GOD’S MESSAGE TO THE WORLD
Key Verse: 10:9
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
In this passage, Paul tells how God works in his redemptive history. God works through the preaching of his message to the world. The message is; “Jesus is Lord.” Anyone who hear and believe this message in their hearts and confess it with their mouth will be saved. This is God’s way of salvation. May God help us to declare with our mouth, “Jesus is Christ the Lord.” May God use our feet to bring this message to all campuses in NJ and even to all nations, so that the gospel may be preached to the end of the earth.
I. The word of faith we proclaim: “Jesus is Lord.” (1-13)
Look verse 1. Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelite is that they may be saved. Here again Paul reveals his broken shepherd heart for the Israelite. His heart was broken because they failed to obtain the salvation which God had prepared for them. How did it happen? Look at verses 2-3. “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” How could Paul know about them so well? It was because Paul himself was one of them who were full of zeal for God. The Jews thought that they were saved because they were the physical descendants of Abraham. They also thought that they were saved because they observed the law of Moses absolutely. They kept the Sabbath day; they fasted 2 times a week; they gave a tenth of their earning; they memorized the Torah day and night. They zealously worked for God by keeping the law. They thought that the more laws they had and the more laws they tried to observe, the more righteous before God they would be. To be more righteous, they added many laws over time, so the total of laws was 631.
Were they saved? Did they find the peace with God or the forgiveness of sins? Not at all. They were still under the power of sin and death. To be zealous for God is good. However zeal for God does not save them. What was the problem? “… but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” What does it mean? Of course, they had a lot of knowledge. They studied the Old Testament more than anyone else did. However, they missed the main point of the whole Bible, that is, God’s world salvation purpose. The point of the Bible is that God sent his one and only Son Jesus to save sinners like us. When God chose Abraham, it was not just to bless him, but to make him a blessing so that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Gen 12:1-3). But the Jews missed the whole point, and served God in their own way. They were not interested in the righteousness from God, but only in their self-righteousness. They were like the Pharisee in Luke 18. It says, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself; “God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” Was he really praying? He was only claiming his self-righteousness. Can you see this man’s self-righteous zeal? He was not serving God, but serving himself and his own self-interest. Paul himself was one of them. He was the one who approved Stephen’s stoning. He was one who personally dragged Christians to be persecuted and jailed even going as far north as Damascus. He thought he was doing God’s will. However he was not serving God, but serving himself. He was doing it for selfish ambition without the knowledge of God. What made the problem worse was that they were too proud to confess their wretchedness to God and admit their unrighteousness. Rather they sought to establish their own righteousness based on the law, rejecting the Savior who had come to save them. All of this is zeal without knowledge.
What is the knowledge we should know? Let us read verse 4. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. This is the whole point of the Bible. Through the Bible Study, we should find and come to know who Jesus is. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament point to Jesus. Christ is the culmination of the law for he fulfilled the requirements of the law by dying on the cross to take away the sin of the world--something the law was powerless to do (8:3). On the cross, Jesus declared “It is finished.” There is nothing left we need to do to gain the righteousness. We are no longer under the law, but we are under the grace of Jesus for we are justified through the righteousness from God. All we need to do is to believe in him. All one needs is faith in him.
For the sake of Israel who depends on their self-righteousness, Paul tells the difference between the righteousness that is by the law and the righteousness that is by faith. Look at verse 5. Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” This is from Leviticus 8:15. Can we obtain the righteousness by the law? Theoretically it is possible only if we can keep all the law 100%, 24/7. But who can do this? No one. Romans 3:10 says: "There is no one righteous, not even one." The law is powerless to make us right with God. The Jews should have been the first ones to admit this. Paul did just that in Romans 7, crying out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (7:24) However, the Jews stubbornly refused to believe in the righteousness from God, that is Jesus Christ. Look at verses 6-7. Being righteous by the law is like trying to do something impossible like ascending into heaven or descending into the deep.
What about the righteousness that is by faith? Look at verses 6-7 again. We don’t have to accomplish impossible tasks such as ascending to heaven or descending to the deep in order to receive the grace of salvation. Why not? It is because God has done all the work already for us. Jesus came down from heaven because we could not climb up to him. We don’t have to go down to the deep to bring Christ up from the dead. God already raised him from the dead on the third day.
Look at verse 8. “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in our heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:” Contrary to what the Jews thought, the salvation is not far away from us. The salvation; the righteousness from God is right here in the Bible. The way of faith, the way of righteousness; the way of eternal life is here in the Bible, the word of faith. What is the message concerning faith (the word of faith) that Paul is proclaiming here?
Let us read verses 9-10 together. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. What is the message of faith that Paul proclaims here? What is the key point of our faith? “Jesus is Lord and God raised him from the dead.” Jesus is Lord! This is God’s message for all sinners. Do you know what the Bible tells who Jesus is? A great teacher; a healer; a shepherd; a friend. But above of all, Jesus is our Lord. It means Jesus is the master, the owner of all our possession, even our lives. We must submit to him and obey his words. Another key point of the message is “God raised him from the dead.” Why resurrection? It is easy to believe that evil men crucified Jesus because many people die unjustly in this sinful world. However, the resurrection of Jesus is something that is humanly impossible. It tells who God is; God is the almighty Creator. Because God raised Jesus from the dead, we know that his sacrifice for us was accepted and our sins are forgiven. Through Jesus’ resurrection, God gives us the living hope in the kingdom of God. We have new life in Christ. God gives us victory over the power of sin and death through the resurrection of Jesus. “Jesus is Christ the Lord. God raised him from the dead.”
What should we do with this message? How should sinners respond to this message? Look at verse 9 and 10 again. We have to believe the message in our hearts and confess (declare) with our mouth “Jesus is Lord.” Then we will be saved. Why do we have to confess with our mouth? Isn’t it enough to believe in heart? People like to think of their faith as a private or personal business. They do not like talk about what they believe. Of course, we believe first in our hearts before we can make a confession. Without believing in heart, confession wouldn’t be genuine. Nevertheless, Jesus wants us to make a confession of faith. At the outset of his earthly Messianic ministry, Jesus chose the Twelve and revealed to them that he was the Son of the living God. When they grew enough spiritually to see who Jesus really was, Jesus asked them, "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ" (Mt 16:15-17). We call it, "the confession of faith." Jesus helped his disciples make a confession of faith as of first importance. Peter had many ups and downs in his life of faith. But this confession of faith became the cornerstone of his spiritual life. Then he was able to follow Jesus to the end.
In fact, Jesus expects us to continually confess our faith and love for him. Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledge me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”(Mt10:32-33) If we publicly acknowledge him in front of others, it is so important to him that Jesus brags about us before the Father. If you are proud enough of him to share him with others, Jesus will be proud enough about us to proclaim our name in Heaven. How can we make such a confession of faith in Jesus? We must each know Jesus and his great unconditional love for us. For example, after Jesus rose from the dead, Peter felt dejected because he had denied Jesus three times. He felt bummed out and depressed that he had failed his Lord. He thought that his life of a disciple was over. He thought there was no way Jesus could use him or even want him back. He went back to his old life of living for three meals a day and his old job of fishing. However, Jesus loved Peter even though Peter denied him three times. What did Jesus do for Peter? He came back to him and restored him as his top disciple by asking him three times, “Do you truly love me more than these?…Do you truly love me? And, “Do you love me?” These questions moved Peter’s heart. Peter thought Jesus would condemn him or question him, “Why did you deny me?” Instead Jesus only asked him, “Do you love me?” When Peter saw Jesus’ forgiving and unconditional love for him, he could only say, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” (John 21:15-17)
Why was Jesus so serious about confession? It is because confession is not merely just saying it with our lips. This is a matter of our hearts knowing and accepting Jesus’ love for us personally. Each of us needs to make a love confession to Jesus. Look at verse 10, “For it is with your heart you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Belief is the only essential of salvation, but confession is the natural result of a believing heart. Why do we have to confess this faith with our mouths? The confession of faith is the beginning point of our faith. A confession of faith is also the best way of witnessing Jesus Christ to others. It is good for us, in witnessing to others, to share how we accepted Jesus as our personal Savior. Through confessing our faith we are declaring to others that we want Jesus to be the Lord of our lives. When we confess our faith to others then our faith also becomes stronger because we are reconfirming it to God and confirming it to ourselves. This is a good reason why we keep sharing testimonies on Friday every week. Through our testimonies we can personally witness to others that Jesus is Lord. We struggle to let him be the Lord of our life so we can be powerful Christians who live by faith and not by feelings. The more we publicly confess to God our love for him, the more our faith grow.
Look at verses 11-13. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Paul quotes from the Scriptures of Isaiah (28:16) and Joel (3:32) to remind us of God’s promises. Anyone who believes in Jesus will never be put to shame. This does not mean that we Christians won’t have any trials in life. But it assures that God will keep his promise—that those who believe in the Lord will be saved. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile; rich and poor; man and woman; human condition makes no difference. The same Lord is Lord of all. Let us read verse 13 together. … for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” All peoples of the world need Jesus as their Savior. Why? As we read Romans 3 since there is no one righteous, not even one, everyone needs Jesus. This is the reason why the gospel must be preached to all peoples of the world. This is God’s promise: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
II. The beautiful feet (14-21)
We hear the wonderful God’s message for the world. Then how can this wonderful message of God reach to the end of the earth? Look at verses 14-15. How, 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? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Paul shows a chain reaction of belief. What is the beginning of this chain reaction? It is God himself who prepared the gospel message for all sinners. In spreading his message, God does not work all by himself; he co-work together with his people. God called his servants to bring this message to the world. Jesus also called his disciples. Of cause it is to share this wonderful message of God; the word of Truth. But also it is to send them into the world to bring the message to all nations. Jesus gave us the great commission. He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mk 16:15). St. Paul also said, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2Ti 4:2).
If on one gives and preach about Jesus, no one will hear the good news and then no one will be able to believe, and then no one can be saved. Some of us might think only special or intellectual people can be messengers. However, Paul says in Romans 1:5 “Through him we receive grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.” Those who receives the wonderful grace of forgiveness of sins receive apostleship to call all the Gentiles; they are all called and sent to bring this wonderful message to the world. This missionary calling is God’s heart to save all the people of the world. If we do not go out and tell, how can people be saved?
Look at verse 15. “…How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” This tells us how much God is pleased with those who bring the good news. We usually do not think that anyone’s feet are beautiful. Usually feet are dirty and smelly. God declares that the very feet of those who tell others about Jesus are beautiful. God’s heart desire is to bring this gospel to all the people and save all of them. Who are the most beautiful people? It is our missionaries, shepherds, and bible teachers who brings the gospel to the lost. God may renew our missionary calling by the Holy Spirit. Just like the Israel did, we can easily ignore what God has done for us and why God choose and sent us in this mission field. It is not to enjoy honey and milk, but to bring Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
Look at verse 16-17. The Israelites were guilty of not accepting the good news even they had the greatest honor to hear it first. Because they rejected the words of Christ, they lost God’s blessing to be priests for the world. Look at verse 18. “But 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.’” The Israelite could not make excuses. They heard the message. They knew God’s word and knew God had chosen them to be a priestly nation for the world, yet they chose to reject Jesus and God’s holy mission. It was a tragedy. Look at verse 19-20. “Again 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.” And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” What did Moses and Isaiah talk about here? God did not stop loving his people Israel nor world salvation work. Through Israel’s rejection of Jesus, God opened the door for the Gentile. Moses saw that the Gentile people would come to know God through his people Israel, anyway. Moses praised God, for the Lord was made known to the Gentiles, even though his people were angry when the Gentiles came to know God. Moses and Isaiah saw God’s sovereign wisdom to bring his people back to him out of their envy and jealous.
Look at verse 21. But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” Even though the Israelites were disobedient and obstinate, God did not forsake them. God’s heart must have been broken, but God held out his hands all day long for them in anticipation that they would come back to him. God is like the father of the prodigal son. He is waiting at the gate for his son to return home. He is ready and willing to forgive them and to restore them as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. God is so patient. Praise God!
In today's passage, we learn that our message to a lost world is “Jesus is Lord.” We also learned to declare with our mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our hearts that God raise Jesus from the dead. This is the way of salvation. We learn God’s heart desire to save all the people through preaching the word of God to the end of the earth. God may use our feet to bring the good news to the lost world that Jesus is Lord.