Good News for Everyone

There are good reasons to read Romans chapter ten. For one thing it conveys the world’s most important message in terms so clear that any person can understand. The chapter also magnifies God’s grace, demonstrating that salvation  is not a matter of doing, but believing. It shows God’s loving concern for all people everywhere. Romans ten is saturated with quotations from the Old Testament, emphasizing its continuing relevance and authority.

What is the world’s most important message? It is the good news that through faith in Jesus Christ, people everywhere may be given the gift of righteousness (v.4). It is the good news that Christ and his righteousness are accessible, not remote and distant. In verses 7-8 Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30 to show that what Moses said about his teaching and the law, is now true of Christ and his gospel.

Romans ten shows us that it is possible to have misdirected zeal. The people of Israel in Paul’s day were pursuing righteousness the wrong way. They were trying to produce righteousness by religious works instead of by faith. In Verses 4-5 Paul contrasts works righteousness and faith righteousness to explain that it is not a matter of doing, but believing.

What is it that is to be believed? It is the truth that “Jesus is Lord” (v.9). This profound declaration was perhaps the earliest Christian creed. It was the confession that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was the “Lord,” or Yahweh revealed in the Old Testament. This is the Christian belief that God is revealing himself in Jesus Christ.

It is also necessary to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. Christ came to earth, died on the cross, was raised from the dead by the power of God, and is now accessible to all who will have faith in him. Paul writes, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:10). To be “justified” is to be declared righteous before God.

This righteous standing is given as a gift of grace to those who trust in Christ and call on him for salvation. Paul quotes the Old Testament again (Joel 2:32) when he writes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). To “call” is to appeal, or to ask. It honors God when we ask for what he has promised to give. It dishonors him when we doubt his promise or try do do for ourselves what only he can do (Romans 10:3).

Romans ten shows God’s loving concern for all people everywhere. “There is no difference” Paul says (v.12). There is no favoritism with God. Racial and cultural distinctions are real, but when it comes to salvation, they do not matter. God wants his gospel to spread all over the world and Paul quotes Psalm 19 to illustrate this fact (v.18).

God has raised up messengers who will spread the good news to the nations of the world. Evangelists, missionaries, witnesses, ambassadors are commissioned to proclaim the gospel as heralds of salvation. Christ sends them, they preach, people hear and believe the message, and they call on the Lord for salvation. According to the Bible, those who call are saved.

This missionary impulse is what is behind Paul’s impassioned prayer for his own people in verse 1: “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” Paul quotes the prophetic vision (Isaiah 65:1-2) that underlies the desire to spread the message. Referring to the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, Paul describes the compassionate God as a rejected parent holding out his hands to rebellious children, inviting them to come home (vv. 20-21).

Here, then, are some good reasons to read and meditate on Romans ten: the clarity of the gospel, the beauty of grace, the accessibility of Christ, God’s loving concern for all people, and the continuing authority of both the Old and New Testament scriptures.

Pastor Randy Faulkner



In my fifty year pastoral ministry I have had occasion to be with folks who lacked certainty about their relationship to God. Some of them were troubled emotionally about this and yearned for inner peace and assurance. Others lived in blithe indifference, happily unconcerned about their need for Christ, and unaware of their spiritual peril. They seemed to believe that certainty of eternal life was not even possible.

For those who really care to know, the book of Romans, chapter eight promises eternal security. It affirms the unshakable promise of God that those who belong to him through faith in Christ are given the hope (assurance) of glory. In this chapter, Paul, “the apostle soars to sublime heights unequalled elsewhere in the New Testament,” wrote John Stott. He said, “Romans 8 is without doubt one of the best-known, best-loved chapters of the Bible.”

It is not hard to understand why this is true. The inspired words of Romans eight promise the certainty of deliverance from eternal condemnation, the certainty of the resurrection of the dead, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, and the Spirit’s witness that they are God’s children.

Further, the eighth chapter of Romans describes how God works to achieve his good purposes in the lives of his children, even (especially) when they encounter hardship and suffering. It declares the certainty of God’s love and his eternal purpose in calling his own people to himself.

This chapter stands in shining contrast to the doubts, introspection, and discouragement that colored Paul’s mood in chapter seven. It provides a ringing answer to the plaintive, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24). Romans seven is about the work of the law in imposing death. Romans eight is about the power of the Holy Spirit in giving life through the gospel.

The chapter opens with the declaration that there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The word “condemnation” is derived from the courts of law. It is a metaphor Paul uses to teach about the believer’s judicial (legal) acceptance before a holy God. It is different from the tone of self-condemnation in chapter seven. The words “no condemnation” reiterate the doctrine of justification which has been Paul’s theme in the opening chapters of Romans. It means the believer is declared “not guilty” on the basis of faith in Christ.

Romans eight also tells about the Spirit’s role in helping believers live life as God intended. The Old Testament law was powerless to make us right with God or to give us the ability to live righteous lives. God did what the law could not do through his Son’s sacrifice on the cross and through the indwelling Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Right living is now possible through Spirit-enabled obedience to God’s will. The requirements of the moral law are thus fulfilled as we live under the guidance of the Spirit (Romans 8:4).

In this chapter the Holy Spirit is mentioned nineteen times. The Spirit supports the testimony of our human spirit that we believers are indeed God’s children (Romans 8:14-16). The Spirit helps us to pray as we ought to pray, even when we do not know how to frame our prayers (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit enables us to call on God as a loving and compassionate Father (“Abba,” v. 15). The Holy Spirit is said to be the firstfruits of our future inheritance (Romans 8:23).

Paul does not sidestep the reality of suffering in this present life. There is no escapism in his description of living on earth. Yes, believers are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, but that does not mean that life will be free of trouble. In fact, Paul says that it is precisely because we are in Christ that we “share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17). 

Suffering is common to all humanity. All of creation groans in anticipation of its renewal. Like Jesus (Matthew 19:28), Peter (Acts 3:19,21), and John (Revelation 21, 22), the apostle Paul foresaw the liberation and restoration of the whole of creation. This, he says, will happen in conjunction with the future glorification of all of God’s children. For now, we who believe are to live in anticipation of the resurrection and the completion of our redemption (Romans 8:18-25).

As we live in this in-between time, we are given the rich assurance that God is for us and no power in the universe can stand against us. In a beautiful and powerful series of rhetorical questions Paul answers uncertainty with certainty, doubt with assurance, and fear, with a bold statement of the believer’s eternal security in Christ (Romans 8:28-39). In the words of Zane Hodges, we are given here “a superbly elegant paean of praise to the permanence of God’s love in Christ.”

Read these verses aloud to yourself and let them feed your certainty of God’s good purpose for you.

Pastor Randy Faulkner


Abraham’s Faith, and Ours

The preacher was sincere and well-intentioned. He was passionate in his presentation. He fervently appealed to his congregation to fully surrender themselves to God, to renounce the world and its attractions, and to be willing to pay the price and count the cost of what it means to follow Jesus.

As I listened, I could not help but wonder whether he was calling the congregation to salvation or to discipleship. He seemed to blend the two themes together in a mishmash of duty, good works, obedience and faithfulness to Christ. It almost seemed he believed in salvation by works.

I sat there wondering: “If my obedience to Christ and good works are essential to salvation, how could I ever be sure that I am saved? How could I know if I had done enough? What good works could ever help me achieve eternal life? How could I know if I am as fully surrendered to the Lord as the preacher wants me to be?”

Then I remembered Abraham. He was the great patriarch of the Hebrew nation, He was, by any standard, an example of good works and faithfulness to God. He left his home in Chaldea in response to God’s call.  He worshipped God among the idol-worshipping Canaanites. He submitted to the rite of circumcision as a sign of his covenant faithfulness to God. He was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac in obedience to God’s command.

But Abraham was not justified by his good works. In his letter to the Romans, Paul used the ancient story of Abraham as an illustration of the fact that people are justified by faith alone. He quoted Genesis 15:6 to emphasize that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

“Credited” is a word taken from the business world. It is a financial term which could be used to refer to wages that are earned, or to a gift that is applied to an account freely, without a cost. Paul used the word to teach that justification before God is a gift of grace, not an earned wage. This leaves no room for boasting (v. 2).

Thus, Abraham is a pattern of faith for all of us. He believed God. That is what faith is. In the Greek language of the New Testament, the words translated “faith” and “belief” are the same word. They both mean the same thing: to take people at their word, to have confidence in the reliability of a person, an idea or a thing, to trust, to accept as true. Abraham was declared righteous because of his faith in God and his trustworthy word.

This means that everyone who, like Abraham, believes the promise of the gospel, is pronounced righteous because of the death of Christ and his resurrection. We are told in some of Paul’s other writings that Jesus was made sin for us “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus has “become for us . . . our righteousness” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Those who believe the gospel are said to be given “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9).

Abraham was declared righteous by faith alone. His faith was in the power and character of God, not in his own works. In the same way,  we who trust in Jesus for salvation are saved by faith, not our attempts at doing good. I am aware every day that my assurance of salvation cannot be based upon the fervency of my faith, or on the depth of my surrender, or on the extent of my obedience. All of these are faulty, and weak.

I am encouraged by what I read in Romans 4. “However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Salvation is either a reward for works or a gift through grace; it cannot be both. Abraham’s life is a testimony to us that people are justified by faith, not by works.

Good works and faithfulness to God are evidence of our faith to other people (James 2:14-26). The preacher’s exhortations to self-denial and faithfulness were appropriate if they were a call to obedient discipleship. The Bible teaches that there will be rewards for believers who serve Christ in this life. But if the call to obedient service is mistaken as a condition for receiving salvation, the result is confusion.

Romans 4 and the story of Abraham are in the Bible for me, and for you. We are to trust the same God who was faithful to keep his promise to Abraham. “The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:23-25).

Warren Wiersbe summarized the message of Romans 4 very well. Justification is by faith, not works. It is by grace, not law. And justification is by resurrection power, not human effort.

Pastor Randy Faulkner


Four Reasons to Read Romans

I enjoy my early morning quiet time with the Lord with my first cup of coffee. Lately my Bible readings have been from the book of Romans. This has reminded me of the book’s importance. Here are four reasons why it is good to read Romans.

1. It is a comprehensive summary of the gospel. The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman believers to help them become grounded in their faith in the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ. Paul said that his entire life was dedicated to the ministry of the gospel, which, he said, originated with God himself. It was centered in Jesus Christ, who died for sinners and was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is through belief in the gospel that people are delivered from the power of sin and made right with God, according to Romans. That is very good news.

2. The gospel saves. Romans 1:16 says that the gospel is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” The book of Romans develops this theme in the magnificent doctrine of justification. This tells us how sinners can have their guilt removed and be declared righteous before a holy God entirely by grace. No wonder John Newton called it amazing grace!

To illustrate, the gospel message in Romans changed the lives of some well-known people. Augustine famously told the story of his conversion to Christian faith in his Confessions. Influenced by the teaching of Ambrose, the prayers of his mother Monica, and a child’s voice saying, “pick up and read,” he was convicted by a reading of Romans 13:13-14, which led him to Christ.

Martin Luther was studying the Greek text of Romans 1:17 which gave him the understanding that he could be justified before God by faith alone, apart from good works. Over 200 years later, John Wesley was given assurance of his own salvation in a Christian meeting in which someone was reading aloud from Luther’s commentary on the book of Romans. Wesley later wrote in his journal, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt that I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins.”

3. The gospel is for everyone. It is equally applicable and effective in all nations, languages and cultures. It is not exclusively for one race over another. “There is no difference,” Paul wrote. All are sinners, and all need Christ to save them, whatever their cultural background. When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, he knew it would be read by Jews as well as Gentiles, by cultured Greeks as well as by those who were considered barbarians, by free people and by slaves. The gospel is for all people.

4. The gospel is relevant to contemporary life. In the preface to his commentary on Romans, John Stott observed, “how many contemporary issues are touched on by Paul in Romans: enthusiasm for evangelism in general and the propriety of Jewish evangelism in particular; whether homosexual relationships are ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’; whether we can still believe in such unfashionable concepts as God’s ‘wrath’ and ‘propitiation’; the historicity of Adam’s fall and the origin of human death; what are the fundamental means of living a holy life; the place of law and of the Spirit in Christian discipleship; the distinction between assurance and presumption; the relation between divine sovereignty and human responsibility in salvation; the tension between ethnic identity and the solidarity of the body of Christ; relations between church and state; the respective duties of the individual citizen and the body politic; and how to handle differences of opinion within the Christian community. And this list is only a sample of the modern questions which, directly or indirectly, Romans raises and addresses.”

So, for these reasons, it is good for us to do what Augustine did back in the fourth century: to pick up the book of Romans and read it. It could change our lives!

Pastor Randy Faulkner