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Romans 10:1-11 - Homilies By R.m. Edgar

Confession of a risen Saviour.

In the previous chapter we saw a Christian patriot lamenting that so many of his fellow-countrymen, through rejecting God's mercy manifested in Christ Jesus, were becoming mere vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. At the same time, he sees in Divine sovereignty, its incidence and its justice, the real clue to the philosophy of history and the progress of the world. In the present chapter he discusses the rejection of Israel and its reasons, and the nature of that acceptance and salvation which the Gentiles received after the Jews had despised them. In the verses now claiming attention we have the apostle leading his readers up to faith in and confession of a risen Saviour.

I. THE MISDIRECTED ZEAL OF THE APOSTLE 'S COUNTRYMEN . ( Romans 10:1-3 .) The apostle's desire and "supplication" (so Revised Version) for the Jews was that they might be saved. But, alas! their misdirected zeal was preventing their salvation. For instead of submitting to the righteousness which is of God, instead of making their way to Christ, who is the End to whom the Law when properly understood leads, they were going about with the one object of establishing their own righteousness. This zeal Paul knew himself experimentally. For years he also had aimed at Law-keeping, and in his self-ignorance he thought that " touching the righteousness which is in the Law" he was "blameless" ( Philippians 3:6 ). But the Law-keeping may be in the letter and not in the spirit. The spirit of the Law is love; yet Paul and the Pharisees tithed mint and anise and cummin, while they lived lives of hate, and hesitated not to persecute Christ-like people even to the death. To keep self-righteousness before the soul as the end of life is simply misdirected zeal. It keeps us away from Christ and all the bliss which his fellowship implies. And so a day came when Paul saw that his roundabout way, going about to establish his own righteousness, was a delusion, a snare, a loss, and not a gain, for it kept him long years from Christ. Let us be clear that we are not under a similar delusion. Let us give up self-righteousness and take God's better way.

II. A RISEN SAVIOUR IS THE END OF THE LAW AND OBJECT OF FAITH . ( Romans 10:4 .) Now, the moment we are led to take a spiritual view of God's Law, to see that it demands perfect motive as well as decent outward morality, we see that we cannot keep it in its length and breadth; and therefore, instead of living by Law-keeping, we are condemned by the Law as its transgressors. Self-righteousness is seen to be self-deception. Condemnation is seen to be our natural state. Then is it that Christ and his perfect righteousness dawn upon our condemned and polluted souls. We see that he has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and so the Law serves its purpose when it lays us down at the feet of Christ, to be justified by faith. Instead of trusting our own righteousness, we see in our risen Saviour the true Object of faith and Source of righteousness. We pass out of shame into confidence in his finished work. £

III. THIS RISEN SAVIOUR IS EASILY FOUND . ( Romans 10:6-9 .) The idea of the human heart is that by some prodigious effort salvation must be secured. Abana and Pharpar are further off, as well as likelier rivers, than this brawling Jordan hard by, and so Naaman cries out, "May I not wash in them, and be clean?" Only ask us to do some great thing in order to salvation, and our self-righteousness will be secured, and we shall be satisfied (cf. 2 Kings 5:12 , 2 Kings 5:13 ). A far-off salvation suits man's taste the best. Set it in heaven, and he will rack his brains for some ingenious device by which he will fly away and be at rest. Set it beyond the sea, and boats will be built and the voyage undertaken with alacrity (cf. Deuteronomy 30:11-13 ). Make salvation to consist in a bringing of Christ down from above, and men like Titans will try to scale Olympus. Make salvation to consist in a descent to the lower world to bring Christ up from the dead, and many will try a journey like Orpheus after the lost Eurydice, to bring the Saviour from the shadows. But we have got to see that the risen Saviour is not so far away or so hard to find as this. As Charles Kingsley once wrote to a lady, "My object has been and is, and I trust in God ever will be, to make people see that they need not, as St. Paul says, go up into heaven, or go down to the deep, to find Christ; because he, the Word whom we preach, is very near them, in their hearts and on their lips, if they would but believe it; and ready, not to set them afloat on new and untried oceans of schemes and projects, but ready to inspire them to do their duty humbly and simply where he has put them—and, believe me, the only way to regenerate the world is to do the duty which lies nearest us, and not to hunt after grand, far-fetched ones for ourselves." £ In the Word of the gospel the risen Saviour comes near to every one of us. We do not require any prodigious effort to reach him. We have simply to open the eye of faith, and there he is.

IV. THE RISEN SAVIOUR MUST BE CONFESSED WHEN FOUND . ( Romans 10:10 , Romans 10:11 .) Faith in a risen Saviour who is waiting to be found of us must prove its genuineness by the confession of his Name. It is when we take the Lord's side deliberately that we have tested the reality of our faith. There is a cowardly tendency to believe, but not confess; to get the benefits of salvation without running a single risk for our Saviour. But such a selfish, easy-going faith is mere delusion. Whoever really believes in Jesus will not be ashamed to confess him. And consequently we are encouraged first to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and then to confess him as our risen Saviour before men. There is undoubtedly a disposition to separate salvation from confession of Christ. It is thought to be wise and prudent to accept of the benefits Christ can offer, and at the same time to be silent about them. "Secret discipleship" is thought to be a masterpiece of wisdom. Everything is thus gained, and nothing risked or lost. But is everything gained? Is nothing risked or lost? Is the secret disciple ever likely to become a man of nobility and courage? Does he secure even self-respect? Must he not feel very much as a debtor who is always trying to shirk his obligations and ignore the debt? Or take the matter in the concrete. Was Nicodemus noble as he visited Jesus by night, and kept his discipleship a secret from the Sanhedrin? Was Joseph of Arimathaea noble as he gave his heart to the despised Saviour, but continued afraid to confess him? Neither man became noble until the Crucifixion brought decision, and they vied with each other what respect they could show to the remains of their great Master. Or would Saul of Tarsus have ever become the noble apostle of the Gentiles if he had sneaked into Damascus after his conversion, and resolved to risk nothing for his new-found Saviour? The manly character which Saul cultivated by confessing Christ was an infinite gain. It thus appears that confession of Christ is the wise test of the reality of our faith in him. May we all stand the test, and not be ashamed of him!—R.M.E.

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