- Sermon Notes
The theme of the book of Romans is victory, even surpassing victory through Him who loved us. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Paul said.
But Paul has great sorrow and unceasing grief in his heart because his brethren, the Israelites, don’t have that surpassing victory. He said that if possible, he himself would be accursed, separated from Christ for their sake. That’s a good picture for us, because if you care about someone, you care about their soul; you want them to have the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Some of the Jews actually thought Paul was against them, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth, Paul is saying. The problem was that they had rejected the very one God had sent for their salvation. The entirety of the Old Testament law pointed to Jesus and yet they missed it. All of God’s promises are laid on Christ, the Cornerstone, but they stumbled over that stone and it became a rock of offense.
How did they stumble over it? They didn’t like the plan. The whole point of Romans chapter 9 is that God gets to make the plan He wants to make. He decided before the foundation of the earth that His Son would be the answer to the sinner’s great dilemma; how can an unrighteous sinner have a relationship with the righteous, holy God?
Why didn’t they like God’s plan? Because they couldn’t be the heroes of the story. There is a part of us that likes to be the hero; we achieved, we conquered to the credit of our own fame, but God decided before the foundation of the world that those who come to Him must come by faith in all humility.
The problem was that they were hard of heart. That’s why Paul brought up the hard heart of Pharaoh as an example. Hardness of heart will keep you from the promises of God, but God keeps reaching out to them. Verse 21, “As for Israel He says, ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.’”
What does God want Israel to do? The same thing He desires for each of us, to believe, to have faith, to trust that God is for you and that His plan is a foundation on which to build your life.
I. Have Zeal with Knowledge
- Paul says that he prays to God for them, for their salvation, because they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
- Lack of knowledge can be dangerous; it can also be embarrassing.
Illus – A number of years ago we had an old Chevy bus and a bunch of the men were going to Eugene for a Promise Keepers event, but the bus started acting up…
- That’s just a tragedy; having a zeal for God but missing the entire point. The entire Old Testament points to Jesus Christ, but they stumbled over it and took offense because they didn’t like the plan. They preferred the “self-righteousness advance module.”
A. Be subject to the truth
- Not knowing about God’s righteousness, they did not subject themselves to it. But they could have known and they should have known.
- One day some of the Sadducees confronted Jesus. They didn’t believe in the resurrection and hoped to trap Him in what they thought was a spiritual
conundrum, but they received a sharp rebuke instead.
Matthew 22:29, Jesus answered and said to them, “You are in error, not understanding the scriptures nor the power of God.”
- Paul himself had great zeal for God, but he was in error and became an enemy of the church until God literally knocked him off his high horse…
John 16:2, “An hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they do because they have not known the Father or Me.”
- That’s the transition point; they knew the scriptures, but they didn’t know the Father and so they didn’t know the Son.
John 8:42, Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
- How is it possible that someone could have the truth and not be subject to it? By having a hard heart.
Acts 7:51, 53, “You men are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears and always resisting the Holy Spirit… You received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
- Jesus is the truth God sent. If you subject yourself to the truth, He will bless your life.
John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”
B. Jesus is the final word
- In verse 4 Paul said, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
- It means Christ is the finale, the final chapter of the law and the beginning of grace.
John 19:30, When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
- The word, “It is finished,” is based on the same word, “Christ is the end of the law.” The requirement of the law has been fulfilled, everything has been paid in full.
- But let me ask a very important question. How do we know that we’re right?
Illus - Maybe Islam is right and we should all join ISIS and catch the next plane to Syria; or maybe the Jehovah’s Witnesses are right, or maybe Mormonism is right; maybe Buddhism or Hinduism is right. How do you know?
- I would like to give one definitive answer. This is how we know that we are right, that we are standing on the truth – because Jesus Christ declared that He was the Son of the living God and was raised from the dead on the third day!
- If Christ Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, you are most to be pitied and you’re still in your sins.
- However, He is raised from the dead and therefore He has made a way to the Father and everyone ought to call out to Him and be saved.
1 Corinthians 15:17, 19, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still in your sins… If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But Christ has been raised from the dead… For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
Acts 17:30-31, “Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to all men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
II. The Word of Faith is near You
- Paul says that Israel’s problem is that they did not pursue by faith, but as though it were by works, that’s why they stumbled over the stumbling stone.
- Faith is everything here. If they had faith they wouldn’t have stumbled over the rock of offense.
A. Many prefer something more difficult
- Paul wrote in verse 6 that the righteousness based on faith says… Who will ascend into heaven? Who will descend into the abyss?
- In other words, who will take it upon himself to go into heaven or down to the abyss to find the hope of the Messiah? No, faith doesn’t say that.
- But we like the difficult thing because we like to be the hero of the story. Many prefer the “self-righteous advance module.”
Illus - There was a movie in the 80s called The Mission about a slave trader in South America named Rodrigo Mendoza who is hard and cold of heart. When he finds his brother in bed with his fiancée he kills his brother and falls into despair. Finally, he turns to Father Gabriel, a Jesuit priest, who gives him the penance of carrying a net filled with his armor and weapons and scaling the mighty Iguazu Falls… very touching and moving, but he's the hero of the story.
B. The word is as close as your heart
- In verse 8 – “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the word of faith, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
- Salvation is not difficult because Christ Jesus took the entire burden on Himself. Your part is to simply believe, and, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
- You confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord as a result of truly believing in your heart. Words without the heart behind them are empty.
Illus - My partner in the restaurant became a believer and was full of zeal. In his exuberance he wanted others to believe as well. One day, I came in to find he had button-holed one of the cooks and was saying, “Just say the prayer; just say the words…”
Illus - The point is the heart. It’s like bringing flowers on Valentine’s Day, tossing them onto the counter and then saying, “There’s your flowers.”
- Paul then goes on to say that God receives the authentic heart of faith without distinction. The same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him. “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- Romans 9 is often used as proof text for a theology that says that the verse, “God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy and harden those whom He will harden,” is taken to mean that God saves those whom He wishes and rejects whom He wishes without regard to their personal choice.
- But in chapter 10 Paul makes a point of saying, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved,” without distinction.
- I consider it this way; there will be no one in hell who will be able to say, “I wanted to be saved, but you put my name on the wrong list.”
Illus - Some years ago I received a call from one of the guys who was witnessing to a friend at his house and asked me to come over. His friend was convinced that he couldn’t be saved because God put his name was on the wrong list. My answer, “I have a word from God personally for you…”
2 Corinthians 5:20, As though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
- That’s the word of reconciliation he has entrusted to all of us. That’s what gives you beautiful feet.
C. Faith comes from having ears to hear
- Not everyone heeds the glad tidings. Therefore, Paul says, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- But this is more than just simply hearing, faith comes from having ears to hear, from heeding, from listening, from taking the words to heart.
- Jesus gave a parable about a sower who went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road; other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil, other seed fell among the thorns and the thorns came and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. Other seed fell into good soil and as they grow up and increased they yielded a crop and produced 30, 60 and 100 fold.
Mark 4:9, And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
- Many in Israel did not have ears to hear, but God continues to reach out to them.
- In verse 18, Paul says, surely they have heard, haven’t they? Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
- God even tries to stir them up, to provoke them to jealousy and anger by bringing in the Gentiles in their place.
- Finally, as for Israel God says, “All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
- The Lord stretches out His hands to you as well. He may even provoke you by His Spirit to stir you up. God loves you and won’t give up.
Romans 10:1-21 NASB
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who willascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or 'Who will descend into theabyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"-that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not bedisappointed." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."