Thesis:The "message" of "the righteousness which is of faith" is that a one-on-one event between God and a man will result in "salvation" if that one-on-one event is marked by faith in what God has said.
Introduction:In our study last week we began to look into the "message of faith" in contrast with the "message of Law". The message of "Law" is a demand for consistent Law-keeping. Paul expanded his Romans context in Galatians 3:10 by making sure that we understand that the legal demand is "continuing in all things which are written in the book of the Law". The message of "faith", on the other hand, is a promise that, as Galatians 3:13 also expands, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us."
In that study, we noted that the first premise of the message of faith is the prohibition, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who...?'". This means that "faith" alreadyknows the "Who?" that is responsible for the content that is to be "believed" for salvation.
This evening we are going to look more carefully into what Paul wrote so that our grasp of his meaning can be a bit more clear.
I. Paul's "Explanation" of the What of the Who?.
A. When Moses uttered the words that Paul uses, his meaning was a bit different in terms of the specifics.
1. Moses was addressing a group of people that he had already characterized as both stiff-necked (Deuteronomy 9:6 and 13) and uncircumcised of heart (Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6).
2. Moses was prophesying about a time in the long-distant future.
3. Moses was voiding the already-present "excuses" of the people: it is not "hidden", or "too far away".
a. The "problem" with the will of God is not that it is too great a physical labor to be able to do.
b. The "problem" with the will of God is that the men to whom it is explained do not "like" God and do not wish to be under His authority.
B. Paul, on the other hand, was simply appropriating Moses' basic premise and applying it to the real "salvation" issues.
1. He was writing to "believers" about the content of their "faith".
2. He had already taught them about how God had circumcised their hearts (Romans 2:29).
3. He was explaining the particular differences between two radically distinct "methods" of salvation.
4. He assumed the reality that undergirds everyone's salvation experience: it always happens by believing the message of the Gospel; it never happens by committing to a life-long process of keeping certain rules.
a. The Gospel is all about what the "Who?" has already done.
1) He brought Christ down from heaven in "Incarnation".
2) He empowered the righteous Life of the Christ after the incarnation.
3) He raised Christ from the dead after He had died "for" sins.
b. The Gospel is a message that is proclaimed in the hearing of the recipients: it is "near".
c. The Gospel is a message that has one promise out of two particulars.
1) The one promise is "righteousness unto Eternal Life".
2) The two particulars are ...
a) A response to what is "near" with the mouth.
i. This "mouth" response is actually secondary, as Paul shows by reversal in 10:10.
ii. This "mouth" response is not a "confession before men" concept [Men are inveterate legalists and are always looking for a way to mark themselves off from others by putting out some kind of "work" for salvation].
iii. This "mouth" response is clearly identified by Paul: whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved; i.e., whosoever will actually exercise the faith of the heart to call to God to do what He has promised.
b) A response to what is "near" with the heart.
i. This "heart" response assumes the "nearness" of the content of the faith -- the purpose for Incarnation/Resurrection -- by means of the divine action of circumcision (Note 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
ii. This "heart" response consists of a major shift of orientation so that the content of the Gospel becomes "the" perception of Reality: it's called "believing unto righteousness".