Monday, August 21, 2017

What about Romans 10:9-13?

There seems to be much confusion and conflict these days about the tenth chapter of Romans. Many use vs.9-13 to support the "sinner's prayer" approach to evangelism. They believe that a sinner MUST vocally call upon the Lord in order to be saved and they emphasize prayer over faith. Others, seeing the error of this approach, overcorrect and go to the extreme of claiming that Romans 10 is only for Israel and has no application in this age of grace. Paul was talking about Israel in Romans 9-11, but he is speaking to the Gentiles (11:13). Let's work verse by verse through this chapter simply trying to understand what it says, instead of trying to prove a particular view.
Romans 10 is in the middle of the dispensational section of this epistle in which Paul deals with issues concerning Israel. He demonstrates and defends the faithfulness of God to His word concerning Israel. In these three chapters he has something to say about Israel’s past, present, and future.

Chapter 9 – Israel's past election 
Chapter 10 – Israel's present rejection 
Chapter 11 – Israel's future salvation

In the ninth chapter, Paul expressed his deep burden for unbelieving Israel and showed how that despite being God’s chosen nation they had willfully rejected Him. However, there was a remnant that believed the gospel. In the tenth chapter, he demonstrates how that unbelieving Israel was responsible for the condition they were in. The "righteousness which is of faith" (9:30; 10:6) was available to them (vs.6-8), offered to them (vs.12-13), but rejected by them (v.16, 21).

v.1 – Paul had been accused of being anti-Israel, but nothing was further from the truth (9:1-3)! He begins each chapter in this section declaring his burden and desire to see unbelieving Israelites saved. If the unbelieving Israelites were predestinated to damnation, what was the purpose of this prayer? He was driven by the love of Christ which constrained him. How else do you explain his burden for those who were falsely accusing him and persecuting him (11:28-29; 1 Thess. 2:15-16). Paul was praying for their salvation IN THIS PRESENT AGE. There is no need for him to pray for them to be saved at the second coming of Christ, because it is guaranteed by prophecy (Rom. 11:26, the believing remnant that faithfully endures, not every Jew who has ever lived).

v.2 – Paul knew all about their religious zeal because he had been just like them (Gal. 1:13-14). Their zeal was for their TRADITIONS more than the truth of God! Had they really loved the word of God they would have recognized their own Messiah of whom their scriptures prophesied.

v.3 – They were zealous in going about to establish their own righteousness which proved their absolute ignorance of God’s righteousness. In time past God required a man under the law to have the righteousness which is of the law (Deut. 6:24-25; Lk. 1:5-6; Phil. 3:6), but if he TRUSTED in his own righteousness it proved he really didn’t know and believe the law as well as he pretended to (Lk. 18:9-14). But now, the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ has been revealed (Rom. 3:19-28). Like unbelieving Israel, the religious world today is busy trying to establish their own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God.

v.4 – What is meant by “the end of the law?” Does he mean that Christ is the goal or the termination of the law? Both are true (1 Tim. 1:3-11; Gal. 3:24-25).

v.5 – In chapters 9-11 Paul quotes or alludes to many OT scriptures because he is dealing with Israel in the context. The righteousness of the law was by WORKS. They had to do all of the law, all of the time, and when they failed they had to bring the required sacrifice by faith with a repentant heart (Gal. 3:10).

In contrast with the righteousness which is of the law, a man doesn't have to do anything to receive the righteousness which is of faith (v.4, 10)! Christ has already come down from heaven to die for our sins and rise again from the dead. It is a finished work offered freely to those who believe. Paul alludes to a passage in the law (Deut. 30:12-14) to show that God has been faithful to make His revelation known to His people (Deut. 29:29; 30:11-20). Paul supplements “Christ” for the “commandment.” Just as God had made His commandment known to Israel, He has now made the righteousness of Christ known and available for them to receive through Paul’s Acts ministry (“to the Jew first”).
vs.9-13 - The confession in Matt. 10:32-33 is not the same thing as in Rom. 10:9-10 because the context is different. Paul says nothing in this passage about confessing Christ before men or being denied before the Father if we fail to do so. In the context Paul is not talking about the gospel of the kingdom, but “the word of faith, which WE preach." He did not preach the gospel of the kingdom to Israel in his Acts ministry. There was an election of Jews according to grace that believed Paul's gospel and were baptized into the Body of Christ (Rom. 11:5-6).

Paul is not teaching that we must literally confess with our physical mouth in order to be saved. That would contradict his emphasis upon FAITH as the only condition for salvation, which he already established in the doctrinal section of this epistle (1:16-17; 3:19-28). Also, what about mutes? They can't confess anything audibly! When he said to believe in our heart, he didn't mean that we have to believe with our literal blood pump. He is referring to confession in the sense of heartfelt acknowledgement. We must simply confess that we are the sinner and Christ is the only Savior. Confession is not merely saying words (compare 1 Jn. 4:1-2, 15 with Mk. 5:7-8). We can call upon God from the heart without literally saying words. Besides confession means nothing without believing! Note in v.10 that it is with the HEART we believe unto righteousness. Believing on Christ for salvation is not merely a mental assent, but a heartfelt TRUST (Eph. 1:13). I do believe that we should publicly confess Christ. What is in our heart will come out of our mouth (v.11; Matt. 12:34; 2 Cor. 4:13). But we do not have to verbally and publicly confess Christ TO BE saved. By the way, v.12 is a great dispensational truth for this present age. If this passage is about Israel's future salvation like some claim, why did he say "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek?"

Some claim that prayer is a work and that asking Christ to save you means that you didn't really believe the gospel. Real prayer is a spiritual work in the CHRISTIAN LIFE (Col. 4:12). Saying a simple prayer from a believing heart that is not trusting in anything but the finished work of Christ is not a work. The issue in salvation is not prayer, but faith. I am against telling people that they MUST pray to be saved, but I am also against telling people that they are not saved if they prayed when they believed the gospel. I realize that v.13 is a quote from Joel 2:32 concerning salvation in the future day of the Lord, but Paul is obviously making a spiritual application. Calling upon the Lord means nothing if you don't believe (v.14).
vs.14-15 - In these verses Paul proves that Israel could have called on the Lord because God did indeed send preachers to them with a message of peace (Isa. 52:7; defines gospel as good tidings). He sent them the greatest preacher, His own Son (Acts 10:36-38). Christ trained and sent His 12 apostles to Israel with the gospel of the kingdom (Jn. 20:21). Israel rejected and crucified Christ, but they were given an opportunity to repent and a renewed off of the kingdom in the book of Acts (Acts 10:38-43). They rejected the witness of the Holy Ghost through the apostles. In amazing longsuffering God also sent Paul to the Jew first (in Acts period) with the gospel of Christ which is a message of peace to the individual sinner (Eph. 6:15).  

vs.16-18 - That Israel would reject the gospel of the kingdom was prophesied by Isaiah. They were also now rejecting the gospel of Christ. We obey the gospel of Christ by believing it (“obedience of faith”, Rom. 16:26). In v.18 he begins to anticipate and answer objections. They heard the word of God and therefore they could have believed the message. The gospel was going out to the world.

I think that v.17 is a key verse on understanding faith. Faith is not just believing. Everybody believes in something, but not everybody has faith. Faith is believing the word of God. Both salvation (Eph. 1:12-13) and spiritual growth (Eph. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:2) are dependent upon the word of God.

vs.19-21 - Many think that Paul is referring to the Gentiles in v.19. How can the nations be called, “a foolish nation”? God did use the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy (11:11) but BEFORE He did that He was provoking unbelieving Israel with the little flock (Matt. 21:43; Lk. 12:32). They were considered “no people” and a “foolish nation” because of their small size and that they were made up primarily of COMMON people. He poured out His Spirit on them as they preached to Israel and they brought forth the fruits of the kingdom of God. I don't think he is referring to the Gentiles in vs.20-21 either. Christ sent the little flock to preach to the very ones that crucified Him and wanted nothing to do with Him, and they stubbornly persisted in their rejection of Him (Isa. 65:1-7). Paul himself was one of those, but he was saved by exceeding abundant grace. In amazing longsuffering, God also sent Paul to get a remnant out of Israel before He set them aside as a nation (11:1-6). Israel fell in Acts 7 when they stoned Stephen who was filled with the Holy Ghost, but there was a transition period until Acts 28. This remnant explains certain things about Paul’s ministry during the book of Acts. Israel was a disobedient and gainsaying people, yet Paul still had a heart to reach them (v.1)!

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