In our study of Romans chapter ten, we will see how Jesus Christ is and has always been the only way to a right relationship with God. It does not matter who your ancestors are or what you have done but only that you believe in Him.
"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge." NIV translation
Paul was a Jew and we see here that he had a heart for the people of Israel. We saw, in chapter nine, that God had chosen them to hear the good news first and they had. He testifies about how they were busy trying to please God and he would know because he had been there and done that. He goes on to say that, although they were busy, they did not know that the only thing that mattered was faith in Jesus Christ.
"Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." NIV translation
They were busy trying to make God happy by doing everything that they understood the law to say but could not see that the law did not have the power to save. As long as they (we) continue to look to the law for salvation, they (and we) will always fall short. Unfortunately, there are many in the "church" buildings today that are there out of obligation and not out of faith. They are there in hopes of getting a place in heaven instead of rejoicing that, by faith in Jesus Christ, they have already been granted a place in heaven.
"Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: 'The man who does these things will live by them.'" NIV translation
Paul quotes from the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:5) and the words of Moses. There, the people of Israel were told that they must perfectly obey all of the law or be cut off (removed) from God's people. Because of this standard, righteousness was not attainable.
"But the righteousness that is by faith says: 'Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down) or "Who will descend into the deep?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).' But what does it say? 'The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,' that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." NIV translation
Our righteousness does not depend on man's actions but belief in the completed work of God. We simply claim Jesus as the Lord of our lives and believe in His resurrection. The confession that is referred to here is not talking about some going forward at a church in response to an "altar call". Although that can happen, it can also happen anywhere else because God is everywhere and He is listening and waiting. Our hope is that, in the same way that Jesus rose again, we will be raised to live with Him forever.
"For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'" NIV translation
Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah as he was talking about the coming of Jesus Christ. We are not only reminded that all of our hope rests in Jesus but also that God keeps His promises. This "put to shame" refers to those that have to run around begging people for scraps so they can survive. When we trust in God's work, we no longer have to chase around looking for a way to survive (be saved).
"For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" NIV translation
Paul quotes from the prophet Joel concerning the day of judgment. In that day, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile for all receive the same salvation which is through Jesus Christ. Paul emphasizes the fact that it is simply a calling out to God and not having to do any kind of works to get God to hear us.
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" NIV translation
Why did Jesus give us the Great Commission? We see the answer in this passage. God works in the heart of men but man does not always know who is behind the working in their heart. Our job (and our pleasure) is to be able to tell them the good news that it is God who is working in their hearts to restore them to a right relationship with Him. This Good News, which is what Isaiah was talking about in this quote, will bring joy to those who hear it and they will thank you for sharing it with them. In our world today, where we share all kinds of words, the power of the Word has been forgotten but we are reminded of it here. This passage has been misunderstood as saying that the church is to send out the preachers. It is not saying that at all but instead is saying that God has sent "the church" out into the world. Everyone in "the church" is to go out and preach the Word of God instead of a few being selected and funded by those who are unwilling to go.
"But not all of the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our message?' Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." NIV translation
Once again, Paul quotes from Isaiah concerning the good news of the coming Messiah which was Jesus Christ. The prophet foretold that most of the Jews would reject Him and His message of forgiveness by His perfect sacrifice and not the sacrifice of men. Even today, many cannot accept the free gift of salvation (grace) and want to earn a right relationship with God which is not possible on our own.
"But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: 'Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.'" NIV translation
Paul quotes King David (Psalm 19:4) where he was talking about the fact that the things in the sky bear witness to the existence and power of God. Just as the sky and the things in it were created in the beginning (Genesis 1), God's plan was for His Son to come to us. In the same manner, the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the coming of Jesus Christ as the promise was contained in those writings.
"Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, 'I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.'" NIV translation
Now, Paul quotes Moses from Deuteronomy 32:21 where he was speaking of the fact that God would use Gentile people to bring the Jews to repentance. This happened many times and, in fact, will happen again in the last days as we see in Revelation.
"And Isaiah boldly says, 'I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.'" NIV translation
God revealed His plan to save the Gentiles when Isaiah was talking about the coming of Jesus. Paul brings out two witnesses that spoke of the fact that salvation would come to the Gentiles.
"But concerning Israel he says, 'All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.'" NIV translation
The prophet Isaiah contrasts the fact that Gentiles (those who were not even looking for a Messiah) have accepted Jesus while the Jews (God's people) have rejected Him. God has been waiting like a parent with outstretched arms but they refused to embrace Him. Have you ever tried to see how long you can stand with your arms outstretched? It gets tiring pretty fast as we see with Moses in Exodus chapter 17.