Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on June 17th, 2018.
Let us begin this morning with our June memory verse, Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” I hope that this verse has pricked your heart over the last several weeks. As we will see next Sunday, this verse is an admonish to us all, for is salvation is through faith in Christ, and faith in Christ can only come through hearing then Word of Christ, then shame on us who have this Word of Christ and do not proclaim it.
This morning we are going to be talking about this Word of Christ that we are called to proclaim. As always, we have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s jump right in. Please stand for the reading of God’s Word.
Let me begin by reading a couple of those canonical statements put forward by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent.
Canon 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."
CANON 12: "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified...let him be accursed"
Canon 14: "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema."
These teachings have never been changed. This is still the official position of the Roman Catholic Church. They teach that if you believe, and if you teach, and if you proclaim that a person can be justified before God by simply believing in Jesus Christ, then you should be dammed to Hell, for that is what “anathema” means.
Shall Live by Them
With these Romans catholic canons in mind, let us turn our attention to Romans 10:5-13 to find out what the Word of God says. First let us look at verse 5, “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.”
Verse 5 is in response to Paul’s statement in verse 4, which says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” This means, when we see Christ for who he is, specifically the righteousness of God, we stop trying to get right with God through our good works, and instead we cling to Christ for our salvation. Believing in Christ means that the law ends, it stops, it terminates. No more pursuing righteous through law.
In verse 5, the apostle Paul is quoting Leviticus 18:5, no doubt a common verse he has heard his entire life as a Jew. Leviticus 18:5 says, “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” The question before us this morning is, “Is this true?” Is it true that if someone does the law, out of that law keeping comes life? Does law keeping produce the blessings of life now and life to come?
To that question, the answer is yes. If you keep the law, you will have life, now and forever. However, do not forget what Paul has already unpacked and we know to be true through our own experiences. No one can keep the law. Remember our memory verse from Romans 3:10-12, “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God.12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” As we have learned through our evangelism class on Wednesday, we all fall short of God’s glory. We are liars, thieves, blasphemous, adulterers. Romans 3:20, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
There is only one person who has ever existed that was able to keep the law of God, and that is the Son of God. Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “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.” Jesus is the fulfillment of Leviticus 18:5. He fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law and therefore He lives. And in him we can also live. John 1:4, “In him was life”. John 14:6, He is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Law keeping equals life. Law breaking equals death. Christ kept the law therefore has life. We have broke the law therefore are dead in our trespasses.
Righteousness Based on Faith
Therefore, if we are dead because we are void of righteousness, we lack it, we must seek a righteousness elsewhere. And if the only person who has righteousness is Christ, how do we get it from him? Faith. Look at verse 6, “But the righteousness based on faith says, “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).”
Paul is showing that there are two ways to obtain righteousness: 1) Keep the law and 2) believe in Christ who kept the law. One is the righteousness that is based upon the law and the other is a righteousness that is based on faith. Faith is the instrument, or means, that gets us access to the righteousness of Christ that we so desperately need.
In verse 6, Paul quotes from two more Old Testament passages. First, the phrase “Do not say in your heart” is a quote from Deuteronomy 9:4, which says, “Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land.” In Deuteronomy 9:4 God is telling the Israelites during the day of Moses, I am giving you the Promise Land, not because of your righteousness, not because you have done anything good to earn this gift. Why is this so? Because Israel didn’t have a righteousness, never have, never will.
The second phrase in Romans 10:6 that says, “‘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).” Is a quote from Deuteronomy 30:12-13. Let us look at look at that passage in its context.
Deuteronomy chapters 29 and 30 is the renewal of the Mosaic covenant that God had with the nation of Israel. This renewal occurs at the end of the 40 years of wandering in the dessert, right before Moses dies and Joshua takes over and leads God’s people into the promise land. This is right before they cross the Jordan.
And Moses reminds the people of the blessing and curses that are directly tied to their obedience of the law, and then listen to what he says starting in verse Deuteronomy 30:11.
Now, back to Romans 10:6. The Apostle Paul writes, “‘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)” Paul is equating the revelation, or the message, of the requirement to fulfill the law with the person of Jesus Christ. He is saying that Christ is the message of the Mosaic Covenant. He is saying that we don’t have to go get the message of a righteousness that is based on faith in Christ, the message came to us. How did this message come to us? It came into the world through the incarnation of the Son.
John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Hebrews 1:1, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” Luke 2:10, “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Jesus is the good news. Jesus is the Speech of God. Jesus is the Word of God that came to us.
Word of Faith that We Proclaim
And as it says in verse 8? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim). This “word” is the Word of Christ. Just think of our memory verse, Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The word that is near is the Word of Christ, the gospel, the good news of salvation in Christ alone.
This statement, in your mouth and in your heart is, once again, a quote back to Deuteronomy 30, specifically Deuteronomy 30:14, “But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” So what does this mean in your mouth and in your heart?
If you go back to Deuteronomy 30:6, before saying that this word is in your mouth and in your heart it says, “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” If you notice, the circumcision of the hearts of the Israelites is a future event. Verse 6 says, “will circumcise.” When will this circumcision of the heart occur? It occurs with the coming of the Holy Spirit after the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Paul has already spoken of this Romans 2:29, “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” The Apostle Paul speaks of this again Colossians 2:11 -”In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,”
The circumcision of the heart by the Spirit of Christ, is the cutting away of your old dead spiritual self. Circumcision of the heart is God doing a supernatural work in your soul to cause you to repent of your sin and place your faith in the work of Jesus Christ.
And this is what it means that the Word of God is near to you in your heart and in your mouth. This Word of Faith in Christ that is proclaimed to you is the gospel. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation. When the gospel is proclaimed to God's elect, Christ the Great Physician, circumcises our heart and causes us to believe this Word of Faith. This gospel seed takes root in our heart and bears fruit, causing us to walk in his way. And one of the first fruits that it bears is a confession of Christ, for we know that out of the heart, the mouth speaks. We perhaps see this most vividly with the theif upon the cross. As he hung their dying, with a front row view of the Son of God dieing for the sins of his bride, hearing him recite the psalms, his hear was circumcised by the Spirit of Christ and what did he do from his cross he bore? He confessed Christ as his one and only Savior. Luke 23:42, “And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And what was Jesus response? Verse 43, “And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
If you are a born again Christian, and your heart has been circumscised by the Spirit of God, you will speak Christ and him crucified. Your faith will not be a personal matter, it will be something you desire to testify to anyone who will listen. Is confession necessary for salvation? No, but it is a product of salvation. Confession flows out of salvation.
And what does Paul say about that this word in your heart and confession in your mouth? Look at verse 9, “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.” You will be saved. Folks, you can't get any more clear than that. Belief in the Lordship and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only requirement for salvation. You don't have to do anything but believe in Jesus. Now why does Paul say resurrection instead of crucifixion? Because the resurrection is proof that God accepted, payment in full, the death of Christ. That nothing else is required to pay the penalty for our sins.
Then the Apostle Paul goes on and says it again and again to make sure everyone understands this fundamental gospel truth of the Word of Faith. Verse 10, “ with the heart one believes and is justified.” Justified means not guilty. If we believe we are not guilty. Verse 11, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Put to shame means the shame of rejection by God. It means the shame of trusting in a false heretical doctrine. The Word of Faith is trustworthy. Verse 12, “bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” The riches of Christ are the riches of his grace of forgiveness, eternal life, and the inheritance of his father. And it is available by simply calling on Christ. Nothing more is required except to call out to Jesus and depend upon the work he has already done on your behalf. Verse 13, “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
This is the Word of Faith we proclaim. This is the testimony of a true born again, follower of Jesus Christ. We are saved through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone. This Word of Faith not anathema, as the Roman Catholic Church heretically claims, this is the gospel, and the gospel has the power to save. So let us go out and proclaim it. Proclaim it in your families, proclaim it in your workplace, proclaim it in the schools, proclaim it your community, proclaim it in the streets, proclaim it in Guatemala. Wherever God has you, use your mouth to share the good news that Christ has come and he comes clothed in righteousness that can be ours if we turn to him and trust in him.