1Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
5Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them." 6But the righteousness that is by 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 deep?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
16But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" 17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
"Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."
19Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
"I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding."
20And Isaiah boldly says,
"I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me."
21But concerning Israel he says,
"All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people." (NIV)
When we read this section of Romans, we must always remember that there is a certain lament in Paul’s writing about the state of the Jews who reject Jesus. Chapters 9 through 11 contain this both lament and condemnation of the Jewish attitude toward religion. Paul is not angry with the Jews. He simply longs for all of them to come to the saving Grace of knowing Christ as who He is.
And we see this thought process that Paul lays out in the life and teaching of Jesus. Jesus constantly harped against the Jewish leadership who put strict observance of the law above the intent of the law. Certain Jews had made the law a righteousness that was never intended by God. They created workarounds to break the law without breaking the law, such as you couldn’t tend a fire on the Sabbath, but if you could hire a gentile to come in and do it, that was ok. Over the centuries, the Jews lost sight of the law’s purpose. And this is true of our churches. Over the centuries, we too have lifted up rules over living our faith out. This has led to the same charge by many of the church that Jesus had of the Jews, that they were hypocrites.
Paul in this section points to three things that we must have. The first two he addresses are believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth. These two go hand in hand. We need to believe inside us that Christ died for our sins. And we must tell people that we believe this. Believing in your heart is a way of saying that that believe now shapes who you are and what you do. Our actions are simply a natural part of who we are. We act without thinking that we are acting. That is the goal of any believe, to be so changed that they simply respond as Christ would have us respond. If we have to think about our actions or response to things, then it is not really who we are. We are simply trying to act the part. But if we believe in our hearts, our actions become a reflection of who we are.
Paul then moves to his third important point. And that is hearing. He points out, how can anyone believe if they don’t hear first. This is a call for those who believe to share their love of Christ with people. This is an imperative on us as believers. Of course, our biggest way of sharing is the way we live our lives and always being ready to share why we have this hope. But we must share.
As you think about this, where are you on that transformation process of truly living for Christ as a natural way of living? I know I still have growth areas where I am still learning to trust in my heart. What does it mean to you to share your love of Christ with others? How do you see yourselves as sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Much to ponder.
Blessings and Peace