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The Apostle is here expressing his deep Concern that the Jews were turning from Christ to the Law, He speaks very blessedly towards the Close of the Chapter, that no Believer, whether Jew or Gentile, looking to Christ, shall fail of Grace and Salvation in Christ.
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) 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. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.
This chapter, like the former, gives us a very interesting view of the tenderness and affection of Paul's heart. He knew what the Lord had said, that there was a remnant according to the election of grace; and, therefore, unconscious who they were, in the great mass of the Jewish nation, he testifieth to the whole body of his brethren after the flesh, how eagerly he longed for their salvation by Christ. For the whole Jewish nation differed widely from the world around them in their apprehension of God. They had a zeal for his glory distinguished from all their neighbours. They were not as those nations were, Idolaters. They expected Christ. They honored the law in the external observance of it. But in the midst of all this, they had no consciousness of Christ, and were totally ignorant of Him as a Savior. A righteousness of their own, or a fancied righteousness they were endeavoring to set up, all the mean time unconscious of the Person, and work of the Lord our righteousness.
Reader! it may be well to pause, and consider the subject as it concerns ourselves. An ignorance of Christ's righteousness, and a supposed preparation for acceptance with God in a righteousness of our own, is the general creed of the present hour. The great mass of those who profess the Gospel, if engaged at all in a concern for salvation, is prosecuting the hope of acceptance, partly by the deeds of the law, and partly by the grace of Christ. But, this is neither law nor Gospel. It is not the law, for a curse is pronounced upon everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them, Galatians 3:10 . Neither is it the Gospel, for there we are expressly said to be saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, for it is the gift of God, and not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 .
I would not wish the Reader to turn away from the subject those few verses contain, before that he hath considered, and that very maturely, the charge Paul brings against those brethren of his, of whom he speaks. There is nothing as essential in forming the standard of true faith, as this very point of the sinner's justification before God. If we are confused in our apprehension of things here, that confusion will run, like the links in a chain, through every part in life and practice. Now the Apostle expressly saith, that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. Here then is the righteousness, the sole righteousness of his people. In this the soul of the true believer is justified before God. And, such is the infinite worth and perfection of it, that God beholds and accepts the persons of the redeemed in it, as fully and compleatly justified, as if they had wrought it out themselves. For Christ and his redeemed are one. The scripture blessedly saith concerning it, that it is unto all and upon all them that believe, Romans 3:22 . See the Commentary on this passage.
And I beg the Reader yet one moment longer to bear with me while I add, that beside the proper apprehension of the doctrine itself, in order to a real enjoyment of the soul, there must be an heart-felt acquaintance with it in the conscience. The Apostle James calls that word an engrafted word which is able to save the soul, James 1:21 . meaning, that it lives in the heart, and is always remaining there. Not floating in the understanding, but influencing the whole life. A child of God, when regenerated by the Holy Ghost, awakened to a sense of sin, and an apprehension of the Person, work, and glory of Christ; hath passed from death to life. He hath felt the sentence of God's broken law in his conscience; and hath fled from it to Jesus, and his complete, all-justifying righteousness. And here he rests. In this he finds a perfect security. And his comfort in it is not made up in the correctness of his judgment, but in the lively actings of faith in his soul. Reader! are your apprehensions of Christ, as the end of the law for righteousness, living principles, inwrought by God the Spirit on this foundation?
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. (6) But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) (7) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) (8) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; (9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (11) For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (12) For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. (13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Nothing can be more beautiful than this short, but blessed description, of the difference between the law righteousness, and the Gospel righteousness, as they concern the Church of God. Both are alike called God's righteousness, because both are from God. But the one was never given in a way of justification before God, for by the deeds of the law no flesh could be justified in his sight. And it was intended only to minister to the other, in whom alone, as holding forth the Person and work of Christ, all the seed of Israel were to be justified, Isaiah 45:25 .
I do not think it necessary to dwell in this place on the subject, having so largely considered it in the third and fourth Chapters of this same Epistle. I would refer the Reader to those scriptures. And, added to what is there said, I would just remark, that the expressions here made use of by the Apostle, of confession with the mouth, and belief in the heart, very decidedly shew, that Paul considered those principles as living principles, not floating merely in the understanding, but influencing the mind and conscience. Head knowledge, void of heart influence, is the bane of the present day. Thousands, it is to be feared, are resting in a name to believe, while virtually dead before God. Paul saith, it is with the heart (not the head) man believeth unto righteousness. And elsewhere he prayed for the Church, that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith, Ephesians 3:17 . There are two or three grand points of distinction, which mark grace in the heart from knowledge merely in the head; which the Reader would do well to attend to. First. In every soul truly regenerated, there is an heart-felt acquaintance with the Person, and work, and glory of Christ. Jesus himself explains it, in calling it, seeing the Son, and believing on him: John 6:40 , that is, such a sight by faith, as can, and doth depend upon him for life and salvation. God the Holy Ghost, who convinceth of sin, convinceth also of Jesus, and his all-sufficient righteousness; and inclines the heart to believe, as Paul here expresseth it, unto righteousness. Secondly, In every child of God, thus taught of God to know Christ, who he is, and to believe in him for salvation; there will be also, an heart-felt enjoyment of him, and his finished work, as the only desired means of salvation. This remedy for the recovery from the Adam - nature of sin, is beheld and accepted with holy joy and thanksgiving, as God's own providing, and made use of accordingly. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness. The affections are all in it. The soul is won to Christ, and the soul wins Christ, and desires to be found in him. Hence that sweet promise of Jesus is enjoyed, and the soul made happy in durable riches, and righteousness, Proverbs 8:17-21 . And thirdly, to add no more. In every soul truly regenerated, there will be a daily coming to Christ, an entire leaning upon Christ, a full cleaving to Christ, as the Church of old is described, coming up out of the wilderness, Song of Solomon 8:5 ; Ephesians 1:1 ; Psalms 89:16 ; John 15:5 . Reader! what saith your experience to those statements? These are heart-feelings, soul-enjoyments, which differ as widely from head knowledge unaccompanied by grace, as the sight of food, doth from partaking of it. Oh! the blessedness of knowing and enjoying Christ! With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (15) 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! (16) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? (17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (18) But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. (19) But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. (20) But Isaiah is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. (21) But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
The Apostle having shewn, that the children of God, whether Jew or Gentile, or wherever scattered, should find grace; and having quoted a well known passage to confirm it of the Prophet Joel, which Peter had also explained, in reference to the remnant whom the Lord shall call: (see Joel 2:32 with Acts 2:16-21 .) here takes up the subject to shew no less the necessity of a divine mission, in every instance where the Lord would bless his word to the souls of the people. And, he makes references to other scriptures in proof, Isaiah 52:7 and Isaiah 53:1 . But, the Apostle hath expressed himself so dearly on those points, as to render unnecessary any comment. I would rather, therefore, as a short improvement from the whole, request the Reader's attention to what the Apostle hath said on the subject of faith coming by hearing; that we may both enter into the Apostle's meaning, and, if it please the Lord, gather instruction under his Almighty teaching, on this interesting point of faith and hearing by the word of God.
There is somewhat very blessed in hearing the word of God, when God gives the hearing ear, and the seeing eye, and the understanding heart. David, under the influence of it cried out: I w ill never forget thy word, for by it thou hast quickened me, Psalms 119:93 . And every child of God can say the same who hath felt the Lord's power, in the Lord's word, and like Job, hath esteemed it more than his necessary food, Job 23:12 . See Jeremiah 15:16 .
But while the people of God, when brought by regeneration into an heart-felt knowledge and enjoyment of the word of God, feel the blessedness and the sweetness of it to their soul's joy; it becomes the subject of interesting enquiry, how faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God? We all know that faith is the gift of God. No man can create faith in his own heart, neither can he increase what the great Author and Giver of faith hath planted there. Let this be marked down as a principle perfectly incontrovertible. Faith is God's gift, not man's work. It is of God's grace, not man's merit. Unto you, saith the Apostle, it is given to believe on him, Philippians 1:29 .
When this point is clearly and fully established in the mind, we shall the better enter into the right apprehension of what the Apostle saith: faith cometh by hearing. The Lord hath graciously appointed means and instruments for the promoting his glory, in his people's happiness; for the conveying to them many of his gifts and blessings. Now, faith by hearing is one of them. A child of God comes to the word of God. He hears in it of Jesus. His heart is warmed, and his affections excited thereby. And he finds his mind going forth in desires after Christ, and in a confidence, and love, and faith In Christ. Hence faith, in all those instances, may be said to come by hearing. And thus the Lord stamps a blessing on Gospel ordinances, and the hearing of his blessed word. The Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians, laid this down as a proof of their election, because the word was blessed to them in this way. Knowing brethren beloved, (said he,) your election of God. For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 .
And, if my Reader be of them, who by regeneration know the Lord, he must have the same testimony in his heart also. Remember, my brother, that this faith which cometh by hearing, doth not come in such an open display as many of the public manifestations of the Lord in his providence, or his grace, may. The Lord speaks in the still, small voice, as powerfully to his people's joy, as when in the thunder or the storm. His love and favor are equally manifested. Have you never felt, when hearing the word of God, an enlightening, refreshing, comforting, instructing, soul-strengthening communication from it? Could you not many times have said, as the disciples did, whose souls were refreshed with the divine discourse of Jesus himself, when talking with them in their way to Emmaus: did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? Luke 24:32 . Surely it is the same Lord, who now speaketh, by the ministry of the same word, in the present day of the Church, when at any time bringing them under his shadow and making his fruit sweet to their taste, Song of Solomon 2:3 .
And, what tends to endear this act of grace still more, (for it is wholly grace,) is the blessedness of it, in that it depends not upon our preparedness to receive it, or our deservedness of it, in endeavoring to prepare for it, but the Lord's favor; for it comes like the rain or the dew of heaven, which waiteth not for man, neither tarrieth for the sons, of men, Micah 5:7 . If the Lord was to suspend this, or any other blessing, till man made himself prepared for it; then would it never come at all. Precious Jesus! how suited are thy words here, as in a thousand other instances: I am found of them that sought me not! I said, behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name! Isaiah 45:1 .
My Brother! let you and I delight to attend ordinances and the hearing of the Lord's word; and not in any preparation of our own, but the Lord's. For, my own part, I would pray to seek the Lord's face in the Lord's strength. Faith will never come by my attempting to create it in my own heart. Neither will I despond of receiving faith because of this. I am here blessedly taught, that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Hence, I am not to consider what I can do; for I can do nothing but sin. But my business is, to consider what Christ, the great Author and Finisher of faith, can do; yea, what he will do, for his people. I am come, he saith, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly, John 10:10 .
What a beautiful example the great Apostle of the Gentiles holds forth to all that minister in the Gospel of Christ, in his earnest desire and prayer to God, for Israel's salvation! With what rapture he speaks of his Lord, and the fulness of redemption in him. Paul well knew in his own experience, and therefore most affectionately longed for the apprehension of it in others, that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.
It will be a very blessed use of this scripture, if from the statement the Apostle hath given the Church in this Chapter, the minds of the people are taught, under God, the vast difference between head-knowledge, and heart-enjoyment. Oh! for grace to rightly know, and as rightly to enjoy, the blessedness of the Apostle's words, that it is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation!
Blessed Author and Giver of all faith! Thou that art the glorious object of faith, and in whom faith centers all her hopes, joys, and expectations! Do thou, Lord, increase our faith in thee, and our dependance upon thee! And cause the several means of grace in thine house of prayer, to be blessed of our God! Oh! for faith, in the largest, fullest, and most entensive enjoyments of it, to be in the daily actings of my soul, that through God the Holy Ghost I may be kept alive in the hearing of thy word, and by faith be enabled to keep up and maintain unceasing communion with my God and Savior, in the enjoyment of it. Precious Jesus! do thou make me new and fresh discoveries of thyself, in greater frequency, and to greater extent. Let thy Person, thy love, thy favor, which is better than life itself, be the food of my soul every day and all the day, that by living a life of faith upon thee here, I may be fully preparing in body, soul, and spirit, for the everlasting enjoyment of my God in glory hereafter.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Romans 10". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26