Righteousness: By Works or Faith?

3 July 2022 AM – Romans 10:1-13 – Rom2022 – Scott Childs
Introduction: The First Century orthodox Jews who heard the Gospel message had mixed feelings about it. Some angrily rejected it and held tightly to their Judaism. Others considered the message, but bristled at the thought of salvation by faith in Christ alone without the works of the law. A few gladly received the Gospel and trusted Christ.
            We see a similar reaction in our world today. Masses have a negative opinion of all religions and flatly reject the Gospel. Many religious people call themselves “Christians”, yet they do not believe that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. They believe that certain religious rites or good deeds are required along with faith in Christ. There are a few, however, who humbly repent of their sins and trust Christ alone for salvation.
Transition: In an effort to convince us that we can only receive God’s righteousness by faith, Paul presented a strong argument here in Romans 10. This morning, I want us to study his argument in v.1-13.
  1. The Zeal of Works Righteousness (v.1-5)
a.         Many religious people are zealous.
1)         Paul commended the Jews for this. Today, we must commend the JW’s and Mormons and similar religions for their zeal. They often put us to shame with their efforts. Some Catholics are very zealous for their religious creed. Religious zeal is commendable, but not the answer.
2)         If their zeal lacks knowledge of truth, it will lead them to destruction. This is the problem many of the Jews had. Note Paul’s words at the end of v.2. Their zeal was not according to knowledge.
3)         Many religious people today believe that salvation is by faith and works. They say that one must believe on Christ, but he must also do good works to earn salvation. This thinking usually comes from an incorrect interpretation of the Apostle James’ words. (James 2:14) “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:17) “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” On the surface, James sounds like he is saying that faith in Christ is not enough, and that you must also do your part to be saved. However, take a close look at (James 2:18). “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James taught that salvation is not through faith AND works, but through faith THAT works. Works are an evidence of genuine faith, not an addition to faith.
b.         Zeal with wrong knowledge is fatal.
1)         Paul’s devout Jewish friends were zealous, but ignorant of God’s righteousness. They did not understand God’s standard for righteousness.
2)         They were going about to establish (lit. seeking to uphold) their own righteousness. Once again, James undermines this belief. (James 2:10) “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” A painful flaw in works righteousness is that anything less than perfection fails God’s test.
3)         Those who add good works to faith have not submitted to the righteousness of God (v.3).
a)         They have not grasped the fact that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe (v.4). By living a perfect life and by dying in behalf of sinners, Christ ended the futile effort of trying to keep the law to become righteous.
b)         Moses made it clear that the righteousness of the law required right doing to gain life eternal (v.5). Man’s problem is that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecc. 7:20).
2.        The Speech of Faith Righteousness (v.6-10)
Paul personifies this righteousness and has it talk to us.
a.         The righteousness of faith speaks (v.6-8).
1)         It tells of the time that God gave Israel His commandments. Moses wrote, (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
2)         Israel did not need someone to go up to heaven to get God’s commandments. Nor did they need someone to go over the sea to get them. They already had them in their mouth and in their heart.
3)         BUT what is the righteousness of faith saying? (v.8). The unbelieving Jews did not need someone to go get God’s righteousness by faith for them; they had already heard it. It was in their mouth. They were talking about it. It was in their heart. They were pondering it. They had heard it preached and Paul had clarified it in the previous chapters. The only thing they needed was to believe it.
b.         What was the word of faith saying? (v.9-10).
1)         It required a mouth confession of Lord Jesus. The word “confess” means to declare openly or to say the same thing about something. The first step toward righteousness by faith is an open declaration that Jesus is Lord. A.T. Robertson points out that, “No Jew would do this who had not really trusted Christ, for Κυριος in the LXX is used of God. No Gentile would do it who had not ceased worshipping the emperor as Κυριος.” RWP This was a very sober confession. It may cost them their lives.
2)         It also required a heart belief that God raised Christ from the dead. Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), Lord of heaven. He died for sinners (Ro 5:8). God raised Him from the dead. All who so confess and believe will be saved from hell.
3)         With the heart, the inner man, a person believes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ unto righteousness (v.10). With the mouth, a person confesses (i.e., declares openly) that Jesus is the Lord God and Messiah unto salvation. God requires a believing heart and a confessing mouth. There are no magical words that save. However, when a sinner admits that none of his good works will earn him righteousness and by faith he believes in his heart that Christ’s death and resurrection paid for his righteousness and is willing to confess openly that Jesus is Lord, God will save him. He will receive God’s righteousness from faith.
3.        The Words of Scripture (v.11-13)
a.         Believing on Christ is the solution
1)         Paul here referred to Isaiah 28:16 (v.11). Believing on Christ removes the need to flee hastily for safety. He will have no shame before God on Judgement Day.
2)         This applies equally to both Jew and Gentile (v.12). The Lord will richly bless all who call upon Him for salvation.
b.         Righteousness by faith is offered to all
1)         All, whoever might call on the Lord for salvation, will be saved. That is a promise of God.
2)         No one can earn righteousness by good works. The price is FAR too high. Only the blood of Christ is sufficient. (1 Peter 1:18-19) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
3)         Righteousness by faith is a gracious gift from God that no one can earn by good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Conclusion: Have you been trying to do things to merit God’s righteousness? If so, you will never succeed. You can only receive God’s righteousness by faith. If you give up your self-efforts and fully trust Christ’s finished payment, God will give you His righteousness.
            Many of you have already done this. I urge you to ponder carefully what you have just heard so that you can share it clearly with those to whom you witness. Works righteousness is a fatal error of many religious people.
Song: Amazing Grace – 236