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Romans 10:1-13: Salvation Requires Belief in Jesus
Individuals: Take time to think back about your past week. Where have you seen God work in your life or answer prayer? Write down any prayer requests you have.
Group: Open the study by sharing life updates, reviewing highs and lows of your past week, or sharing prayer requests and praises.
Icebreaker: What is something that you tried to do yourself but you found out that you didn’t have the ability to do it?
All: Begin the study with a word of prayer, asking God to open your heart for today’s study. You can also pray for any prayer requests now, or save that for the end.
Read today’s passage: Romans 10:1-13.
1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
What is the context for this passage?
Throughout this study, we’ve looked at several earlier passages in Romans, with each one teaching us a different aspect of the work Jesus did to reconcile sinners to God.
Between the last passage in Romans 6 and our passage today in Romans 10, Paul continues to teach the Romans important truths of God. In Romans 7, Paul expounds more on the law and sin and how Jesus delivers us from both of these. In Romans 8, Paul discusses the difference between a life lived for the flesh and a life lived in the Spirit. He goes on to compare the bondage and suffering we endure now on this earth with the glory and redemption we will experience in heaven. Looking forward to the future is what brings us hope. Finally, in Romans 9, Paul talks about God’s mercy and God’s right to make people exactly the way he wants them to be and to choose who will follow him. This leads us to today’s study in Romans 10.
Read the passage again.
Explore a different version if you have one available. If you are online, here is Romans 10 in NIV through Bible Gateway. You can change the version by using the dropdown menu at the top right of the page.
Try to summarize the passage in your own words.
Answer these three questions about the passage:
1. What does the passage say about God?
God is righteous (vs. 3). God is righteous, and we must submit to that righteousness. We can try to gain righteousness on our own, or through the law, but every attempt will fail until we receive the righteousness of Christ. To read more about God’s righteousness, see the God is Righteous study from our Characteristics of God series.
Christ is the culmination of the law (vs. 4). God established the law in the Old Testament to make the Israelites aware of their sin and to give them rules for how to follow God. Be becoming the perfect sacrifice for sin, Christ fulfilled the law and became the only way through which sinful humans can be reconciled to God.
Jesus is Lord of all (vs. 9, 12). Whether we believe it or not, Jesus is Lord. He is the one who is in control of all things, and in the end, we must answer to him. Did we choose to follow him? Or did we reject him? Only those who follow him and believe on his name will receive eternal life.
God raised Jesus from the dead (vs. 9). We’ve seen this in some of our other passages in this study. God was the only one with power to raise Jesus from the dead. Without this act, Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross would have been just another human dying. But with the resurrection, Jesus’s sacrifice has the power to conquer sin and death.
2. What does the passage say about people?
Paul’s desire was for the Israelites to be saved (vs. 1). Even though most of Paul’s ministry was to the Gentiles, he also had a heart for the Jews, the Israelites, to be saved. They are, after all, his people. Who in your life do you pray for their salvation like Paul prayed for the Israelites?
Sometimes people’s zeal for God can be based on something other than knowledge (vs. 2). In our world, a lot of people say they are following after God, or a “higher power” of some kind. But their version of God is skewed and does not match what’s in the Bible. Many religions follow a god other than the one true God. In this passage, it seems that the Israelites were following after God and the law, but they were rejecting Jesus, just as Paul had done earlier in his life. Their faith was based on their traditions and not on the truth.
Some people try to establish their own righteousness (vs. 3). Many people compare themselves to the next person or to the average standard in society and claim they are a “good” person. They think that their good acts will outweigh their bad acts, and this will be good enough to get them into heaven. Some even dedicate their whole lives to doing good. But without Jesus, these acts will mean nothing.
Moses wrote about a righteousness that is by law (vs. 5). The Scripture that the Israelites knew and followed included the law that was received from God and written down by Moses. The Israelites believed that if they followed the law, including all the sacrifices for sin and guilt, that they would be righteous before God. But this law was only meant to be temporary. Christ fulfilled the law, and following the law to the letter as it was written was no longer good enough. Now, they needed a righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus.
There is no difference between Jew and Gentile (vs. 12). In the Old Testament, there was a clear distinction between the Israelites (Jews) and the non-Israelite nations (Gentiles). God was on the side of the Israelites, and he was against any other nation. This was because God had a plan to bring Jesus to the world through the Israelite line. Now that Jesus has come and died on the cross once for all, there is no need to distinguish between the Jews and Gentiles. All are welcome to believe in Jesus and be saved.
3. What does the passage say about God’s plan?
God’s plan is that all can have righteousness through Christ (vs. 4). One of the key processes of salvation is trading our sin for Christ’s righteousness. Christ is the only one who is qualified to offer us this righteousness because he is the only one who lived a perfect, sinless life, and his sacrifice on the cross paid the penalty for sin. Through this sacrifice, he provided access to righteousness for all people.
God’s plan is that righteousness will come through faith (vs. 6). The way that we receive Christ’s righteousness is through faith. We can’t gain it by living a good life or by following the law. We can only be righteous before God if we have faith in Jesus. We must believe that his death for sins applies to us, and we must believe that God raised him from the dead in power.
God’s plan is for his word to be in our mouths and our hearts (vs. 8). If we have righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus, then his word should be in our mouths and in our hearts. We should have a desire to know and understand God’s word, and that should affect what we say and how we live. It should transform our lives.
God’s plan is that salvation comes to those who believe that Jesus rose from the dead and confess that he is Lord (vs. 9, 10, 13). The key to receiving salvation is simple: Believe Jesus rose from the dead and confess that he is Lord of all—including your life. On paper, this seems so simple. Yet so many people make it so complicated. Have you taken this step to receive Jesus as your Savior? Do you believe that Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died for your sins, and rose again in victory? If so, all you need to do is declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and you will be saved.
How does the passage fit into the overarching story of the Bible?
Sometimes it’s easier to understand a passage if you have a little outside knowledge from other passages in the Bible. This section will help provide that outside perspective.
As we’ve progressed through this study, we’ve learned some pretty important truths. We’ve learned that we are sinners, and this separates us from God. The penalty for our sins is death. In the Old Testament, God’s people paid this penalty by sacrificing a perfect animal on their behalf. In the New Testament, Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life so he could be the perfect substitute sacrifice. We would no longer have to continually sacrifice animals to atone for our sins. Jesus became the final sacrifice once for all people.
Through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, he paid the penalty for our sins. Because of that, he has made the way for all of us who have a broken relationship with God to have that relationship restored—we can be reconciled to God. In the process, Jesus takes on our sin, and in return he gives us his righteousness. The only reason we can stand before God as righteous is because we have received God’s righteousness through Jesus. Can we find this righteousness on our own? Can we ever be “good” enough? Can we get this righteousness through any other religion? The Bible tells us that the answer to all of these questions is ”No!” Jesus is the only path to salvation and eternal life.
So how do we gain salvation and eternal life? We know we don’t have any ability on our own to be saved. This week’s passage tells us clearly how to be saved: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). That’s it. That’s all it takes. This belief can change our lives not only here on earth but also for eternity.
Individual: Answer the following questions thoughtfully for yourself.
Group: Pose these questions for discussion.
All: If you are willing to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts to these questions. Feel free to use the comment section to start a discussion about this passage.
What else strikes you about this passage?
How does the passage affect how you view God? How you view yourself?
How does this passage affect how you will live your life?
For additional study related to this topic, read Acts 16:16-34.
For Bible Essential studies, you can use my thoughts as your devotional, or you can download and use the journaling sheet to work through the passage on your own. If desired, you can then compare your thoughts to mine. Journal sheets can be downloaded and used now or later. They can be printed and filled in by hand or saved and filled out electronically. Journal sheets are available for individual or group use.
If you plan to lead a group study, a PowerPoint presentation is also available.
You can access these resources by clicking here: Romans 10 Resources