- Category: Salvation
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God's Way of Righteousness
This portion of Scripture teaches that ones sincerity or dedication to their religion or to their Church cannot save them. Paul uses Israel as an example for they were dedicated and extremely zealous for righteousness. They had a written Code (the Law) given by God Himself, in which they trusted to make them righteous. But, as this portion of Scripture reveals, God's way of righteousness is not through Law, or through ones religious system, but through faith in Jesus Christ. The Law, in which Israel trusted, was actually God's teacher to bring them to Christ.(Gal. 3:24)
1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Paul's stated purpose is that Israel might find salvation. Even though they were a fervently religious people, doing from the heart what they thought was right, they were in a lost condition.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Paul acknowledges they were fervently religious. But their zeal, rather than being a benefit, was actually keeping them from knowing the Lord in a way that would save them; they trusted in their religious practices to save them. This is the worst kind of blindness. In the same way, there are many, many, sincere people who are fervent in their beliefs and mistakenly believe their sincerity and the goodness of their way will please God.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.
God is the giver of righteousness and as our Creator He is the only one who has the right to define the way of Salvation. Men, for the most part, see themselves as independent moral beings. But they carry their independence too far, believing they have the moral right to choose their own way of Salvation; it is an error to trust in ones sincere beliefs. Sincerity is not inherently good but is good only in the context of the Gospel. People do not have the moral right to choose how to please God, for God has already chosen the way to please Him and it is through faith in Jesus Christ. No person has the moral right to act, or think, independently of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, regardless of their sincerity. It is true that many see themselves as "good" and therefore expect God to see them as good; many would die for their beliefs and to them it would be unthinkable that they are serving God, not according to knowledge, but actually serving Him in a righteousness of their own making. Paul is using Israel as an example, who in their sincerity and zeal, saw themselves as righteous. But, because they trusted in their religious practices, they rejected Christ who was (and is) the Captain of our Salvation and God's only way of righteousness! The Scriptures say, they went about “establishing their own righteousness”, which, in reality, was no righteousness at all.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
Paul teaches that Christ has brought an end to the Law (as the way to achieve righteousness) but now has brought to light God's way of righteousness which is by believing in Jesus Christ. Faith, to Israel, was an entirely new way of serving God, even though Abraham was made right with God by believing Him. God's way of righteousness is by believing in Christ while man's way of righteousness is through his world-view, his moral code, his good works, his dedication, and his sincerity. Man's way of righteousness is found totally in himself (his sincerity and his beliefs) and is a completely self-centered righteousness.
5 For Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which does those things shall live by them.
Paul now shows the impossibility of Law to give righteousness for only those who perfectly do the Law will find the blessings of God. The problem is that all men are sinners for all men commit sin, at least one time. The Scripture says, when speaking of men, “there are none righteous, no not one”, Romans 3:10. No man can be, or has ever been, perfectly obedient to Law. And, that is the point of what Paul is saying. If even one sin has ever been committed or one selfish attitude, then forever that person is convicted by Law as a a law-breaker and can never again, through Law, be made right with God. We must remember that there is no forgiveness under Law, for forgiveness is found only in the grace of God through the death of Christ. All the animal sacrifices through which Israel obtained forgiveness were all pictures of the redemptive work of Christ,by whom Israel received forgiveness of their sins.
6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise, Say not in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Paul, in verse 4, has established that Christ is God's way of righteousness. Paul is now showing that the way to find Christ is by faith alone, not in any kind of church ritual.
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
Again, we find Christ by sincere faith in what God says, not by any ritual or ceremony that provides a “way” of coming into relationship with Him. The point is that Salvation and righteousness are by faith in Christ, i.e. by God's promise and not by a religious ritual or ceremony. If we believe in Christ then God promises to save us. If we trust in our good works or our religious practices to save us then eventually they will fail. But, if our Salvation is by His promise, then God's Word will never fail for He is forever faithful to keep His promise to save us.
8 But what said it? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Paul is continuing the thought of verse 6 where the "righteousness of faith" is speaking. A point that must not be overlooked is this – any ceremony, ritual, or liturgy, can be observed without Christ; it can be something we trust in to please God. But this will never please God for He requires a genuine, personal faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is what God honors, not faith in ones ritual, ceremony, or liturgy. In this verse Paul gives the secret of faith - it is in your heart and in your mouth! The kind of faith which Paul preached is the faith that, from the heart, believes, and then speaks the gospel of Jesus Christ confirming ones belief.
9 That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
Paul continues with his explanation of the faith that finds Christ - if we believe in our heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead, and if we confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is the Lord then we will be saved! This is God's way of Salvation and the language is so uncomplicated even a child can understand.
10 For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
When, in our heart, we believe in Christ as Lord this is what pleases God. And, when we make confession with our mouth to the Lordship of Jesus Christ we formalize our relationship with God by saying to Him “Jesus Christ is the Lord, and He is the Lord of my life”.
11 For the scripture said, Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.
Paul is telling us why people of faith confess Christ. Faith that has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord is not ashamed to confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is the Lord; real faith does not embarrass, but gives courage to publicly side with Christ. Faith in the atoning work of Christ is God's chosen way of Salvation and when we believe the redemptive truths of the Gospel, God promises to save us. When we enter into this kind of relationship with God then He gives us the gift of righteousness. It is called justification.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all that call on him. The promises of God are to any person who will believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. God is rich (He will abundantly bless) all who put there faith in Christ and call upon Him.
The promises of God are to any person who will believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. God is rich (He will abundantly bless) to all who put their faith in Christ and call upon Him.
13 For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
God's promise of Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is the anchor of our soul. The promise of Salvation is to all who make a formal decision to believe. He will not ignore or look away from any person who is willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and He promises to save anyone who is willing to call upon Him to save them. This is very, very, good news!