Death To Resurrection Life
Scripture: Romans 10:8–13
Death To Resurrection LifeRomans 10:8-13
April 8, 2012 • Resurrection Sunday
Pastor Randy Smith
It's been a sad month for hundreds of children in Colorado Springs this year. Much to the consternation of the community, the annual Easter egg hunt has been cancelled. Unfortunately things got too aggressive last year. What was intended for little tots with bunny ears and wicker baskets was overshadowed by so-called "helicopter parents," jumping perimeter ropes determined to help their children succeed. Thanks to the dominant parents, reporters say the hunt was over in seconds leaving several of the children eggless.
Jennifer Rexford [who] used to live near the park and now lives in Galveston, Texas … said she used to participate in public Easter egg hunts with her three boys. She doesn't anymore because of 'pushy parents' she experienced at hunts [also] in Florida and Texas. One parent came right out and said it, "You have all these eggs just lying around, and parents helping out. You better believe I'm going to help my kid get one of those eggs. I promised my kid an Easter egg hunt and I'd want to give him an even edge"
(Children's Easter Egg Hunt Cancelled Because of Parents' Behavior, Associated Press, March 26, 2012, P. Solomon Banda).
I never knew an Easter egg hunt could produce such excitement and energy! Parents living as if getting a couple eggs for their kids is the purpose of this holiday. Is there anything more to Easter than this? There is! There is something better. There is something guaranteed to bring you greater adventure. It is a reality that any loving parent ought to be sure his or her child understands. You won't have to jump any ropes or plow over any children to receive it. As a matter of fact, today we will reveal the utter contrast between the two biggest events of this day: Easter egg hunts and morning worship celebrating the Resurrection. This morning we will transcend a plastic egg filled with jellybeans and examine an empty tomb filled with hope that awaits all of us.
This Resurrection morning, I would like to celebrate the Resurrection by discussing what the Resurrection of Jesus Christ purchased. I would like to talk about what is commonly referred to as the Gospel. The Gospel is the information contained in the Bible that informs us what we need to believe in order to have eternal life. Though missed or ignored by many, there is absolutely nothing more important!
1. Who May Come?
Let's work our way through this passage backwards, beginning in verses 11-13. As you can see in your sermon outline, I believe our text answers three indispensable questions. The first question, "Who May Come?" In other words, to whom does God send this invitation? Who is welcome to be His friend? Who may receive God's plan of salvation and trust it for eternal life?
Listen carefully as I read verses 11-13, "For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"
Did you hear the repeated use of inclusive language? Who may receive the Gospel? Answer: everyone! No one is excluded!
In verse 11, whoever believes in Jesus Christ will not be disappointed. In verse 12, Jesus is Lord of both Jews and Greeks (all people regardless of their nationality), providing riches for all who call upon Him. And in verse 13, whoever calls upon the name of Jesus will be saved.
When Paul wrote this letter to the Romans in the first century, Jewish people did not accept the fact that God accepted other cultures into His Kingdom. I mean they knew there were a few exceptions, people like Ruth, but this inclusion of limited Gentiles was far from the norm. You will remember when Jonah was called to share God's love with the Assyrians, the man ran in the opposite direction!
So for Paul to show the Jews that God's plan of salvation is and always has been inclusive, he goes directly to the Old Testament. He quotes from their Jewish Bible, Isaiah 28:16 in verse 11 and Joel 2:32 in verse 13. All are loved by God. He welcomes all equally.
The other day my daughter asked me if there ever was something I wanted to do in school, but was unqualified from participating in. I'm sure we all have our stories. Maybe you didn't have the skills to start on the basketball team. Maybe you didn't even have the skills to make the basketball team. Maybe you were too short to even consider trying out for the basketball team! Maybe you tried hard and could never qualify for the honor roll. Maybe you were never selected for homecoming court or even asked to one of the dances. Maybe you did Protein Shakes every day and never saw your bench press exceed 150 pounds. Maybe your greatest display of drama was when you were cut from the drama team. In all of our lives, there is a coach or teacher or friend or maybe a parent that said we didn't have what it took to be accepted.
God is different. It is difficult, but we can live through the rejection from others. However, life is hopeless and our future is tragic if God rejects us. These three verses make it clear that there are absolutely no barriers for God to accept you. It doesn't matter how old you are, what gender you are, the color of your skin, the talents and abilities you possess, the intelligence you have, the language you speak or even the sins you may have committed in the past. These things may be important to others, but with God and finding His acceptance they are irrelevant. With Him there is no discrimination or distinction (cf. Rom. 3:22). He will receive you. He will save you, if you, verse 13, call upon His name. Let's go to the second point to see what that means.
2. How Do We come?
So if salvation is freely available to all without discrimination, why did Jesus declare, "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and there are few who find it" (Mt. 7:14)? The answer is that very few, as it says in verse 13, "call on the name of the Lord." God accepts those who come to Him for eternal life, but very few choose to come, or they think they have come, but have not entered the proper gate. According to the Bible, there is only one gate to enter, one road to travel. There is only one way in which we may call upon the Lord which grants salvation. The way is clearly found in verses 9 and 10: "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
First of all, can you see the two body parts that are called to action? The same two are mentioned in both verses 9 and 10: The mouth and the heart. Verse 9 mentions the mouth first and the heart second, probably following the same order of the words from verse 8. Verse 10 changes the order and places them is the more logical sequence, the heart first and the mouth second. I call it the most logical sequence because our words are an overflow of the heart. A public confession of Christ is important, but it is useless if it does not originate in the heart. People may hang on our words, but we know talk is cheap. God is in the business of examining our hearts. Deep down inside is what really matters. You get the heart right and the mouth will follow. You have the mouth only and no heart, and you have hypocrisy.
Salvation comes from calling upon the Lord. So what does it mean to call upon the Lord? Calling upon the Lord first entails believing specific truths about Jesus Christ. I can't call upon the Lord if I call upon Him believing something that is inconsistent with His character or message. Salvation is through faith, but the validity of my faith is only as good as the object in which I invest my faith.
For example, a couple months ago two Jehovah Witnesses knocked on my door. Right from the beginning they tried to convince me that Jesus Christ is not the Second Person of the Holy Trinity - obviously a significant difference of opinion. If I am to call upon the name of Jesus, am I calling upon one who is a created being or God Himself? Get this one wrong and you are calling upon a different Jesus. Heaven or hell hangs in the balance.
The couple didn't care for my rebuttals, so one of them sought to end the conversation by asking if I would like to have her read a verse from the Bible. I replied that I love the Bible and any verse would be fine. She chose John 3:16. After I affirmed it as being a great choice, she proceeded, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." And I took her right back to my main point. If we need to believe in Jesus to have eternal life, who is Jesus? I pointed to a tree and said if I believe that tree is Jesus would that suffice? They had their fill of me and they departed.
Let me put it this way. Say I brag about how much I love my wife and I go on to say she is 4'6", has black hair, loves disco music, drives a black corvette and participates in the roller derby every Friday night. No doubt my wife would be offended because the woman I just described is not her! Likewise, how can we claim to love Jesus, but the Jesus we claim to know is not the One presented in the Bible?
Therefore, verse 9 gives us two key components of Jesus Christ that we need to believe.
First, we need to understand the Person of Jesus. We need to believe and embrace the fact that Jesus is Lord, verse 9. He is not a god, He is God. He is not a lord, He is Lord! He is, 1 Timothy 6:15, "The blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords." The same Greek word for Lord used of the Father is used here of the Son, and it is used of the Son over seven hundred times in the New Testament. Therefore according to verse 9, any Gospel presentation that does not present Jesus as Lord is biblically inaccurate and should be avoided at all costs. And any believer that does not, verse 9, "Confess with [his or her] mouth Jesus as Lord" and show evidence of submission to His lordship needs to examine the reality of his or her conversion. If Jesus is not acknowledged as Lord of all in your life, He is not Lord at all in your life.
The early church took this seriously. The Romans simply wanted peace from this new sect that called themselves Christians. At first they had no problem with their worship of Jesus Christ so long as Caesar was acknowledged as number one. If they would proclaim, "Caesar is Lord," everybody would get along just fine. The Christians unfortunately couldn't go for that. I once heard that Rome even attempted to appease them by erecting a bust of Jesus among the pantheon of other gods. But the Christians rightly did not view Jesus as an equal among His "religious piers." Rather, they coined the motto of the early church: "Jesus is Lord" and they were willing to pay dearly with their lives for that confession with their mouths
Philippians 2:10-11, "So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The Bible teaches the day will come that all will bow and all will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but for many that day be too late.
Second, in addition to who He is, we need to be certain we accurately present and believe what He has done. And the key crowning jewel of His work is the indispensable truth of the resurrection, the very event that we are celebrating this morning. Let me explain how we get to that point.
God is holy. He cannot look upon sin; much less accept it in His presence. We are sinners. In chapter 3 of this letter, Paul said in verse 23, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." All of us deserve God's judgment and condemnation, but God in His love and mercy provided a means of salvation. Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, took on flesh and became human. He lived a sinless life and went to the cross as our substitute. Sin was placed upon Him and He was punished by the Father in the sinner's place. He died and was buried. On the third day, as predicted, He rose from the dead as the Father's stamp of approval for His work and is now seated at His right hand. Justice was accomplished and salvation was made available. Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." And the way we receive this free gift of grace is by calling upon Jesus Christ through faith. We call upon Jesus who is Lord, and we call upon Jesus who conquered sin, Satan and death by accomplishing our salvation and rising from the grave. As He rose, we will rise as well.
Keep Jesus in the grave and He stands no different than any other spiritual figure. Bring Him back from the dead as the Scriptures repeatedly declare, and you have Someone who stands head and shoulders above the rest.
So the Gospel message is acknowledging who Jesus Christ rightly is and what Jesus Christ has rightly accomplished. We must believe it first in our hearts and then confess it with our mouths. And what is the result when we do this? Verse 10 gives us both sides of the same coin.
First, verse 10 says, our belief and confession result in "righteousness." When we give our life to Jesus as Lord, we are in effect exchanging our life for His in the sight of God. We are identifying with Him in His death, burial and resurrection. We are giving Him all of our sins, nailing them to the cross and trusting the Father to separate us from them as He promised as far as the east is from the west. And in return for our sins, He is giving us His perfect righteousness. Paul put it like this in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." In the eyes of God, we are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and that is our only hope of enjoying fellowship with Him and ever entering His presence when we die. So we don't get righteous by obeying the law (doing works), we get righteousness by trusting Christ, a perfect righteousness of His imputed to us (receiving grace). Verse 10, "For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness.
Second verse 10 says our belief and confession also result in "salvation." If "righteousness" is the positive side of the coin, "salvation" is the negative side of the coin. Salvation implies we need to be saved from something, and that something is an eternity in hell, which is the ultimate wage of our sin. God must punish any violation of His law or He would be an unjust judge. As I already said, our sin was punished on Christ. He received our hell on the cross. Sinners can be forgiven and saved. That is why Jesus is called a Savior. For that is the purpose for which He came to bring us salvation. As John the Baptist said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn. 1:29). Verse 10, "and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
3. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE COME?
Lastly and briefly, question number three, what happen when we come to Jesus?
Coming to Jesus is more than a one-time event. We don't get saved and then ignore the Gospel going forward. We live everyday in light of this wonderful truth that God has accepted us and He will never forsake us. He wants it so close to us, verse 8 says, it is written on our hearts and heard in our speech. Therefore we do not believe and confess only once when we are initially saved. We believe in our hearts and confess continually because God has placed it within us. The Gospel is not hidden away in a plastic egg. It is not camouflaged with colored dyes and stickers. It is not concealed. It is within His children who have called upon His name. This is the very promise of the New Covenant!
In verse 8 of Romans 10, Paul does something very interesting. He takes a quote from the Old Testament and adapts it for New Testament teaching. In its original context from Deuteronomy, this verse was used in reference to the commandments of God. Moses said the Jews should have no trouble obeying. He says these commands were not beyond their reach (Dt. 30:11). They didn't need to ascend to heaven or travel beyond the sea to discover them (Dt. 30:12-13). On the contrary, the commands were near them. They were in the mouths and hearts of the Israelites (Dt. 30:14).
Since Jesus Christ is the great fulfiller of God's commands, Paul jumps on this teaching and applies it to the Gospel. In verses 6 and 7 of Romans 10 Paul uses the same logic. "But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: 'Do not say in your heart, 'who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down), or 'Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." You do not need to search high and low or far and wide as if this message is hidden away. Christ is with us! Verse 8, "But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.'" What word? Verse 8, "The word of faith which we are preaching." The Gospel!
This holiday is a big deal for most Americans. We engage in our traditions, get together with our family, maybe watch a little golf and even make it a point to attend church. But let's remember that the biggest deal this day represents is the fact that our Lord and Savior has risen from the grave, and as a victorious King has made salvation available to all who call upon His name. Christians, rejoice that you are on the winning team. Rejoice that your present life and future life are secured in the arms of God. Rejoice that you have been accepted as His child. Rejoice that your past has been wiped clean. And for the rest of you, I hope and pray that God will use this message of truth to draw you to Himself. I pray if you haven't done so, that right now you will acknowledge your sin and turn to the risen Jesus Christ who is both Savior and Lord for righteousness and salvation.