- In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today through his Word?
- What does it take to be good enough in God’s sight? What does Matthew 5:48 say?
- Explain what it means that the writing is on the wall and in the law. See Daniel 5:24-28 and Romans 3:9, 10, 19, and 20.
- What does Martin Luther mean when he talks about an alien righteousness?
- Why is it possible to receive righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ?
- Explain propitiation from Romans 3:25.
- Do you believe in Jesus for righteousness and have you received his righteousness by faith? How can you tell?
- Explain why the Catholic ideas of infusion, purgatory, treasury of merit, and indulgences are a denial of the biblical gospel.
- Explain why the “Christian” ideas of being good enough by going to church, reading your bible, or being moral are a denial of the biblical gospel.
- Explain the biblical gospel of Solus Christus.
- In what way did God comfort, challenge, or encourage you through His Word?
- John Wycliffe and Jan Hus were supporters of translating the Bible into the common language of the people. Why is this important?
- Explain Jesus’ understanding of the authority of Scripture.
- Where does your understanding of Scripture need to change in order to more closely match that of Jesus?
- What are the implications of the Roman Catholic understanding of the pope as the vicar of Christ?
- In what ways had the Roman Catholic Church abandoned the gospel?
- In what ways are you tempted to abandon the gospel?
- How can we encourage you to read the Bible daily?
Main Point: Salvation is by faith, not by works.
Today, we are going to answer a common question: Why do “good people” need to be saved? You are reading the Bible and have grabbed onto the idea that a person must believe in Jesus but you don’t quite understand why. In your circles “good people” may be defined as kind people; the live and let live type. For others, “good people” are moral people; the pay your bills and love your neighbors kind of people. For still others, “good people” are religious people; the obey God kind of people. Why do good people need to believe in Jesus? Isn’t good, good enough? The question may be even more fundamental then why do good people need to be saved? You may be thinking that good people don’t need to be saved. The basic question is, do good people need to be saved? Does my sweet little neighbor need the gospel? Do Jews need the gospel? Do Catholics need the gospel? Do Baptists need the gospel?
In Romans 10:1-4 the Apostle Paul discusses the need for good Jewish people to be saved. The bottom line is this, salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone and not by our works. Good works, being a good person of any sort, cannot save anyone. Faith in Christ delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification is necessary for all to be saved (Rom 4:24).
Read Romans 9:30-10:4
I. Seek the salvation of stumblers (10:1)
Romans 10:1 invites us to do some work on our own hearts. Are we like our brother the Apostle Paul? Are we imitating him? His heart’s desire was for the salvation of his kinsmen the Jews.
- What do you want for your neighbors?
When you see your neighbors what do you want? Do you want them to go away and leave you alone? Do you want them to know Jesus like you do? Do you desire the salvation of your neighbors? What about those crazy people you see on TV? Maybe you define crazy as democrats. Maybe you define crazy as republicans. Maybe you define crazy as everyone who doesn’t think like you think. What do you want for them? If you have a Christian worldview then your desire for them is that they may be saved.
Now, fruit trees produce fruit. This desire, for their salvation, has fruit. What is it? Look at verse 1. Since Paul was eager for their salvation what did he do about it? He prayed for them to be saved. It may be appropriate here to stop and repent. Instead of wanting the salvation of our neighbors we want more stuff for ourselves. Instead of daydreaming about the salvation of our children we daydream about the stuffing of our pockets. Instead of praying and working for the salvation of our coworkers we scheme and work for the promotion of ourselves. Paul’s desire and prayer for the salvation of his kinsmen is a call to repentance for us. We have lost our focus. May God restore us and sanctify us in Christ.
Romans 10:1 challenges us to be about the salvation of others and Romans 10:1 helps us reconcile prayer and the absolute sovereignty of God. Notice,
- Prayer and the sovereignty of God are compatible
Rehearse the argument of Romans 9. God saves based on his purpose of election. God does not save based on our works or efforts. God doesn’t look into the future and elect those who will make good choices. Election and salvation do not depend on human will but on God who is free to show mercy to whomever he chooses. From the massive number of all humanity, God has the right to make some people into vessels of mercy and others into vessels of wrath. God is absolutely sovereign. The Jews are then described as people who are offended and stumble over Christ our righteousness. These Jews who reject Jesus are vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. What should we do? Since God is sovereign I guess we should just let them burn. No, what does Paul do? He eagerly desires the salvation of these stumblers. He prays to the sovereign electing God to save them.
Wait, if God is sovereign why should I pray? If God is sovereign should I pray? The biblical answer is since God is sovereign we should pray. Prayer and the sovereignty of God are not just compatible. Prayer and the sovereignty of God are complimentary. Think about it. If God is not sovereign, if God is not in charge of all things, then he can’t or won’t do anything about your situation. If I get a speeding ticket I don’t take it up with my neighbor’s dog. My neighbor’s dog has no power or authority concerning speeding tickets. I take my speeding ticket to the judge. He has the power and authority to do something. Why does the apostle Paul pray to the sovereign God for the salvation of those who despise Jesus? He prays because God has the power and authority to do something.
So, if your prayer life is weak it may be because you practically consider God to be as powerful as my neighbor’s dog. What is the remedy? Read the book of Exodus, the book of Ezekiel, or the Gospel of Mark. Expose yourself to the power and greatness of God. A correct view of the greatness of God, his power and willingness to work, will fuel our prayers.
Remember our question, since God is sovereign over salvation should we pray for the salvation of those who stumble over Jesus? Yes. Why? Because God is the only one who can change a stumbler’s heart.
Let’s get back into the flow of Romans 10:1-4. The issue in front of us is salvation. Do good people need the gospel?
II. We need to know what it takes to be saved (10:2-3)
These verses address the question of should we evangelize the Jews? It is also very helpful as we look at our children and people who want to join this church. What does a person need to know or have or do in order to be saved? Romans 10:1-4 expose three major problems when it comes to being saved. Here is the first.
- The problem of zeal without knowledge
Notice from verse one that these people need to be saved. Keep that in mind. Whatever they do, or possess, it is not enough to save. So, what do they have? Look at verse 2, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge.”
Basically, this is legalism. The Jews were working really hard to be good. Romans 9:31 says they pursued a law of righteousness. They were working hard to be good. God had given them instructions and they were going to keep those instructions. The Jews were very passionate about the law and were devoted to keeping it.
Now this is confusing because keeping the law is a good thing. Paul was clear in Romans 3:31 that Christians don’t overthrow the law but instead uphold it. Romans 7:12, “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” What’s going on? Which one is it? Is the law good and should we obey it or is the law bad and should we discard it?
Let’s let Scripture interpret Scripture. What exactly is the problem here? How does Paul put it? What are these Jews doing in 10:3? They are seeking to establish their own righteousness. Look back at 9:32. These Jews, not all Jews but these Jews, were pursuing the righteous law as if it were based on works. They were trying to earn their way to God.
This is so dangerous because trying hard to be good, trying hard to obey God, will get you somewhere. It will get you ahead of the people around you. Read back through Philippians 3. Before becoming a Christian, Paul was ahead of his kinsmen. He was zealous and devoted to keeping the law. Zeal may get you ahead of your peers but zeal cannot get you to God. Only Jesus can get you to God.
Zeal for the law blinds a person keeping him from seeing the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. I have a righteousness why do I need another? Zeal for the law, accomplishing things according to the law tricks us into thinking that by doing this thing we must certainly be sufficient for that thing. But being able to write your name and fill in the bubbles on your scantron doesn’t mean you are capable of acing the test.
We are so thankful all people are capable of doing good. We are so careful because we know this capability to do some good will trick many into thinking they are good enough. This is the problem with zeal without knowledge; we can accomplish enough to think we are good enough.
We can start schools and hospitals. We can help with hurricane relief. We can visit the sick and those in prison. We can oppose injustice and help the weak. We can love and laugh and serve. We can do so many good things but zeal without knowledge, the knowledge of Christ, cannot save. Here’s our next problem
- The problem of knowledge without zeal
The way this problem is worded in James 2:14-17 is faith without works is dead. This person knows the gospel. She can recite the good news of the death of Christ for our trespasses and the resurrection of Christ for our justification. There is knowledge but no zeal. The gospel-facts are there but no commitment or trust.
Knowledge without zeal often looks something like this. You are confronted with some need and here’s the response, “Dear brother, remember God feeds the birds, meditate on that, consider the birds. If God so feeds the birds he will care for you. Be joyful. Be faithful. I’ll pray for you as you seek to consider the birds.” No! Give the brother something to eat and something to wear. True personal knowledge of Christ effects the way you think about others. Knowledge of Christ propels you to act. And faith in Christ changes the way you handle your own sin.
When describing true repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:11, Paul uses the word zeal. Godly grief, true repentance, and saving faith all possess zeal. The knowledge of Christ causes the believer to put in the effort to get rid of sin and grow more and more into the image of Christ. A true knowledge of Christ makes a person zealous for holiness.
Friend, look around. Look at yourself. What is your knowledge of Christ producing in your life? How does your confession of Jesus as Lord fuel your assault on your own personal sin? How are you encouraged to meet the needs of others? If there is no effort to be more like Jesus then you may be in danger of possessing knowledge without zeal.
Let’s tackle our next problem then put it all together
- The problem of seeking to establish your own righteousness
Look at Romans 10:3. Instead of trusting themselves to the righteousness of Christ they were seeking to establish their own righteousness.
In Philippians 3:8-9 Paul confesses that what he wants most of all is to know Christ. He wants the experience of reconciliation with God through Christ. He wants eternal life. His heart’s desire is to be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of his own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ Jesus. Again, there is a righteousness that can be gained by the law, by striving and working, but it is an insufficient righteousness. The problem is not with the law. The problem is with why we try to obey the law.
Romans 10:3 “is most naturally interpreted to mean that Israel continued to devote itself to all that the Torah commanded in order to establish its status before God…The reason, then, that the Jews did not subject themselves to the saving righteousness of God is because they were ignorant of the fact that righteousness was a gift of God’s grace. They mistakenly thought they could secure their own righteousness by observing the Torah” (Schreiner, 544).
The more successful a person is, the more dangerous this problem becomes. Success in ministry, or theology, is particularly dangerous. Surely, I must be acceptable to God. I have it all figured out. I work hard and God is blessing it. Beware.
Where are you tempted? Are you tempted to trust your efforts, your zeal, and your sacrifice but don’t give a care about theology or the Bible? Are you being lured into the trap of trusting in your theological knowledge but don’t give a rip about people? Are you desperate and guilty and shamed but working hard to make it right and make it up? Turn from these false gospels
- Salvation involves submitting to the righteousness of God (3)
Negatively, these Jews, but not all Jews, were seeking to establish their own righteousness and so they would not submit to God’s righteousness. I believe our struggle is a little different. We are tempted to think we need Jesus plus our own righteousness. But simply put, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You either protect and preserve the cake or you eat it. The same goes for righteousness. You will either try to establish your own righteousness or you will receive the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ. There is no middle way. You will either try zealously to earn your own righteousness or you will humbly quit trying and receive righteousness from another.
Again, a word of caution. It is tempting to think submitting to the righteousness of God is some vague sentiment, nothing more than some person somewhere looking up at the stars and saying, “I can’t do it. God, whoever you are, you have to do it. I trust you.” A desire for salvation, void of Christ, cannot save. The righteousness of God is Jesus Christ.
To be saved, a person must
III. Believe in Christ for righteousness (10:4)
Why would they not receive the righteousness of God? Why would they not stop striving to establish their own righteousness? Why do they refuse to submit to God’s righteousness? Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Let’s rejoice over what this means
- Christ is the fulfillment of the law
Jesus is everything the law points toward. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish the them but to fulfill them.” The Law in Jesus’ hands is perfectly fulfilled. Jesus did everything the law required. Every punishment demanded by the law was meted out on Jesus. What is the purpose of the Law? The law points out your sin and the law points you to Jesus.
The Bible describes the law as a tutor or guardian (Gal 4:2). This makes me think about the law like a fire alarm. What does a fire alarm do? It sounds the warning. There is a problem here! There is danger here! You need help! Someone get help! The goal or end of a fire alarm is summoning the help of another. The law does that; the law exposes our sin and makes us cry out for help.
Jesus is our help. Jesus is our righteousness. Jesus has done all that God requires and he has fulfilled all that God demands for righteousness. Look to Jesus. Lay down your efforts to be good. Lay down your zeal. Lay down your pursuit of knowledge. Trust Jesus. He is the fulfillment of the law. He also is the end of the law for righteousness.
- Christ is the end of the law for righteousness
Church let’s get excited about this. We must. You and I cannot keep the law and be righteous. We cannot earn our way to God. We cannot and we must not try. That era is over. That lie has been terminated. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says because of God you are in Christ Jesus. This is God’s sovereign work. And what is the fruit of that work? Christ has become to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” For the believer, Christ provides righteousness before God and Christ fuels righteous living.
It is true that the law stands as a revelation of God’s character and the law helps us understand how to live in his world. But the law is not a means for establishing our own righteousness. We should not look at the law, sigh, and say “I guess I have to obey or I’ll go to hell.” Christ is the end of the law for righteousness! Christ, and not your works, is your righteousness before God. Your zeal cannot get you to God. Your theology cannot get you to God. Christ, and Christ alone will get you to God.
Let’s review what we have seen
- Zeal is not enough. Salvation requires a knowledge of the righteousness of God (2)
- A knowledge of the righteousness of God is seen in a submission to God’s righteousness (3)
- Submission to God’s righteousness is receiving Christ’s righteousness by faith AND forsaking your own righteousness by works (4)
- Hebrews 11:4, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
- To be saved, you must see the righteousness of God who is Jesus Christ, you must receive that righteousness by faith, and this entails rejecting, repudiating, and hating your own attempts to earn righteousness.
Now that you know this, what will you do with Jesus? Will you push him aside thinking you are good enough and you’ll work hard enough and make yourself acceptable to God. Or, will you gladly and humbly confess your need for the righteousness of Christ? Will you by faith look away from your sin and weakness so that you can depend fully on Christ? He is the sufficient one. Doubt yourself. Believe in Jesus.
- Show us, compassionate Father, the reality and ugliness of our own sin so that we will turn to Christ for righteousness. Show us, Spirit of truth, that our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags so that we will stop striving for acceptance by our works and instead rest in the sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness. Gentle Jesus, call us who labor and are heavy laden, to come to you and take your yoke upon ourselves that we might find rest for our souls.
- In what way did God correct, comfort, or challenge you through the Word?
- What is Paul’s desire in Romans 10:1? How can you and your family increase your desire for the salvation of your neighbors?
- Prayer and the sovereignty of God are not just compatible; they are complimentary. Explain why the sovereignty of God encourages us to pray.
- A correct view of the greatness of God, his power and willingness to work, will fuel our prayers. What can you do to expose yourself, in meaningful ways, to the greatness of God?
- List the names of your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers who are not believers. Take time to pray for each of them. Use Romans 10:1-4 as a guide for your prayer.
- Why is zeal without knowledge a problem? Where do you see this problem in your own life?
- Why is knowledge without zeal a problem? Where do you see this problem in your own life?
- Explain Romans 10:3; salvation means submitting to the righteousness of God. How does this look in your life?
What are life groups?
- Life groups are small groups (about 8 people) who commit to meet up every other week to get to know one another and help one another follow Jesus.
What do life groups do?
- Generally, life groups meet for lunch every other week after our Sunday worship gathering. One of our elders writes questions so the group can better understand and apply the sermon to their lives. Depending on the season, life groups meet for 2-3 months.
How can you be a part?
- You can join a group. Let Pastor Paul know you want to be a part of the group. You can comment here, sign up in the foyer, call the office (817) 573-4901, or send him an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can host a group. Each group needs host homes where the group can meet. Usually the host home provides the meat for the meal and the other members bring sides. Most groups share the responsibility of hosting.
- You can lead a group. Each group needs a leader who will choose a few of the questions and start the discussion. This is not a lecture but a time for each person to process how God’s Word applies to his/her life in community.
- In what way did God comfort, correct, or challenge you today through His Word?
- Why is it necessary for us to understand the kindness and severity of God (Rom 11:22)?
- What is the prize of this passage? What are the runners seeking to attain? See verse 30.
- Who do you know that simply doesn’t care about righteousness? How can you pray for and serve that person this week?
- Explain verse 30. How is it that the Gentiles don’t run yet receive the prize, while the Jews run but don’t receive the prize?
- God’s law describes how a person can become righteous, and the Jews are correct in pursuing righteousness. However, what is wrong with the way Israel pursues the righteousness described in the Law (9:32)? Life Change, Romans, NavPress
- In what ways do some people see Christ as offensive?
- In what ways do some people see salvation by faith alone as offensive?
- What does it look like for you to pursue righteousness? How are you running?
We are reading Psalm 65 today. The chorus of this song nails it