many who heard would refuse to accept this message. But then the objector answers, “You admit, Paul, that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word, or the report of God.” “Yes,” he replies, “but have they not heard? Is there any people so utterly dark and ignorant that the word of God in some form has not come to them, thus putting them into responsibility?” The 19th Psalm testifies that the voice of God may be heard in His creation: the sun, the moon, the stars-all the marvels of this wonderful universe-testify to the reality of a personal Creator. And so the Psalmist says, “Their sound went unto all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world.”
It is not a new thing, then, for God to speak to Gentiles. All that is new about it is that He is now speaking more fully, more clearly than He ever spoke before. He is now proclaiming in unmistakable terms an offer of salvation to all who trust His word. And did not Israel know that God was going to take up the peoples of the nations? They should have known, for Moses himself said: “I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” And Isaiah, with uncompromising boldness, declares: “I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me.” Surely words like these could only apply to the heathen of the Gentile world. And as for Israel, with all their privileges, concerning them God had said: “All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” The subject is continued in the opening verses of the next chapter, in which, as we shall see, the apostle shows how God is getting His election, even out of Israel, during the present dispensation. But we will consider the entire chapter in one address, and so I forbear further comment now, save to insist that the gist of the present portion is evidently this: during the present dispensation, when grace is going out to the nations, beyond the bounds of the Jewish race, this does not involve the utter rejection of Israelites, but it does imply the end of special privilege. They may be saved if they will, but on exactly the same terms as the despised Gentile. The middle wall of partition is broken down, but grace is offered through Jesus Christ to all who own their guilt and confess His name.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Romans 10". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29