Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE WORD OF FAITH, WHICH WE PREACH”

Romans 10.5-12 

Did you know that there are only two religions in the world? That’s right. Only two religions in the whole world, after you get past the various names and the different ethnicities and stories of origin. It doesn’t matter what the various names are that you call the different organized religions or denominations. And it doesn’t matter what some of their unique peculiarities happen to be. It is not a matter of the monotheistic religions versus the polytheistic religions, or the religious religions versus the secular religions, or even the ancient religions versus the recently emerging religions. The numerically small number of adherents in a religion versus the numerically large number of adherents in a religion is not even a consideration.

What is significant about a religion is that religion’s strategy for acquiring individual righteousness. Granted, some religions are atheistic, such as Buddhism and secular humanism and Communism. But they have their strategies for the attainment of their version of individual righteousness just like every other belief system known to man.

So, if you examine the essential feature of how each religion, or how each kind of religion, or how each denomination, goes about establishing individual righteousness, then it boils down to only two strategies. The religion of one kind’s strategy for establishing an individual’s righteousness involves adherence to a code of rules, regulations, ethics, or norms, while the religion of the other kind’s strategy does not.

Examine all the religions of the world, examine all the various faiths of mankind, consider each type of belief system, scrutinize every denomination in the so-called Christian world, and you will recognize that there are only two essentially different types of religions. There are only two strategies for establishing an individual’s righteousness.

Of those religions having the strategy of establishing individual righteousness by works Biblical Judaism, the Law and economy that God gave to Israel through His servant Moses on Mount Sinai, is far and away the highest and most noble of the works type of religion. Biblical Judaism greatly surpasses Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Communism, Maoism, Bahai, Socialism, secular humanism, Roman Catholicism, the various Orthodox churches, Mormonism, Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and any other religion compared to it of those who seek to establish individual righteousness by works or good deeds.

Of those religions having the different strategy, the strategy that does not seek to establish individual righteousness by works, there is only one. In modern times, this second order of religion, if you will, has come to be called Biblical Christianity. The Apostle Paul termed it “the word of faith, which we preach.” This second type of religion establishes an individual’s righteousness, not by works, but by means of faith apart from works of righteousness.

We examine a portion of Scripture in which the Apostle Paul compares Biblical Judaism, the best of the one kind of religion, with “the word of faith which we preach,” which is the only other kind of religion. And the conclusion that Paul brings us to recognize? That Israelites have no standing before God if their righteousness is based on works, which is to say if they embrace the religious salvation by works belief system of Biblical Judaism.

My text is Romans 10.5-12: 

5  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

6  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:)

7  Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

8  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;

9  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.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 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. 

There are two and only two strategies for the establishing of individual righteousness: 

First, THERE IS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS OF THE LAW (10.5) 

“For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” 

It is only right that Paul examines the righteousness which is acquired by strict adherence to the Law of Moses, because of all the religions of the world, only the Mosaic Law was given by divine revelation, was handed down by God, if you will. Two observations can be made about the righteousness coming from the Mosaic economy, its rules and regulations, its ordinances and its rites, from this verse:

First, this righteousness was described by Moses. There are two extremely common interpretations of the phrase 

“For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law.” 

One interpretation holds that this statement is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ as being the only One Who could perfectly obey the Law. And while it is true that only Christ could and did perfectly obey the Law of Moses, the point is missed by interpreting the statement in this way. Another common interpretation holds that this statement purposely shows the hopelessness of attempting to attain righteousness by doing works of the Law. Both interpretations, however, miss the point that there is a righteousness which can be established by seeking to obey the Law. Remember, in Philippians 3.6 the Apostle Paul described himself before his conversion to Christ with the following words: 

“touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” 

So, there is a righteousness which can be acquired by adhering to a code of ethics or rules of law.

But why is the Law of Moses thus displayed by Paul in his letter to the Romans? The key to answering this question is context, the context of the verse Paul refers to in Leviticus 18.5, as well as the context of Romans 10.5; how Paul fits this reference into the discussion at hand. Pay close attention to the words of Leviticus 18.5: 

“Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.” 

The key phrase is, “if a man do, he shall live in them.” The LORD was not there indicating that adherence to the Law would result in having a righteous standing before Him. He is not indicating that obedience to the Law is even possible. The Law, you remember, makes provision for the shortfall by allowing sacrifices to be made for trespasses and sins. What the LORD did promise was blessing under the Law of Moses for the person who had attained what Paul refers to as the righteousness of the Law. Just understand, the righteousness of the Law does not give you right standing before God. You can have, and Paul did have before his conversion to Christ, the righteousness of the Law without even knowing God in a personal way. So, is it possible to attain righteousness by works? Yes. You can attain the righteousness of the Law by works. But that kind of righteousness will only make life pleasant under the Law. That kind of righteousness will not result in knowing God, having the forgiveness of sins, or going to heaven when you die. Such is the best you can do by works. But you can only do that if the Law was given to you. You can only do that if you are Jewish. The Law was given to no one else, as Deuteronomy 5.1-3 reveals: 

1  And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.

2  The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.

3  The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 

Remember, Paul has already reminded his Roman Christian readers of this in Romans 3.19: 

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” 

No religion other than Biblical Judaism as practiced by God’s covenant people, with its works-oriented strategy for attaining righteousness, can secure even the limited blessings from God that were enjoyed under the Mosaic economy. And even then, there was no reconciliation with God, no remission of personal sins, and no imparting of eternal life through Jesus Christ, my Lord.[1] 

NOW WE COME TO THE SECOND STRATEGY FOR ESTABLISHING RIGHTEOUSNESS, THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH (10.6-12) 

6  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:)

7  Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

8  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;

9  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.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 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. 

Anyone who has read the Word of God at length realizes that the notion unsaved folks have about the Bible being illogical and irrational is simply untrue. Not that there may not be illogical and irrational people who read and believe the Bible. But since the Bible is both rational and logical, it is entirely consistent with logical thought processes.[2] And logic requires that if two assertions are not in agreement, one must be true and the other must be false. That is what is known as the Law of the Excluded Middle. We’ve looked at the false strategy for attaining individual righteousness in the sight of God. Now let’s look at the correct strategy for attaining individual righteousness with God.

First, we need to consider what the righteousness of faith rejects (10.6-8) 

6  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:)

7  Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

8  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; 

These three verses make for some very difficult interpretation, keeping in mind that the Apostle Paul is loosely referring to three portions of an Old Testament passage that is not precisely related to the subject at hand.[3] So, if you will allow me to suggest an interpretation that I regrettably do not have time to prove to you, you can pursue an independent study of this passage on your own. Key phrases in these three verses Paul has written are, 

“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart,” 

then the two phrases which refer to bringing Christ down from heaven or up from the dead, and concluding with the whole of verse 8. First

“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart.” 

As there is a righteousness which is of the Law, so there is a righteousness which is of faith. And this second strategy for attaining individual righteousness, which uses not works but faith to apprehend righteousness in the sight of God, rejects the whole notion of doing anything to earn a righteous standing before God. As Paul would write in Titus 3.5, 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” 

Second, the works that Paul refers to in his loose paraphrase from Deuteronomy 30.11-14 are works that would bring the Savior down from heaven, as if He hadn’t already come down, or raise Him up from the dead as if He hadn’t already ready risen in glorious power. And if you consider works-oriented salvation closely enough, thinking that you can do anything to earn God’s salvation is, in effect, behaving as though the Christ Who came didn’t come and the Christ Who rose isn’t resurrected. Works-oriented religions may say they believe in the incarnation of the Son of God and His victorious resurrection, but they don’t act like they do. And we all know that it’s how you behave that shows what you believe. Amen? Verse 8: 

“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;” 

The righteousness which is of faith rejects two things: First, it rejects the notion that the saving work Christ did hasn’t been done, and therefore needs to be wholly or partly done by you or me. Second, here in verse 8, it rejects the notion that the Gospel, the word of faith, is not near enough at hand to leave the unsaved person with an excuse. In other words, don’t say you didn’t know. Don’t say that you didn’t have a chance, Jewish person. 

“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.” 

You quote the Scripture and have even committed it to memory. So, don’t make excuses.

Then, in verses 9-12, we need to consider what the righteousness of faith recognizes: 

9 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.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 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. 

There are four things the righteousness of faith recognizes:

Previously, we saw in Romans 10.1-4 that Jewish people had failed in their zealous pursuit of God because they were ignorant of God’s righteousness and they were proud in their refusal to submit themselves to Jesus Christ.

From Romans 10.5-12, in Paul’s analysis of their standing before God, we see that Jewish people pursued the wrong kind of righteousness. They pursued the righteousness which is of the Law. Tragically, that kind of righteousness does not save the sinful soul. Gentiles who make the same error are far worse off. At least the Jews are pursuing a righteousness that is attainable through a commitment to the divine revelation of the Law. Gentiles who seek to emulate the Jews compound the error in two ways: Either they seek to submit to the Law of Moses, which was never given to them, or they erect some manmade law or code of ethical behavior and delude themselves into thinking it will stand them in good stead come Judgment Day.

The fact of the matter is this: Neither Jewish people or anyone else who seeks to attain individual righteousness through the strategy of works will succeed. When it comes to individual righteousness in the sight of God, and He is the only One Who matters when it comes to forgiving sins and granting entrance into heaven, the only strategy which is possible, the only strategy which succeeds, and the only strategy which God honors, is the strategy which relies on faith in Jesus Christ.

Works do have to be done. But the righteousness which is of faith recognizes that the works cannot be done by the sinner. The saving work can only be done by the sinless Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, God Who became a man to die for man’s sin as a sinless sacrifice, and Who rose on the third day victorious over sin, death, Hell, and the grave. The righteousness which is by faith trusts Jesus Christ to do everything that needs to be done to please the Father, thus satisfying His righteous demands, thus assuring our standing before Him, thus assuring our eventual entrance into heaven.

It’s a sad reality that broke the heart of Paul that his people were traveling down the wrong road, were pursuing the wrong strategy for establishing righteousness in the sight of their God. And he did everything he could to correct the problem. He even told Gentiles about the problem. Why did he do that? Because he knew that even Gentiles vainly attempt to do what the Jewish people were attempting to do. Though Gentiles were not given the Law, many Gentiles most certainly do try to attain righteousness by doing works.

Some do so by attending Church. Some do so by giving money in the offering plate. Some do so by praying and striving to be very religious and pious. And these things are not wrong. They just won’t succeed in acquiring for you a righteous standing before God. They won’t secure God’s forgiveness of your sins. They won’t guarantee heaven as your future home.

Do you realize that you are lost and undone? Do you realize that your situation is helpless and hopeless? Then realize, also, that the word is nigh you. In other words, it is close. The word is so close that where you are, you can believe unto righteousness.

Trust God to be rich unto all that call upon Him and call upon Him for salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, now.

__________

[1] What the Law of Moses provided for was, atonement, the temporary covering of sins from God’s sight by means of the blood of bulls and goats.

[2] The Bible might be referred to as supra logical, but it is not illogical, as Isaiah 1.18 attests.

[3] G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary On The New Testament Use Of The Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), page 654.

[4] Revelation 20.11-15

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