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Submitting to God’s Way

Romans 10

Jim Davis

A true story was told of a beggar who stopped a lawyer on the street and asked him for a quarter. Taking a long, hard look into the man's unshaven face, the attorney asked, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" "You should," came the reply. "I'm your former classmate. Remember, second floor, old Main Hall?" "Why, Sam, of course I know you!" Without further question the lawyer wrote a check for $100. "Here, take this and get a new start. I don't care what's happened in the past, it's the future that counts." And with that he hurried on down the street.

Tears welled up in the man's eyes as he walked to a bank nearby. Stopping at the door, he saw through the glass the well-dressed tellers and the spotlessly clean interior. Then he looked at his filthy rags. "They won't take this from me. They'll swear that I forged it," he muttered as he turned away.

The next day the two men met again. "Why, Sam, what did you do with my check? Gamble it away? Drink it up?" "No," said the beggar as he pulled it out of his dirty shirt pocket and told why he hadn't cashed it. "Listen, friend," said the lawyer. "What makes that check good is not your clothes or appearance, but my signature. Go on, cash it!"

Sometimes it is just as hard for sinners to cash in on God’s forgiveness. We think God will not accept us as we are; out of fear of rejection we refuse the proffer of salvation. God’s grace has provided for our salvation. It has nothing to do with a good name or a bad name; it only has to do with God’s provisions. Salvation has nothing too do with how often we have sinned, or how many times we have sinned. It only has to with the fact that God has already offered the acceptable sacrifice for our sins. The sacrifice God has made was for all sin, both great and small. It was for every sin ever committed or that will ever be committed.

Submitting to God’s Righteousness

Why is it so hard to submit our souls to the salvation so freely given by God? God’s offer is a free gift of his grace through faith in Christ. It is offered to all who are lost. According to Paul all are lost. (3:23) Why do so many think there must be another way? What God has given seems so simple.

When God gave Moses the law in the wilderness, he gave it in simple terms so they could understand it. Moses says, "Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction." (Deuteronomy 30:11-15 NIV)

God’s law is simple and adequate. When God set before the Israelites the law of life and prosperity, death and destruction, God wanted them to understand what he had given them was enough. They wouldn’t have to seek additional revelation. The law was near them, it was in their hearts. The law was understandable and they wouldn’t need to seek to simplify it. However, in spite of its simplicity, the Jews went about to establish their own way of righteousness.

Romans 10:1-3
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. (NIV)

The Jews believed salvation was exclusively for the Jew. They rejected Jesus Christ because he offered salvation to all alike. They couldn’t see God saving anyone outside the Jewish race without them first becoming a Jew. It was hard for them to understand that God’s sovereign plan included everyone with no exception. The Jews refused to submit themselves to God’s righteousness as they sought to establish their own righteousness. They sought to make Christ conform to their way of thinking. They wanted to ascend to God’s throne to tell him what kind of Messiah they wanted.

There is an inherent weakness in religion. After we have practiced it for a while, we begin to think God owes us something for our sacrifice of time and effort. We begin to think our religious zeal is the means to our salvation. When we begin to think God owes us something for our effort, it is only naturally to think---the more zealous we are the more God is indebted to us. When we adapt this mind set it is easy to believe some are more deserving than others because of their tireless effort. As religion becomes the focal point, we lose sight of God. Religion can leave us lost in a maze seeking to make ourselves righteous before God through human effort.

Many today are like the Jews---- they have a hard time accepting God’s righteousness. We had rather work for it than accept the free gift God offers through Jesus Christ. The Jewish religion of works makes it abundantly clear that we can’t receive it by works. They were zealous for God, but their zeal was without knowledge. They refused to accept God’s sovereign plan to save every person through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They sought to establish their own means of righteous acceptability before God. They sought it through a system of works.

Religion may lead us to twist the scriptures to our own destruction. There were those in Peter’s day who were questioning God’s plan and his promises. Peter writes, "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:15-16 NIV)

The only way to be righteous before God is to accept the righteousness he offers. He is willing to give it to us. Christ lived a perfect life and made the perfect sacrifice for our sins. God is more than willing to accept his righteousness for our righteousness.

God’s Plan for Our Righteousness

God in his sovereignty has chosen to save the world in Christ. Paul has gone to great extremes in Romans to reveal that no one is righteous, and no one can be righteous before God without faith in Jesus Christ. In writing to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of God’s predestined plan and personal faith with the same stroke of the pen.

Ephesians 1:11-14
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory. (NIV)

It is obvious that God has a predestined plan and he is working everything out to conform to that plan. It is obvious that all who choose to believe are included in that plan. "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory." It is obvious that everyone can be included in God’s plan as they obey God.

Some teach there is an unpardonable sin. They believe it is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:31-32 NIV) Growing up, I always heard these verses taught in regards to an unpardonable sin. One for which there was no forgiveness. It left one believing that one could commit a sin that was unpardonable. If one committed this sin, one was outside of God’s forgiveness with no hope of salvation. To say it is unpardonable leaves no room for repentance. However, the word unpardonable is not found in these verses. However there is a sin, which cannot be forgiven.

In these verses Jesus is saying there is no forgiveness for one who rejects God’s plan of salvation revealed by the Holy Spirit. To reject the Holy Spirit’s teaching concerning salvation is to reject God’s plan to save you. The Jews could reject and crucify Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness. In fact, Jesus prayed, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," as he hung on the cross. But, they could not blaspheme the Holy Spirit and be forgiven. When Christ died on the cross he sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and to reveal God’s plan to save those convicted. The Holy Spirit’s revelation of God’s plan to save the world through Jesus Christ is God’s last revelation. It is the last call to salvation for everyone. If we reject the Spirit’s call there is no forgiveness for we blaspheme the Holy Spirit’s proffer for salvation. There is no way we can be saved as refuse the only means of salvation.

We can refuse to be included in the plan of God. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not an unpardonable sin unless we refuse to repent of it. It is possible to blaspheme the Holy Spirit in rebellion and then turn to him in obedience for salvation. The moment we turn and accept the Spirit’s plea---we are saved. It is only unpardonable if we refuse to repent and turn to Christ through the message of the Spirit.

The Jews refused to be included in God’s plan. The Jews of whom Paul speaks are committing the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. They refused to accept the Spirit’s teaching that salvation was for everyone who believed in Christ. Paul said, "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4 NIV) Israel refused to hear. They sought their own way of righteousness. Israel heard the word proclaimed, but they were unwilling to heed its message.

Romans 10:18-21
But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding." And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." (NIV)

We Must Call Upon the Lord

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." This is God’s plan of salvation. The only persons these verses exclude are those who refuse to call upon the name of the Lord. The verses presume everyone has a right to call upon the Lord for salvation. There has been no arbitrary decision made by God to allow some to call upon him while refusing to allow others to call upon him. It is simple; God’s sovereign plan includes everyone. It only excludes those who refuse to accept God’s sovereign plan to save them.

Romans 10:8-13
But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (NIV)

We are required to trust God’s plan for salvation. It is very difficult to fathom the depth of God’s thinking—in fact it is impossible. This is why faith is required. We know God knows what he is doing. Therefore we can trust him in simple faith. If we trust him we will not be put to shame on judgement day.

Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (NIV)

Trusting God does not require tracing out his plans or knowing the depth of his mind. It simply requires accepting his plan for salvation.

The Lord richly blesses all who call on him---God’s plan involves accepting personal responsibility. Calling on the name of the Lord simply requires us to come alive to Christ, as we renounce traditions which have been handed down to us.

1 Peter 1:18-23
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (NIV)

God does not arbitrarily save you against your will. You must come to him on his terms. He has chosen to save everyone in Christ, but you must come to Christ.

Romans 10:9-10
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV)

You must confess with your mouths and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. True confession is more than uttering words. Confession involves confessing and forsaking our sin. When the Ephesians came to Christ they openly confessed their evil deeds and burnt their sorcery bibles to embrace Jesus Christ.

Acts 19:18-20
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (NIV)

The Ephesians confessed Christ as they renounced their sins. Confessing Christ involves renouncing our sinful way to walk in the light Christ provides.

1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (NIV)

Confessing Christ relieves us from carrying the burden of our own sin. A preacher of the early 1900’s said that when he was 12 years old he had killed one of the family geese by throwing a stone and hitting it squarely on the head. Figuring his parents wouldn't notice that one of the 24 birds was missing, he buried the dead fowl. But that evening his sister called him aside and said, "I saw what you did. If you don't offer to do the dishes tonight, I'll tell Mother." The next morning she gave him the same warning. All that day and the next the frightened boy felt bound to do the dishes. The following morning, however, he surprised his sister by telling her it was her turn. When she quietly reminded him of what she could do, he replied, "I've already told Mother, and she has forgiven me. Now you do the dishes. I'm free again!"

Believing requires us to die with Christ in baptism so that we may come alive to him in the present.

Mark 16:15-16
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (NIV)

Romans 6:3-7
Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (NIV)

God’s Salvation Must Be Proclaimed

God does not arbitrarily save the lost without a proclamation of the word of Christ. It is essential for the message to be proclaimed. Today there is a necessity for this message of salvation to be proclaimed into all the earth. Not only are you included in God’s plan to save the world through Jesus Christ, God also shares the responsibility of proclaiming the message with you.

Romans 10:13-17
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (NIV)

There is a dire need to preach the simple message of salvation to a lost world. How can they hear unless we preach it? How can we preach if no one sends and supports preachers? The message of salvation is heard through preaching the word of Christ.

Conclusion:

God has chosen to save every person through the sacrifice of Christ. You are included in his plan through your willingness to confess Christ as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.

If you believe God resurrected Christ from the dead you must allow him to be resurrected in your heart as you strive to live according to his commands. This is the only real proof that we have been saved.

Will you not allow Jesus Christ to be resurrected in your hearts today? Will you confess him today? Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NIV)

 

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