A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
The Exercise of Human Responsibility in Rejection
In the third verse the apostle states his charge, which forms the theme for the whole chapter: "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
If that ignorance were the usual kind of ignorance, you might conclude that they were excusable. But this was a willful ignorance. So it could be expressed, "Ignoring God's righteousness" - meaning, therefore, willful ignorance.
"Being ignorant of God's righteousness" is the first thing, then it is affirmed they were "going about." The ASV says "seeking". Let us use the word "seeking". Since they were seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God. Being willfully ignorant of God's righteousness, they exerted continuous effort in searching for a way in their zeal to establish their own righteousness, refusing to submit to God's righteousness!
That explains the trouble with many people today. They have enormous zeal for God; they will work their fingers to the bone for the church, trying to serve God; and yet all the time they are ignorant of God. And they are actually trying to establish their own righteousness, unwilling to submit to the righteousness of God.
God's righteousness is something not only that we believe, but also something to which we should be submitted. One of the primary reasons why more men do not believe the simple gospel of God is because of human pride and human reason. They are determined not to submit. It is hard for all of us to submit and yield. The central issue is just submitting ourselves. That is all we need to do with this righteousness. Just let God put it on you. In Zechariah 3, the prophet was clothed with filthy garments. God spoke and said, "Take off those filthy garments and put clean ones on him." All he did was stand there and permit it to be done.
According to verse 4, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." You may never hear another sermon, but in that verse you will have learned all you need to know to be saved - that Christ is the end when it comes to righteousness. To illustrate it: there is an old road that is called the Santa Fe Trail, that runs out to Los Angeles. If you want to get to Los Angeles you take that road. But suppose you want to go there, and you could just be lifted up, transported, and set right down in Los Angeles. Would you, after you got there, say, "I must go back and come over this Santa Fe Trail"? You are already there; Los Angeles is the end.
When you come to Christ, He is the end - He is the righteousness. When you are in Christ, you have reached the end as far as righteousness is concerned.
The last word in verse 4 is "believeth." Back a little way, "everyone"; back to the third verse, "They did not submit." There are three ideas: faith - believing: everyone - universality; did not submit - rejection.
Those three things are stated in the introduction and are what Paul discusses in the chapter. Faith puts the gospel within the reach of everyone, pointing to its accessibility; "everyone" corresponds with the division that teaches that the gospel is for everyone - "whosoever" marks its universality; "did not submit themselves" indicated accountability.
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 65 - "The Gospel is Within the Reach of All")