by Mike Ratliff
2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain— if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? (Galatians 3:2-5 NASB)
When it comes to Justification by God of His people, shouldn’t the clutter be removed and the rubbish swept away? All aspects of our salvation should be clarified and those things that are only meant to cause confusion or misdirection (showing those with discernment their true source) should be shown for what they really are and cast aside. Then, with a sharp focus, we must look at the truth, which means we go to the source; i.e. The Word of God not some emergent or missional guru. Therefore, in this post we will look at part of Romans 10, in which the Apostle Paul, showing that God has provided a way to justification in His eyes to both Jews and Gentiles, further nails down from where salvation comes, who possesses it, and how they got it. What could be more important than that?
5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 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), 7 or ‘ Who will descend into the abyss? ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 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 are preaching, 9 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; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “ Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 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; 13 for “ Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:5-13 NASB)
5 Μωϋσῆς γὰρ γράφει τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ [τοῦ] νόμου ὅτι ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς. 6 ἡ δὲ ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη οὕτως λέγει· μὴ εἴπῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου· τίς ἀναβήσεται εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν; τοῦτʼ ἔστιν Χριστὸν καταγαγεῖν· 7 ἤ· τίς καταβήσεται εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον; τοῦτʼ ἔστιν Χριστὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναγαγεῖν. 8 ἀλλὰ τί λέγει; ἐγγύς σου τὸ ῥῆμά ἐστιν ἐν τῷ στόματί σου καὶ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως ὃ κηρύσσομεν. 9 ὅτι ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς ἐν τῷ στόματί σου κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ πιστεύσῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου ὅτι ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν, σωθήσῃ· 10 καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν. 11 λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή· πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται. 12 οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολὴ Ἰουδαίου τε καὶ Ἕλληνος, ὁ γὰρ αὐτὸς κύριος πάντων, πλουτῶν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους αὐτόν· 13 πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται. (Romans 10:5-13 NA28)
The word translated above as “righteousness,” δικαιοσύνην, pronounced dikaiosunē, speaks of a righteousness that is a fulfillment of God’s claims. Those who possess δικαιοσύνην according to God are so in conformity with His own claims. This is a declaration by Him that one is righteous in His eyes, that is, he justifies them. Paul says that this δικαιοσύνην is of faith, ἐκ πίστεως. This speaks of the source. For someone to be declared righteous by God, which is their justification, they must possess this πίστεως, which is a state of faith or belief. It assents to and has confidence in the Gospel. To say that someone can be saved or be declared a Christian without being persuaded by the Gospel is not biblical and, therefore, not Christian. Paul gives us a very good summary of this in Ephesians 2:1-10, below. Pay close attention to vv8-9, which is in bold.
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 NASB)
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 10:8-10, “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 are preaching, 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.” The word translated here as “preaching,” κηρυσσομεν, speaks of making an announcement as a herald. To preach the message of the Gospel is to announce a message of vital importance. That message is conditional. For if you hear it then should confess, ομολογησης with your mouth, εν τω στοματι, Jesus as your Lord, σου οκυριος ιησους and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, και πιστευσης εν τη καρδια σου οτι ο θεος αυτον ηγειρεν εκ νεκρων, shall be saved, σωθηση.
There it is. This is how a person demonstrates what God has done within them by the gift of faith. Those with this faith believe a message from God about Jesus Christ and what He has done and that this cost Him His life, but God raised Him from the dead. Those who believe that this propititiation on their behalf is true, surrender to Christ as their Lord, and confess it with their mouths are saved. The word used here that is translated as “shall be saved” is in the grammatical form that literally states, “you shall be delivered.” This is a statement by Paul to us that if we will believe the Gospel then we shall be delivered, “For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth man confesses unto salvation” and in Romans 10:13, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Yes, the Gospel message is for everyone to hear, but those who are saved are those who hear it and respond to it by calling upon the name of the Lord as Paul shared in vv8-10.
14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “ How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” 16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “ Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14-17 NASB)
It is a false claim to be “missional,” but then not verbally preach the Gospel to the lost. The Gospel is the good news that the evangelist heralds. It is a declaration of victory won at the Cross that there is victory over eternal judgment, death, and separation from God because of sin. That victory is for those who hear the Gospel, believe the Gospel, and profess it to all who will hear. The following note is from the 1560 Geneva Bible referring to v17, which is bold above. It says, “That is, by Gods commandment, of whome they are sent that preache the Gospel. It may be also taken for the very preaching it self.” I updated “some” of the spelling. In any case, do you see that the preaching of the Gospel is commanded by God to the Church and that to mute the message or deemphasize it by attempting to simply get people to join a church by ministering to them via good works is NOT the same thing?
The emphasis on being “missional” is often made in such a way so as to insinuate that all they are really doing is removing the Gospel message from cultural constraints. Okay, I can see that, if that is the case, but I have not been part of a church in a long time that operated the way they insinuate is the problem. I have had a lot more experience with fellow church members who were not evangelical in any of their relationships nor do they ever share their faith with anyone. Also, I could give here many examples of being approached by a coworker or friend about a lost friend or relative, but then panic and not allow me to share the Gospel with them when I had the perfect opportunity to do so. It is perplexing to say the least. What am I describing? These are symptoms of being ashamed of the Gospel. This is what professing Christians do when they are more concerned about the temporal than the eternal. The Gospel and evangelism are not high on their priority list for it is embarrassing and inconvenient. You can sure make some enemies in a hurry if you herald the Good News as we are commanded to do.
Now, if there is resistance to this message with a “yeah but” that states that Justification by Faith, the Gospel message, and Salvation are not the real focus of Christianity, but that it is rather on some form of planetary reclamation project, then I have something to say to those of you who believe that. What you are holding to is not of God, but is a product of man’s fallenness in collusion with our enemy, Satan. Therefore, to those of you who believe Brian McLaren when he says that the doctrines I have shared above are “cosmic child abuse,” you have been deceived and are not in a state of grace. You are not in Christ and unless you repent and believe the Gospel, you will spend eternity separated from God in a place referred to by our Lord as “Outer Darkness” and the “Lake of Fire.”
Soli Deo Gloria!