Romans 10:10-21 - Unbelief Isn't an Inability but a Deliberate Refusal
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10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. - Romans 10:10


You never see in scripture someone who doesn't believe because they are unable but rather because they are unwilling. Meaning they don't want too. Have you ever refused to believe something? Perhaps you got a report of something tragic that happened to a love one and immediately you entered denial. Right now Covid-19 and the fear of it is ravishing the world, maybe  you got a snivel and refused to consider that could be it? So you kept on working, kept on pressing, decided to not go to the hospital because doing so would admit maybe there's something more going on here. Ironically, for people like this it would be better if they had never known about the pandemic than having known about it and turned away from it. For if they had not known about the pandemic, maybe they would have went to the hospital when they realized they couldn't get oxygen, but now that they are aware of Covid-19, because they absolutely won't acknowledge it, they refuse to go to the hospital.


21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. - 2 Peter 2:21


Wrath rests on a person because of their sins. Wrath remains on a person because of their deliberate unbelief. In Romans 1 you don't see an inability to believe but rather a deliberate exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Rom. 1:18-32) which is seen heavily throughout scripture (John 5:40, 2 Pet. 3:5, Acts 7:51). This is why it's harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to go through an eye of a needle (Matt. 19:23-24). He has a lot to lose (Matt. 19:22). The reason we refuse to believe our loved one was in a terrible car accident is because we don't want too. An officer at the door, a son who did not come home, a host of witnesses, and still we'll refuse to accept it. The reason people don't believe in Jesus is similar, they don't want too. Belief in this sense is a heart issue. The term "heart" in the bible denotes more than a central for feelings or affections to also include intellect and will.


The question isn't then can a person believe, but rather, do they want to?


"With the mouth he confesses". It's not necessarily that your lips speak it, otherwise how will the mute be saved and along those lines why are those referenced Matthew 7:21-23 not. But rather it's an outward sign of an inward desire. To make Jesus "Lord" is to recognize His deity as God and His authority over you. Confessing this to others demonstrates this acceptance.


In our last study we covered the first half of Romans 10 where Paul is showing us that the word of faith is near and not some difficult thing requiring us to ascend into heaven or voyage to the depths of the abyss. But rather how it is near, in our mouths and our hearts. So it's not the inability but rather a deliberate refusal. We'll see later in Romans 12:3 that God has given to each a measure of faith.


11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” - Romans 10:11


Believe differs from experience. Paul said in Corinthians "for we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). Sight = experience. But notice the future tense of this verse and those which preceded it. Verse 9 says "will be saved", and here in verse 11 it speaks of not being disappointed. These denote future looking. Now don't get me wrong, when you receive Jesus you receive life (1 John 5:12), and are born again (John 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:17) but there is a future event whereas we haven't experienced it yet. When that day comes we will know in full, just as we're fully known (1 Cor. 13:12) and that day our faith shall become sight. Peter walked on water by faith, but when he walked by sight, that is according to his experience, he became frightened and began to sink (Matt. 14:30). Did Peter's doubt cause him to be lost forever? Nope. Why? Because "immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him" (Matt. 14:31). Did Peter's doubt hurt his walk? Yes, but did it hurt his position with God? No. Why? Because it only takes a mustard seed of faith to move mountains (Matt. 17:20). Even a mustard seed of faith in Christ will not be disappointed.


12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; - Romans 10:12


God is no less eager to save the Gentile than He is the Jew. God wants to save both equally being the same Lord who is Lord of all. Riches of Christ abound to all who call on Him. We're all equal candidates for God's grace, there is no distinction though God will deal once again with Israel as we'll see in the next chapter.


13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” - Romans 10:13


Peter quotes this verse from Joel 2:32 as well in Acts 2:21. Paul is using it here to support the simplicity of the gospel. Want to be saved? Then call on Jesus!


12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, - John 1:12


"God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:13b) is a prayer that has always been answered.


14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” - Romans 10:14-15


In these two verses contain the entire motivation for sending out missionaries, that those whom they are sent to would hear, believe, and be saved! Paul is breaking down the process in reverse order through rhetorical questions. Who calls on someone whom they don't know or believe, and how are they to know and believe if they have not heard, and how are they going to hear if someone doesn't tell them, and how is someone going to tell them if nobody with knowledge goes to them. To provoke these questions in the recipient is a call for them to think about these things critically.


"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!". My wife Jamie had the opportunity to work for UPS years ago during the holidays. One thing that was a pleasant surprise, something they explained during the application process is that pretty much everyone is happy to see you! Not necessarily that they were happy to see Jamie, but they delighted in her because of what she represented. Sometimes that was be good things from a friend or family member sending gifts, sometimes that would be something they purchased as a gift they were going to give someone else. Sometimes it was things they bought for themselves. Even if one would have buyers remorse, by the time the packaged reached the steps of the recipient they had already gotten over any buyers remorse and were ready to reap the rewards of what all their hard earned money went towards. The warm welcome extended to UPS drivers was a delight pretty much 100% of the time as people often expressed it. The association they had between them and the item in their hand made them fond of the drivers by association. They would offer a warm greeting, a tip, a joke, conversation, sometimes they would share what wonderful thing they were holding in their hands, all with a light spirit and a smile on their face.


Imagine this though. Imagine if this was you and what Jamie was holding was something you worked for your entire life? Having sold your cabin on the lake, cashed in your retirement, withdrew the kids college funds, all for this one item in Jamie's hand. Something you dreamed about every day, worked toward every day, and now, knowing it's coming you've invited all of your friends and family over to be present at it's arrival. Imagine you all sitting around guessing at what time the UPS driver usually comes, imagine sitting there hitting refresh on your web browser to see the present tracking status on your package. You're all closely paying attention to every loud truck noise wondering if that's the UPS truck coming down your driveway. Then, and what seemed all day, you hear the sound of gravel crunching under the tires of someone coming down toward the house, oh what a beautiful sound it is! You look, and yes, the UPS truck has arrived! So eager, everyone floods out of the house and crowds the truck, almost in it's way as it's trying to turn around in the driveway. It comes to a stop, Jamie hopes out, and you all can't stop smiling as she's digging through her boxes. Before she hands it to you though she asks for your signature, stating a signature is required before a package of such value can be given to you. Then as you're signing she points to your box referencing it's logo on the side and begins speaking to those around you that this is the highlight of her job (Phil. 3:8). You're done signing and reach out his hand. Everyone goes silent in anticipation. You open it before even heading back inside and as you open it everyone is crowding around you to gaze upon it's contents. You reach inside and pull it out and everyone lets out great cheers of gladness, some grab Jamie's hand to shake it and before you know it she's been swept into the circle of you all holding each other's hands, jumping in the air with great joy, rejoicing, and celebration!


Indeed how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things. Before I continue and tie this in, let me let the bible verses going through my mind as I shared this do that for me.


18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, - Ephesians 1:18


14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:14-19


44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. - Matthew 13:44


45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. - Matthew 13:45-46


More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, - Philippians 3:8


 A Jew would have been more familiar with the burden of the law than most. Modern day Christians dealing with legalism struggle in like fashion with their own self imposed laws (Rom. 2:14). Burdened and heavy laden, always trying and never arriving, then Jesus shows up, offers to them not only what they are errantly striving for by way of the law, but in His riches He offers so much more. If accepted, a point of great and everlasting rejoicing, but only if accepted.


"If you only knew"... Jesus said to the woman at the well "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (John 4:10).


I can't stress how important it is to get to know the gospel. Not just unto salvation but for daily living. Only then can you relate to Paul who said everything he's gained in this world, everything he's suffered in this world, is all rubbish, trivial, and not worthy to be compared to the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil. 3:8).


Did you know this is how God feels over you? Did you know that your redemption gives Him cause to celebrate? Did you know that He's always wanted to have grace and compassion on you? (Isa. 30:18). Did you know that all His hard work was done so that He may gain you into His family? (Eph. 5:2, Isa. 53:10, Heb. 12:2). Ephesians 1:18 states we are "His inheritance", Zephaniah 3:17 states God exults over us with joy, quiet in Hs love, and rejoices over us with "shouts of joy". Indeed all of heaven rejoices over each inclusion into God's family (Luke 15:7-10). Jesus brought God good news! And in Him the Father was well pleased! (Matt. 3:17, 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35). Christ work on the cross was good news for us, and good news for God. I hope you're blown away by that, I am.


One way to check someone's preaching is to ask yourself if what your hearing is indeed good news for the recipients. Some distort the gospel and add additional burdens to what is intended to be a free life giving blessing, or through selfish gain pervert it altogether. Sometimes stepping back and asking the question "is this indeed good news of good things?" can help you assess and discern what's being taught.


16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” - Romans 10:16


Can you imagine having the very thing people need the most only to have them reject it? Not only is it what they need the most but if they'd give it a try, just a taste, they would see it is so good (Psa. 34:8). Not merely discovering it's fulfilling a desperate need they have but their wants as well (John 10:10). What's worse is, it's free (Rom. 6:23) with no strings attached and yet they refuse. Heart breaking. But for those that want it, it's good news of glad tidings!


17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17


Faith comes by hearing. One believes only after they hear, and after they believe they call on Him who they believe. Think about your own salvation. If you shared your testimony with me what events led up to you receiving Christ?


Having just explained the process in detail Paul now summarizes the process of where faith comes from. Israelites may be frustrated or try and offer a defense that they haven't had a fair shot at hearing and responding to the gospel. Many today argue for those around the world who do not hear the gospel in the same way. Paul argues with Israel the same way he argued in Romans 1:8 & 1:20 toward those who have not heard the gospel. That is, the preaching has indeed gone out:


18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;

Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.” - Romans 10:18


Paul is quoting from Psalms 19:4 in how David testified nature's testimony of God has gone out everywhere declaring the glory of God, the work of His hands, and that their testimony is always constant and never ceases and it's in a language understood by all.


19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation,
By a nation without understanding will I anger you.”

20 And Isaiah is very bold and says,

“I was found by those who did not seek Me,
I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” - Romans 10:19-20


Paul is solidifying his argument that Israel was informed of all this in times past. Furthermore he is pointing out these feelings that may be welling up in them, the same feelings that may provoke them to offer a defense of not knowing were anticipated long ago, namely, Jealousy. Amazingly this jealousy wasn't intended to push them away but rather stir up in them a desire. That they would see what God was doing for us gentiles and be jealous for it themselves. That they would see God demonstrate His grace and goodness and be drawn to it. But not all took it to heart.


21 But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” - Romans 10:21


It's not that they didn't have a chance but rather they deliberately refused. It's not that they weren't preached too, it's that they chose to harden their hearts and turn away. May the Jews be provoked to Jealousy that they would look at us Gentiles and say "Hey, that's our Messiah!" whereas we could respond, "Indeed He is!".


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