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Christ’s Gift of Salvation

socialmedia@cityrise.org June 28, 2021 sermons, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Good News, Kirby Follis, romans, sermon,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Kirby Follis on Sunday June 27, at our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTubpage.

Good News

Good morning and welcome to Crosspoint Church-Bellaire, a CityRise campus.  I am grateful to be with you this morning whether you are in the room (11:00 or participating in worship with us via livestream).

In the last few weeks, through Romans 6, 7, and 8, we’ve thoroughly reviewed license vs. legalism and the Father’s desire for us to walk in His liberty.  And for the last two weeks, we’ve made our way through Romans 9 where we have talked of God’s sovereignty and we were reminded in verse 14 of that chapter:

Romans 9:14-16

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Paul concludes chapter 9 by describing how God has placed a stone that been a “rock of stumbling” personally for him.  But now that the scales have fallen from his eyes and his life has been re-oriented by the Father, his consuming ambition is to magnify Christ and to bring others to know Him.  Chapter 9 had more to do with God’s purpose according to election, whereas chapter 10 turns more to the human factors – like the need to understand the gospel, the need for gospel proclamation and the need for a response of faith.  Don’t you imagine Paul is thinking, “If my life has taken this path, why could this not happen for the rest of my people?”

Paul is verbalizing the overarching theme that salvation is only possible because of what God has done in the person of Jesus Christ as well as what he continues to do in and through Him.  And equally emphasizing that it is nothing we have done or can do that brings this about.  We have to get past the point that we think somehow we are deserving, or that we have some part to play in bringing salvation to bear.  This is the GREAT HUMBLING for us – we are stretched to admit that we are powerless over something so very important.

It’s like the question we often ask about trials and afflictions – “why do BAD things happen to GOOD people?”  Granted by “good,” we tend to mean that the person hasn’t openly wounded another person, that they are amiable and generally helpful.  Isn’t that right?  But the Bible routinely contrasts that idea…

In the book of Luke, in the account we often call the “rich (young) ruler,” the ruler approaches Jesus and addresses Him as Good Teacher (ESV) or Good Master (KJV).  To which Jesus responds, in Luke 18:18-19, “why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.”

In other words, don’t fall for fake news.  You can be passionate about the wrong thing.  That question should really be why do BAD things happen to “people who are not good?”  Have you ever been passionate about the wrong thing?

Once Wendy, the kids and I were staying at a VRBO property in Tarpon Springs, FL, in February.  It was a nice place with a private pool.  I was attending a conference and the idea was that with a heated pool, the kids, who were pretty young, would swim all day, tire themselves out and nap and we would do some other fun stuff when I got back each afternoon.  Long story short, the pool heater didn’t really work which meant Wendy had the kids all day without said entertainment or napping.  I called the owner a few times but without result.  So when checkout time came, the owner showed up at 10:00 am and started shooing us out.  I went toe to toe with her, claiming there was no need to hurry us considering we’d overpaid on a poorly delivered vacation property and we were going to take all the time we had coming to vacate the place.  I added that her property description advertised an 11:00 am checkout and we weren’t leaving a minute before and she could just wait until we were done.  After some heated back and forth, I went to get the printout to prove what I had stated only to discover that the checkout time actually was 10 am.  You see, I had an incredible amount of zeal based on bad knowledge.  I didn’t lack passion but I was working on false information.  After I apologized profusely and tucked my tail, we quickly loaded up and departed.  I followed up when we got home with another apology by email.  Boy was I embarrassed.

What we will see in the first half of Romans 10 today is that Paul had a deep love for the people of his nation but he saw that they were not guided by the truth.  However, he did not give up on them, even though he was the apostle called to the gentiles, he still loved, cared for and brought the Gospel to the Jews as well.

We’re going to see that Paul presents two familiar pathways here – the way of the law and the way of faith.  Let’s break today’s study into three parts…

Christ’s Gift of Salvation.…

  • Signals the End of the Law (vv. 1-4)
  • Brings Righteousness Near (vv. 5-8)
  • Is Available to All (vv. 9-13)

Let’s begin by looking at…

Christ’s Gift of Salvation.…

  • Signals the End of the Law (vv. 1-4)
  • Brings Righteousness Near (vv. 5-8)
  • Is Available to All (vv. 9-13)

I. Christ’s Gift of Salvation Signals the End of the Law (vv. 1-4)

 Romans 10:1

1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Both chapters 9 and 10 begin with Paul’s anguish over and desire for his kinsmen.  While the Greek does not define “them” here in this passage, it is nearly universally agreed that he is referencing the Jews.  Simply put here, if we are going to be serious about the gospel right here at home, we must earnestly pray that to God that others will be saved. And we must be characterized by a desire to see that lived out.

  1. 2-3 go on to describe the “zeal without knowledge” approach of Paul’s Jewish counterparts.

Romans 10:2-3

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 

Verse 2 includes Paul testifying of their zeal.  We’ve seen this in other places such as Acts 22 where his own zeal is described:

Acts 22:3-5

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel[a] according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

This reiterates that passion, even when claiming to serve God, religion or the church, can be seriously misplaced.  In other words, sincere faith can be sincerely wrong!  Verse 2 gives them full credit for zeal but, like with Paul’s own previous misguided zeal, they did not have the needed accompanying knowledge.  We see this in many religious groups – including one group that declared that that the world would end on December 21, 1954.  Clearly it did not, but the cult members held to their belief even on December 22 – ZEAL WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE!  We are warned against this in Proverbs…

Proverbs 19:2

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

This is like a rocket without a rudder – jetting forward at light speed but going all over the place.  Zeal without knowledge has been defined by John Stott as “fanaticism.”  There is a lot of that today – people screaming about innumerable topics – many times without a foundation of truth.

Passion based in ignorance leads to what is shared in verse 3 – striving for righteousness in one’s own strength.  Failing to submit to God’s righteousness then, leads to self-righteousness which is misleading and unable to save.  If we are ignorant of the righteousness of God who is the only one that Jesus claims to be GOOD, then we are left attempting to build our own bridge to faith.  Verse 3 iterates that they / we are seeking to establish our own.

We see the dichotomy between a law-based righteousness and faith-based righteousness in other places in the Scriptures as well.  One is…

Philippians 3:8-9

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Paul had this self-righteousness prior to his conversion.  He was killing and imprisoning Christ-followers in the name of the church, in the name of God Himself.  Jesus alluded to this as recorded in…

John 16:2

They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.

That was Saul to a “T.”  To sum up verses 2 and 3, I would argue along with John Calvin and numerous other theologians throughout church history that…

The first step to obtaining the righteousness of God is to renounce our own righteousness.

Which brings us to verse 4 and the crux of this first point…

Romans 10:4

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

To simplify, Christ is the end of the law.  The Greek word for “end” here has two meanings – it can refer to an end as a goal or an end as a termination.  I think we can see both here.  Christ is certainly the goal at which the law aimed, due to the fact that he embodies the perfect righteousness it prescribes.  This is Matthew 5:17 lived out…

Matthew 5:17

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

On the other hand, since Christ is the goal of the law AND since a righteous status is available to everyone who believes in Him, then the result is a “termination” of the law’s function as a means of acquiring righteous status.

John Stott states that…

In respect of salvation, Christ and the law are incompatible alternatives.  If righteousness is by the law, it is not by Christ, and if it is by Christ through faith it is not by the law.

Let’s move on…

Christ’s Gift of Salvation.…

  • Signals the End of the Law (vv. 1-4)
  • Brings Righteousness Near (vv. 5-8)
  • Is Available to All (vv. 9-13)

II. Christ’s Gift of Salvation Brings Righteousness Near (vv. 5-8)

One of the greatest struggles for a person seeking faith is that righteousness feels so far away.  We feel so guilty and have a sense that we cannot bridge the gap to salvation.  While this is true if it depends solely on us, nothing could be further from the truth as it depends on Christ.  The next few verses illustrate this for us.

Romans 10:5

.  5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 

This verse quotes Leviticus 18:5.  Paul even tells you he is talking about Moses’ writing here.  And according to Moses, perfect obedience would be required for justification through the law.  This is helpful for us to understand that the scarlet thread of salvation runs through the entirety of the Bible – Genesis to Revelation – that is not only a NT treatise.

Let’s be clear here – Paul claimed to be blameless according to the law – a Hebrew among Hebrews.  In Philippians 3:6, he writes of himself saying, “as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”  The revelation to him at conversion was that this blamelessness, such as it was, was only before men and not before God.  Even Paul in other places points out that NO ONE has succeeded in keeping the law perfectly and by deduction then NO ONE has gained life in this way.  Commentator F.F. Bruce states, “Righteousness CANNOT be obtained this way.”  Verses 6-7 go on to point how absurd it would be for us to try to attain our own righteousness.

Romans 10:6-7

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).

Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 30 here.  And at first glance, it feels a little like a confusing turn of events doesn’t it?  One minute we’re discussing the law and it’s end and the next minute we’re talking about going to heaven or hell to get what we need.  While it may feel a little absurd, let’s get it set in the right perspective.

“Ascend into heaven” is an idiom for seeking the impossible.  Paul isn’t even representing Moses’ original intent here but he is using his words for impact.  In reference to this…

Matthew Poole states…

Man does not have to go to heaven to learn the will of God and then teach it to us.  Christ already came!  The Law is not in heaven.

“Descend into the abyss” is also translated “cross the sea” in Deuteronomy 30 – a picture of great peril to the Jews.  But again, just as man does not have to ascend into heaven, he has no need to descend into the deep to learn or to draw near to righteousness.  With regard to this scripture…

Matthew Henry states…

When we speak of looking upon Christ, and receiving, and feeding upon him, it is not Christ in heaven, nor Christ in the deep, that we mean; but Christ in the promise.

There is no need for us to scale the heights or plumb the depths in search of Christ, for He has already come, died and risen – and so is accessible to us!  This leads us to verse 8, which answers the question, “then where is righteousness found?”

Romans 10:8

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); 

Still working from Deuteronomy 30, this time verse 14.  Paul is echoing Moses by saying, the reason we don’t have to ascend to heaven or descend to the abyss searching for Christ is because the Word is already near us.  He further clarifies by writing “the Word of Faith” which is the Gospel message.  And the Word of faith requires a response of faith.  Paul says it is the “word of faith that we proclaim.”  In other words, it has been taught and spoken to them by the apostles.  Just as I am speaking it you now.

This is going to be reaffirmed next week as we go on to verse 14 where Paul asks how can others hear unless someone is preaching.  The Word is already near us and the preaching and the teaching of the Word and the sharing our testimonies of what Christ has done make evident that nearness.

We know that this Word, spoken of in John chapter 1 was as follows…

John 1:1-5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

We also know that at the time of Christ’s ascension, He promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  So even as Christ is seated at the right hand of God, interceding on our behalf, the Holy Spirit is throughout the Earth for the purpose of walking with us in encouragement and conviction and revealing to us the truths of God.

John 14:15

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Will be in you – that is comforting isn’t it?  God’s promise to consistently walk with us and never leave us?  This makes the second point complete – Christ’s gift of salvation brings righteousness near!  Finally and most importatntly…

Christ’s Gift of Salvation.…

  • Signals the End of the Law (vv. 1-4)
  • Brings Righteousness Near (vv. 5-8)
  • Is Available to All (vv. 9-13)

III. Christ’s Gift of Salvation is Available to All (vv. 9-13)

The final point of today’s teaching is really all about “bringing it home.”  There are many things you may be concerned about over the course of your life.  Am I involved in the right friendships and relationships?  Do I treat others with enough kindness and care?  Have I been a good son or daughter?  Am I a good husband or wife?  Am I doing the right things as a parent? Did I choose the right career?  Should I have gone to school longer or not as long?  Did I save and invest well for retirement?  Could I have done better?  And the list goes on and on.

Deploying the first 13 verses of Romans 10 in your life lets you take a BIG question off the list.  Am I saved?  Does Jesus live in my life?  As we wrap up this morning, if nothing else has resonated with you thus far, please walk away having fully resolved the answer to these questions in your life.

 Romans 10:9-10

 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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 

These verses aim at proving out just how accessible and near this righteousness really is!  It is as near as confessing and believing.  Thus, verse 9 becomes the summary of those few previous verses.  Have you ever looked for your glasses only to find they were on top of your head?  Have you ever searched endlessly for your keys only to find they were in your hand, your pocket or even in the lock of the door?  That is how close Christ is to us.  But too often, we vex ourselves searching for the very thing that is standing right next to us, right in front of us.  Literally, before our very eyes!

We learn from verses 9 and 10 that the heart and mouth, inward belief and outward confession belong essentially together.

Commentator John Murray concludes…

Confession without faith would be vain…but likewise faith without confession would be spurious.

Most scholars agree that believing and confession are no more distinguishable than are justification and salvation.  We cannot have one genuinely without the other.  These are more than just words.  I am going to conclude in a moment by asking all of you to pray aloud with me asking Christ to grant us His salvation.  But those words without faith or belief are empty.  Confession if FAITH VOICED!

Confession = Faith Voiced!

It is vital that we understand that this is not some two step process but a unified, holistic decision / commitment.

The final verses of our focal passage today remind us that Christ is not only easily accessible, but also equally accessible to all – to ANYONE and EVERYONE who calls on Him, since there is no difference and no favoritism.  He is not a respecter of persons!

Romans 10:11-13

11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 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. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

This is the second time in this letter that Paul quotes from Isaiah 28:16 – the first was Romans 9:33.  The idea here is interpreted as “trust.”  This is important as we denote that confessing and believing are not mechanisms for simply ascribing to some creed or formula.  Trust implies a great deal more than lip service or intellectual assent.

Previously, in chapter 3, when Paul pointed out that “there is no distinction” between Jews and Greeks, it bore a negative connotation.  Because he was speaking of their sins – pointing out that they were equally sinful before a holy God and that they equally had an incapacity to win His acceptance.  This time, when he mentions that “there is no distinction” between Jews and Greeks in verse 12, there is a more joyful and hopeful tone to the writing.  Because, he is proclaiming to Jews and Greeks alike that the gates of God’s mercy stand wide open for their entrance, that this free pardon is assured in Christ to all who claim it by faith.  Stott writes that “there is no distinction because his saving mercy is lavished with undistinguishing regard; all who call on Him will receive it.”

Finally, in verse 13, he quotes from the book of Joel, which is the same passage from which Peter quotes at the first Pentecost recorded in Acts 2.  This is significant because it transfers the text from Yahweh to Jesus making it personable and accessible AND it invokes this as an invitation to the worldwide community and not just one people group or nation.  EVERYONE!!

So how do we get where Paul is inviting us to go?  Verses 9-10 gives us that pathway.  Confessing doesn’t inform God of something he didn’t already know – it tells Him we agree with Him that we have a sin problem that we are incapable of solving.  And  if it’s true that you have a sin problem, what can you do?

  1. Let’s admit it, confess it and turn from it.
  2. Let’s offer ourselves to God and ask God to teach us to walk according to the Spirit.

Lead Congregation in an out loud repeat prayer of trust and faith!

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness.

I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.

I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life.

I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.