For Everyone Who Calls on His Name
Having discussed the heavy message in chapter nine stressing God’s sovereign freedom in saving whom He wills, Paul now puts the other foot down stressing man’s part in the work. To some this may sound superfluous; after all, what has man to do after God chooses some and passes over others? Such a question assumes that God’s foreordination is incompatible with man’s freedom of will. But this is not the case. At the risk of oversimplifying, there are many things we do both by necessity and freely. For instance, I must eat to stay alive; yet I eat freely because I like food (well, certain foods; I’m finicky). The love I feel for my grandchildren is an inward compulsion, yet I would never say that I love them against my will. And this is how we should see how God works within us. Granted, no one would ever turn to God if the Holy Spirit did not move him within, but in moving us, the Spirit changes our wills such that we freely repent and believe. God drags no one kicking and screaming into heaven, nor does He cast anyone into hell who is crying to enter heaven. God works secretly with our wills.
But in this passage, Paul doesn’t explain all this. He lays it down that Israel did not seek God’s righteousness which relies on faith but instead sought a righteousness of their own by the law. Then Paul says something wonderful: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Now let us be clear, what Paul means here is that Christ is the end of the law for salvation; he is not saying that Christians need not follow any law. Indeed, Paul warns the Corinthians that a whole host of sinners will not enter the kingdom of God, dubbing them, “the unrighteous,” referring to their deeds (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
But what Paul wants us to understand is that salvation is at our finger tips, so to speak. We don’t have to ascend into heaven for Christ has already come down and paid our debt. And we don’t have to descend to the abyss because Christ has already risen for our justification. So what is the sinner to do? Believe in his heart and confess with his lips that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord and that he rose from the dead. (Repentance isn’t listed here but it is in other places; e.g., Acts 2:38.) And he is clear that God makes no distinction based on ethnicity or heritage, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So the gospel call goes out. And here is why chapters nine and ten must be held together: God’s election does not annul our freedom of will; indeed, it establishes it.