“Wrestling With Romans”
How Shall They Hear? (Chapter 10 Verses 1-21)
The door to a righteousness with God through keeping the law is closed (v5), for none can do it perfectly. But don’t think in your heart as you despair at this, that to ascend up into heaven and fetch the righteousness of God is the answer (v6). Why? Because Christ descended from heaven to bring the righteousness of God down to us, he died and rose again from the dead in order to justify the believer from all things (v7), so what does that tell you, what does it say to you (v8)? It’s all been done, Christ did it all. So ascent to heaven, or descent into the deep will profit you nothing. It is listening to the word preached, that’s why it’s so close (v8). And receiving this message about Jesus’ saving work in faith, that is what brings the righteousness of God to a person. Whether they’re Jews or Gentiles (v12), everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, on Jesus for salvation is justified (v13). You call with your mouth – that’s confession (v9), you believe with your heart – that’s trust (v10), and that brings salvation. So how are people to come to a proper understanding, a right knowledge of God’s way of righteousing people (v2)? Well they can’t, not unless someone preaches it to them (v14).
It’s through preaching God’s word to people that they come to an understanding that they need to be saved, and the way they can be saved is through trusting in Jesus. As the saving message is unfolded in their minds, with the help of God’s Spirit, who sends the preacher (v15), then people begin to see clearly that there’s nothing that they can do, no matter how zealously they do it, no matter what standard of morality they attain, or how religious they become (vv1-3). It’s all been done for them by God, and they must simply submit to it by faith. But wasn’t that the experience of the Jews? Yes, exactly! And not all of them believed, no, not by any means (v16). Isaiah predicted that’s exactly how it would be (Isaiah 53.1). So you see how faith comes to some, no, not everyone? Through hearing the message about Jesus (v17). It may be through personal witness, a church service, a young peoples meeting, or even a great big evangelistic campaign, or who knows hearing a street preacher. However it’s done, people must come in contact with this saving message about Jesus Christ, it’s imperative, it’s the only way they can be saved. That means faithful and hard work for the Church, preaching the gospel, purely and simply, so that, not all, but some will be saved. By the sovereign operations of God the Holy Spirit enlightening, circumcising the hearts of people, giving them hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:25-27), and the gifts of repentance and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s salvation.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)