After writing about God’s work of predestination, Paul, still referring to Jews who were not predestined, shares his desire that they be saved. They have a zeal for God, but their zeal is without understanding. They are trying to establish their own righteousness instead of resting in God’s righteousness—something many religious people in every context do and is blasphemy religious people encourage.
Paul calls Christ the end of the Law, not that the Law is abolished but that its purpose is Christ—Christ is the end, the Law is the means. He provides the righteousness of God to everyone who believes. Paul has already told us who believes—those God foreknows, have been predestined, called, justified, and glorified by God’s monergistic work (8:28-30). Paul, again, appeals to the Old Testament text. Moses wrote that a person who kept the Law would live. It is a statement strung throughout the Old Testament (Lev 18:5; Neh 9:29). No one could keep the whole degree of the Law (cf Ezek 20:11, 13, 21; Rom 7:10). So, without another way, all people are damned because they could not perfectly be righteous. The Old Testament also testifies that there is a righteousness based on faith, instructing people not to work for it; instead, know that the word is in your mouth and heart (Deut 30).
Paul presents a gospel invitation to the unincorporated gentiles in Rome. There is a promise. 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. To confess is to profess (fess) with (con). It is to agree that Christ is Lord. This means that Christ is already Lord. We don’t make Him Lord, but we agree that He is Lord. We also believe in the finished work of Christ alone, which was accomplished at the cross and in His resurrection. Postmillennial teaching, then, that Christ is already reigning in His kingdom and that the work of justification and judgment is entirely complete and that Christ is already victorious over the world and Satan is the basic Gospel message—good news!
Paul also teaches that one believes with the heart. His belief results in righteousness. Confession with the mouth results in salvation. Whoever believes in Christ will not be disappointed. This pericope gives us insight into how God’s election is worked out in God’s predestined people. He predestines us to be conformed to Christ’s image. He calls, justifies, and glorifies. These are inseparable works. Something about us becomes willing to believe and confess—which are the acts resulting in righteousness and salvation. There is a heart change that occurs, driven by the Holy Spirit, that causes us to desire God. Then, we experience conversion—our willing surrender to Christ. Everyone who believes and confesses is saved. There is no such thing as a person who wants Christ but hasn’t been predestined; such is an illogical sequence since our wills are opposed to God’s from the beginning. We have to be changed first, born again before we can even see the kingdom of heaven or confess (cf John 3).
The fact that confession and belief result in salvation and righteousness means evangelism is of the utmost importance. I don’t understand those “Calvinists” who disregard evangelism as unimportant. If evangelism were truly unimportant considering predestination, Paul would not write Romans. We also need to understand what evangelism is. Paul is teaching from the Old Testament about the doctrines of the faith. He is not simply saying, “Hey. God loves you. You are a sinner. He wants to forgive you and give you a place in heaven.” Instead, Paul is obeying Christ’s instruction in Matthew 28:18-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” To make disciples is not merely to invite others to church or tell them you want to see them in Heaven or want them to avoid Hell. To make disciples is to teach about everything that Christ commanded. This is what leads to conversion, not some weak invitation but exposition. This is why, historically, firm Calvinists have been stronger evangelists than most others. Unfortunately, it is why most evangelism in our time is ineffective—though it builds corporations and conventions, it fails to build up the kingdom of God in a lasting way because it leads people to quarrel over silly things like the style of church music. Everything begins with what we believe and teach about God.
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