Bible studies resumed this week, looking at Romans 10:1-13.

Paul continues with his heartfelt desire and prayer that the Israelites should be saved. Despite being known as the apostle to the Gentiles and being called to serve God overseas, he still has a heart for his people. He is well aware of their zeal – how could he not, being a prime example of that himself before he came to know Christ?!- but he knows that that zeal is not based on true knowledge (Romans 10:2). This is always a danger for us: zeal (often known as fanatacism these days) is not enough. We need to know the truth (which sets us free) and we need love also, for knowledge on its own is also not enough (1 Cor 8:1).

Zeal based on our own righteousness is a dangerous thing (Rom 10:3-4). When we refuse the righteousness offered us in Christ, preferring our own righteousness, we are in a difficult position. It’s so tempting to think that salvation can be earned, that the cleanness of our hands will bring us God’s favour. And, as Paul reminds us from Deuteronomy 30, in theory simple obedience to the law is all that is required. For sinful men, however, our hearts do not yield to the Lord and we end up unable to earn our own righteousness. We must neither denigrate the work Christ has already done or try to achieve our own salvation; instead we must simply believe and confess Christ as Lord. The gospel really is simple enough for a child to grasp: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13) Yet, as Paul has said in Romans 9, the very simplicity of the gospel cuts at our self-sufficiency and leaves us asking, “Is that it? Is that all I have to do? It’s too good to be true!”

Believing in Christ may sound simple, but it remains true that that simple step of faith leads to a radical reversal and a new submission. Believing in our hearts changes us. There has to be outward, visible change – ‘fruit’, as Jesus put it. How we speak, how we live, how we act will all change as a result of our faith. We will have a new focus, a new way of living, a new life.