Earlier this morning my husband and I sat out on our tiny, screened porch in our new home. It’s a whopping 5’ x 8’ but just enough room for two chairs and a little table to set our coffee on (or your feet if you prefer). It was a little chilly, but worth it for the sights and sounds of God’s creation – beautiful flowers, green grass, birds enjoying the neighbor’s feeders, and the babbling of the little creek that runs behind our home.
Nothing man has made can compare to God’s handiwork. There’s no denying the special connection we feel to the beauty of creation; it’s undisputable evidence that both the natural world and the human beings who live in it were intricately designed for each other.
Man has two responses to the created world. Either we worship it and proclaim ourselves either part of it or god of it, or we accept and appreciate it for the gift it is and worship the One who gave it to us to enjoy. These two responses lead down two different paths – one to salvation, and one to destruction.
In Romans 9-11, Paul transitions from his teaching about the sanctification process of those who believe, to his beloved nation of Israel who has chosen not to believe. He is writing to Gentile believers who have somehow gotten the idea that since God has opened the gospel to them, He has cast Israel away. Paul dispels this idea; God’s calling and covenants are forever, and Israel will forever be His special, chosen people. Unfortunately, for a time, He has set them aside for their unbelief and rejection of His Son, but once the “times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24), He will again turn His attention to Israel. In Bible prophecy, this will be the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” the 7-year Tribulation – a refining fire that will bring the believing remnant of Israel to salvation.
Romans 10 is a chapter that stirs my heart. Paul begins by sharing the deep desire of his heart to see Israel saved. What happened to them, sadly, is happening to a lot of people I know – people I love and desire to see come to faith in Jesus, but who are missing the real message of the gospel, and instead, substituting their own ideas of who God is and what He expects of us.
Romans 10:1-5 – Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.
Romans 10:8-10 – But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Romans 10:17-18 – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. 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.”
Israel substituted their adherence to the laws of Moses for the righteousness of Christ. They believed, mistakenly, they could measure up to the perfect righteousness demanded by a holy God, but in the end, they were judged by that law and found wanting. No one is perfect; none of us can keep God’s law perfectly, and therefore if we “live by the law” we will also die by it. Jesus came to keep the law for us, perfect God and perfect man, a sinless substitute who paid the requirements of our sinful breaking of God’s law on the cross, and gifting us with the righteousness of God Himself. Israel missed the whole point.
Salvation comes not from keeping the law or doing good deeds or being a good and kind person. Salvation comes by hearing the word of Christ, believing that God has raised Jesus from the dead, and proclaiming Him as Lord, the Master, and authority over our lives.
No one can claim they haven’t heard the word that proclaims Jesus, because creation – the natural world God made for us – shouts it every day and holds all of us accountable as we learned in Romans 1:20. That babbling brook, those singing birds, those beautiful flowers and trees, the intricacies and wonders of the created world, all shout salvation, all day long, to all people everywhere.
How have you responded to the created world? Are you trying to save it, or have you heard the message of salvation it brings for you?
Romans 10:11,13 – For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” … For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.