the letter icon

Has anyone ever asked you a question you couldn’t answer? You know, spiritual question. Question like: If God is love, why is there pain in this world? I feel depressed, nothing is working, what do I do? I feel lost, I’m cutting myself, what do I do? We go to church and our marriage is awful, what do I do? Today, we read Romans 10 and it gives us the answer to each of those questions.

One of the most intense moments I ever had as a pastor was when I had to do a funeral for an infant little girl. It was so difficult. There are a lot of unanswered questions on a day like that. That’s why I am excited about Romans 10. I think the answer to every spiritual question is in Romans 10.

Before I read Romans 10, let me give you context from Romans 9 from last week. Paul shared with us that his heart in broken because his family, his community, missed God’s grace. They had so many good things going for them to give them a great head start and it didn’t work. Instead of seeing their need of God and His grace, they became so self-absorbed, they took over God’s grace story.

How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over.

They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them. MSG Romans 9

Paul continues to write in Romans 10 that his community got it all backwards.

1 Believe me, friends, all I want for Israel is what’s best for Israel: salvation, nothing less. I want it with all my heart and pray to God for it all the time. 2 I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God — but they are doing everything exactly backwards. 3 They don’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God’s business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it. MSG Romans 10:1-3

Paul continues from Romans 9 to talk about the pain he feels because his family, his community has missed God’s grace. They got everything backwards. They were busy bodies doing good things and become focused on what they were doing. All along, they didn’t realize, that setting things right is God’s business. They failed to understand they can’t earn it. And after years and years of this busy living, they had nothing to show for it.

I want to take a quick time out here. After the months and years that you have been around the God projects and activities, what do you have to show for it? Do you have a relationship with Jesus that is impacting your heart? Are you getting healthier? Are you discovering that you can’t live a day without spending time with God? Is that your reality?

Or after months and years of being around God projects and activities, are you more stressed, more tired and more worn down?  What do you have to show for time with God stuff? I want to really challenge you with this. If you report that you are more stressed, tired and worn down, maybe, you have it backwards. You can be impressively energetic regarding God but not realizing that setting things right is God’s job, not yours.

Paul continues to tell us what to do.

4 The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. 5 Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it’s not so easy — every detail of life regulated by fine print! 6 But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story — no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, 7 no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. 8 So what exactly was Moses saying?

The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest.

It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. 9 Say the welcoming word to God — “Jesus is my Master” — embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. 10 With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

11 Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this — heart and soul — will ever regret it.” 12 It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. 13 “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”

Do you see that line that says, “…welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us.” If you have nothing to show for months and years of church activity, if your Christian marriage is a wreck, if you are depressed, we cry out to God. Are you cutting yourself? Do you have friends cutting themselves? Are you playing around with the demonic? You cry out to God.

That’s the answer to every spiritual question ever asked. That’s it. We ask God to come and set things right. We don’t do anything to earn it, we just ask God to get involved.

If you don’t get the beautiful simplicity of this, your like Paul’s family, his community who missed it. Why did they miss it? They refused to submit to God’s way to find righteousness. They took over God’s work. They thought it was too simple. What an awful way to live. Stuck in religion. You bang out religious behavior and rules and never experience God’s grace. You go to church and ten years later you are more miserable than before. You can go to church for years and live with guilt, shame, exhaustion, constant complaining and gossiping and treat others with legalism. Why? We are impressively energetic about doing things for God but miss Him.

Let’s review the beautiful simplicity of God’s grace. “God help me.” Then every day you trust Him by embracing the truth that God is making everything right.

Paul goes on.

14 But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? 15 And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!

16 But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” 17 The point is, before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.

Because this grace is so unbelievable, so accessible, so powerful, tell everyone about it! You don’t have to be a fake, religious robot. Be yourself and tell people about this grace. You don’t have to be trained. You have to be impacted first. The big reason people don’t want to tell others about Jesus is simple, they have never been impacted by God’s grace. If you have been shattered by God’s grace, it’s pretty easy to tell someone in pain about God’s grace. This is why the bible says, God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. MSG 2 Peter 3:9

Paul then ends Romans 10 with an honest talk about his Jewish community.

18 But haven’t there been plenty of opportunities for Israel to listen and understand what’s going on? Plenty, I’d say.

Preachers’ voices have gone ’round the world, their message to earth’s seven seas.

19 So the big question is, why didn’t Israel understand that she had no corner on this message? Moses had it right when he predicted,

When you see God reach out to those you consider your inferiors — outsiders! — you’ll become insanely jealous. When you see God reach out to people you think are religiously stupid, you’ll throw temper tantrums.

20 Isaiah dared to speak out these words of God:

People found and welcomed me who never so much as looked for me. And I found and welcomed people who had never even asked about me.

21 Then he capped it with a damning indictment:

Day after day after day, I beckoned Israel with open arms, And got nothing for my trouble but cold shoulders and icy stares. MSG

Let me ask you something? After months and years of the God stuff, church, religion and activities, what do you have to show for it? If you can’t say, I have a deep and profound relationship with Christ and I am shattered by His grace, you might have it backwards. You might be impressively energetic about following the rules but not experiencing God’s grace. I want to tell you something, you need God. The answer to your life problem is God.

Let me follow up with another question. Who do you know who needs to know about God’s grace?