There is a Price to Pay for Unbelief

Romans 10

Jerry A Collins




*               Can we do anything to win God’s approval?

*               How does God handle an unbelieving heart?

*               Why would anyone want to reject the gospel?


As I traveled back from India in October, I had the opportunity to sit next to a catholic priest for several hours during one leg of that journey. He was in his eighties and has been serving in the Denver CO area for nearly 50 years. So I decided to ask a number of questions wanting to hear from someone who was an insider to Catholicism. I asked about their view of Mary—baptism—communion—church history—the reformation. And he asked about me, my ministry, my views. We talked about scripture and how each other viewed Jesus words about eating my flesh and drinking my blood. Why God chose Mary and how she qualified for this special responsibility. As we completed the flight, he summarized our conversation this way. The difference between me and you, he said, is that I believe the Bible and all of the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church and the fathers. You only believe in the Bible. He had it exactly correct. And just like him are millions of people who hope that by following a scheme, a regimen, some law-keeping, religious practices they will gain God’s approval. I feel very sorry for people who believe that and live that. While they are devising their own schemes to gain God’s approval they actually reject God’s way of getting it. The Israelites had received revelation from God—the Law--revelation designed to bring them to self-despair and then to God in faith not works. Not only did they ignore the OT teaching on righteousness by faith, they also refused the opportunity of accepting righteousness by faith. So God rejected them and the message went elsewhere—the gentiles. This obstinancy, this pride, this independent spirit must be changed, must be broken and replaced by submission if they are going to live and escape further judgment by God.

1. THERE IS NO WORKS-BASED PLAN TO BE APPROVED BY GOD 10:1 In chp 9:1-3 Paul actually said he would be willing to be separated from Christ if it meant that his brothers in Israel could be saved. This reflects the heart of God willing to give up anything for salvation of others. Of course many of these Jews did not think they needed saving.

10:2 Ironically it was Israel’s zeal that set her up for failure. This zeal also had characterized Paul’s life duplicating Israel’s experience as a nation. This zeal lacked knowledge—knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah and Paul received this bit of information that changed his life. There are many religious, rule-keeping people in the world with all kinds of zeal for god. Terrorists give their lives for Allah. Catholics dutifully practice the 7 sacraments. JW’s claim Jesus is not the Savior. Their zeal not according to knowledge—they are missing the key information about God which makes their zeal useless. Zeal is a good thing. Jesus even said so (Jn 2:17). Being on fire for God is a wonderful thing but it must be according to knowledge. Is it revealed to us in God’s Word? If the Jews had read the scriptures this way without adding their own they could have easily seen Jesus as their Messiah.

10:3 While many did, still many more ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God as a gift were trying to earn a righteousness that could be theirs by rule-keeping. Result is they missed the real thing. The very Law they tried to keep was not even designed to save them but to bring them to self-despair because it was unkeepable.

10:4  This Law ended when Jesus Christ died (9:30-33). It ended with Him because noone else could keep it—only Jesus has and we in turn get His righteousness when we believe. No work just a gift! God has terminated the whole Law of Moses. It is not longer a rule of life for us today. 9 of the 10 commandments are observed by us because those have become part of  the Law of Christ which are Christ teachings given to the church in the NT thru the apostles.

10:5  It is plain and simple. If you can get approval by God through law-keeping then you have to obey all of it as Moses taught. Have at it! Only one person has been able to do it and everyone else has failed. The point is you cannot be justified by law-keeping. It will never work.

10:6-7  Again faith means that we admit we can never save ourselves. However, that does not mean pleasing God is beyond our reach. You cannot for instance, request Jesus to come on down and help you out. Nor can any of us do what Jesus did in dying and taking our punishment for sin. All that is needed is to  accept  what  God has already done for them in Christ.


10:8-9  So how does this kind of faith operate? Fortunately you do not have to climb Mt Everest, swim the Atlantic, or become the next American idol to discover the faith to be saved. It is as close, he says, as what you believe and what you confess. The lordship of Christ is made clear by His resurrection. Placing your faith in Him, then means you too will be delivered as He was. No others come close!

10:10-11 Stated another way, it must start with belief in the ‘word of faith’ which the apostles were preaching vs 8. That is, that only in Jesus can God approve you. But it is the kind of faith that declares Jesus Lordship—confesses same thing the apostles confessed—that He is the only one who saves evidenced by His resurrection. People make fun of xianity but in the end you will never feel ashamed for having put your faith in Christ.

10:12-13  There is a Jewish God and a Xian God—there is only God. And here is assertion that Jesus is God Joel 3:5. Anyone praying in faith for salvation is in the goods! The door of salvation is open to anyone. This is only prayer of an unbeliver God promised to answer.

10:14-15  The chain of belief is 1. someone has to be sent 2. then preach the gospel 3. those there need to hear 4. then believe the gospel 5. then call upon the Lord and be saved. (Isa 52:7) Here is a runner with news of deliverance. We are messengers of good news. We are not telling someone to make the world better or to follow this code or to—just simply, concisely, clearly telling them what someone did for them on their behalf.


10:16-17  While you share this good news only a few will receive God’s testimony with real conviction. Even this good news will seem bad to many. Hearing it over and over again will make no difference to them. The testimony must be mixed with faith to save.

10:18-20  First, Jews rejection was not due to lack of opportunity vs 18 (Psa 19:4). They had special revelation from God, patriarchs, prophets, priests. Second, it was not due to lack of understanding vs 19 (Deut 32:21). God reaching gentiles should have provoked Israel into searching more sincerely but as Acts reveals their response to this gospel was a deliberate rejection of it unwilling to understand it.  Third, amazingly, gentiles were seeking and understanding this gospel in droves 20 (Isa 65:2). All who seek will hear and the hearing is according to this formula. It still is today!

10:21  God is calling and many of the Jews refused to answer that call if it included the gentiles in the kingdom and did not include their way of earning righteousness. You are just not going to win an argument against God.  

1. Every generation includes a works based, rule keeping plan and every generation needs to have this pointed out.

2. Since faith is the only way to God’s approval, we cannot water it down or compromise it since stakes are eternal.

3. Share it, tell it, spread it and go after the few who respond to it in faith.