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Chapter

 

Righteousness, Salvation, Preaching

 

 

“Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved…So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God….But Esaias 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.  But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” (Romans 10:1-21)

 

In this chapter God the Holy Spirit gives us very clear instructions about righteousness, salvation, and preaching. Here he draws a clear distinction between the damning righteousness of law works religion and the righteousness obtain by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And he asserts in unmistakable terms that God has ordained gospel preaching as the means by which he is pleased to give chosen, redeemed sinners faith in Christ.  I want to show you seven things clearly revealed in this portion of Holy Scripture.

 

1.    Righteousness is to be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 1-4).

 

God requires righteousness (Matthew 5:20). But no man can make himself righteous. Righteousness is to be found only in Christ, who, by his obedience unto death as the sinners’ Substitute, brought in everlasting righteousness.

 

“Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 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.” (vv. 1-3)

 

            This chapter, like the former, opens with an expression of the tenderness and affection of Paul's heart, particularly toward his own kinsmen, the Jews. He knew that they were zealously religious, and that they endeavored to live righteously; but his heart broke for them because in their ignorance they were attempting to make themselves righteous before God their own works and refused to submit to the righteousness of od in Christ. John Trapp rightly observed, “Zeal without knowledge is as wild fire in a fool’s hand. It is like the devil in the demoniac, that casts him sometimes into the fire and sometimes into the water.”

 

            “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (v. 4). — Here is righteousness, the only righteousness there is, righteousness that will fit you for heaven. It is this righteousness of which every heaven-born soul is convinced by God the Holy Spirit by the revelation he gives of our blessed Christ (John 16:7-11).

 

            “Christ is the end of the law,” the termination, the fulfilment, the accomplishment, the finish of the law. Christ is the end of the ceremonial law and of the moral law, fulfilling all by his obedience unto death as the God-man, our Substitute.

 

            “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.” He alone is Jehovah-tsidkenu, the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16). Christ is all our righteousness in justification (Daniel 9:24), and all our righteousness in sanctification (Hebrews 10:14; 12:14).

 

            “Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” If God has given you faith in Christ he is made the righteousness of God to you, and you have been made the righteousness of god in him (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Galatians 3:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

2.    The righteousness of God in Christ is salvation (vv. 5-9).

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s salvation. He alone is righteous. He alone performed righteousness. He alone makes sinners the righteousness of God. In these verses, Paul shows us the difference between law righteousness and gospel righteousness. Law righteousness says “Do and live.”

 

      “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them” (v. 5). — Gospel righteousness, “the righteousness which is of faith,” says “Done that you may live.” In these next few verses, God the Holy Ghost tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ is that One of whom Moses in the law spoke when he told the children of Israel what God required in the law (Deuteronomy 30:11-16; 18:9, 13, 15-19).

 

“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:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)  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.” (vv. 6-8)

 

            This is exactly what Moses spoke prophetically back in the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses, in the law, preached faith in Christ, just like Paul did, and just as God’s servants do today. Paul is talking about true righteousness, the righteousness required by God, the righteousness accomplished by Christ, the Righteousness revealed by God the Spirit, the righteousness received by faith, righteousness without works.

 

            The righteousness of God is salvation. Its obtained by faith in Christ. Faith does not produce it. Christ did that. Faith receives it , enjoys it, and confesses it. This is the word of faith preached to sinners by the gospel. — “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” (v. 9)

 

            To confess Christ with your mouth is to call upon him, to worship him, like the publican in the Lord’s parable, who cried, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” We worship the Lord Jesus Christ as God our Savior, believing him with our hearts. Faith in Christ is more than knowledge about Christ. It is trusting Christ. Faith in Christ is a heart work. It is a work wrought in our hearts by the Spirit of God. Trusting Christ, we are saved, saved by Christ alone, saved by grace alone, saved forever.

 

 

3.    This great salvation is free, the free gift of God, to all who trust his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 10-13).

 

“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 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. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

            In every regenerate soul there is a heart-felt knowledge of the Person, and work, and glory of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls sinners from death to life, out of darkness into light, as he creates life and faith in us, convinces every heaven-born soul of the Person and work of Christ, as the Christ. He reveals the infinite merit, sufficiency, and efficacy of Christ’s blood and righteousness and convinces us to trust him as the Lord our Righteousness. He puts Christ in our hearts and causes us to trust him and confess him.

 

            There is in every child of God a heart-felt enjoyment of our blessed Savior as all our salvation. He is beheld and trusted, accepted and received, with holy joy and thanksgiving, as the Christ of God. As Robert Hawker put it, “The affections are all in it. The soul is won to Christ, and the soul wins Christ, and desires to be found in him.”

 

“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” (Proverbs 8:17-21)

 

            And in every saved sinner there is a continual coming to Christ, leaning upon him, cleaving to him, looking to him, just as at the first (Colossians 2:6). The more we trust him, the more we know we must trust him for all our salvation. The longer we trust him, the more we know we must have him.

 

I must have Jesus! I must have Jesus!

There is no other who can atone.

I must have Jesus! I must have Jesus!

Jesus can save me, Jesus alone!

 

            “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” Oh, the blessedness of knowing and enjoying Christ!

 

4.    Salvation in Christ is brought to poor, needy sinners by the preaching of the gospel (vv. 14-17).

 

Preaching is giving the sense of the Scriptures (Nehemiah 8:8), proclaiming Christ crucified from the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:2), and calling sinners to worship Christ as God our Savior, by the Scriptures (Romans 10:9-13). Gospel preaching is God’s ordained means of grace and salvation (Romans 1:16).

 

            No man can give himself faith in Christ; and no preacher can give anyone faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is the gift and operation of God the Holy Spirit in his people (Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; Colossians 2:12). And God, who gives life and faith to chosen, redeemed sinners, has ordained the means by which he will perform this marvelous work of grace — The Preaching of the Gospel. That is what the Spirit of God tells us in verses 14-17.

 

      “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” You cannot worship Christ, if you do not trust him. — “And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” You cannot trust Christ if you do not know who he is and what he has done. — “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” You cannot know who Christ is and what he has accomplished, unless somebody tells you. — “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” The only person who can effectually preach Christ to you is one who is sent of God to do so.)[1] — “As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” All who are saved by the gra of God are…

 

“Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:23-25)

 

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

 

“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18)

 

            How blessed are they to whom God sends a preacher, preaching the gospel in the power of his Spirit!

 

“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)

 

5.    It is our great privilege and our great responsibility to preach the gospel through all the earth (vv. 18-19).

 

“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. 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.”

 

“We were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

 

“According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” (1 Timothy 1:11)

 

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” (1 Timothy 6:20)

 

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. “(2 Corinthians 4:7)

 

            The treasure God’s servants carry through the world is the gospel of his grace, by which he communicates to chosen sinners all the blessings of grace and salvation in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14). But the preachers who carry this treasure are only “earthen vessels,” clay pots, worthless and meaningless in themselves.

            The preacher is, in himself, nothing. He is a sinner saved by grace, no more. He is a vessel in which the treasure is carried. In all my life, I never heard of a woman who had received a diamond ring admiring or idolizing the pretty box in which it was carried. Unlike the box that carries the diamond, God’s servants are “earthen vessels,” just clay pots, unadorned, ugly, and far too earthen to be of any value.

            It does not matter whether the preacher has a string of degrees or no degrees, an energetic and oratorical style, or no style — He is just an earthen vessel. The only thing of significance is “the treasure,” the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

            The treasure we carry by which God is pleased to save his elect is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is identified in many, many ways in Holy Scripture (Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:1; Acts 20:24; Romans 1:1, 9; 10:15; Ephesians 1:13). But be sure you understand this — That which God uses to save his elect is not the false gospel of Arminian, freewill, works religion (Galatians 1:6-9), but the gospel of his free, sovereign, saving grace in Christ (Romans 1:15-17). God does not use religious lies to bring men to know him who is the Truth. It is not the lie of works, but the truth of grace that makes sinners free.

            That which is primary and essential in the gospel and that which must be primary in our preaching is the sin-atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3). The gospel has not been preached until men have been made to hear “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,” not just that he died, but HOW he died. Here are four words that define “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.”

  • Sovereignty Christ died by an act of his own sovereign will, according to the purpose of the sovereign Lord God, for the people he was sent of God to save (John 10:14-18; Acts 2:23; Hebrews 10:5-10).
  • Substitution Our Lord Jesus Christ died as the Substitute for God’s elect. He laid down his life for his sheep, not the goats (John 10:11, 14). It is utter folly to imagine that he would die for people for whom he refused even to pray (John 17:9, 20). Is it not? Christ died for his people (Isaiah 53:8), not those who are not his people.
  • Satisfaction Being both God and man in one glorious Person, our Savior was able, by his one great sacrifice, to satisfy the justice of God’s holy law and justice (Romans 3:24-26). His was a sacrifice of infinite merit.
  • Success — All that Christ wanted to accomplish as the result of his death at Calvary shall be accomplished by the efficacy of his grace (Isaiah 53:10-11). It is written, “He shall not fail!”

 

6.    By the preaching of the gospel God seeks out and finds his elect, and saves them by his grace (v. 20).

 

“But Esaias 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.”

 

            Christ the Good Shepherd seeks and finds his sheep, and brings them into his fold by his work of redemption, by the work of his Spirit, through the preaching of the gospel.

 

7.    In the preaching of the gospel, the Lord God graciously stretches out his hands to sinners and calls stubborn rebels to be reconciled to him (v. 21).

 

“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”

 

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2)

           

            By the preaching of the gospel the Lord jesus Christ himself, by the power and grace  his Spirit, calls poor, needy, lost, doomed, damned, helpless sinners to himself, saying…

 

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

            Oh, what a privilege it is for any man to be called, gifted, and sent of God to preach the gospel of his grace and glory in Christ to poor sinners! Oh, what a privilege it is for any poor, fallen sinner to have a man sent of God to him preaching the gospel! — “As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] It does not matter who the man is that God sends. The only thing that matters is the message God sends him to preach. Sometimes he uses a Balaam to preach redemption, grace, and salvation by Christ (Numbers 23:21).