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TEXT: Romans 10:1-13
SUBJECT: Two Ways
Here's something you didn't expect me to say: There are two ways of salvation. By 'two ways of salvation', I don't mean 'two sources of salvation'. For the only wise God is our Savior, Jude says, and in saying it, he is but echoing the uniform witness of the prophets who said things like-
Salvation belongs to the Lord
Salvation is of the Lord.
There is one source of salvation-and only one: The God of Abraham Isaac, and Jacob, who is also The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To this first clarification, let me now add a second: By 'two ways of salvation' I don't mean two different kinds of salvation. Certainly the Bible speaks of more than one kind of salvation. When it says the judges 'saved' Israel, for example, it doesn't mean they 'forgave their sins, reconciled them to God' and so on; it just means Gideon or Samson or somebody 'saved them from the Midianites, the Edomites, or some other earthly oppressor. But I'm using the word, 'salvation' in the fuller sense. There are two ways of obtaining Eternal Life, or-if you prefer--of 'making it to Heaven'.
THE TWO WAYS
Paul tells us what the two ways are, here in the first paragraph of Romans 10. In v.5, referring the Law, he says-
The man who does those things shall live by them.
The words are taken from Leviticus 18:5, and being an Apostle, Paul interprets them in the right way. Unlike heretics, who twist the Scripture, Paul kept it straight, gave it the exact meaning God put into it in the first place.
Personally, I'd explain the passage very differently than he did, showing how the 'life' promised by obedience was nothing more than 'life in the land which the Lord gave Israel'. That's how I would take it. But Paul didn't! The 'life' promised from obedience to God's Law has to be the same as the 'life' promised from faith in Christ. It has to be-or his whole arguments falls to pieces. The Apostles makes it plain: You can obtain salvation, or what he calls righteousness, by obeying the Law.
Or, he says down in vv.6-11, that you can be saved (or declared righteous) by believing the word of faith Paul preached, which is another way of saying, by putting your trust in Christ-Jesus crucified and risen for your salvation.
This is the other way of salvation, the other way of being declared righteous now and on the Day you stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Many people feel quite uncomfortable with either position, because each appears so extreme. Why take the either/or position, when you can have it both ways? The reason we have to take one or the other-and not combine them-is because Paul, in the next chapter, says, the moment you mix them together, you get neither one! 11:6-
And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is by works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
You can sit on the stool at the right or on the stool at the left, but you can't sit on stool in the middle, because it's not there! This is what Paul is saying: as long as you rely on your works, you're not relying on Christ; and, as long as you rely on Christ, you're not relying on your works. To rely on both is to rely on neither!
Which of these options-faith or works-is better? Let's start with works.
Paul believed in being a decent human being as much as we do. But this is not at all what he means by righteousness here. When I say my Hindu neighbor is a good woman, I mean she's respectful, hard-working, responsible, friendly, quiet, thoughtful, and so on. My Hindu neighbor is all the above and more: she's also wonderfully brave , patient, and cheerful, under very hard circumstances. I have the highest respect for her character, and I thank God she lives next door to me. Her righteousness, though, is what theologians have called civil righteousness, a horizontal goodness, extended only to other people-but not to God.
The righteousness Paul has in mind is both horizontal and vertical; it rules not only how you treat other people, but how you treat God. It's a matter of keeping both tables of the Law-not killing your neighbor or committing adultery with her, not even coveting what he has.
.And also Having no other gods before God and, the other distinctly religious duties. This is the righteousness Paul has in mind, the kind that is summed up in the words of Christ-
You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
This is the righteousness the Law demands. And, note carefully, Paul says that, to be righteous ourselves, we have to the meet the demands –
The man who does those things shall live by them.
Notice: not some of them, or most of them, or some of them most of the time or most of them some of the time, but every last one of them-every day and in every detail.
Perfect obedience to the Law of God will make you righteous, will make you acceptable to God, it will win you a place in Heaven! God has never told a lie and He cannot pervert His justice! If you are righteous (in this way), He will declare you righteous; He will justify you, He will vindicate you for sure.
THE PROBLEM OF WORKS
So, are you fully obedient to God's Law? I hope every one of our lives is characterized by obedience; that we are saints in deed and not just in word. But.
I'm not asking you if you're a basically obedient person, but are you fully obedient? Have you obeyed all of God's commands, all of your life, and with all your heart?
If you haven't, the Law has only one word for you, and it's none too pleasant, Galatians 3:10-
Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the words of this law, to do them.
I don't know which word in this appalling verse scares me the most: cursed brings to mind the sinner hung on a tree under the wrath of man and God alike.
Continue means 'a good day now and then' just won't do! We must be always obedient, have no bad days, no backsliding, no coldness, no nothing but what Christ had! Perfect holiness.
All reminds us that the Law is like a chain; if one link is broken, it holds nothing. Can even the worse Pharisee say he's never broken one single commandment one single time?
Everyone clinches the deal. The curse of the Law falls on everyone who breaks it: Jew, Gentile, master, slave, male, female, young, old. Publican, Pharisee, Apostle, it makes no difference: the Law, like God Himself, is-
No respecter of persons.
The fact is: Everyone is a sinner by choice, and the reason every one of us makes the same choice is because of Original Sin, as the schoolboys used to recite-
In Adam's fall, we sinned all.
We're not only sinful because we sin, but we sin because we're sinful, born sinful, inescapably sinful. Thus, salvation by works is a dead end for sinners. It justified Christ, but it cannot justify anyone else.
From this terrible plight, three things come to mind:
Firstly, quit looking down on other people! Maybe you're a faithful husband while that guy is a womanizer. In terms of civil righteousness, the faithful husband is better than the womanizer, but, standing before the penetrating Law of God, even the most faithful and loving husband is.what? He is cursed! Not because he's cheated on his wife, but because he has never, once in his life, loved God or his neighbor as he should have! This is what Paul is getting at in Romans 3, where he says-
Now, whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.
Secondly, quit thinking so highly of yourself; give up the notion that, somehow or other, God will accept you as you are. That He will take a less-than-perfect righteousness as 'Good enough'. It isn't good enough! If God accepted the best man into Heaven on his own merits, He'd have to apologize to Judas Iscariot 'who had his good points, too!'
Thirdly, stop thinking you're too bad for God. If you had to save yourself, had to present your own righteousness to God, no one would be good enough except Christ. Paul was once a persecutor; Moses had a bad temper; Aaron made an idol; Peter denied the Lord; John slept with Jesus needed him most-
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
.from which it follows-
For by the law shall no flesh be justified, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin!
The knowledge of sin is good in itself, but it's not good enough: we need more than knowing we've sinned! We need something, or rather, Someone, to take our sins away!
This brings us to the other way of salvation.
SALVATION BY FAITH
...Which is salvation by faith, not that faith itself saves us, but it is faith in Christ that saves us! Because faith passively receives Jesus, and all He has done for us.
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