Saturday, June 25, 2005

Romans 10:1-13 - What Does it Mean to Say Jesus is Lord?

In Romans chapter 10 Paul says that salvation is dependent on confessing Jesus as Lord. So what does it mean to say that Jesus is Lord?

Romans 10:1-13

1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

Paul begins by saying that his heart's desire is for the salvation of Israel. I think it is fair to say that the rest of the passage is explaining what Israel must do to be saved.

2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.

Zeal for God is not enough for salvation. The Israelites were very zealous.

Exodus 24:3

Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!"

But salvation is in accordance not with zeal but with knowledge. Paul goes on to explain what is the knowledge that saves.

3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

God's righteousness is not found in the Law. If it were then the Israelites would have been experts. But Paul says that they did not know about God's righteousness. Instead they sought to establish their own righteousness through obeying the commandments found in the Law of Moses. The word "subject" brings to mind the relationship between a Master (Lord) and his slave. Instead of subjecting themselves to the righteousness of God, the Israelites subjected themselves to the Law of Moses in order to establish their own righteousness.

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Christ is the end of the Law of Moses for obtaining righteousness and the beginning of God's righteousness which is based on His love and not based on our performance. When we believe that God considers us righteous because of His deep love for us as demonstrated in Christ, then the Law of performing to obtain righteousness ends.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.

If we practice the Law of Moses then we can only be as righteous as our obedience allows us to be.

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),

Righteousness based on faith doesn't ask what must be done.

7 or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)."

There is nothing we must do to make Christ's death and resurrection effective.

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,

The righteousness based on faith accepts that all has already been done on our behalf.

Isaiah 53:5,6

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

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;

When Jesus said in

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

He was speaking to a culture that had been convinced that the way and the truth and the life were to be found by obtaining life through the Law of Moses. The Israelites of Jesus' day considered the Law their master (or Lord).

Hebrews 2:15

and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Galatians 4:25

Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.

Galatians 5:1

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

By confessing that Jesus is Lord the Israelites would be casting off the shackles of the Law of obtaining righteousness and would begin to live in the freedom of the righteousness provided by Christ.

10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Paul is not Peter Pan. Believing doesn't make us righteous. Believing recognizes the righteousness we already have through the work of Christ. As we step forward and confess that Christ is our Lord and not the Law of performance, then we are healed (saved) of our fear of failure and the resulting death.


If we abandon the Law of Moses which was to result in physical blessings for the obedient Israelites, we can rejoice that God will provide for all of our needs in Christ Jesus. We 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;

Riches abound for those who trust in Christ's provision and not the provision of the Law.


By appealing to Christ as our loving provider instead of the Law of Moses we will be saved from slavery to the obedience of the Law and can rest in the providence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Salvation is accepting God's righteousness and abandoning our attempts to establish our own. That is what it means to confess Jesus as Lord.


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