Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 29, 2002
Man’s Responsibility in Salvation
Over the past several weeks, as we have been studying Romans 8 & 9, we
have seen Paul emphasize God’s sovereignty in salvation as a means to
encourage and comfort believers. Those who have placed their faith in the person
and work of the Lord Jesus Christ have been delivered from their bondage to sin
and its condemnation of death and made free to live by the Spirit of God in
righteousness. The new nature that we receive at salvation makes us aliens and
strangers in the very world to which we were born. We have an increasing longing
to depart from this world and be with our Savior in heaven, where our
citizenship now resides. God’s sovereignty guarantees that the promises that
He has made us will come true.
Salvation of the individual begins with God’s foreknowledge, which results
in His predestination, which results in His calling and His justification and
those in turn will conclude in that person’s glorification. There is no
circumstance that can separate us from the love of Christ. There is no entity,
past, present or future, that can separate us from the love of God. What began
in eternity past and has come to past in the present is absolutely guaranteed in
eternity future because God is omniscient, omnipotent and sovereign.
These truths would have caused questions among the Jews about God’s
faithfulness to Israel. Since all of Israel was not saved, was God just in His
dealings with them. Paul spends chapters 9, 10 and 11 dealing with God’s
relationship with Israel, and in so doing Paul demonstrates God’s justice, His
faithfulness and His future plan for His chosen people.
Paul greatly longed for the salvation of his "kinsmen according to the
flesh," and it greatly grieved him that the vast majority of them were not
saved. But this did not in anyway mean that God was unjust towards them. Paul
uses God’s sovereignty to show this in chapter 9, and in chapter 10, our
passage for study this morning, Paul will use their responsibility to prove God’s
righteous dealing with Israel.
In chapter 9, Paul shows that God sovereignly choose Abraham to bestow His
blessing upon him. God then choose Isaac to be the son of promise and not
Ishmael or any of his other sons through Keturah. God then choose Jacob to be
the next son of promise and not Esau. These were not choices God made based on
anything in those chosen, either good or bad. God has not told us His reasons.
It was simply His desire according to His own good pleasure.
That does not sit well with us humans because we want to be autonomous and
make our own decisions. We do not like the idea of being subjected to the
sovereign will of another. Some have used this to say that God is unjust if this
is they way it is, because no one can resist His will and therefore it is God’s
fault if someone is not saved.
Paul gives two answers to this charge. First, (9:20-21) Man is a creature
that has no right to challenge what God, who as creator, has the right to do,
and He may do whatever He desires. Second, there can be no justified claim that
God is unjust when in fact God’s actions show that He has been merciful to
all. God has the right to cast the unrighteous into Hell immediately, but
instead He mercifully endures them with great patience. He uses them for His own
glory despite their rebellion against Him. God also extends mercy to
"vessels of mercy" to whom He makes known the riches of His glory.
In the rest of chapter 9, Paul demonstrates the outworking of these truths to
both the Jews and Gentiles. Some gentiles have received the blessing of being
vessels of mercy and have been included as part of God’s people. Many Jews
have rejected God’s plan and remain as vessels of wrath, though God has always
and will always keep a remnant of Jews that belong to Him as vessels of mercy.
This now brings up others questions. What is man’s responsibility in
salvation? Can God be just if He does not give people a fair opportunity to
become a "vessel of mercy"? What about all the people that are very
religious and claim to be seeking God? What about the Jews that have been so
diligent to keep God’s law?
Paul answers these questions in chapter 10. He does not back down from God’s
sovereignty in the least, but he does clearly show that man is responsible to
respond to the mercy that has been shown to him. Israel has been zealous for
God, but they have been ignorant of true righteousness. They have sought to earn
it instead of accept it by faith. They have been given the message, but they
have rejected it.
Paul’s Desire (1)
What Paul has said in Romans 9 is offense to most Jews. What he about to say
in Romans 10 about their stubbornness in their ignorance is even more offense,
so Paul begins the section with a statement to reassure them his desire toward
them. "Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for
This continues to be Paul’s great desire just as he had expressed at the
beginning of chapter 9. Note as well here that the doctrine of God’s
sovereignty in salvation has not changed in the least Paul’s yearning to see
his fellow Jews come to salvation in Christ. On this basis, I think it can be
said categorically, that if your belief in God’s election ever causes you to
be less zealous for the salvation of the lost, then you do not yet fully
understand God or this doctrine. If a person is indifferent toward the unsaved,
then they themselves are comatose or dead spiritually, or they are believing a
false doctrine, or both. A proper understanding of the doctrine of election does
not reduce evangelistic zeal. It did not in Paul. It should not in anyone else.
Religious Ignorance (2-5)
What Paul states in verses 2 & 3 is the very life that he had previously
lived. He has great compassion on those still in that state. "For I bear
them witness 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."
Zeal without Knowledge (2,3)
Zeal is an emotional fervor, a passionate pursuit toward something. To have
such zeal for God and at the same time to be ignorant of God and what He desires
is a great, great tragedy. Paul’s reference here would refer to so many Jews
that he personally knew that were still like he used to be. They still believed
with all their hearts that they were pleasing to God with all their efforts to
keep the law, some even believing they were actually doing so. They thought God
was pleased with them for achieving righteousness. The truth, however, was the
opposite. They were ignorant of the true nature of righteousness before God and
so did not submit to it. Instead, many were wrapped up in their own self
righteousness and would look down upon or even persecute those who did not agree
with them and pursue those same standards. Paul had previously been a zealous
persecutor of Christians because of this (Gal. 1:13).
But it is not just Jews that fall into this trap. The Jews were self
righteousness based in their adherence to the Mosaic Law. Paul has already
stated in Romans 2 that there are many others that think themselves to be
righteous before God because of they zealous keep their own standards of
conduct. Then there are those Jesus warned about in Matthew 7 that would believe
themselves to be righteous despite their disobedience to His commands. Jesus
said, "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom
of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 "Many
will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and
in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23
"And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you
who practice lawlessness." Their manner of life demonstrated they did
not love Jesus, for those who love Him keep His commandments (John 14:15). They
thought they were righteous before God because of the ministry they were doing
in Jesus’ name.
In all these cases, the people are self righteous and ignorant of true
righteousness that can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul points this
out in verse 4 & 5.
Righteousness of the Law (4,5)
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.
As Paul has already pointed out in Romans 3:28, man is justified, or made
righteous before God, by faith apart from works of the law. If a man is striving
to become righteous through the law, then they must not fail at any point for
they will be judged by that law. Paul refers to Moses statement in Leviticus
18:5 as proof for this. Paul has already stated in chapter 2 that those who do
not have the Mosaic law will be judged and condemned by the law of their
conscience. They do not keep the basic aspects of the law that God has placed
into the conscience of all people, nor do they keep even the standards they have
set up for themselves. No one will ever be able to justify themselves before God
by the works of the law because they fail to keep the law and their works
condemn them (Gal. 2:16; Rev. 20:12,13).
Since righteousness before God cannot be earned, it must be attained on
another basis. That basis is faith in Jesus Christ for He is end of the law
for righteousness to everyone who believes. In other words, Jesus Christ is
the end of a person’s futile effort to achieve their own righteousness before
God. Instead, the righteousness of Christ is imputed, or attributed to the
believer. This is the righteousness of faith that Paul has been talking about
since the beginning of the book. Paul speaks more of this in verses 6-10
The Righteousness of Faith (6-10)
"6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, "Do not say in
your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or
‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (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 shall be saved; 10 for with the heart man
believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting
The Humility of Faith (6-8)
One of the first things we notice about the righteousness that is based on
faith is that it is simple and it is something that is received as a gift. It is
not a difficult thing to understand or attain.
The righteousness of works is proud and must work through difficulty to
achieve for itself. Paul refers to Deuteronomy 30:11-14 here in verses 6,7 &
8 but modifies them for his own purpose by including his own parenthetical
comments about their meaning. In the Deuteronomy passage, Moses explains to the
people that the Word of God has now been brought to them so that they may know
and observe it. The commands of God were no longer too difficult or out of
reach. They did not need to send someone to heaven to bring back to them God’s
will, neither did they need to send to a far off land to find someone who would
teach them about God. The law of God had now been given to them through Moses.
What they had sought for had already been given and was embodied in the command
to love the Lord God, walk in His ways and keep His commandments. The
righteousness of works rejects the obvious to seek for something that must still
be hidden, for their conscience still reminds them that there is a sin problem
that has not gone away.
Paul explains here that the righteousness of faith does not need to seek out
further revelation regarding salvation. They do not need to try to get the
Messiah, the Christ, to come from heaven to tell them what good thing they must
do, or to search among the dead to find the Christ and bring Him back to tell
them how to be saved from God’s condemnation. The message has already been
given at it was now near them, in their mouth and heart. It is the message that
Paul has been proclaiming throughout this book. The righteousness of faith
accepts the message for what it is. It is a message from heaven for Jesus
descended from their to proclaim God’s will to us. It is a message from one
who has been raised from the dead so that we might know how to conquer death
through Him. It is the gospel message that Paul has been preaching. What is the
expression and belief of the gospel message? Paul states it in verse 9 & 10.
The Expression and Belief of Faith (9,10)
"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; 10 for with
the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he
confesses, resulting in salvation." That is the gospel message in
brief. The righteousness of faith concerns the individual’s response to the
person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 9, Paul uses the order given
in Deut. 30:14 which he quotes in verse 8 in expressing the person’s response
to Jesus Christ. In verse 10, Paul reverses it into the chronological order by
which salvation comes to an individual.
Confession means to "speak the same thing" or "agree
with." In this case, to agree with God by stating it yourself with your
mouth the specific truth that Jesus is Lord.
Belief is the assent of the mind to the truth of a declaration or
proposition. In this case it is an acknowledgment of the declaration that God
has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Paul adds here that this is a belief of
the heart in order to distinguish from a mere intellectual assent. We tend to us
the term "heart" allegorically as a reference to emotion, but to the
Jews, the term referred to the deepest, innermost aspect of a man’s personhood
in which resided the thought, will and motives of the individual. It represented
the core of that person’s being.
Paul states unequivocally that the correct confession and heart belief will
result in the salvation of the individual. In both the confession and the belief
there are core truths that must be held by the individual if they are to be
saved. In verse 10 Paul explains how this works.
As with Abraham (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3), God reckons or counts belief as
righteousness. Again, this is heart belief and not mere intellectual assent. It
is something that is held to as true by thought and will which in turn generates
motives for action. Confession is the outward expression of the core belief of
the heart. Jesus stated in Matthew 15:18 that it the things that proceed out of
the mouth come from the heart. In Matthew 10:32,33 Jesus said, "Everyone
therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My
Father who is in heaven. 33 "But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will
also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." Confession is the
response of belief. Belief brings righteousness, and confession confirms that
belief, resulting in salvation.
Now these truths that are believed and confessed are significant and by their
very nature life changing. Too often in American Christianity we find that they
are treated as incidental or trivial truths. Too many people profess Jesus as
their savior, yet live lives that are in contradiction to what they say they
believe. What then is the significance of confessing Jesus as Lord and believing
God has raised Him from the dead?
There is a large section of American Christianity that teaches that
confessing Jesus as Lord is not a big deal. They pass it off as an intellectual
acknowledgment that Jesus is God with little to no consequences in the life. Not
only is that idea not true, it is utterly silly. The supposed justification by
those promoting this idea is to protect the gospel from any works based
righteousness. They argue that if salvation was dependent on people confessing
Jesus as Lord in the sense of a master who is to be obeyed, then works are added
into the gospel message. Since salvation is based on grace alone through faith
alone (Eph. 2), then any requirement of salvation that demands people will obey
Christ must be rejected. Again, not only is that blatantly wrong, it is also
For the sake of argument, let me agree for the moment that the term
"lord" here is only a reference to Jesus’ deity. If that is true,
then I have a very simple question. What sort of God are you confessing if you
also think obedience to Him is optional? What sort of God is it that is not also
master? The answer. He is not God at all. God by His very nature and attributes
is master over everything. The true God is lord without any qualifiers. Those
who claim the term Lord here is only a reference to Jesus’ deity without
respect to any demand of obedience have created for themselves a false God not
worthy of worship. Their belief in on par with that of the demons who also
believe and confess that Jesus is God (James 2:19), except perhaps that the
demons have a better understanding because they also confess Jesus’ authority
over them. An example of this is in Matt. 8:31 where the demons entreat Jesus
that if He was going to cast them out of the man, to send them into the swine,
which Jesus then did.
There are also those who will say that "Lord" here is only a title
of respect, much in the same way "lord" is used as a title in England
to this very day for certain noblemen and those holding certain offices. They
also reject that "lord" carries any meaning of required obedience too.
Confession of Jesus as Lord in that sense will not result in salvation, because
such a Christ would not have the ability to save.
The sense of "lord" here is a reference to both Jesus deity and the
position of master that He has because He is God. In the book of Romans alone,
Paul has already asserted the deity and mastership of Jesus Christ. Back in
Romans 1:1-4 Paul asserts Jesus deity as the "son of God." Paul
continues to assert Jesus as the son of God throughout the book (1:9; 5:10;
8:3,29,32; 9:9). Could Jesus nature as master be asserted any better than Romans
6 in which Paul proclaims that the purpose of our salvation was to free us from
slavery to sin and enslave us to God and righteousness? What meaning would there
be to Paul’s struggle against sin explained in Romans 7 if obedience to Jesus
Christ is of little consequence. Or what do you then do to Paul’s statement in
Romans 8 that the mind set on the flesh is death (vs. 6) if having a mindset on
the Spirit with its resultant obedience to Christ in putting to death the deeds
of the flesh (vs. 13) is optional?
Or perhaps it would be best to go back to Jesus’ own declarations. Jesus
accepts the title "Son of God" in the sense of deity and uses it of
Himself in many passages (Matt. 16:16; 26:63,64; Luke 22:70; John 1:34, 49;
3:18; 5:25; 11:4) and continually referred to God as His Father (Matt. 7:21;
10:32; 11:27; 16:17; 20:23; 26:53; etc.). Jesus even calls Himself by God’s
covenant name of "I am" for which the Jews sought to stone Him for
blasphemy (John 8:58). Jesus demonstrated the attributes of deity including
authority over nature (Mk 4:41); disease (Mt. 4:24); demons (Mt. 8:31f); and
even death (John 11).
In regards to Jesus as master, He demands it all by virtue of who He is
(Phil. 2:10), and requires it from His followers as evidence of their
relationship with Him. Jesus plainly told His disciples that those that loved
Him would keep His commandments, and that those that did not love Him would not
keep His commandments (John 14:15,24). Jesus commanded His followers that
because all authority was given to Him, they were to go and make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and
teaching them to observe (obey) all that He had commanded. In Matthew 7:21-23,
which we looked at earlier, Jesus plainly states that even those who profess to
minister in His name but who in fact practice lawlessness will be cast out from
His presence because He never knew them.
All that to say this. Confessing Jesus as Lord is to agree with all that God
has revealed about Jesus as deity, sinless man, savior and master. The term
"Lord" must be applied in this verse is the same way it is applied to
Jesus throughout the book of Romans and the rest of Scripture. You cannot change
the meaning to suit what you would like it to be.
Let me quickly add here that the statements concerning confession with the
mouth do not exclude those who are mute. That would seem like something obvious,
but there are those that might think that. There are also those that have used
this verse to teach that a person can be saved if they can just get them to say
the words. That is not true either.
The reason that Paul refers to the mouth is because that is in keeping with
his quote from Deut. 30:14. The point of it is the personal response to the
person and work of Jesus Christ. If you believe in Christ, then there is an
outward proclamation of that belief. A person who cannot speak could do that
through writing or drawing or whatever means by which they can communicate. A
person that can speak that refuses to confess Jesus as Lord with the mouth is a
different issue. They demonstrate that following Jesus is not as important to
them as something else whether that be fear or pride. Their actions prove that
they in fact do not believe Jesus is who He claims to be, otherwise they would
seek His favor above all else.
In regards to those who think that saying the words are enough, and I had a
friend in college that got mixed up with such a group, such is pure nonsense
even in keeping with the passage because there also has to be heart belief. Paul
will point this out in verse 13 and 14 that you cannot call upon a being in whom
you do not believe.
The belief that Jesus rose from the dead is also important for it also
encompasses all that Scripture says concerning Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In other words, it is not an equivalent to believing Lazarus was raised from the
dead, but it encompasses the purpose of Jesus death as an atonement, for sin and
His resurrection from the dead according to His own prophecy (John 10:17,18;
Well, I did not get as far this morning as I had originally planned. Next
week we will finish this chapter and see further that man is responsible for his
own response to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Today we only got as far as
the widespread ignorance of not only the Jews, but so many other people who
continue to believe that they can attain a righteous standing before God by
their good works. In pursuing their own self righteousness they do not subject
themselves to the righteousness of God. The truth is that they will be held to
the standard of righteousness of the law they are seeking to practice, and that
law will condemn them, for sin causes everyone to fail to even keep the law of
conscience, much less God’s revealed law.
The nature of the righteousness of God is found in faith in the person and
work of Jesus Christ. God has revealed the truth to us and placed it within
reach. God reckons faith in Jesus Christ to count for righteousness before Him.
That faith reveals its belief in Jesus’ atonement for sin and resurrection
through a confession of who Jesus is. He is the true God in human flesh to whom
obedience is due. The obedience of the Christian is not given to earn salvation,
but as a response to righteousness already given.
Next week we will find in the second half of chapter 10 even more reason that
man is responsible for his salvation. The message of the gospel is a universal
offer of salvation and man is responsible for his own rejection of that offer.
God’s merciful character is seen in His continuing patient endurance of those
who have rejected Him, and in the fact that He will keep His promises despite
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s
lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something
you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older
Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times words
"righteous" or "righteousness" are used. 2) Discuss with
your parents the difference between the righteousness of the law and the
righteousness of faith.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. How is a person
saved? What are they saved from? What are the ramifications of salvation? What
have you learned from Romans 8 & 9 about God’s sovereignty in salvation?
What are Paul’s answers to the charges that God is unjust since no one can
resist His will? Are these reasons valid? Why or why not? What is Paul’s
desire toward his fellow Jews? What evidences are their of their zeal? Of what
were they ignorant? What is the righteousness of the law? How is Christ the end
of the law? What are they demands of the law? Can any one meet them? Why or why
not? What is the righteousness of faith? What are its characteristics? What is
Paul referring to in verse 6 & 7 – bring Christ down, brings Christ up? What
is the expression of faith? What is the belief of faith? What does
"confession" mean? What is the nature of the belief spoken of in verse
9 & 10? Why is confession important? What does "Lord" refer to in
verse 9? What are some wrong beliefs concerning this. What does Paul say in
Romans about Jesus’ lordship? What does Jesus say about His own Lordship? Does
confession have to be made with the mouth to be saved? Why or why not? Does the
confession itself save you? Why or why not? What is the importance of belief
& what needs to be believed? How have you responded to the person and work
of Christ? What do you believe? What have you confessed?
Sermon Study Sheets
Man’s Responsibility in Salvation – Romans 10
Paul’s Desire (1)
Religious Ignorance (2-5)
Zeal without Knowledge (2,3)
Righteousness of the Law (4,5)
The Righteousness of Faith (6-10)
The Humility of Faith (6-7) Deuteronomy 30:11-14
The Expression and Belief of Faith (9,10)
Belief unto Righteousness
Confession unto Salvation
Deity & Master