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The Rev. Jonathan Redfearn: “Our Responsibility in Salvation” (Romans 9-10)

May 26, 2009

Continuing with the series on the Book of Romans being preached at Jesmond Parish Church in the United Kingdom, we have the message Our Responsibility in Salvation by the Rev. Jonathan Redfearn.  He has two major headings in this sermon based on Romans 9-10:

  • God’s righteousness in Christ is the only righteousness that can save, and
  • Israel’s lack of excuse.

This portion of the sermon speaks directly to the fact that we are saved by grace through faith:

In this section Paul contrasts God’s righteousness, a righteousness (or being in the right with God) that’s available only through faith in Christ and one’s own (quotes)‘righteousness’ that’s bound up with the law and with works. In each paragraph he accuses Israel as a whole of missing God’s righteousness in Christ, the only righteousness that can save, because of her preoccupation with works and the law of Moses. Yet an approach to the law informed by right knowledge would have led them to Christ and true righteousness, for the law itself points forward to Christ.

What then shall we say? (9:30) Why are Gentiles now being called sons of the living God (9:26)? Well first (v30) the Gentiles that are have obtained a right standing with God through faith in Christ. Whereas Israel has not. Why not? (v32) Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” They were pursuing a law of righteousness that held out the promise of righteousness (2:13). But they did not obtain it nor could they ever for the law can never bring righteousness (3:20). So they are to be faulted both for what they were pursuing and for the manner in which they were pursuing it – not by faith but as if it were by works. They were so focused on the law that, rather than embracing Jesus Christ the true goal, they have stumbled over him, as prophesied in Isaiah 8:14, and they still do.

Then in 10:1-4 Paul elaborates on this stumbling. He faults them for not having a knowledge of God’s ways and purposes that matches their zeal. They were running strenuously but tragically they weren’t heading towards the true finishing line – which is the righteousness that comes from God (v3). What’s that? It is God’s act of making people right before him in Christ. Most Jews haven’t been willing to accept in faith God’s way of putting people in relationship with himself. They’ve failed to understand that Christ is himself the culmination of the law. They should have understood that all along he has been the goal. The pursuit of the righteousness that is by the law should now be at an end. The old covenant law and all its institutions have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ – with that comes God’s intention to offer righteousness to anyone who believes, both Gentile and Jew.

This is another fine sermon from Jesmond Parish, and if you’d like to hear it, it can be found here.

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