Salvation Within Reach


Sermon Text: Romans 10:5-21
Sermon Series: “Romans Chapters 9-16”

Main Points:
I. The purpose of the law
II. The righteousness based on faith
III. God’s offer of salvation

As we work through the book of Romans, the main issue focused on in ch. 9 was God’s sovereign choice or election or predestination. The core of this doctrine is that God chose some to salvation and others to damnation, and this was done according to His sovereign will and power.

Then, Paul the Apostle calls our attention to some questions people would surely ask. And the beginning of those questions is this: ‘Is God unjust with His choice?’ The answer given is, ‘Not at all; He is righteous in His election because He is the sovereign God.’

Then, the following question asks, ‘If He chose some, not all, isn’t He responsible for the sins of the non-elect?’ The given answer to this question is again ‘no.’ That’s because ‘all people – both elect and non-elect – were to pay the penalty of their own sins, but God’s decision to save some displays the riches of His mercy; He could’ve left them all to perish, but He didn’t; He saved some – in fact, numerous multitudes over numerous generations!’ What a gracious God He is!

The last question is what we considered last week, and it asks, ‘How come Israel didn’t reach righteousness while the Gentiles attained it and received salvation?’ As you remember, the answer the apostle gives is that ‘because Israel sought righteousness not by faith in the Saviour Jesus but by works of self-righteousness.’

In the rest of ch. 10 which we’ve read this morning, the apostle expands and deepens his answers to those questions. So, the points we’ll hear today add more colours and relish to what he has explained earlier in ch. 9 and the first four verses of ch. 10. Now, let us follow the apostle’s explanations.

The first point he brings to our attention is the law and its purpose. We hear Paul quoting the OT and saying this: “the person who does the commandments shall live by them.” Saying ‘the commandments,’ he means ‘the law’ or all laws of the OT.

Superficially, this sounds like there’s a way of salvation through keeping the commandments and laws. But, in reality, it’s impossible and unachievable. No one is able to keep the law, nor can live by them – I mean, no one can attain righteousness through keeping the law. So, this statement Paul brings to our attention is a pure abstract reasoning. I mean, it is possible and true only in ideals.

However, this explains the true nature and the ultimate purpose of the law given to mankind. Giving of the law never meant to promise salvation in the first place. Instead, it meant to reveal what we human beings are as Adam’s descendants. It is like a mirror God supplied so that we could look at us as reflected on it. Like every mirror does, the law reveals what we are as sinners who are incapable of saving ourselves, let alone of accumulating any merits through keeping the law.

Let me explain this with an example. The law says that we should not be covetous. We’re required by the law to not be covetous of anything of our neighbours but content with the Creator’s provision. But consider the reality – we can be content with many things but not with all things. This means that if anyone unlawfully desires anything or anyone of his neighbour – no matter how insignificant the object of his desire might be or how briefly he desires that object – he breaks the totality of the law that forbids covetousness. That’s because the law requires not a flexible response, nor does it tolerate any deviation from its demand. This law bans man from the sin of covetousness once and for all. If you’ve ever been covetous, you break this law once and for all, and there’s no way of cancelling your record of violation. No one can claim any extenuation whatsoever with the law. In order to claim a merit for satisfying this law, therefore, one must be absolutely free of covetousness in his entire life, from cradle to grave.

The point is that all laws function exactly the same way. This is the basis of the Lord Jesus’ interpretation of the OT law as recorded in Mt. 5 and on. For example, about the sin of murder, the Lord says that if anyone is angry with another, that’s same as the sin of murder, liable to judgment; if anyone insults or says ‘fool’ to his brother, he will also be liable to the hell of fire. Jesus did not re-interpret the OT law, but refined its true meaning, pointing out what every law requires – that is, a complete and thorough banning and rejection of sins.

Based on this, it is obvious that anyone with a record of sins is not entitled to the gratification of the law. Therefore, no man or woman can satisfy the law, no matter how hard he/she tries, no matter how long they do.

So, the ultimate purpose of the law and commandments is to lead sinners to total despair. Then, to giving up of any attempt to earn one’s own salvation by accumulating ‘merits’ of whatever they would call ‘good works.’ Having led sinners to complete despair, the law is to lead their eyes to a Saviour who can pardon their multitude of sins and bestow on them His righteousness, thus, grant salvation.

Simply put, the ultimate message the law brings is this – ‘Never can you satisfy the demands of the law, nor can save yourself. Then, you should search for one who could do it for you. Otherwise, you’d soon be doomed! In fact, you’re already doomed in your sins, and you’re desperately in need of a Saviour!’ This is the purpose of the law and commandments! No one keeps the law, let alone living by them.

Life is only possible, therefore, through ‘the righteousness based on faith.’ The apostle devoted his time to explaining this in the section we read and meditated on last week. We heard the apostle saying that we can only be saved from the impending judgment through the merit of the righteous Jesus Christ. In other words, He has satisfied the demands of the law on our behalf, and only through Him can our sins be cancelled, and His righteousness be ours. He has done it on the cross, and made it possible for all who believe in Him and acknowledge Him as the Son of God. By trusting in Him, thus, through His righteousness, we can satisfy the demands of the law, and live by faith in the Saviour!

Having said, the Apostle Paul puts his finger on something that is so true and important but overlooked by many people. That is, salvation through faith in Jesus is at hand, within the reach of everyone! Listen to Paul, saying in v. 8, “the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” He means that God’s word that brings salvation to whomever hears and believes has been delivered to them. It’s already in them. It’s not out of reach but readily accessible to anyone and everyone. This is so because, as the apostle says in v. 18, the word has gone out to all the earth. Not literally he means to the ends of the earth, but figuratively because the word has gone out to so numerous people in the world. You and I and all people around us are saturated with this word of God that brings salvation. Of course, it is on the way to the very ends of the earth even now.

So the apostle says in v. 9, the famous verse, that declares life-giving truth, “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.” It is so simple and clear, so easy that anyone could understand. Salvation is not to be found over the moon or across the oceans. Trusting in Jesus is never unaffordable, but readily achievable by changing one’s mind, thus, making confession with his/her mouth.

Jesus’ righteousness grants forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who believe. And it is near you, near all who hear God’s word of life and, through it, the name of Jesus and His free offer of salvation!

Lastly, the apostle wants all people to always remember that God provides us His saving grace. He never stops but constantly offers to sinners this way of life.

In my sermon preparation last week, I’ve spent most of my time understanding the meaning of the two-thirds of today’s passage – I mean, vs. from 14 to 21. Many preachers reckon this section as a separate unit for preaching, but I couldn’t see it that way because vs. 14-21 seemed to me a part of the whole section that began from v. 5. Some preachers emphasise from vs. 14-17 the necessity of evangelism and our duty in mission – yes, they’re absolutely right; we’re to bring the gospel of Jesus to many others as we’ve benefited from those who had brought Jesus to us. But a bigger picture this section draws is the ultimate source of saving grace, and that is, God the Father through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Son’s name.

This section tells us that God the Father constantly sends His messengers to sinners. He equips them and sends them to preach the gospel, and hearing the word, sinners repent and call on the Lord Jesus and believe.

In this process, what makes us truly amazed, thus, greatly excited and thankful is that this has been the way of God from the beginning. This is not a new thing that might’ve begun from Jesus’ ascension, then, the giving of the Holy Spirit to all people, starting from the apostles. No, that’s not the case. Rather, its beginning is from the birth of Israel. God’s covenant with Abraham shown in Gen. 12 and 19 mentions this, saying that many nations/peoples/tribes/families would be blessed through Abraham. Moreover, the apostle quotes in vs. 19 and 20 from Deuteronomy and Isaiah, respectively, to show us that God has intended to bring many nations from all the earth to Himself, planning to call them His own. God says that He has shown Himself to those who did not ask for Him in v. 20. For Israel, God has also held out His hands to them ‘all day long’ despite their constant rebellion and rejection of His offer of salvation!

Truth is that God is still holding out His hands to you and me and many others. This is why the word is near us, near everyone. This is why anyone who believes Jesus in his/her heart and confesses with one’s mouth is justified and saved. God is near and His salvation is at hand, within reach of anyone, everyone. Turn your eyes to Him, therefore, open your ears and listen to His invitation.

And that for two reasons; first, you can never save yourself because you will never be able to satisfy the demands of the law. Second, God is waiting for you to turn to Him and believe in His Son, Jesus; and to all who believe, Jesus’ righteousness will be theirs now and for eternity! ***

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