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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 54 - Romans 10:13 - Righteousness by Believing, and Believing by Hearing Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


Paul's gospel was the good news of a righteousness for Gentile as well as Jew,—the righteousness of God,—good news of "the righteousness of Him who is our God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1),—good news of the righteousness of Him who is Jehovah-Zidkenu, "the Lord our righteousness."

There is a remarkable statement in the previous chapter (verse 30): "That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith,"—that is, the Gentiles, who were seeking no righteousness at all, have got the very best; just as the prodigal son received the "best robe" in the house. This righteousness was offered to Israel first, but rejected by them; and it is of this rejection that the tenth chapter speaks. In speaking of it, Paul first proclaims "Christ as the end of the law (the great fulfillment or fulfiller of the law) for righteousness to every one that believeth." Then he contrasts the two kinds of righteousness, namely, that which comes by working, and that which comes by believing. The former assumes that all is yet to be done; the latter, that all has been done, and that no doing (for obtaining pardon) is needed,—nothing more of any kind whatsoever than is done by a man when he listens and lets in the word by his ear into his heart[9] (verse 8). This "word of faith," or word spoken in order to be believed, is the burden of his preaching. It is that which Isaiah calls "our report." He thus describes it "If thou shalt confess Christ (as He has enjoined, Matthew 10:32), believing in Him, and in God who raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; for with the inner man we believe so as to be justified, and with the mouth we make that confession which issues in salvation, and because of which Christ will confess us in the great day."

Then in the thirteenth verse come the words of our text, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." We may take "calling on the name of," as meaning (1) the recognition of Jehovah as the true God; (2) as the acting on that recognition, and going to Him for salvation. It resembles Hebrew 11:6: "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Hear then, O man, the gospel which Paul here preaches to thee, whether Jew or Gentile! It is the gospel or good news of "salvation." Believe his "report" and live. Faith cometh by hearing.

I. The nearness. The "word" is nigh; the "gospel" is nigh; the "salvation" is nigh,—as near as the sounds are which enter into the ear of a man. The whole provision made on the cross for sinners is brought nigh to us. We have not to stir,—not to move a hairbreadth in order to get at it. It is already at the side of every sinner to whom the gospel has come. It is like the manna which fell around Israel's tents; it is like the water of "that rock which followed them." As near as it is possible for one thing to be to another, is all this fullness of divine grace. We need not climb to heaven, that would be to deny its nearness, and to act as if Christ had never come down. We need not descend into the earth, that would be to deny its nearness, and to say that Christ had not come up, and needed to be brought up by us. No. All things are ready; all things are near.

II. The freeness. A free gospel—absolutely without condition or price; a free salvation, to the obtaining of which man contributes nothing, by his money, or his works, or his sufferings, or his prayers and tears. All is absolutely free; as free as the sunlight or the common air. No merit, no money, no purchase, no previous qualification. The gift of God is that which we see in every part. Freely. freely, are the blessed words in which God promulgates the "terms" on which man is to be permitted to obtain the blessings of the cross. Freely, freely, is the burden of our message. Price, whether direct or indirect, small or great, is refused. We must take it freely or not at all.

III. The speed. The gospel comes at once, the blessing tarries not. Like the touching of the electric wire, so the acceptance of the gospel brings instantaneous acceptance of our persons. No waiting, no interval, no distance, no hesitation. What God does, He does quickly. Swift as lightning the blessing comes to us. "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." It is not, "shall get some deliverance, or hope of deliverance," but, "shall be saved." We go at once, and at once we are saved.

IV. The simplicity. Yes, all is simple here; no mystery, no labyrinth, no toil.


"Oh how unlike the complex works of man,

Heaven's easy, artless, unencumbered plan."


All is profoundly great, yet unutterably simple; "majestic in its own simplicity." "Call on the Lord's name and be saved," that is all. As our Lord said to the woman of Sychar, "Thou wouldest have asked, and He would have given." The simpler the liker God; the simpler the more suitable for helpless man. The gospel is simple; and the great salvation is the exhibition of the simplest plan for saving and for blessing that can be conceived. Too simple to have been devised by man. It is the simplicity of God. It is this simplicity which makes it intelligible to a little child. To ask and to get,—that is the whole.

V. The certainty. There are no ambiguities nor peradventures in it. All is the most absolute assurance: "Shall be saved"! God always deals in certainties in His treatment of the sinner,—the certainties of eternal life or death: "He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." Christ and His cross are certainties; and he who credits God's testimony to these, becomes identified with certainties; is at once and certainly blessed, forgiven, saved. And if we know that the acceptance of this testimony brings certain salvation; how foolish, how sinful to say, "Oh I accept the testimony, but I don't know whether I am saved." If thou givest credit to the divine word concerning the Son of God thou art saved. Of this there can be no doubt; for "God is not a man that He should lie."

VI. The universality. All are not saved, nor washed, nor pardoned, nor redeemed; but to all the good news come. "Whosoever" is God's wide word of invitation. Who shall say, "The tidings are not for name unless I can prove my election"? The gospel is to the "sons of men" (Proverbs 8:4). God in it is coming up to each sinner and saying, Here is life,—believe and live; here is the cup of salvation, drink and be saved; here is the writ of pardon, take it and be forgiven. Round and round the world this "word of reconciliation" goes; and to each sinner, as it passes on, is the reconciliation presented. "Be thou reconciled to God," is the special and personal message to each. "Call on the name of the Lord," is God's urgent proclamation; call, and thou shalt be saved! Go straight to God for salvation, a present and immediate salvation. Don't say, as some do, I'll go to Him first for faith, and repentance, and feeling; and then when I've got these, I'll go boldly and ask salvation. Go at once, and go boldly for salvation,—for nothing less than this,—and thou shalt get it; for God is true.