For Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which does those things shall live by them.…
The apostle here contrasts the simplicity of God's plan of salvation with the efforts which men have made to work out a righteousness for themselves. Salvation is gained -
I. NOT BY OUR OWN GOOD WORKS. "Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law, That the man who doeth those things shall live by them" (ver. 5). If this were the condition of salvation, how hopeless would our condition be! None of us could say that we had made ourselves free from sin, or that our works were perfect and faultless, or that we had fully and faithfully kept all the commandments of God.
"Not what these hands have done
Could save this guilty soul;
Not what this toiling flesh hath borne
Could make my spirit whole."
II. NOR BY MIRACULOUS INTERVENTION. "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep?" (vers. 6, 7). The desire which is here expressed still survives. Not content with the Word of God and the invisible, but real, spiritual presence of Jesus with his Church, and the power of the Holy Spirit, many zealous Christians think it is necessary to have a more visible manifestation of the supernatural. Hence we have the doctrine of the real presence; alleged appearances of the blessed Virgin at Lourdes and at Knock; and, on the other hand, an undue stress laid upon the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
III. BUT BY THE PERSONAL RECEPTION AND CONFESSION OF JESUS CHRIST,
1. The Holy Scriptures are the means used to bring this salvation near to us. "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach" (ver. 8). In contrast with ceremonial or legal observances, in contrast with all miraculous appearances, the apostle here magnifies the reading and preaching of the gospel as the Divine method for the salvation of souls. "The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation."
2. Faith, which is the condition of salvation, is an act of the human mind. Not by bodily labours or sufferings, not by appearances to our bodily senses, but by the Spirit of God and the Word of God working upon our spirits, and producing faith in us, do we receive salvation. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (ver. 10). It is to the spiritual and not to the bodily nature that the appeal of religion is to be made. It is the spiritual and not the bodily nature that we must cultivate if we would see the kingdom of God.
3. Yet this faith will have an outward manifestation,. "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (ver. 10). If our faith in Christ is real, it will show itself. We shall not be ashamed to make public acknowledgment of him.
4. Thus salvation is brought within the reach of every one. "The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved" (vers. 12, 13). This plan of salvation brings the gospel to the Gentile as well as to the Jew. "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek" (ver. 12). Wherever there is a heart seeking after God, that soul need not wait to work out a righteousness for itself. "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved." What a contrast the simplicity of the gospel is to all human systems of religion and all man-made methods of salvation! The more we keep to the Word of God, and the less we mingle with it human tradition and ecclesiastical shibboleths, the more shall we be blessed in bringing souls to Christ. - C.H.I.
Parallel VersesKJV: For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.