Yahweh Our Righteousness Jeremiah 23, Romans 3, Romans 10 December 16, 2012 First Baptist Church Jackson, Mississippi, USA Reference material: LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBCThe names of God often reveal His character and nature. In Gods dealings with us as human beings He often revealed an aspect of Himself that we could relate to in our everyday lives. For instance he saw how troubling and anxious our lives would often seem to us so he let us know that he is Jehovah - Shalom, the Lord our Peace. He wants us to understand His names so we will understand Him! Review: December 2 Yahweh Our God Exodus 6 & 15 December 9 Yahweh Our Father Psalm 103 Today: Yahweh Our Righteousness Jeremiah 23:5-6 Romans 3:21-26 Romans 10:1-4, 9-10 December 23 DR. BILL ASHFORD The Real Christmas December 30 No Sunday School One Worship Service at 10:30 am
Focal Passages: God Promises Righteousness Jeremiah 23:5-6 Jesus Reveals Righteousness Romans 3:21-26 We Receive Righteousness from Christ Alone Romans 10:1-4,9-10This Lesson Is About: Everything the sovereign and powerful God does is right. He is righteousness, and He is the source of righteousness.How This Lesson Can Impact Our Lives: This lesson can help us understand that who we are in Christ is based on Who Christ is. We rarely use, hear, or read the words righteous or righteousness. Sometimes, someone may describe another person as self-righteous. Someone may comment that an individual responded to a situation in righteous indignation. In describing another person’s sterling character, many of us often use the term good; seldom do we say they are righteous. To call someone righteous in today’s culture well may be a somewhat sarcastic allusion to the person’s outmoded religious beliefs and strict practices. The word righteousness seems to be reserved for the pulpit and the Sunday School setting. When was the last time you heard the words righteous or righteousness used outside of a church context.
A definition of righteous would be: the characteristic of having justness, the virtue or quality of being and doing what is morally right. Some of the synonyms of righteous help us more: blameless, guiltless, holy, innocent, sinless. Keep these definitions in mind as we focus on God’s righteousness—and the righteousness He demands from His people. We tend to set our own standards for what is right. Our standards usually allow us to justify or rationalize the way we already are living. Only One objective standard exists, however, and our own measure of righteousness falls far short of it (Him). This lesson is important because it helps adults discover God’s standard of righteousness, a standard seen in Christ.Focal Passages: God Promises Righteousness Jeremiah 23:5-6 Jesus Reveals Righteousness Romans 3:21-26 We Receive Righteousness from Christ Alone Romans 10:1-4,9-10
God Promises RighteousnessJeremiah 23:5-6 HCSB5 “The days are coming ”—this is the Lord’s declaration — “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch of David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land.6 In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is what He will be named: Yahweh Our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:5-6 HCSB When God revealed Himself as "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 23:5-6) the people were anything but sinless and guiltless. In fact, they were in the process of being hauled off into exile and captivity for their constant and longstanding sin, idolatry, and unfaithfulness to the Lord. They had been warned over and over through the prophets God had sent to them but their hearts were hard. Finally the judgment fell though God did it with the greatest reluctance. In the midst of that devastation, the Lord comforted them by revealing Himself to them in a new way that would carry them through the tough times ahead. God never gloats over our sin; He always grieves. And if we are suffering the consequences of our own sin, He always has a plan to bring us back to where His blessings can again flow in our lives.
The promise of the Lord for the people of Israel was that He was going to send a Messiah, One Who would sit on the throne of David again and provide a permanent sin solution. King Davids reign and the glory years of the Jews were now a distant memory; the Messiahs rule and reign would be forever. Some 600 years later this prophecy was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. How exactly is the Lord our righteousness? Since every one of us except Jesus has sinned, we have no right to stand before God and say; "Here I am Lord, right, just, sinless and blameless. Im innocent God." But Jesus can stand before the Father and say all those things. So by carrying our sins on the cross, He is letting us ride on His righteousness. He can say to the Father; "Ive got Barbara covered. Dont look at her sin because I paid for it and I want You to see her as blameless." The Father accepts Jesus righteousness as if it were ours. Do you start to see how exciting it is to be able to call the Lord, JEHOVAH- TSIDKENU? To some this concept is a stumbling block because it seems too good to be true. Yes, it is simple - simple enough for anyone to understand, but it is not too good to be true. It is true! Well, you say, whats the catch? The catch is that you have to accept it. It is not forced on anyone. We all continue to have a free will and God desires that our relationship with Him is given freely from our heart with love. Jeremiah prophesied during the decline and fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His ministry extended from about 627/26 B.C. to sometime after Jerusalem’s fall in 587/86 B.C. He was highly unpopular and faced persistent opposition and pressure because of his message: Judah’s only hope was to surrender to the Babylonians.
Because of this consistent counsel, Jeremiah’s people viewed him as a traitor. In Jeremiah 23:1-4, God denounced Judah’s rulers including kings and civil leaders under them. These leaders failed to care for and provide for the people of Judah as good shepherds tending their flocks. The leaders consistently destroyed and scattered (mistreated, neglected) God’s people. Because the leaders had not “attended to” the people, God would “attend to” the leaders (v. 2). After a period of exile, God would gather the remnant of His people and return them to Judah. He also would set in place leaders who would rule properly. The Lord’s declaration was that at a future time He would raise up an ideal King. The days are coming pointed to a time after the exile and the restoration foretold in verse 3. It also emphasized the newness and importance of the following proclamation. In contrast to present conditions, God provided hope. This is the Lord’s declaration has the force of strong affirmation. The certainty of God’s promised fulfillment rested on His power and faithfulness.
He would raise up a Righteous Branch of David. The Hebrew term rendered Righteous means just in character, conduct, and rule. Branch comes from a Hebrew term that means “to grow,” “to sprout.” The noun means “shoot,” picturing a green sprig growing from a stump. God would provide the ideal King, the Messiah, a descendant of David’s. Behind this prophecy stood God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:11b-16. The Lord did not permit David to build the temple, but promised to establish his family line and throne forever through a descendant. As the Jews suffered oppression under various occupational forces, this promise was viewed as God’s sending the Messiah, Who would deliver them. In sharp contrast to the inept and corrupt leaders of Jeremiah’s time, the promised King would reign wisely … and administer justice and righteousness. His reigning wisely referred to His having the insight, authority, and power to accomplish His purposes. His reign would prosper. His decisions would be fair (proper, fitting) and right (righteous). That is, He would fulfill completely the covenant responsibilities. In the land likely indicates the promised land to which the remnant of God’s people would return (see v. 3).
Judah and Israel refer to the descendants of the united kingdom under David’s rule. God would bless the people of Judah with salvation— freedom to live in abundance. Israel’s descendants would enjoy security and quietness. Together in the promised land, both groups would receive both benefits. Jeremiah likely employed a play on words in giving the name of the Messiah, the ideal King God would raise up. Jeremiah prophesied during the reign of Zedekiah, Judah’s last king. The name Zedekiah means “the Lord is righteous.” The Righteous Branch of David would be named Yahweh Our Righteousness. That is, when the Messiah came, all people would acknowledge that from God alone rises righteousness. Here the term righteousness carries the idea of salvation, deliverance. Messiah would be the grounds for God’s accepting people, the One through Whom God would delegate personal righteousness. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, Paul referred to Christ as believers’ “righteousness.”1 Corinthians 1:29-3129 “so that no one can boast in His presence. 30 But it is from Him that you are inChrist Jesus, Who became God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness,sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: The one who boastsmust boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:29-31
He is the Righteous Branch, the Messiah Who brought God’s righteousness to people who would place their faith in Him. Our celebration of Christmas is in a few days. The joyous message of Christmas is that God fulfilled His promise in Jeremiah 23:5-6 by sending Jesus to earth. God’s words through Jeremiah remind us He values justice and righteousness. As His people, we also are to value these qualities. We should demonstrate justice and righteousness in the lives we lead.Focal Passages: God Promises Righteousness Jeremiah 23:5-6 Jesus Reveals Righteousness Romans 3:21-26 We Receive Righteousness from Christ Alone Romans 10:1-4,9-10Romans 3:21-2621 “But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested bythe Law and the Prophets 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ,to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short ofthe glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption thatis in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, todemonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sinspreviously committed. 26 God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at thepresent time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who hasfaith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 The Letter to the Romans is Paul’s most thorough and orderly presentation of his theology. He had not been to Rome but planned to travel through the city on his way to take the Gospel to Spain. He wanted to visit the believers in Rome, in part to enlist their help in financing his mission to Spain. Paul wrote Romans to introduce himself to the church and to present the Gospel he preached. Following the letter’s introduction in 1:1-15, he stressed his pride in the Gospel because “in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith” (v. 17). In 1:18–3:20, Paul painted a dark picture of people’s plight: All were sinners, powerless to free themselves from sin’s death grip.
The Gentiles rejected the revelation of God they received and turned to immorality and idolatry. Jews depended on works of the law for righteousness, but they failed to keep the law. The law identified sin but had no power to redeem sinners; thus, law-keeping could not make people right with God. With but now, Paul introduced the good news of God’s making redemption available in Christ. He contrasted futile dependence on the law for righteousness, and faith in Christ for relationship with God. People could not free themselves from enslavement to sin, but God provided liberation through grace. Apart from the law, God revealed His righteousness The law was powerless to remove the sin barrier separating people from God, but He made known the way to right relationship with Him. God’s righteousness is His being right in saving people by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He is right, and He makes people right by grace.
Paul’s critics charged that God would be unfair to grant righteousness on the basis of faith alone, without meritorious works. [See Galatians.] Paul countered that God is just when He does so. The apostle pointed out that the Law and the Prophets—the Hebrew Scriptures —were still bearing witness concerning God’s being right or just in how He chose to provide righteousness.
God’s righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe. The words faith and believe come from the Greek term that means “to be convinced,” “to trust,” “to place confidence in.” It carries the senses of obedience and commitment. To place faith in Christ is to entrust life to Him, to commit to follow Him. The proper name Jesus Christ identified Jesus as Savior and Messiah. Paul stressed that all people who trusted Christ for salvation, who committed themselves to Him, were made right with God. There is no distinction referred to Jews and Gentiles—all were sinners in need of redemption; all could be set right with God through faith in Christ. If you want a right relationship with God, a new standing of grace, you must place faith in Christ, trust Him for salvation in total commitment to Him. Paul emphasized that all had sinned, falling short of God’s glory. Sinned conveys “to miss the mark” thus “to err,” “to be guilty of wrong.”
Glory referred to God’s redemptive character. No one lived up to the standards revealed in His character.
God’s original intention was that people reflect His character or image. From Adam on, humans failed to conform to His image.
Paul declared that sinners who believe in (commit themselves to) Christ are justified freely by His [God’s] grace. Justified conveys “acquitted,” “declared and regarded as righteous,” thus righteous. It also can mean “to make or render right or just,” “to set right.” Paul likely had more in mind than God’s declaring or counting repentant, forgiven sinners as righteous. God makes them right, not by indulging their sin but by overcoming it and giving them new standing with Him. He enables them to enter right relationship with Him out of which they are to live rightly.
God gives believers new, right standing with Him by His grace. Grace is God’s undeserved favor. It also can be defined as His love and goodness in action for sinners’ good. It has the sense of God’s active good will. Freely emphasizes right standing with God is His gift. We can do nothing to earn it or merit it; it is His gracious gift we can receive through faith. People are made right with God through the redemption that is in Christ [Messiah] Jesus [Savior]. Paul borrowed a familiar term and concept from the slave markets of his day as an analogy for salvation. Slaves could purchase their freedom, or benefactors could purchase it for them. Redemption carries the idea of liberation at cost. People’s liberation from enslavement to sin came at terrible cost—Christ’s voluntary, atoning death. Paul stated that God presented Christ as a propitiation. The word presented could indicate purpose (design) or open display. Propitiation is translated from the Greek hilasterion, meaning "that which expiates or propitiates" or "the gift which procures propitiation". The word is also used in the New Testament for the place of propitiation, the "mercy seat". Hebrews 9:5. There is frequent similar use ofhilasterion in the Septuagint, Exodus 25:18 ff. The mercy seat was sprinkled with atoning blood on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:14), representing that the righteous sentence of the Law had been executed, changing a judgment seat into a mercy seat (Hebrews 9:11-15; compare with "throne of grace" in Hebrews 4:14-16; place of communion, Exodus 25:21-22). Another Greek word, hilasmos, is used for Christ as our propitiation. 1 John 2:2; 4:10, and for "atonement" in the septuagint (Leviticus 25:9). The thought in the Old Testament sacrifices and in the New Testament fulfillment, is that Christ completely satisfied the just demands of our Holy Father for judgment on sin, by his death on the Cross of Calvary. God, in view of the cross, is declared righteous in having been able to justify sins in the Old Testament period, as well as in being able to forgive sinners under the New Covenant (Romans 3:25,26; cf. Exodus 29:33, note).[original research?
‘...since the wrath of God is being revealed against all sin, there can be no way of salvation other than the way that deals with sin, that is, the Gospel’ If, as we have previously shown, the anger of God rests upon all of mankind and, subsequently, the judgment of God is currently being poured out upon both individuals and groups of men and women whether in tribes, cultures or nations, then we need to understand the work of Jesus Christ that satisfies the anger of God and removes His judgment from us. The reason for propitiation Our sins ◦ Heb 2:17 - ‘...propitiation for the sins of the people...’ ◦ I John 2:2 - ‘...the propitiation for our sins...’ ◦ I John 4:10 - ‘...the propitiation for our sins...’ The reception of propitiation By faith Rom 3:25 - ‘...a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith...’ It’s not on the basis of mankind’s works, of our self-effort - we’ve already seen that the initiative was solely with the Lord. Had He not decided to do something about the predicament we’d put ourselves in, we would forever have been under both God’s anger and judgment, not only in this life but in the one to come. Although Jesus has taken upon Himself both the anger and judgment of God, it doesn’t follow that every person is therefore free from any outpouring of them. The work of the cross must be met with a correct response in an individual and that can only be done by faith to the revelation of the Holy Spirit concerning the work of Christ - not a mere mind knowledge but an active trust and participation in His completed work (see the study on ‘Faith’). Paul may have included both ideas. God designed to make Christ’s sacrificial self-giving the means of overcoming the sin barrier between people and Him, and to display that atoning death openly. In pagan cultures, the term propitiation referred to people’s offering sacrifices to appease their gods, to ensure their gods looked on them with favor rather than anger. In Hebrews 9:5, it designates the mercy seat, the ark’s covering.
The place on Jesus breast is still vacant, and open to any who are willing to pay the price of deepening intimacy. We are now, and we will be in the future, only as intimate with God as we really choose to be. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures), the term almost always refers to the mercy seat. It seems to me, Paul used the word to indicate that in Christ, and specifically in His atoning death, we encounter God’s mercy. God took the initiative to provide the means by which people’s sins could be covered. Their forgiveness and entrance into right relationship with Him comes through faith in Christ’s blood—by trust in His sacrificial, atoning death. God presented Christ’s death on the cross on sinners’ behalf to demonstrate His [God’s] righteousness. In times past, God had held back the full judgment people’s sins deserved. He had dealt with their sins but had exercised restraint (forbearance, patience) in temporarily passing over (letting pass, disregarding) the sins previously committed. Prior to Christ’s atoning death, God had withheld the full measure of sin’s consequences. Did His doing so mean He was indifferent to sin, that He exercised easy tolerance of people’s missing His design for life? Paul stated forcefully that at the present time—God’s appointed or opportune season in contrast to the past—God demonstrated His righteousness or justness through Christ’s sacrificial death as the means of dealing with people’s sins. The cross forever demonstrates the seriousness with which God views sin.
It uncovers the depths of people’s sin and the lengths to which God in His love has gone to remove that barrier and offer relationship with Him—a new standing of grace. He is right, and He makes right with Him the one who has faith in (trust in and commitment to) Jesus. Jesus fully revealed God’s righteousness and demonstrated that righteousness. We receive right standing with God through Him. Jesus demonstrates God’s righteousness. List examples of God’s righteousness you see in what you know about Jesus.Focal Passages: God Promises Righteousness Jeremiah 23:5-6 Jesus Reveals Righteousness Romans 3:21-26 We Receive Righteousness from Christ Alone Romans 10:1-4,9-10Romans 10:1-4, 9-101 “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for theirsalvation! 2 I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according toknowledge. 3 Because they disregarded the righteousness from God and attemptedto establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to God’srighteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone whobelieves.”9 “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that Godraised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resultingin righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:1-4,9-10 Paul wanted believers in Rome to know he had not abandoned his people, the Jews (Israel). Addressing his letter’s recipients with the warm term brothers to indicate spiritual kinship, Paul expressed intense care for the Jews. Desire conveys the sense of good will, of kind intent. At the center of his being (his heart), he was kindly disposed toward the Jews. He interceded for them, beseeching God for their salvation, which would bring him the greatest possible pleasure. From his personal experience as a Pharisee, Paul could testify the Jews had zeal for God expressed in law-keeping and rituals. Their zeal was not according to knowledge. They did not have full or correct perception or insight. Their religious fervor lacked enlightenment. The Jews largely disregarded the righteousness from God. The Greek term rendered disregarded means “not to know,” “to be ignorant of,” “not to understand,” “to err or sin through mistake.” Paul may have meant the Jews largely failed to recognize God’s provision of right standing with Him so they did not understand the means of right
relationship with Him. One view is that their lack of insight was self-imposed. They willfully refused God’s revelation of the only basis of relationship with Him. Instead, they attempted to establish their own righteousness. They devised a method by which they sought to make themselves right with God, a works-righteousness devoid of a sense of indebtedness to Him. Out of pride, they determined to create their own standard by which to define and attain righteousness. Thus, they had not submitted themselves to God’s righteousness; stubbornly, they had refused to accept the Gospel of right standing with God by grace and would not commit themselves to Him through faith in Christ. They substituted law-keeping for God’s offer of right relationship with Him as His gift of grace. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. End can mean “fulfillment” or “termination.” Thus, Paul may have meant: (1) Christ fulfilled the law, or (2) He terminated the law as a means of righteousness. One view says the way of grace through faith in Christ ended legalism as a system to achieve right standing with God. Another approach says both meanings apply: Christ completely met the law’s demands, embodied righteousness, and provided a way of faith that set aside law-keeping as a means of achieving righteousness. Right relationship with God is open to everyone who believes. That is, anyone who trusts in Christ enters right standing with God as a gift of grace. In verses 5-8, Paul contrasted righteousness “from the law” (v. 5) to “righteousness that comes from faith” (v. 6). He pointed out that law-righteousness called for perfect obedience that no one could achieve. On the other hand, faith-righteousness was readily available because of God’s provision. Paul adapted Deuteronomy 30:11-14 to emphasize that Christ had done everything necessary to provide right relationship with God. Faith is possible because of Christ’s atoning work. Paul stated clearly “the message of faith” he proclaimed (v. 8b). If indicates that what follows is a possibility. People’s being saved depended on their choices. Salvation hinged on two responses: confession and belief. Paul’s order corresponds to the quote in verse 8 and does not indicate defined sequence. To be saved, one had to confess with the mouth (verbally) Jesus’ lordship. To confess was to say the same thing about Christ God said: Jesus was God’s Son (see Mark 1:11).
The confession “Jesus is Lord” acknowledged Jesus’ Deity. It also openly declared Jesus as the believer’s Master, his or her absolute authority. A person seeking salvation had to believe … that God raised [Jesus] from the dead.
Belief is much more than accepting something as factual; it is conviction and commitment. The heart was viewed as the center of life that involved the emotions, intellect, and will. God’s raising Jesus from the dead was irrefutable evidence that Jesus was His Son and verified everything Jesus said and did. Inner, decisive commitment to the truth of the resurrection is essential to salvation because only trust in a living Lord can give new life—salvation, right standing with God. Confession and commitment result in salvation—deliverance from sin.By Mark A. Rathel: The concept of “confession” is an important part of a Christian’s experience. Many Christians correlate confession with the beginning of the Christian life. The acknowledgment of our status as sinners and our profession of allegiance to Jesus express integral aspects of Christian conversion. The New Testament, however, does not limit the role of confession to the beginning of the Christian life, when the new believer confesses his or her faith in Christ. This act of confession, a confession that leads to repentance of sin, is an essential part of a believers spiritual life. As Baptist theologian W. T. Conner wrote, “It [repentance] is an attitude that belongs to the Christian life as a whole. The initial act of repentance is the beginning of a Life of repentance.” 1 The Greek verb for the act of confession is homologeo. This compound word derives from two other Greek words: homo, meaning “like,” and logos, meaning “word” or “thing spoken.” The Greek verb for the act of confession, then, has a range of usages including “promise,” “agree,” “admit,” “confess (sins),” and “publicly declare (that one is something).” 2 Backgrounds of “Confession” The various contexts in which the vocabulary of “confession” occurred in documents written prior to the New Testament provide understanding in how the readers of Romans would have understood the concept of confession. Confession functioned as an important concept in legal and religious contexts. The concept of “confession” occurred predominately as a legal term with the connotation of “agree with.” The Greek noun “confession” frequently described a contractual agreement. Numerous Greek papyri discovered in Egypt bear this meaning. 3 A common heading for a last will or testament is “contract and agreement (homologia).” The papyri describe a contract laborer as a “confessor” (homologos). Another of the papyri uses the verb form meaning "to agree with." It is a legal document: “We acknowledge (homologeo) that we divided between ourselves at the present time the vineyard which we hold on lease.” 4 The religious usage of “confession” correlates and builds upon the legal
background. In a manner similar to which one confessed wrongdoing in a court, one acknowledged or confessed sins before a deity. An individual publicly professed allegiance to a deity by means of an oath of confession. 5 The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, contains a unique usage of the idea of confession. The translators of the Septuagint frequently translated the Hebrew word yada, “to confess, to praise, to give thanks,” by means of the verb exomologeo, a related word with the same meaning as homologeo, mentioned above. The Israelites “confessed praise” of God’s majestic power (1 Chron. 29:12), as well as His mighty acts of redemption (Ps. 105:1-6). Frequently, worship provided the setting for the confession of praise to Yahweh. Greek translation of Psalm 100:4 provides evidence of “confession” as an act of praise. “Enter into His courts by means of giving thanks (exomologeo), and his courts with hymns; give thanks (exomologeo) and praise his name.” 6 “Confession” in Romans Paul used Greek words for “confess” four times in Romans. Twice he used the term homologeo highlighting public allegiance to Jesus (Rom. 10:9-10). He used exomologeo twice in quotations from the Septuagint in the sense of confessing praise (Rom. 14:11; 15:9). The concept of confession in Romans used both the legal and Septuagint background. Romans 10:9-10—A discussion contrasting two kinds of righteousness supplies the immediate context for Paul’s use of “confession” in Romans 10:9-10. On the one hand, a perfect, unmerited kind of righteousness is available from God through faith. On the other hand, many Jews pursued self-righteousness through works of the law. In Romans 10:1-13, Paul quoted the Old Testament six times to reassure his readers that the Old Testament itself taught that righteousness comes by faith. One of his quotes, Deuteronomy 30:14 (see Rom. 10:8), affirmed that a heart faith brings righteousness. In Romans 10:9-10, Paul set forth three pairs of related truths in describing how an individual receives salvation. First, Paul linked confessing with the mouth to believing with the heart. Faith and confession involve doctrinal content, namely, the lordship of Christ. In light of the over six thousand times the Septuagint translates “Lord” for “Yahweh,” an avowal of the lordship of Christ affirms His deity. The public confession “Jesus is Lord” flows out of an inward heart attitude of trust. Faith inevitably flows outward in a public pledge of allegiance to the person of Christ. Second, Paul linked righteousness with salvation—salvation that originates with
a person’s believing with his or her heart. Salvation means that God provides humans with righteousness as a gift through Christ. Third, Paul linked believing that Jesus is Lord with His being raised from the dead. As it was with the women who finally recognized the resurrected Christ at the empty tomb, as it was with Jesus’ post-resurrection encounter with Thomas and his subsequent confession of faith, so it has been for followers of Jesus through the centuries: Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection confirm His lordship. Romans 14:11—Although we do not see it in the English translations, Paul again used the Greek term homologeo to talk about confessing praise to God. In Romans 14:11, Paul uses the Septuagint version of Isaiah 45:23: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God” (HCSB, emphasis added). The dispute between “weak” and “strong” Christians differing on the subject of eating meat offered to idols functions as the immediate context for this Old Testament quote. Paul challenged his readers not to judge each other for two reasons. First, they are brothers despite their differences. Second, all believers will stand before God’s judgment seat (14:10). Isaiah 45 celebrates the nature of God as the world’s only Creator, Savior, and Judge. The action of bowing the knee depicts submission. The action of the tongue portrays a confession of praise, even in the context of judgment. Romans 15:9—Paul’s final reference to confession in Romans occurs in chapter 15. The immediate context is a final plea for unity in the Roman church (vv. 1-13). Since Christ accepted the individual believer, the individual believer should accept other Christians (v. 7). Christ serves the Jews as well as the Gentiles (or nations), the most visible human divide in the first century (v. 8). Paul brought together four Old Testament citations to demonstrate that both Jew and Gentile belong to the community of the Messiah. In Romans 15:9, Paul quoted Psalm 18:49. The psalm described events in David’s life and David’s consequent desire to praise God’s name among the Gentiles. The fact that Paul cites this Scripture passage as supportive of a ministry of Christ to Jews and Gentiles indicates that the apostle interpreted this psalm as a prophecy of the Messiah. Paul’s letter to the Roman believers affirms that Jesus, then, is the speaker who confesses praise to God among the Gentiles. 7 Implications for Believers Paul’s teaching regarding the act of confessing offers numerous implications for the Christian life. First, the act of confessing “Jesus is Lord” serves as a public oath of allegiance to the Person of Christ as full Deity.
Second, Christians can disagree about matters nonessential to the gospel and recognize that God alone is the Judge. All Christians will bow in submission to the Creator-Savior-Judge and confess praise. Third, Christ Himself confesses praise among the Gentiles or nations as they glorify God for His mercy. Christ, then, is our Example in praise for the nations coming to salvation. 1. Walter T. Conner, The Gospel of Redemption (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1945), 199. 2. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, “oJmologevw” in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed. rev. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979), 568; Dieter Fürst, “Confess” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, gen. ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, 1986), 1:344. 3. The term “papyri” describes documents written on writing materials made from the papyrus reed. 4. The entire discussion about “confession” in the Greek papyri comes from James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Illustrated from the Papyri and other Non-Literary Sources (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1952), 449. 5. Fürst, 344. 6. Author’s translation of Psalm 100:4. 7. Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 878-79. In experience, inner conviction and commitment (belief with the heart) come first, resulting in righteousness—a right relationship with God, a new standing of grace. Coupled with complete commitment is confession of Christ as Lord, resulting in salvation.
Faith and confession go together; genuine faith expresses itself in verbal confession. Paul stressed salvation was open to both Jews and Gentiles who would turn to God in faith (vv. 11-13). The Jews were wrong in trying to establish their own standard of righteousness instead of submitting to God’s standard. Today, we need to understand that we still are made right with God only when we place faith in Christ and confess Him openly. We should not attempt to establish our own righteousness but should submit to God’s way to right relationship with Him through commitment to Christ. Jesus not only demonstrates God’s righteousness, He also delivers righteousness to those who trust Him. List examples of God’s righteousness Jesus has established in your life.Biblical Truths God values justice and righteousness, and so must we. Jesus reveals and demonstrates God’s righteousness. We are made right with God only through faith in Christ. Receiving a new standing of grace with God requires commitment at life’s center and confession of that commitment. Who you are in Christ is based on who Christ is. Thank Him for the righteousness He has developed in your life, and give Him your permission and request to make you more righteous like the Father.