Gospel Accountability

An exposition of romansRomans 10:1-21. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, March 6, 2010.

I’ve learned through the years that balance is pretty important.  Due to surgery to remove an acoustic tumor in ’95 I’ve had difficulty with uneven surfaces.  If I get on even a slight incline I’m very unsteady.  I remember getting up on my roof taking a few steps and learning very quickly that was not a good idea.  It was then I gave up my dream of joining the circus as a tightrope artist.  At the same time, as I’ve grown older and hopefully a little wiser, I’ve learn the value of theological balance.  Anytime we emphasis one truth to the detriment of another we get into trouble.  For instance if we emphasize the love of God to the point we obscure the doctrine of God’s holiness we distort the nature of God.  The result is a warped understanding of God that leads to an abuse of His kindness by presuming upon His grace.  Such thinking excuses sin by saying, “God will forgive me.”  On the other hand if we focus on God’s wrath to the point we neglect His love we are left with a vengeful God who is the God of the great big stick.  The result is that we live in fear of retribution without knowing the joy of fellowship with a loving, gracious Father.  We need balance.  God is love and God is holy.  He is to be feared and yet He is to be trusted.  There is judgment but there is also love and forgiveness.  There is wrath and there is mercy.  These truths must be kept in balance if we are to faithfully live in His presence.  In Romans 9 we are confronted with some difficult truths.  Truths that often disturb and bother folks.  We are confronted by God’s sovereignty in election.  The fact that God chooses to save some but not all.  The fact that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and He will harden whom He will harden.  We may not like that or be comfortable with that but we must allow God to be God.  He doesn’t owe salvation to any of us.  It is by grace that we are saved through faith.  But the truths of Romans 9 must be balanced with the truths of Romans 10.  Romans 9 says salvation is God’s business.  Romans 10 says we’re responsible!  Which is it?  Is it God’s doing or our doing?  It is both.

This is part of the mystery of our faith.  Can I fully explain it?  No.  Do I believe it?  Yes.  Why?  Because this is what God has revealed.  This is where balance comes in.  Yes God is sovereign and I cannot, I would not come to salvation apart from the work of His grace and yet I still choose.  I must respond to His grace.  I must repent and believe.  It is not a contradiction it is a mystery.  Years ago a friend who had attended Moody Bible Institute in the 40s talked about Wilbur Smith lecturing for weeks on the doctrine of divine election.  When he finally reached the end of his lecture series and had managed to convince a bunch of students to reluctantly embrace this doctrine of sovereign election he said, “Now let’s stand and sing, Whosoever Will as we are dismissed.”  That’s it.  It’s mysterious.  I’ve yet to come across anyone who adequately explains how that can be.  I heard one try by saying, “God’s sovereign election and our freely choosing are two parallel lines that meet in eternity.”  That has a nice ring to it but parallel lines don’t meet in eternity or anywhere else.  If they do they are not parallel!

What is clear with an honest reading of Romans 10 is…
The biblical doctrine of salvation demands personal accountability.

Our text this morning is found in the tenth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians.
Text: Romans 10:1-21

Do you remember how this section began?
Romans 9:1-6 – Paul was burdened over the “lostness” of his kinsmen.
Which led to the question – “Has God failed?”
Is God to blame for their being lost?

  • The first part of the answer is in chapter 9 – “No, God is not to blame – it is only by His grace anyone is saved.”
  • The second part of the answer is in chapter 10 – “No, God is not to blame – Israel is without excuse.”

There are three things I want to point out as we work our way through this 10th chapter.

  1. Zeal, passion and sincerity are sorry substitutes for truth.  (10:1-4)
  2. Saving faith is profoundly simple.  (10:5-15)
  3. Ultimately you are responsible for your accepting or rejecting the gospel.  (10:16-21)
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