Present Standing of Israel Part 2 (series: Lessons on Romans)
by John Lowe
Present Standing of Israel Part 2 (series: Lessons on Romans)
7 or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
When the apostle quotes 5Deuteronomy 30:13 (see below), he changes it from “Who will go over the sea” to Who will descend into the abyss. His point is that the Gospel does not ask men to descend into the grave to bring Christ up from among the dead. This would be impossible, but it would also be unnecessary because Christ has already risen from the dead. Notice that in 10:6 and7 we have the two doctrines concerning Christ, which were hard for a Jew to accept—His Incarnation and His Resurrection. Yet he must accept these if he is to be saved. We will see these 2 doctrines again in 10:9 and 10.
In the Old Testament, the term abyss was sometimes applied to the sea as being fathomless. It is often set in contrast to heaven. It stood frequently for the region in which there are fallen spirits and lost souls. In the present passage, it stands, as in the Old Testament, for Sheol, or the region of the dead, into which Christ went at His death. To think of a repetition of the death and resurrection of Christ would be to impute incompleteness to that which was accomplished once for all and stands eternally in its absolute effectiveness.
Once again, this verse sounds like a taunt of unbelief. It smacks of a denial of the resurrection of Christ. We do not need to descend into the abyss to learn of God’s righteousness for Christ is alive and is living proof of that righteousness.
_______________________verse 7 notes_______________________
5Deuteronomy 30:13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’Moses reminded the people that the covenant was not too hard for them to understand (mysterious), nor was it far off (inaccessible). They were not required to do the impossible to find it. The Lord had brought it to them, and their responsibility was to obey it. The covenant was not easy to keep, but God had made provision in case of failure. The people were then required to repent and to bring the appointed sacrifices. Since the sacrifices were types of Christ, the lesson is that those who sin should repent and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
If the Gospel doesn’t tell men to do the humanly impossible or to do what has already been done by the Lord, what then does it say?
Again Paul adapts a verse from Deuteronomy 30 to say that the Gospel is near, accessible, intelligible, and easily obtained; it can be expressed in familiar conversation (in your mouth), and it can be readily understood in the mind (in your heart) (Deut. 30:14). It is the good news of salvation by faith, which Paul and the other apostles preached. Therefore, the journey of verses 6 and 7 is unnecessary because God has clearly revealed the way of salvation: it is by faith. The message of faith (word of faith) is the way to God.
When he entered a town to preach, Paul immediately proceeded to the synagogue. Whether the Jews believed his message or not, when he left, they remained behind to discuss what Paul had taught. The very message of the Gospel of Christ had been in their mouths and in their hearts, but they did not believe. The truth of righteousness was as close to them as it could possibly be, but they failed in their responsibility to receive that truth.
Here, Paul means to show that in the mind of the Spirit these words of Moses, though used by him when speaking about the Law, were intended to bear also an interpretation with reference to the Gospel, and that, in certain respects, what was true of the Law was applicable to the Gospel. The changes that are made from the literal meaning to the spiritual, and that the passage as it is used here applies to the Gospel, and points to the fact that Christ had accomplished His redemptive work on the Cross and had ascended to heaven. The Spirit of God prepared, through Moses, the way for the apostle to apply the words to the subject of justification.
While presenting a contrast between the righteousness, which is of the Law, and the righteousness, which is of faith, he shows that there is this point of similarity, in that both the Law and the Gospel were accessible. In fact, they were “in the heart and in the mouth.” He shows, too, that the essential difference between the Law and the Gospel lies in the facts of the advent, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, events which could never have been brought about by human effort. Man could neither bring Christ down from heaven nor raise Him from the dead. Works are ruled out. Man can do nothing. God has done it all. The facts must be accepted by faith.
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus.—Paul has just said that the Gospel has been in the mouths of the Jews. Now he builds on that thought. He explains that the confession “Jesus is Lord” (see Titles of Christ) refers to the lordship which Jesus exercises as the exalted Christ. Salvation must entail faith in One who is Lord. Confession of the lordship of Christ takes for granted the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Lord.
The divine title “Lord.” is what is being stressed. The confession that “Jesus is Lord” is the acknowledgment, as a testimony to others, of the supreme and absolute authority of Jesus Christ; that is, the One who, having been despised and rejected of men, was afterward glorified as the exalted One to whom all authority is given, who has been invested with all His mediatory privileges and power.
And believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.—The the apostle goes on to say that in order to be saved one must believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead. Belief in the resurrection is necessary because new life to the believer is contingent upon a living Lord.
Having a token acceptance that Jesus is Lord, and believing the fact of His resurrection is not sufficient for salvation.
Here it is in a nutshell: First, you must accept the truth of the Incarnation, that the Babe of Bethlehem’s manger is the Lord of life and glory, that the Jesus of the New Testament is the Lord (Jehovah) of the Old Testament; Second, you must accept the truth of His resurrection, with all that it involves. God has raised Him from the dead as proof that Christ had completed the work necessary for our salvation, and that God is satisfied with that work. Believing this with the heart means believing with one’s mental, emotional, and volitional (the will) powers—your total personality, your entire being. It amounts to a personal acceptance of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is saving faith.
The question often arises, “Can a person be saved by accepting Jesus as Savior without also acknowledging Him as Lord?” The Bible gives no encouragement to anyone who believes with mental reservations: “I’ll take Jesus as my Savior but I don’t want to crown Him Lord of all.” On the other hand, those who make a submission to Jesus as Lord a condition of salvation face the problem, “To what degree must He be acknowledged as Lord?” Few Christians would claim to have made an absolute and complete surrender to Him in this way. When we present the Gospel, we must maintain that faith is the sole condition of justification. But we must also remind sinners and saints constantly that Jesus Christ is Lord (Jehovah-God), and should be acknowledged as such.
This exercise of faith is more than the acceptance of the historic fact of the resurrection of Christ. It is a matter of the heart, not simply of the mind. It, therefore, involves the appreciation of the promises of God as fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ and the appropriation of His person. The confession and faith are, then, the response to “the word of faith” (v. 8). Confession is put first for the following two reasons: first, because confession of the Christ as Lord is the evidence of faith; second, because this confession provides the distinctive difference between those who have been justified by faith and those who are seeking righteousness by their own works 6(see1 Cor. 12:3).
The closing message of Acts is that the Jews of Paul’s day, from Jerusalem to Rome, rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Individual Jews believed, of course, but the torch of the Gospel was passed from the Jewish nation to the Gentiles. Not only has Christianity spread from Jerusalem to Rome, but it has also made the transition from an exclusively Jewish religion to hope for all nations 7(see Acts 28:28).