Sunday, August 18, 2013
Vol. II — Chapter 5 — Romans 10:1-8
Vol. II — Chapter 5 — Romans 10:1-8
SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS. CHRIST THE AIM OF THE LAW.
RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH.
Romans 10:1-8 (1) Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (5) For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the men which doeth those things shall live by them. (6) But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above :) (7) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ from the dead.) (8) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach. Those who express strong belief in the sovereign grace of God but do not pray for the salvation of sinners or have a sincere desire that all men bow at the feet of Christ as Lord are practicing false doctrine.
Verse 1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel, is that they might be saved. Although the Jews, Paul’s fleshly brethren, had bitter hatred for him since his conversion and spiritual marriage to Christ and sought to slay him (Acts 9:29), he disavows any hostile feelings toward the unbelieving nation of Israel and shows prayerful concern for their salvation. This is the proper attitude of the servant of God as Paul shows here and as Samuel mourns for the Jewish people in the Old Testament: “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23). Paul’s broken heart for unsaved sinners is clearly shown in 1 Cor. 9:20-22. He prays that the Lord might remove the veil of unbelief from their hearts (2 Cor. 3:14-16). In the beginning of the 9th chapter Paul pours out the expression of his heart’s grief for his kinsmen according to the flesh (9:2; 11:14). He is not happy at all about their exclusion from the Kingdom of God and has a sincere desire for their salvation. We cannot have real love for poor sinners if we do not grieve because of sinfulness in them which separates them from God. Paul assures them of his desire for their salvation and desires that they count him not as an enemy because he tells them the truth (Gal. 4:16).
Our preceding chapter dealt with the sovereignty of God in salvation. He has mercy on whom He will and whom He wills He hardens. The eternal destiny of every human being is in His hands. It is He, not man, who makes the difference and distinguishes between the vessels of mercy and the vessels of wrath (1 Cor. 4:7). And because this is so our attitude toward sinners is not to be governed by God’s secret counsel concerning them. Paul had a prayerful concern for their salvation but he forbade them from entertaining the error that they had any precedence over the Gentile in the matter of the grace of God (Rom. 2:28-29).
Verse 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Paul, in mentioning “a zeal of God,” the sincere ardent regard in many of the Jews (Acts 21:20), to which, to his own experience while an unbeliever, he can bear testimony — “For I bear them record, that they have a zeal of God” — they do, unlike the idolatrous Gentiles, who sought not the true God at all, seek to obtain favor of Him. Zeal is always misinformed and misdirected when held in false doctrine (Gal. 1:14). Paul himself confessed that he thought he was rendering God service when he would do “many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9-11). In condemning his former course of action he is telling all that they are condemned if they are not ruled and controlled by true, sweetheart love for the Lord Christ. When there is no submission to the will of Christ, there is no knowledge of the mind of Christ (Acts 9:6-7). True spiritual love must not, yea cannot, act by blind impulse, for it must be scripturally regulated. How foolish are those who say, “If a man is sincere in his religion that is all that counts, his creed is of no importance.” John 17:3 and Phil. 3:5-6, yea, the entire Scriptures, show this to be a lie.
The Jews had “a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” They sincerely believed they were serving God when they refused to allow Christians in the synagogues, and even killed them for they considered real Christians were heretics (John 16:2). Graceless persons may have earnest religious desires, which may be like Balaam’s desires, which he expresses under an extraordinary view that he had of the happy state of God’s people, as distinguished from all the rest of the world, (Numb. 23:9-10). They may also have a strong, though false hope of eternal life as the Pharisees had (Luke 16:14-15). The quest for knowledge apart from Christ is the supreme evidence of a blinded heart and arrogant unbelief, for it directly opposes God’s eternal decree and plan to sum up all things in Christ our Lord (1 Pet. 4:11).
Verse 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. This Paul speaks of the best and most religious of the Jews who “follow after the law of righteousness, but sought it as it were by the works of the law” (Rom. 9:31-31). These self righteous Jews, in their blindness and ignorance, thought that they were the most knowing of the “righteousness of God”; for they “made their boast of God, and knew” (as they thought and professed) “his will, and approved the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law, and were confident that they themselves were guides of the blind, and the light of them which are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, and teachers of babes, having the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law” (Rom. 2:17-20). Yet they submitted not unto the “righteousness of God, but went about to establish their own righteousness, because they were ignorant of the righteousness of God. They were ignorant of the holiness (Josh. 24:19), purity (Hab. 1:13) and righteousness (Exo. 34:7) that is the very nature of God Himself as well as the strictness of His justice (Gal. 4:21; 3:10). They were ignorant of the righteousness He requires of us in the Holy Law and the spirituality of that Law. They were ignorant of the imputed righteousness of the sinner’s Substitute proclaimed in the Gospel. The “righteousness of God” is Christ as fulfilling the Law and answering the goal of it, received by faith (Rom. 3:21-26 with 5:18-19).
The apostle uses the expressions “our own righteousness” and “works of the law” as signifying the same thing as we have seen asserted in verses 31 and 32 of the previous chapter. When “our own righteousness” is used in the Scripture with relation to the favor of God, and when we are warned against looking upon it as that by which we would gain favor we foolishly consider ourselves as morally good (Luke 10:29). In reality all fallen men are stiff-necked, morally wicked, obstinate, and perverse of heart (Deut. 9:4-6). As such the Jews are condemned for trusting in their own righteousness in Luke 18:9-14). They heard the truth from the lips of God’s prophets; they held the Scriptures in their hands; their system of worship in types and shadows shadowed forth the leading doctrines of the Gospel and promised Christ as the coming Messiah. But in opposition to this they offered the most determined resistance to and hatred of Jesus as the Christ, and to His doctrines (Luke 19:14; John 1:11). They had the most satisfactory evidence in their sacred Scriptures of the Divinity of the Saviour’s Mission; they refused to acknowledge His claims. They had long been conversant with the great principles, that man is a transgressor of the Law of God, and that his transgressions must be expiated by the shedding of blood (Lev. 17:11), before they can be pardoned — still, when the Righteousness of Christ was clearly reveled, they refused to fall before Him and cry for mercy, and in all their pride went about to establish their own righteousness (Rev. 3:17-18).
There is in every unrenewed heart rebellion and hatred of the truth (2 Thes. 2:10) as it is in our Lord Jesus Christ, especially to the great doctrine of Justification by faith in His imputed righteousness, because its object and tendency are so directly to humble the pride and self sufficiency of our nature — to exalt the grace and glory of God — and to increase our obligations to Jesus Christ our Lord. Proud sinners delight to justify themselves and to entertain exalted views of their own worth and work (Jer. 3:11). Self righteousness is a fundamental feature in the depraved heart as fallen sinners are ever going about to establish their own righteousness. Natural men are ever desirous to produce something in themselves that will be the foundation of their confidence towards God. In their depraved, darkened ignorance they misconceive “the righteousness of God” — the Divine method of Justification manifested in the Gospel of free grace; they do not see its necessity not understand its nature. They are so foolish as to engage in establishing “their own righteousness” — a method of justification, not of God’s appointment, but of man’s invention.
The Divine method of justification, which is indeed the wisdom of God, appeared to them, and the Gospel message was treated by them as foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18); and, instead of submitting to it, they “rejected the counsel of God against themselves’ (Luke 7:30). They trusted the works of their own evil hands and would not “submit” to the truth that fallen man is not restored to the Divine favor by the works of his own hands, but by the doings and sufferings of ANOTHER; and in the work and sufferings of the justifying Saviour, a saving interest is not by working, but by believing. It requires submission — unqualified submission, of the understanding and the heart (Luke 15:17-21); and this, to unregenerate man, is harder than the most toilsome labors and severe penances. Yea, it is impossible, for nothing but the power of the Holy Ghost in awakening the sinner to his helpless, lost condition, acknowledging his guilty, sinful state, condition, and character as an utterly lost sinner, and agreeing with God against himself and respecting God’s method of justifying sinners, will ever induce the sinner to yield completely to Him (Psa. 110:3).
As Henry Mahan well said, “They refuse to submit to the true righteousness of God, which is Christ! The Divine method of acceptance and justification requires nothing but to be submitted to or received (John 1:12; Eph. 1:6). God does not require you to produce righteousness, but to receive it. God does not require you to produce life, but to receive life in Christ.” It is the cardinal delusion in the religion of the natural man that they have righteousness enough of their own; and therefore they reject and withdraw themselves from that which is of God’s appointing. They ever seek to justify themselves and boast of their success before man while they remain a total stranger to God’s justification (Luke 16:15; 18:9-14). By these deceptions arising from the inveterate pride and corruption of our fallen nature, multitudes in all ages have been miserably blinded.
Verse 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Christ is said to be the “end of the Law” — the design, purpose, complement, aim, goal, or perfection. Matthew Poole commented, “The Law was given for this end, which sinners being thereby brought to the knowledge of their sins, and their lost and damned estate, by reason thereof, should fly to Christ and His righteousness for refuge (Gal. 3:19, 24). ‘Christ is the end of the law;’ the perfection and consummation thereof. The word is taken in this sense, 1 Tim. 1:5. He perfected the ceremonial law, as being the substance whereof all the ceremonies of the law were shadows; they all referred to Him as their scope and end. He perfected also the moral Law, partly by His active obedience, fulfilling all the righteousness thereof, partly by His passive obedience, bearing the curse and punishment of the Law, which was due us. Whatever the Law required that we should do or suffer, He hath perfected it on our behalf.” The “Law” certainly included the Law of the Ten Commandments, the moral Law, which is the very heart of the Law. It was spoken by the Lord Himself from the smoking and trembling mountain; it was engraved by the very finger of God upon two stones. All the other institutions established in Israel and regulating their religious and civil life were grounded in and concentrated around the moral Law.
Christ is the end of the Law “for righteousness” — the righteousness by which a sinner is justified. The matter in question is righteousness unto justification before God. “The Law” is here viewed as a method of justification, in contrast with “the righteousness of God,” which is “without Law,” — apart from Law. Once more it is justification which is in view, and not the walk of the believer. The context unequivocally settles the scope and significance of the expression that “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness.” The Law was never intended to teach fallen man how to obtain justification. Man, the sinner, is already under the curse (Gal. 3:10); he cannot make atonement or be profitable to God. Man’s depravity morally incapacitates him from yielding the requisite obedience, and the Law makes no provision either for pardon or for a spiritual influence to secure the obedience required. The intent of the Law is to bring the elect sinner to Christ, and prepare him to humbly and thankfully embrace Him, by a living, God-given faith, as the Lord our Righteousness (Gal. 3:24). Christ is the “end of the law for righteousness” for those given Him by the Father (Isa. 53:11; John 17:2). Had Christ not vicariously obeyed the Law, had He merely suffered its penalty, due our sins, then we should be destitute of any positive righteousness. But the Scriptures emphatically affirm that Christ saved by His obedience as well as by His sufferings: “For as by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).
The great puritan John Owen wrote, “This is acknowledged to be the righteousness which the Law requires. God looks for no righteousness from us but what is prescribed in the Law. The Law is nothing but the rule of righteousness — God’s prescription of a righteousness, and all the duties of it, unto us. That we should be righteous herewith before God was the first, original end of the Law. Its other ends at present, of the conviction of sin, and judging or condemning for it, were accidental unto its primitive constitution. . . . Wherefore, the apostle declares, that all this is done another way; that the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled, and its end, as unto a righteousness before God, attained; and that is in and by Christ. For what the Law required, that He accomplished; which is accounted unto every one that believes.”
Concerning those who foolishly use this passage wrongly to say that Christ is the end of the Law and they stop short of reading or quoting the entire verse which clearly identifys in what regard He is the end of the Law in the stead of His people, A. W. Pink said: “There are some who will go with us this far, agreeing that Christ came here to meet the demands of the Law, yet who insist that the Law being satisfied, believers are entirely freed from its claims. But this is the most inconsistent, illogical, absurd position of all. Shall Christ go to so much pain to magnify the Law in order that it might now be dishonored by us? Did He pour out His love to God on the Cross that we might be relieved from loving Him? It is true that Christ is ‘the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth’ — for ‘righteousness’ (for our justification), yes; but not for our sanctification. Is it not written that ‘he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked’ (1 John 2:6), and did not Christ walk according to the rule of the Law? The great object in Christ’s coming here was to conform His people to the Law, and not to make them independent of it. Christ sends the Spirit to write the Law in their hearts (Heb. 8:10) and not to set at naught its holy and high demands.”
Verse 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. In this and the following verses Paul is showing the great difference that is always between the righteousness of the Law and the righteousness of faith; and this difference is taught us in the books of Moses himself. The phrase “the righteousness of the law” is used in the New Testament to express the totality of that which the Law demands as the condition of favor. In Adam, before he fell, the righteousness of the Law was perfect obedience. In the case of all his fallen descendants, it is perfect obedience plus the suffering of its penalty, making it impossible for fallen sinners to achieve a legal righteousness by their own activity. This method of justification is by the apostle clearly shown to be an absolute impossible one to fallen man (Rom. 3:19-20; 4:15; Gal. 3:10-12). This method shuts us all out of Heaven, it turns us into Hell, and it lays upon us impossible conditions. May our Lord enable us to turn to the righteousness of faith.
The two covenants are inconsistent and gives answers to the question of the Divine method of justification that are directly contrary to one another, as the apostle declares here and following. Moses says that the condition under the works of the Law is, “The man that doth the works of the Law shall live by them (Lev. 18:5); that is the only way whereby you may be saved.” Grace says that it is not possible to be saved by the Law and puts it all on true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 13:38-39). The righteousness of the Law lies in doing perfectly all of its requirements — not only in deed, but in thought, attitude and motive. It, in its spirituality, requires the work of God in the soul in effecting perfect love to God and to all His creatures, a perfect heart! This cannot be done by a fallen sinner. The Law demands men to, “Do to live,” but, God-given faith says, “Live to do.” As a recipient of God’s grace, doing the will of God comes out of having been made alive to God. LIFE MUST COME FIRST; make the tree good, and then the fruit will be good (Matt. 12:33-35). Works would make doing the means of life, but sovereign grace puts life in the sinner’s soul as the means of him walking with the Lord and doing the will of God ( John 10:27-28; Phil. 2:13). The “righteousness of the law” requires fallen man to do the impossible — start right in his already corrupted nature and then to continue to do everything in thought, word, and deed that the Holy, Strict Law demands. The obedience required for righteousness under the Law is universal, perpetual, perfect, personal, out of love and holy fear. No mere man since the fall ever did so obey the Law of God, and, of course, no one has ever attained to righteousness by works. Sinner can have no personal righteousness, equal to the demands of the Law. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).
Verse 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above). Verses 6-8 inform us of the testimony of the “righteousness of faith,” a quotation from. Deut. 30:12-14. Speaking negatively, righteousness is to be without sin both inwardly and outwardly — in our heart and in our walk according to God’s verdict. A sinner must be made righteous in order to be saved from the power of sin and death. Life is found only in the favor of God. Positively speaking, a man is righteous when he in God’s judgment and according to His own verdict, he is perfectly and entirely with God Himself, and with His will — in our innermost heart and mind, as well as our walk and life (Phil 3:9).
After showing fallen mans failure in working out our own righteousness by “the righteousness of the Law,” Paul shows that God works out our righteousness and gives it freely through the “righteousness of faith.” “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace’ (Rom. 4:16). It is all by God’s pure, free grace, and, the elect sinner receives it by faith (Eph. 2:8). We are righteous by faith and it is not that faith is another work which renders us righteous instead of the works of the Law. Faith is not the ground of our righteousness before God. The ground of the sinner’s righteousness is Christ alone; His Cross and resurrection from the dead. The exercising and magnifying the free grace of God in the Gospel contrivance for the justification and salvation of sinners, is evidently the chief design of it; and this freedom and riches of the grace of the Gospel is everywhere spoken of in the Scripture as the chief glory of it. Therefore the doctrine that derogates from the free grace of God in justifying sinners, as it is most, opposite to our Lord’s design, is also most offensive to Him.
The righteousness which is by faith speaks and it says, “Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven? (that is to bring Christ down from above). Paul is saying that this is a denial of the Incarnation of our Lord Christ, that He has already come down from Heaven, to reveal it to us. It is a denial that our Lord Jesus Christ has already descended from Heaven, to procure and purchase salvation for His elect (John 6:33, 51); and that He must come down again for that purpose. It denies the ascension of Christ into Heaven (Eph. 4:8-10, Heb. 1:3); for He is gone there as the Head of His people, and there He will bring all His saints; He is there as our forerunner, as One that is gone to prepare a place for us. Do not think that you do something to obtain righteousness by your own hands. Christ has already come “for the word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), and He has performed the work for which He came to do. He has fulfilled the elect’s righteousness and redemption (John 17:4; 24-26).
The apostle had shown us back in the 4th chapter of this epistle that there never was a time wherein men were justified in any measure by the works of the Law. There is no fallen sinner that can ever be justified by any manner of virtue or goodness of their own. The Gospel, which unfolds the righteousness of faith, does not bid the sinner to inquire how these things — the necessary means of justification — are to be done: it tells us how they are done. It does not call on the sinner to work out a justifying for himself, or even to seek for One to do it for him: it tells poor sinners of an all-accomplished Saviour, and of His completed and accepted work of expiation, for justification (Isa. 53:4-6:10-12).
Verse 7 Or, who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) “Who shall descend into the deep to bring Christ up from the grave? He is risen (Heb. 13:20). He is risen for our justification and He intercedes for us (1 Pet. 3:18-22). The Gospel reveals that all is finished; our all-sufficient Saviour is to be believed and received. Herman Hoeksema said “Who shall descend into Heaven?’ and, ‘Who shall go across the sea (descend into the deep)?’ These are questions which express an attitude of despair of ever being able to hear and keep the Law of Moses. Who shall ascend into Heaven? The Word is so high above us that we can never attain to it. Who shall go across the sea, descend into the deep? The Word is wholly beyond our reach. It is as impossible to hear and keep the word of the Law and to attain righteousness through it as it is to ascend to Heaven or descend into the deep.”
“That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead;” and this is in effect to frustrate and make void the death of Christ; it is as much as if they were saying He never died for sinners, and He must come again, and suffer, and shed His blood for the remission of our sins. He died to deliver His elect from death and damnation (Rom. 4:24-25); He endured the wrath of God, that we may escape it (1Thes. 5:9-10). The sense of the whole is this, that the doctrine of justification by faith, does not propose such difficult and impossible terms, as the doctrine of justification by works. Matthew Poole said the comparison of these two methods of justification is, “The righteousness of the Law, which speaks terror, and puts us into a continual fear of Hell, and despair of Heaven; but the righteousness of faith, that speaks comfort, and forbids all amazing fear and troubles about salvation and damnation.”
Verse 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach. “What saith” that passage in Deut. 30:12-14? Paul has, in the 6th and 7th verses told us what it did not say, but here he tells us what it said. What saith “the righteousness of faith” — the method of justification? How does it describe itself? By “the word,” we are to understand the Gospel, in which the righteousness of God by faith is revealed” (Rom. 1:16-17). “The word of faith,” meaning the revelation to be believed as the sole means of justification (Acts 10:34). “The word is nigh thee;” i. e., the matter required of thee, in order to life eternal — salvation. He declares the readiness of the way of salvation, as taught us in the Gospel of Christ, and by the righteousness of faith. In the way of salvation under the Gospel God does not require the labor of our hands. The “word is nigh thee” in order that it may be “in thy mouth, and in thy heart.”
The faith here designed, is, therefore, to be considered as the receiving of Christ and His righteousness; or, as total dependence upon Him alone for salvation. Believing the gracious report, we receive the atonement; we enjoy comfort; and have the earnest of eternal glory. Christ is “the Word that became flesh and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14); Christ is the Promise (2 Cor. 1:20; 2 Tim. 1:1); Christ Himself is the salvation of the sinner (Heb. 5:9). The Lord Jesus Christ and His Cross and resurrection are the only grounds of our righteousness, and the only basis of this testimony of the righteousness which is of faith. He is the Rock of our salvation. Christ accomplished it all!
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 10:1-8.
Verse 1. I could now not only continue my discourse, till midnight, but I could speak till I could speak no more. And why should I despair of any? No, I can despair of no one, when I consider Jesus Christ has had mercy on such a wretch as I am. However you may think of yourselves, I know that by nature I am but half but half a devil and half a beast. The free grace of Christ prevented me. He saw me in my blood, He passed by me, and said unto me, “Live.” — George Whitefield (1714-1770).
Whatsoever is of nature’s spinning must be all unraveled before the righteousness of Christ can be put on. — Thomas Wilcox (1549-1608).
Evangelism’s highest and ultimate end is not the welfare of men, not even their eternal bliss, but the glorification of God. — R. B. Kuiper (1886-1966).
Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread. — D. T. Niles.
Election demands evangelism. All of God’s elect must be saved. Not one of them may perish. And the Gospel is the means by which God bestows saving faith upon them. — R. B. Kuiper (1886-1966).
Verse 2. They were zealous in doing that which might honor God, as they thought, but it was in reference to themselves, lest the apostle’s doctrine (of justification by faith, both to Jews and Gentiles) prevailing, their Law, and dignity, and privilege above the rest of the world, should be overthrown. A new creature may, must seek his own good; but this in subordination to God’s glory as supreme, and in a way of subserviency to it as principal. He seeks other things, but he intends this in and above all. And this is a special property of the new creature, which the highest improvers of nature, could never reach, nor ever will, till, renewed. — David Clarkson (1622-1686).
Zeal without knowledge is like wild fire in a fool’s hand. — John Trapp (1601-1669).
Ignorance is the beaten path to Hell. — William Jenkyn (1613-1685).
Conviction of ignorance is the doorstep to the temple of wisdom. — C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892).
To be proud of learning is the greatest ignorance. — Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667).
Not ignorance, but the ignorance of ignorance, is the death of knowledge. — Alfred North Whitehead.
Verse 3. You say, I must do what I can, and Christ will do the rest. Supposing you have will and power for duty, then I ask, Do you pray as much as you can? Or read the Scriptures as much as you can? Or relieve the poor as much as you? or visit the sick as much as you can? Do you deny yourself as much as you can? and watch against sin as much as you can? Or do any one duty as much as you can? Indeed you do not, and you know you do not. But if you put salvation on this footing, of doing what you can, and have not done it, what sentence can you look for from the Lord but this, “Out of thine own mouth will, I judge thee” (Luke 19:22). — John Berridge (1716-1793).
While you mind the necessary study of holiness, or inherent righteousness, let it never take the place of imputed righteousness, Romans 10:3; Psa. 71:16. Inherent righteousness indeed is to be loved, but imputed righteousness only is to be trusted; for though inherent righteousness or holiness be a necessary qualification for Heaven and salvation, and our evidence for it; yet it is imputed righteousness only that is the foundation of it, and our title to it. — Let Christ’s name be dear to you, “The Lord our Righteousness.” — John Willison (1680-1750).
Saving faith, then, is the opposite of damning belief. Both issue from the heart that is alienated from God, which is in a state of rebellion against Him; saving faith from a heart which is reconciled to Him and so has ceased to fight against Him. Thus an essential element or ingredient in saving faith is a yielding to the authority of God, a submitting of myself to His rule. It is very much more than my understanding assenting and my will consenting to the fact that Christ is a Saviour for sinners, and that He stands ready to receive all who trust Him. To be received by Christ I must not only come to Him renouncing all my righteousness (Rom. 10:3), as an empty-handed beggar (Matt. 19:21), but I must also forsake my self-will and rebellion against Him (Psa. 2:11-12; Prov. 28:13). Should an insurrectionist and seditionist come to an earthly king seeking his sovereign favor and pardon, then, obviously, the very law of his coming to him for forgiveness requires that he should come on his knees, laying aside his hostility. So it is with a sinner who really comes savingly to Christ for pardon; it is against the law of faith to do, otherwise. — A. W. Pink (1866-1952).
The man who is not prepared to heed the Word of God obediently will not even be able to hear it correctly. — Anon.
Few tremble at the Word of God. Few, in reading it, hear the voice of Jehovah, which is full of majesty. — Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843).
To defer to God’s Word is an act of faith; any querying and editing of it on our own initiative is an exhibition of unbelief. — J. I. Packer (b. 1926).
Verse 4. The Law calls for a perfect righteousness, which, in ourselves, never will be found; but all its demands were fulfilled by our Surety. Every true believer finds that righteousness in Christ which he stands in need of; and is enabled, through the Spirit, to rest upon it for justification: he faithfully endeavors to obey the Law as the great rule of his duty, both to God and man; yet is so sensible of his own manifold defects, that he would utterly despair, if he could not look up upon Jesus, and say, “Thou shalt answer for me, O Lord, my God!” — C. H. V. Bogatzky (1690-1774).
What that blessed consonance is between the Law and the Gospel no regenerate soul should have any difficulty in perceiving. Let us briefly present it thus. The Law required perfect obedience and pronounced death on the least breach thereof, and does not propose any way of fulfilling the same in our own persons. But the Gospel directs us to Christ, who, as the believer’s Surety, fulfilled the Law for him, for which reason Christ is called “The end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). And through Christ it is that “the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
The Law sends us to the Gospel, that we may be justified, and the Gospel sends us to the Law again to enquire what is our duty, being justified. — Samuel Bolton (1606-1654).
When the Law of God is written in our hearts, our duty will be our delight. — Matthew Henry (1662-1714).
The needle of the Law must precede the thread of the Gospel. — C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892).
Christ has redeemed His people from the curse of the Law, and not from the command of it; He has saved them from the wrath of God, but nor from His government. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Verse 5. The force of the connective particle “for,” in the beginning of this passage, seems to be illustrative: ‘You need only to look at the two methods of justification, to see that he who clings to the first can have nothing to do with the second, and he that embraces the second have entirely done with the first. “Christ for righteousness to every one that believeth” must be “the end of the law;” and he who will keep by the law as a method of justification, can have no part or lot in “Christ for righteousness to every one that believeth.”’ — John Brown (1784-1858).
From the promise itself Paul proves, that it can avail us nothing, and for this reason, because the condition is impossible. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
To live by the Law requires, as Moses had declared, that the Law be perfectly obeyed. But this to fallen man is impossible. The Law knows no mercy, it knows no mitigation, it overlooks not the smallest breach, or the smallest deficiency. One guilty thought or desire would condemn forever. — Robert Haldane (1764-1842).
The Law is a hammer to break us, the Gospel God’s oil to cure us. — Stephen Charnock (1628-1680).
The Law discovers the disease. The Gospel gives the remedy. — Martin Luther (1483-1546).
Verse 6. Paul finds an admirable description of the ‘righteousness of faith’ in Deut. 30:11-14. In this farewell discourse Moses warns the people against giving way to a spirit of unbelief, for God has drawn near to them in the covenant of grace, and everything which pertains to their temporal and eternal good has been clearly revealed to them, If the light afforded by the old dispensation then made unbelief inexcusable, what shall be said of those who remain in darkness now that the Light of the World has been fully manifested? — Geoffrey B. Wilson.
There is no long journey to go, no seas to sail over, no mountains to pass, to get saved. But if you be not minded to cross the threshold, you may even while you sit at home be saved. — John Chrysostom (347-407).
Naaman was offended with the very simplicity of the method of the cure prescribed by the prophet. He wanted some great thing done. He turned away in rage. So to many it is a great offence to be called on simply to rest the whole weight of their salvation on the crucified Redeemer. — William Plumer (1802-1880).
Ministers may and ought to use such a way of exhorting and dealing with people, as may be most rousing and up stirring; people being ordinarily careless and indifferent hearers even of truths of great concernment. — John Brown (1784-1858).
Christ’s righteousness, pleaded in the court of justice, is our full and final discharge. — Anon.
Faith is the marriage of the soul to Christ. — Richard Sibbes (1577-1635).
Saving faith is not creative, but receptive. It does not make our salvation, it accepts it gratefully. — Robert Horn.
Verse 7. It is equally futile to attempt a descent into the ‘abyss’ (RV) or grave to discover the truth. The reality of life after death is not to be proved by the unlawful attempts of the Spiritists to communicate with the souls of the departed (Deut. 18:9-12; Isa 8:19-20). One came back from the realm of the dead in all the splendor of His Resurrection Life as the first-fruits of them that slept (1 Cor. 15:20). Death holds no terrors for the Christian, for the keys of death have been committed to Him who broke its dominion over mankind through His glorious victory over all the powers of darkness (1 Cor. 15:55-57; Eph. 4:9; Rev. 1:18). — Geoffrey B. Wilson.
Christianity is essentially a religion of resurrection. — James A. Stewart.
The resurrection of Jesus is the Gibraltar of the Christian faith and the Waterloo of infidelity and rationalism. — R. A. Torrey (1856-1928).
Verse 8. The heart in the Scripture is variously used. Sometimes for the mind and understanding; sometimes for the will; sometimes for the affections; sometimes for the conscience; sometimes for the whole soul. Generally it denotes the whole soul of man, and all the faculties of it, not absolutely, but as they are all one principle of moral operations, as they all occur in our doing good or evil. The mind, as it inquires, discerns, and judges what is to be done, what refused; the will, as it chooses and refuses, and avoids; the affections, as they like or dislike, cleave to, or have an aversion from, that which is proposed to them; the conscience as it warns, and determines. These are altogether called the heart. And in this sense it is that we say the seat and subject of this law of sin is the heart of man. — John Owen (1616-1683).
Ministers should stick close by their commission, and should not conceal any thing of it for either feud or favor; but should boldly, faithfully, and plainly, with majesty, constancy, and freedom, declare the whole counsel of God without exception; for they are heralds, and should behave themselves as heralds. — John Brown (1784-1858).
“The word of faith” is the word to which faith is directed, not the word which faith utters. It is the word preached and therefore the message which brings the Gospel into our mouth and heart. — John Murray (1898-1975).
And when a poor sinner hath been led to see who Christ is, and what He hath wrought, what He hath done for sinners, and what He is to them, the infinite glories of His person, the infinite completeness of His work, and the infinite suitableness of Jesus, in every possible way that a poor sinner can need, by way of justification before God, and acceptance with God, then these blessed truths are so sweetly brought home to the heart and conscience of the enlightened sinner, by the Holy Ghost, and he rests upon Christ as one perfectly satisfied with Christ, and neither seeks nor desires any other. — Robert Hawker (1753-1827).