Believing Unto Righteousness
Righteousness By Faith

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 48b of 83


5  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. ” (Romans 10:5-13).

[We begun in the previous instalment of our exposition of this text to consider Paul’s rather surprising admission that there is a righteous that may be obtained by law-keeping. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear to us that he is suggesting that one who can keep the law perfectly, at all points, may indeed be accounted righteous in God’s sight. But this is impossible for fallen man. Therefore, the law serves, rather, to drive sinners to Christ. Salvation and righteousness may only be obtained by faith by fallen man. This is the case even for Old Covenant saints, as Paul proceeds to show. —JJL]

 

2.  The Righteousness which
is of Faith

Look at verse 6—

 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

What is Paul saying? Paul is quoting and expounding from Deuteronomy 30:13. But what is he saying? He is saying that it is impossible to obtain righteousness by keeping the Law.

Those who are seeking to obtain righteousness by the law will find it impossible. It is like trying to ascend into heaven or to descend into the deep. But that is impossible!

Those who are trying to do so have failed to realise that the impossible has already been accomplished; for Christ has already come down from heaven. He lived and died, and He has already risen from the dead. He has already finished the work of righteousness on behalf of His people.

So those who are still trying to obtain their own righteousness by law-keeping are in a sense (contrary to the instruction of the law) trying to bring Christ down from above or trying to bring him up from the dead again.

In other words, they are wilfully ignorant of the righteousness provided by God and are going about to establish their own righteousness as we saw (v. 3).

But this is in itself contrary what the Law teaches us to do. For what does the Law say? Look at verse 8—

8 But what saith it? “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart”: that is, the word of faith, which we preach…

Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 30:14 (which follows immediately from what he has already quoted in verses 6 and 7).

What does the Law say? It says that the word, —which is the Gospel which the apostles preached, —is nigh to your mouth and thy heart. That is to say: The righteousness that is through the Gospel is within reach unlike the righteousness that is through the Law.

Seeking righteousness and salvation through the Law is like searching the heaven and searching the deep oceans. But seeking righteousness and salvation through the Gospel requires no searching, for it is near to our heart and mouth.

How so? Verse 9—

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Paul is very clear, is he not? Whether we live under the Old Covenant or under the New, in order to be saved, we must have a righteousness acceptable to God.

How can we have this righteousness? Not by keeping the Law, but by confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that God raise Him from the dead. 

This is true not only for the Gentiles, but also for the Jews. Paul makes this very clear in verse 11—

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Paul is quoting from Isaiah 28:16 and Joel 2:32. The thrust of Paul’s argument is very clear is it not? Salvation for God’s people has never been by law-keeping. There was only one way by which sinners may be saved. Sinners, —whether Jewish or Gentile, whether living in the Old Covenant times or New Covenant times, —may only be saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

All who believe in the Lord  and call upon the Lord will be saved. There is no difference.

God willing, we’ll study these 3 verses in a little more details in a separate article.

But for now, it is necessary for us to zoom in on verses 9-10. These verses are almost as famous as John 3:16. They found in almost every evangelistic tract that we can set our hands on.

However, like John 3:16, they have often been misused or misunderstood.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim


 


“There is in sin, these two things: a debt to God and a bondage to Satan” (William Strong).