For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”
But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
- Moses wrote about righteousness that was based on the law.
- The person who does the commandments lives by them.
- Righteousness based on faith says does not ask, who will go up to heaven for us or who will go into the abyss for us to bring Christ to us.
- The faith we proclaim is near us
- The faith we proclaim is in our mouth.
- The faith we proclaim is in our heart
- If we confess orally that Jesus is Lord and believe God raised Jesus from the dead then we will be saved.
- One who believes with the heart is justified.
- One who confesses orally is saved.
- No one will be put to shame who believes in Jesus.
- Everyone who believes in Christ will be saved.
- Being saved does not depend on who you are.
- For the purpose of salvation, God does not distinguish between people based on ethnicity.
- God is the Lord of all.
- God gives His riches to everyone who calls on Him.
- Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.
- It is not possible to call on someone in who you do not believe.
- It is not possible to believe in someone whom you have never heard of.
- It is not possible to hear about someone unless someone tells you.
- It is not possible for some to tell people about Christ unless they are sent to tell about Christ.
- Those who are sent to spread the good news i.e. Gospel are blessed.
- Not everyone will believe after they hear the Gospel.
- Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ.
- Israel did hear the word of Christ.
- Israel did not understand the word of Christ.
- God will make Israel jealous of those who are not a nation.
- God will make Israel angry with a foolish nation.
- God says through Isaiah that He will be found by those who did not seek Him.
- God says through Isaiah that He has shown Himself to those who did not look for Him.
- God calls Israel a disobedient and contrary people.
- God says He has held out His hand to Israel all day long.
Moses did not give Israel the law in order to keep them dependent on works. On the contrary, the law was given to lead Israel to Christ. The law itself confirms the righteousness of faith.
If you live by the law, you do what the law says. In verses 6 through 8 Paul quotes from the passage in Deuteronomy 30: 11-14. “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” A paraphrase of Paul’s meaning is, who will go up to heaven and bring Christ to us. Who will descend to the abyss and bring Christ to us. Christ is near us now in our mouths and in our hearts when we proclaim Him.
In the Deuteronomy passage Moses talks about the doctrine of the law. Paul uses the Deuteronomy passage as an evangelic promise. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
We do not need to travel great distances, do works of attrition, or rely on any other deeds. Christ is here with us. We do not need to achieve greatness. Christ is here with us. Christ is our salvation. We simply believe His word. If you live by faith you are not striving to achieve righteousness. It is provided to you by Christ Himself. As the law demands works, the gospel requires only that you have faith in order to receive God’s grace. That does not mean that works do not result from faith. Where ever the work of God is, it ought to cause fruit i.e. the fruit of confession, which come from the mouth.
This passage can help us understand what justification by faith is. It shows that righteousness comes to us, when we embrace God’s goodness when He offered us the gospel. We are then just, because we believe that God has laid on Christ our sins. Therefore faith does not reside in the head but in the heart. Faith is not contained in a body part. Rather the word heart is often used to express sincerity or seriousness or feeling. Therefore, faith is a steadfast confidence, trust or dependence and not simply an intellectually understanding. But many have used this as a justification to attempt to bypass the head and disdain the study and intellectual study of scripture and theology. They assume faith is nothing more than credulity. But Paul argues directly against this simplistic idea of faith. In order to do so he points out you cannot believe in something, of which you have absolutely no knowledge of. “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (v14,15) He says faith comes from hearing i.e. knowing. And knowledge comes from the word of Christ.
Since where ever faith is found God manifests His goodness by salvation. Paul then concludes there is no difference between one people or nation and another. Paul adds a very strong reason. God, the creator of all things, is the God of all mankind. He shows Himself kind to all who acknowledge and call on Him as their God.
Paul goes into a very tight argument connecting faith and knowledge. How can someone call on God when they do not believe? How can they believe in something they know nothing about? How can they know about anything unless they are taught? The gospel does not fall like rain from the clouds. It is brought by the hands of men. God directs the men in the delivery of His word.
The word then always precedes faith. Wherever there is faith, God has already been at work and given evidence of His election. God pours His blessing on the preaching of the gospel in order to enlighten our minds by faith. In doing so, He leads us to call on His name. Yet the apostle goes on to say “Have they not heard? Indeed they have.” (v18) Even though they have heard the word of God it is still ignored by many, Therefore even though faith does not exist without knowledge and knowledge strengthens faith, knowledge is not faith.
When we confess verbally that Jesus is Lord, Christ is near us. The very words contain power of life for it is Jesus God raised from the dead. We are mute until God’s promise opens our mouth to pray and declare Jesus is Lord. So declare Jesus is Lord, if we do not, the world will know with not know. If they do not know He is Lord, they cannot believe He is Lord.
That is the reason for the necessity of good preaching; preaching that correctly declares the nature of God and preaching that includes both the law and the gospel. The good news does not make sense unless you understand the bad news.
Paul’s structure of Romans outlines the approach we should take in preaching and evangelism. First men need to understand their sinfulness. Then they need to know the gospel. In our culture today it is unpopular to let anyone know they are sinners. We only tell them that God forgives. Forgives what? No Paul says we need to preach the gospel and in order to do that we need to place it in its context of the total depravity of man.