English blog

not deeds but the Word

28-08-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet

images16 People say: not words, but deeds. The thrust of this saying is that people can say a lot, but that the only thing that matters are their deeds. The motto, apparently, is born out of the frustration with what people say, which oftentimes proves to be meaningless. People promise much, without doing it. Much ado about nothing. That may be true, where it concerns the words of people. However, as soon as we consider God’s Word, it turns out to be precisely the opposite. In Romans 10, Paul explains the difference between “the righteousness of the law” and “the righteousness of faith,” and clarifies it on the basis of two statements, both from the books of Moses. He begins with a reference to Leviticus 18:5:

For Moses is writing of the righteousness which is of law, that a man who does the same shall be living in it. (10:5)

The law, as a set of commands, has nothing to do with faith or trust (Gal.3:12). A command is meant to be done. Then one is righteous by means of law. But Paul continues with a reference to Deuteronomy 30:

6 Yet the righteousness of faith is saying thus…. 8 But what is it saying? Near you is the declaration, in your mouth and in your heart — that is, the declaration of faith which we (=Moses and Paul) are heralding…

The righteousness of faith has nothing to do with doing, but with saying what God says. God’s Word is living and operative (Heb.4:12) and all of creation has, thereby, come into being (John 1:3). Paul continues:

… that, if ever you should be avowing with your mouth the declaration that Jesus is Lord, and should be believing in your heart that God rouses Him from among the dead, you shall be saved. (10:9)

Salvation is not the result of hands and feet, but of God’s word in the mouth and in the heart. The word, namely, that Jesus is Lord (Rom.10:12), because God has raised Him from the dead. Is here, any action of man required? Jesus IS Lord of all “(10:12, i.e. everyone is His property) and God HAS raised Him from the dead. These are facts. What is meritorious about this, to believe? Nothing! When I believe this, then it is the merit of Him Who convinced me of it. The Evangel is good news. It is a message, because it speaks of facts in the past, the present or the future. And it is a good message, because God promises unconditionally, and man cannot add or subtract anything from His promises. When God, in the night, promised to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of heaven, he believed (Gen.15:6). Abraham did not do anything, but he said: amen! And that made Abraham righteous before God. And whoever, today, believes that God justifies the irreverent, that same faith will be counted to him for righteousness (Rom.4:5; 3:22,23; 5:18).