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Romans 10:9-10 by Robert Dean
Series:Resurrection and the Gospel (2009)
Duration:50 mins 59 secs

Old Testament Background: God's Faithfulness to Israel. Rom 10:9-10

Romans 10:9, 10 NASB "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

If we take verse 9 to mean this is talking about to be justified then it seems that we have to take this to mean that we not only have to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins but that we also have to make a public confession of that and also we have to be convinced that Jesus rose from the dead as a separate, conscious proposition.

When we communicate the gospel we should clearly communicate that Jesus Christ is God and that He is risen from the dead. When we go through the book of Acts we see that this is almost always the case. This is how the gospel was presented. We need to make that clear. But that does not necessarily mean, on the other hand, that there is a conscious analyzed understanding of the deity of Christ and resurrection. We use the word "analyze" because when we present the gospel to people, as unbelievers they are spiritually dead and they don't grasp the full significance of it. For example, as a four-year-old or a five-year-old they can't grasp the significance of resurrection from the dead or even the deity of Christ. Even a lot of older folks have difficulty in comprehending the doctrine of the Trinity in an analyzed way. So we would say that is an unanalyzed acceptance of the fact because as Jesus is presented as the living, resurrected Son of God, that is what they believe in. But it is not taken out and analyzed quite like that statement that "Jesus died for you, He paid for your sins, and by believing and trusting in what He did at the cross you have eternal life."

The focal point of our belief, that which must have a clear understanding of, is that Jesus died as our substitute and paid the price for our sins on the cross. So as we look at these questions, should we focus on the substitutionary death of Christ? Yes, that is the focal point. Resurrection? In an unanalyzed way, we present Jesus as raised but we don't really comprehend all that that means when we first trust Him, as well as the deity of Christ.

Question: Is there a clear statement in the Scripture that one must believe in not only the death of Christ but also have that clear conscience or analyzed belief in the resurrection as well. A verse that seems to suggest that is this verse in Romans 10. This is an extremely interesting verse and it is used by many people to teach the gospel, but we do not believe that this is talking about the gospel at all. To really properly interpret it we have to do a lot of homework. To properly interpret the Bible the first thing we have to know is context.

 We use the term "justification" to indicate our entry into our new spiritual life. It happens simultaneously with regeneration and when we are adopted into God's royal family and have eternal life. The key passages in the Old Testament that frame Romans 10:9, 10 are Deuteronomy chapter thirty and Joel 2:32. We have to also connect this to Jesus' statement in Matthew 23:39 and what Jesus says to Israel in Matthew 12:24, 31, 32 about the unforgivable sin. Then we have to look at Romans 11:25 which is at the conclusion of this discourse on God's righteousness and its relationship to Israel. Once we understand the context in terms of the immediate context and the overall biblical context it will become almost obvious what this passage is talking about. We have to see these things in their overall biblical context.

We also have to understand some key words: "saved" and "salvation". Saved in Romans doesn't mean justification, it has to do with either the end result of the whole process, which we refer to as glorification, or sometimes it may refer to phase two sanctification, but also the spiritual life in light of the end result, i.e. being saved now in terms of being saved from the power of sin with a view towards being saved from the presence of sin. It also has the idea of being physically delivered from physical harm or threat. Then we have the terms that are parallel here: "confess" and "call." What doe they mean, to confess Jesus as Lord and calling upon the name of the Lord? Is it mental or verbal? Then we have the term "righteousness." Is this imputed righteousness which is the focus of Romans chapter four, or is this experiential righteousness which is the outgrowth of chapter on sanctification.

We will look at the overview of the context of Romans 9-11 because the question here is that if God promised these things to Israel, and it seems that He is not going to fulfill His promises now because He is working with the Gentiles, how can we be so sure God is going to fulfill His promises to us? Paul has to address that in this section. What he is going to do is to vindicate God's righteousness in light of Israel's rejection of the righteousness of God which comes by faith. That is what he has been talking about in terms of justification by faith: that we receive the righteousness of God by faith, but Israel as a corporate nation rejected that. When did they reject that? The key time when they rejected that, when Jesus' ministry shifts, is in Matthew chapter twelve where He cast out a demon and the Pharisees said He was doing that by the power of Beelzebub, He is not God. That was called the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. We have to go back and understand what that means. It was a Jewish issue because the nation rejected the gift of the Messiah. The opt corporately, not every individual, for a righteousness that comes from the law and not from faith. And that was what Jesus was really dealing with in the sermon on the mount because the whole point of that sermon was to contrast His interpretation of the Mosaic Law with the Pharisees interpretation. The Pharisees said that they had to just do all these things superficially and they would get to heaven. Jesus is saying: "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees you will not see the kingdom of God." No one can do it on his own. We can only get that righteousness from God.

So in Romans 9-11 Paul is going to vindicate God's righteousness in light of Israel's rejection of the righteousness of God by means of faith. Why did God reject Israel [temporarily]? The question is that if God rejected Israel then how can we say that we cannot be separated from the love of God in Romans 8:38, 39? This ultimately goes to eternal security. Paul takes this long discussion of God's faithfulness to demonstrate that God will be faithful to Israel in terms of His promises just to reinforce the doctrine of eternal security: that we can completely trust the promises of God, and He never goes back on His promises.

In the first 29 verses of Romans chapter nine Paul talks about God's rejection of Israel and that it should not be considered inconsistent with His promise or His justice. The key verse for this is 9:4, 5 NASB "who are Israelites, to whom belongs [present tense] the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the {temple} service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." Then he talks about promise again in vv. 8, 9 so that we see that the point here is that God has not forgotten His promise, as he will demonstrate in chapter 11, God has temporarily set aside Israel from the place of blessing in order to expand the blessing to the Gentiles. So God's rejection of Israel is not inconsistent with His justice or His righteousness, it is because Israel has rejected God's righteousness by faith alone.

The point Paul is going to make from 9:30 to 10:13—the immediate context surrounding our verse—is that Israel itself is to blame for rejection or being set aside by God because Israel first rejected God's gift of righteousness through faith for righteousness from the source of works. That is the point he makes in the first four verses of chapter 10, especially verse 3 NASB "For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God." In the next section, 10:14-21, Paul makes the point that Israel's unbelief is not excused by a lack of opportunity. They have had more than enough of a witness. It is not lack of opportunity or any other thing; it is through their own volition. Then in chapter eleven, the great chapter that will deal with the future of Israel, Paul is going to say in vv. 1-10 that Israel's rejection is neither final nor complete. Then in vv. 11-24 he emphasizes the fact that Israel's rejection is not final. And when he concludes that section we have this wrap-up in vv. 26, 27—crucial verses NASB "and so [in this manner I am about to describe] all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, 'THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS'."

When is this going to take place? When is God going to bring them to this salvation? It is when the deliverer comes out of Zion; it is prophetic. It is when the Messiah comes at the end of the Tribulation period to finally bring Israel corporately to a point of redemption. When did Christ pay the penalty for Israel's sins? He did it at the cross. So this isn't talking about the payment for sin, this is talking about the future removal of the corporate guilt of Israel. They went out under a curse when they rejected the Messiah at the first advent. In 70 AD the fifth cycle of discipline went into effect and they are under that curse. That is what Matthew 12 is talking about in terms of the unforgivable sin. It is not unforgivable in the sense that Christ didn't pay for it, in the sense of not being paid for by Christ on the cross, it is unforgivable in a time period. We will see that when Jesus said, "in this age"—the age of Israel—"or the age to come"—the church age. There is still the Tribulation and the Millennium after that. In "this age and in the age to come" they won't be forgiven—in time. But they are forgiven He establishes this covenant and takes away their sins. That occurs when the corporate curse is removed from Israel when Jesus returns at the second coming.

So, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." The word translated "remove" is a word which implies a removal of something and causing a change in behavior. There is a change that occurs in Israel as a result of what happens when Jesus returns. That is when He establishes the new covenant, when He puts the law in their heart. It is not when they are justified, it is when God finally brings into effect all of those covenant promises that He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and to David when their will be a Davidic King on the throne, and to Jeremiah in terms of the new covenant.  

"HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS"—what is ungodliness? It is the word asebeia [a)sebeia] which refers to a lack of reverence to God, a lack of obedience to God, a lack of submitting to His authority, a lack of following Him. It is the result of rejecting God and His plan for righteousness. "THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." To take away their sins means to completely remove them, i.e. their temporal guilt. The word there for taking away means to detach something, remove it, cut it off, to cause a certain state or condition to cease. That is the idea here, the state of their being under that fifth cycle of discipline curse. So the point that is being made by Paul at the end of Romans 9-11 is that what history is driving to is that God ultimately will fulfill that promise to Israel. Therefore it can't be said that God went back on His word. Israel corporately is secure in the promises of God. They still belong to Israel; they do not belong to the church; the church does not replace Israel.

Romans 10:5 NASB "For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness." He uses a preposition there which means "out from the source of the law." Moses says that the one who does such things will live by them. This is a quote from Leviticus 18:5. Were Jews in the Old Testament saved by keeping the law? No. If we look at Israel corporately, not individually, when was the nation redeemed? When were they purchased from slavery? At the exodus! They are brought out of slavery, they are baptized into the cloud and into Moses, and when they cross the Red Sea they are in new life. That is the pattern that is repeated again and again in the Scripture, it is used in Romans chapter six and 1 Corinthians chapter ten, and other places. That is the picture of the corporate deliverance of the nation from slavery in Egypt. So they are a redeemed people at that point, according to Exodus, and they have been adopted as God's sons, a nation of royal priests.

But then He gives them the law. The law wasn't the basis of becoming redeemed as a nation or becoming God's chosen people, the law was to tell God's people how they were to live. The law wasn't a way to acquire righteousness, it was the way to live now that they were God's people. That is the focal point of the Mosaic Law. So when Paul is quoting this he says that the man who does such things shall live by them. What God said in the law was, If you obey the law you will live, and I will bless you abundantly. But if you disobey then there are going to be certain consequences, certain judgments that will come upon the nation. The nation is used as a whole, as an analogy of what happens to the church age individual believer.

Romans 10:5 is an echo of what Paul wrote earlier in Galatians 3:21 NASB "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law." A similar verse is Philippians 3:9 NASB "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from {the} Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which {comes} from God on the basis of faith." Our righteousness isn't that which we are justified on the basis of, it is not a righteousness that is the result of what we do, it is the righteousness of Christ's character which is credited to our account when we trust in Him. We receive His righteousness by means of faith, by trusting in Him. God sees that righteousness that has been credited to our account and declares us justified—individually.

Romans 10:6 NASB "But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: '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). [8] But what does it say? 'THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART'—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching." These three verses are all citations from Deuteronomy chapter thirty—roughly so, they are not exact quotations. Paul is taking these certain statements and applying them to make the application to the current situation.

In Deuteronomy chapter twenty-eight there is a rehearsal of the judgments God will bring on Israel, comparable to the five cycles of discipline in Leviticus chapter twenty-six. Then in Deuteronomy chapter thirty there is going to be a promise that ultimately, even though they will disobey God and be removed from the land, ultimately there will be a restoration of the nation to the land. God will fulfill those promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The focal point when we come to Deuteronomy 30:11-14 is on the fact that they have had God's will clearly explained to them. They know what the issues are. Deuteronomy 30:11 NASB "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach." In other words, you don't have an excuse to say you really don't know what God requires and we don't really have His Word. Moses is saying they can't use that excuse. God's will is not up in heaven; they have been given it. [14] "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it." The issue is going to be their volition. [15] "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity." It was their choice; we have the same choice.

Jesus has come. He has given sufficient witness of who He is and what He did for us. So man has no excuse and can't say it is too difficult and he doesn't understand. God has said it has been made very clear. The issue is volition. But the life that Paul is talking about in the context of Romans 10 is not eternal life in terms of being justified, it is the life that comes to a justified believer who is continuing to walk in the light, abide in Christ, walk by the power of the Holy Spirit, and studying and applying God's Word in his life. That is the analogy with the Old Testament. It is not talking about moving from spiritual death to spiritual life but moving from carnal death to spirituality, to walking by means of the Holy Spirit. The overall context of Deuteronomy chapter thirty has to do with the ultimate restoration of Israel to the land, when God is going to move them from a state of discipline to a renewed life in the Millennial kingdom. Are they already justified at that point? Yes, they are. It is because they are comprised of a host of individually justified believers, that corporately they will call on the name of the Lord—Matthew 23:39 "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" Then the Lord will return and physically deliver Israel from her enemies at the end of the Tribulation period, establish His new covenant, and they will go into the Millennial kingdom. 

That is the opening context. If the opening context has to do with physical deliverance of Israel at the end of the Tribulation period, what do we think the verses that follow Romans 9:10 are going to focus on? The same thing! So if the focal point here by the introductory Old Testament passages has to do with the physical deliverance at the end of the Tribulation, and the quotes following Romans 9:10 have to do with the physical deliverance at the end of Israel, removal of the curse, and their establishment as a kingdom, what do we think Romans 10:9, 10 are going to focus on? The individual justification of the believer? How do we get that? It is nowhere in the context.