My Heart's Desire

Friday, May 8, 2015, 7:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In That Day.” I read Romans 10 (quoting selected vv. ESV).

Not According to Knowledge (quoting vv. 1-4)

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

In context, Paul is speaking of the Jewish people who had been the people of God, but were not presently the people of God because they had rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah, and thus they were not saved. They were, thus, cut off from the vine due to unbelief (See: Ro. 11). The desire of Paul’s heart was to see his fellow Israelites saved. The desire of my heart is to see my loved ones saved, both those who make no profession of Christ at all and those who have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

So, rather than go into the specifics of the relationship of the Jews at that time to God or to Paul, I believe the Lord would have me look into how this can be applied to our (my) world today. Are there Jews and non-Jews alike in our world today who have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge? Absolutely! Many of them exist within the confines of the institutional church. They have all the forms of religion, and they go through the motions, and they are religious and serious and zealous in their rituals and in following their man-made rules, but they lack true faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives.

I am not talking here primarily about those we term as “legalists,” though, but of all who follow the teachings and philosophies of humans over the teachings of Christ and his apostles, and who deny Jesus Christ by their lifestyles and by denying his Word, many of whom do so because they are ignorant of the righteousness of God, and thus they seek to establish their own, whether it is via works-based salvation, or whether it is via a false grace gospel which is absent of true repentance, true faith, and obedience to Jesus Christ.

Those who are trying to be saved by works of the flesh and those who adhere strictly to this false grace gospel do not submit themselves to Christ’s righteousness and so they continue walking according to the flesh, and do not walk according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:3-8). In fact, they often teach that repentance and obedience are not required as part of genuine believing faith, and thus they disregard the scriptures that teach that they are. Yet, if after we profess faith in Jesus Christ we continue to live according to the sinful nature, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we will live. True faith in Jesus Christ submits to God’s law (his righteousness). Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (See: Ro. 8:5-14). If we say we have fellowship with God but continue to walk in sin, we are liars and we do not live by the truth (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-7).

Then it is saying here in Romans 10 that, whereas not one of us can be saved (be made righteous) by keeping the law, because none of us could keep it perfectly, we can be saved by faith in the one who is the fulfillment of the law. He was the perfect and sinless sacrifice for our sins. He took the penalty for our sin upon him. So, through faith in him we can be saved, and the righteous requirements of the law, which demand that we not sin, can be met in us “who no longer walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8).

Now, while it is true that we are saved by God’s grace, via Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins, through faith, and not of anything we might do in the flesh to try to earn our salvation, we have to look at what “faith” means. First off, Romans 10:4 should read: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone believing” (“Believing” means present and continuous action in the original language). This does not mean, for it does not say, “to everyone who at one time believed.” In other words we are not saved (past), then live our lives how we want, then go to heaven when we die. True faith which brings about our salvation, by God’s grace, is continuous (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25).

Also, true faith is repentant and obedient. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny himself, die daily to sin and self and follow (obey) him. He said his sheep (his followers) listen to him and they follow (obey) him. Paul was a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation. He was commissioned to open blinded eyes, “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Jesus Christ died for all, “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Paul said that the way we learned Christ, i.e. the way we were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, was/is “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Thus, true faith is repentant and obedient. [See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 10:27-30; Ac. 26:16-18; 2 Co. 5:15; Eph. 4:17-24; Ac. 3:19; 17:30-31.]

Everyone Believing (quoting vv. 9-13)

…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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:11 says: “For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone believing in him will not be put to shame.’” [Again, “believing” means present continuous action in the original language.] So, how does verse 11 gel with vv. 9-10? I believe we have to take the teachings on salvation in the NT as a whole unit and not pull certain scriptures out of context to make them say what we want them to say. In other words, although much of Romans is teaching against works-based salvation, much of Romans is also teaching that genuine faith in Jesus Christ is repentant, obedient and continuous. We can’t separate one from the other. We can’t accept those scriptures which agree with our theology while ignoring the rest. We have to reconcile them together by seeing each verse as just one part or one aspect of a complete whole.

So many people today, in order to combat legalism and works-based salvation theologies will go to the other extreme and teach faith in Jesus Christ absent of repentance, obedience and continuance in Christ as evidence (the fruit) that true faith actually exists. Yet, the grace of God which brings salvation to all is not merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. It teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus Christ “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (See: 1 Pet. 2:24-25). If we say we love God but we do not keep his commands, i.e. if we do not obey (in lifestyle) his teachings, then we don’t really know him, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Jn. 8:51; 14:23-24; Ro. 6:16; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 2:3-5; 3:24; 5:3; 2 Jn. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:2).

So, we can’t build our whole doctrine of salvation off Romans 10:9-10 while ignoring all of the rest of the teaching in Romans and the rest of the NT on salvation. We have to see these verses in light of the whole of the teachings in Romans on the subject of salvation. The righteous requirements of the law, because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, are fully met in us who “no longer walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” If we continue to walk in the flesh we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body, we will live. This is what salvation is all about. This is New Birth! If we are not turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, then we are not born of the Spirit, and then we can’t receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ died for us so we would no longer walk in the ways of our flesh, but so we would walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit.

So, when it says here that if we confess with our mouths, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, that we will be saved, we have to interpret this in the light of Romans 6 and Romans 8. What does it mean that Jesus is Lord? It means he is now our master and that sin no longer has mastery over us. It means we are his slaves and we do what he commands. We also know that the scriptures chide against giving lip service only to God while our hearts are far from him, so we know a mere confession with our mouths does not guarantee salvation, but we must believe in our hearts. Also, belief in Jesus’ resurrection is not a mere intellectual assent to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, but it is faith in what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross for our sins – a faith that is evidenced by us turning from sin and turning to walk in the Spirit.

Romans 10:12 says: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all those calling on him.” (“Calling” also means present and continuous action in the original language.)

Did they not hear? (In the context of vv. 14-21, but quoting v. 21 only)

But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

It was not that the Jewish people did not know the truth. They did. They heard. But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. The same is true of many who claim to know God today but who deny Jesus Christ by their lifestyles and who deny His Word when it does not agree with their preconceived notions of what all salvation entails. They want to pick and choose what they will believe while ignoring the rest.

They want to believe that we are saved by God’s grace through faith, and that it is not of ourselves, but is a gift from God, which I, too, believe. And, yet many are not willing to accept that “faith” in Jesus is continuous, repentant and obedient, even though you show them the multitude of Scriptures in the NT which teach that is true. The NIV84 uses the word “obstinate” instead of “contrary” to describe these people, and I believe obstinate is the best word to describe those who refuse to believe the bulk of scriptures which teach on faith and salvation, and who choose only to accept those few scriptures which support their own theology. We cannot pick and choose. We have to reconcile all the teachings on salvation and faith against one another and see them as all parts of the same whole, in agreement with one another. Then we will know the true meaning of what it means to be saved, and what kind of faith is required for us to be saved. Then we will truly know his salvation from sin and will be able to walk no longer after the flesh but now after the Spirit. Amen!

In That Day / An Original Work / May 21, 2011
Based off of Isaiah 12

In that day you will say:
“I will praise You, Lord.
I know You were angry;
anger’s turned away.
God is my salvation;
I’ll trust; not afraid.
The Lord, the Lord, my strength;
the Lord, Lord, my song;
He is my salvation;
Lord, my comforter.”
With joy you’ll draw water
from salvation’s wells.

In that day you will say:
“Give thanks to the Lord.
Call on His holy name;
make Him known today.
Proclaim: He’s exalted.
Tell what He has done.
Sing, for He is glorious;
make this known to all.
Shout aloud; sing for joy,
people of Zion;
Great is the Holy One,
who among us dwells.”