Romans 10:1-4 (4)
(from a manuscript of a sermon preached on 11/28/10 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 10, and I'll be reading verses 1 through 4:
Romans 10: (1) Brothers, truly my heart's pleasure and supplication to God on behalf of Israel is for [it] to be saved. (2) For I testify to them that they have zeal to God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ [is] the end of Law for righteousness to everyone that believes.
This is the fourth and last sermon in the series on Romans 10:1-4. In the first sermon, we went phrase-by-phrase through this passage. In verse 1, Paul makes a judgment about the spiritual state of these Jews. He says that they are not saved. In verses 2 and 3, he gives the BASIS, the REASON why he judges these people to be unsaved. He says that although they have a ZEAL TO GOD, which is what most religionists who come in the name of Christianity base their judgments on, they were lacking WHAT? KNOWLEDGE. That zeal that they have is really, truly zeal - it's not fake. But their zeal is not according to KNOWLEDGE, which means that their zeal is nothing but dead works and fruit unto death. Zeal without knowledge is death. Paul goes on to say what this KNOWLEDGE is that these zealous Jews are ignorant of. They are ignorant of the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. We saw in Romans 1:16-17 that the righteousness of God is revealed in the GOSPEL. We saw in Romans 3:21-26 that the righteousness of God is revealed apart from Law and is through the redeeming, propitiating, justifying blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ that shows God to be just to justify the ungodly. As Isaiah 45:21 says, God is a JUST God and a SAVIOR. The gospel reveals how God is both a JUST God and a SAVIOR by saving His people based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. As Romans 10:4 says, Christ is the end of Law for righteousness to everyone that believes. So Paul judges these certain people to be lost because they are ignorant of the gospel of salvation conditioned on the person and work of Christ alone. And he goes on to say that in being ignorant of this KNOWLEDGE of the righteousness of God, they are seeking to establish their OWN righteousness and are not submitted to the righteousness of God.
In the second sermon, we went over verses showing that all saved people have this specific knowledge, and in the third sermon, we went over verses showing that all lost people do NOT have this specific knowledge. We have spent a lot of time establishing the fact that all saved people have certain knowledge of certain doctrine and that if a person does NOT have this certain knowledge of certain doctrine, he is not saved. It's really just simple logic. Think of X being certain doctrine. Now we have the following logic: All people who do not know X are unsaved people. Mr. Z does not know X. Thus, Mr. Z is an unsaved person. Simple, right? But what if I tell you that most who come in the name of Christianity hate what I just said? It's true. And they hate it because they do not believe the first premise, which is that all people who do not know certain doctrine are not saved. Yet our passage in Romans 10 says just that, doesn't it? All who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are unsaved. That righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is a certain kind of DOCTRINE. You can't get away from it.
As many of you know, our enemies attack us on this issue of knowledge more than any other issue. They hurl all kinds of accusations and even try to use Scripture in their perverted way to combat the clear truths that all believers have knowledge of certain doctrines and that ignorance of certain doctrines is necessarily indicative of lostness. So what I want to do today is to go over some common themes that our enemies use and refute them with God's truth.
Let's first go into the truth that all saved people know certain doctrine. Some might protest by saying, "I believe that all saved people know certain doctrine, but it's just not the doctrine that you say it is." And my answer would be, "Tell me the doctrine that all saved people know." And a common response would be, "They all know that Jesus is God." (Although you might be surprised that some Calvinists wouldn't even go that far.) And that gives me an opportunity to delve into the issue further and ask questions like, "Is that ALL that every saved person knows? Is there anything ELSE but the deity of Christ that every saved person knows?" And it also gives an opportunity to respond to their accusations and their twisting of Scripture using their own supposed belief that every saved person knows that Jesus is God, which we'll get into later the Lord willing. The truth is that they can't even agree on the basics, and some would even say that it is wrong, even wicked, to come up with the basics. But what have we seen in the Scripture in the previous sermons? Is the doctrine that Jesus is God the gospel? Well, it's an essential gospel doctrine, for sure, but the doctrine of the deity of Christ without anything else is NOT the gospel. If it WERE the gospel, then it would be a cross-less gospel - a gospel without the cross. Where's the good news without the cross? Let's just think of the view that the only doctrine all saved people know is that Jesus is God. What would this mean? This would mean that as long as a person believes that Jesus is God, he is saved, even if that person does not believe that Jesus died, does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead, or does not believe that Jesus was a substitute or representative (for example, believes that Jesus was God and was a great example but did not take anyone's place). It would mean that as long as a person believes that Jesus is God, he is saved, even if that person does not believe that salvation is by grace alone, does not believe in original sin, does not believe in hell, or believes that salvation is totally, 100%, by his own works and efforts. And we could go on and on, couldn't we? Now think about this one: What if a person says that as long as a someone believes that Jesus is God, he is saved, even if that person believes that true believers can deny the deity of Christ. Now that one is a little more complicated, because it involves an additional generation of peace-speaking, so I'll try to simplify. This is talking about a person who believes that Jesus is God, but he believes that there are others who are his brothers in Christ who DO NOT believe that Jesus is God. So HE HIMSELF believes that Jesus is God, but he believes that some who DO NOT believe that Jesus is God are his brothers in Christ. All these things are possible and more, if you believe that the only knowledge that all saved people have in common is the deity of Christ. That's cross-less Christianity - Christianity without the cross. Contrary to this, we see in places like 1 Corinthians 1:23 and 2:2 that when Paul preached Jesus Christ, He preached Christ CRUCIFIED. And we see in Galatians 6:14 that his and all Christians' boast was in the CROSS of Jesus Christ. A gospel without the cross is no gospel at all.
Now some might agree, more or less reluctantly, that the cross is an essential aspect of the gospel. Yet the CROSS is where pseudo-Christians, especially those who call themselves Reformed or Calvinists or Sovereign-Gracers, get VERY uncomfortable. They don't like to be pressed into answering the question, "What does the cross MEAN?" Why is that? Why are they so reluctant to get into specifics about the central point of the gospel if you're talking to them about what every saved person believes? Well, for those who call themselves Reformed or Calvinists or Sovereign-Gracers, it's because they want to speak peace to others who do not believe what they do about the cross, including saying that they continued to believe in universal atonement for a time after they were saved. We've seen it time after time. So they will give lip-service to something called the "cross." Some will say that all saved people believe that Jesus died on the cross. And our response is something like this: "What does 'Jesus died on the cross' MEAN? Does it just mean that about 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus was nailed to a cross and died, just like many criminals during that time were nailed to crosses and died? That's it?" Some might go a little further, more or less reluctantly, and say that every saved person believes that Jesus died on the cross for sin. And our response is something like this: "What does 'Jesus died on the cross for sin' MEAN? Does it mean that about 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus was nailed to a cross and died to show that God was displeased with sin? That's it?" And as we keep pressing, they get more and more reluctant and defensive, because they KNOW that it's leading to something they hate. They HATE the truth that the TRUE CROSS OF CHRIST speaks of the efficacious work of Jesus Christ, the God-Man Mediator, who, as a representative and substitute for a certain people, took on the sins of those people and paid the full penalty of God's wrath for those people so that every single one of those people would be saved. When the Reformed, Calvinists, Sovereign-Gracers say that people who believe in universal atonement believe in the cross, it shows that they know nothing of the cross. The cross EQUALS efficacious atonement. There is NO CROSS when some for whom Christ died are in hell. There is NO CROSS when Christ's work did not ensure and demand the salvation of everyone whom He represented on that cross. There is NO CROSS when the work of Christ does not make the only difference between salvation and damnation. Their cross is an empty, meaningless cross. It is just an idol of their vain imagination. They are dead in their sins.
The people who hate to hear this then come up with all kinds of accusations. One very common accusation is that we believe in salvation conditioned on knowledge or that knowledge is a prerequisite to salvation. This is said in various ways, such as the following: You believe that salvation, regeneration, or justification depends upon, is conditioned on, believing propositions, having correct knowledge, having proper theoretical belief regarding the imputed righteousness of Christ as the ground of justification, having a subjective knowledge of imputation, believing the five points of Calvinism, subscribing to a certain systematic-theological summarization of the gospel, knowing of the doctrines of grace, believing justification by faith alone, understanding the mechanics of salvation, learning correct theology, believing in theology, adhering to a system of theology, knowing doctrine, understanding God's sovereignty in salvation, understanding that the mechanism of salvation is by grace through faith, assenting to certain theological propositions, understanding and believing sound soteriology, etc., etc., instead of believing that salvation is by Christ alone, by Christ's sacrifice, by Christ's shed blood according to the Scriptures; thus, you believe in works salvation.
Now if we believe what these accusers SAY we believe, then we would be just as unregenerate as our accusers. Anyone who believes that salvation is conditioned on ANYTHING other than the work of Christ ALONE - whether it be knowledge of doctrine, subscribing to a specific system, learning or adhering to correct theology, understanding soteriology, assenting to propositions, or ANYTHING ELSE - is unsaved. That would be salvation conditioned on the sinner, a kind of works-salvation. But is that what we believe? Have we EVER said ANYTHING to indicate that we believe ANYTHING like what they're accusing us of? No, we haven't. We do NOT believe that knowledge, understanding, belief, or assent is a prerequisite to salvation. In fact, we have said over and over that anyone who DOES believe that knowledge, understanding, belief, or assent is a prerequisite to salvation is unsaved. Anyone who says that we DO believe that knowledge, understanding, belief, or assent is a prerequisite to salvation is slandering us.
Now someone might say, "Well, didn't you just say that every saved person believes in efficacious atonement?" Yes I did. And I'll say it again: Every saved person believes in efficacious atonement. The retort might come back, "Then you believe that a belief in efficacious atonement is a prerequisite to salvation. You believe that salvation is conditioned on belief in efficacious atonement." And my response is this: Do you know what a non sequitur is? A non sequitur is where the conclusion does not follow from the premises. I say that every saved person believes in efficacious atonement. You say that this means that I believe in salvation conditioned on a belief in efficacious atonement. Hmmmm ... does anyone see the fallacy here? Let's go back to the person who says that all saved people believe that Jesus is God. Using this fallacious reasoning, I could conclude that this person believes in salvation conditioned on a belief in the deity of Christ. I could turn it right around and say that HE believes in salvation by works. Do you see that? If any of our enemies accuse US of believing in salvation by works and yet also believe that there is some doctrine that all saved people believe, then their own non sequitur can be applied to THEM! And in some cases, they really DO believe in salvation conditioned on belief in some basic doctrine, because that's what FAITH is. So if they believe that FAITH is a prerequisite to salvation, then they believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner. I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again: NOTHING a person thinks, says, or does, whether enabled to do so or not, is a prerequisite to salvation. Salvation is not conditioned on ANYTHING a person thinks, says, or does, whether enabled to do so or not. Salvation is conditioned SOLELY on the work of Jesus Christ.
So what am I saying when I say that all saved people believe in efficacious atonement while also saying that belief in efficacious atonement is not a prerequisite to salvation? I am saying, and the BIBLE is saying, that belief in efficacious atonement is an IMMEDIATE and INEVITABLE FRUIT or RESULT of salvation, specifically, regeneration. A PREREQUISITE to regeneration is something that must happen BEFORE regeneration. Does a sinner need to believe in efficacious atonement BEFORE regeneration in order to be saved? Of course not. God requires NOTHING of a sinner in order to save that sinner. If God required ANYTHING of that sinner in order to save that sinner, that would be WORKS salvation. In due time, when God saves a sinner, He instantly changes that person's heart without ANY preconditions. That person INSTANTLY becomes a new creature in Christ, whereas the instant before, he was dead in sins and could not understand. Then, as an IMMEDIATE RESULT of regeneration, God gives that person specific KNOWLEDGE. As 2 Corinthians 4:6 says, God shone in our hearts to give us a KNOWLEDGE of the GLORY OF GOD in the FACE OF JESUS CHRIST. A moment before regeneration, our hearts were blind. As an immediate result of regeneration, God glorified Himself in our hearts by giving us a KNOWLEDGE of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. He gave us a knowledge of the PERSON of Jesus Christ and the WORK of Jesus Christ, showing forth His righteousness in which He is both a just God and a Savior, and causing us to boast in the cross of Christ alone. EVERY SAVED PERSON, from the newborn in Christ to the most mature believer, believes the SAME GOSPEL. A common response to this goes something like, "You're saying that a newborn Christian has to suddenly be able to eat meat rather than to start out on milk. You're saying that there is no growth that takes place in Christians as to their understanding of the gospel." And here's how we respond to such dung: You don't have a clue as to what the true milk is. What you call milk is actually POISON. You think a newborn Christian can start out the Christian life believing a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner and then "grow into" believing the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Christ alone. The truth is that a person who believes a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner HASN'T EVEN STARTED the life of a Christian. He is drinking POISON, not milk. And the reason you don't recognize the difference between milk and poison is that YOU haven't even started the life of a Christian. You would say to this person drinking poison, "You're not a meat-eater like me, but what you're drinking now, although it's not as consistent as the meat, is still nourishment to your soul." The false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner is your MILK, which means it is the STARTING POINT, the FOUNDATION OF, your gospel. You remain dead in your sins. Do Christians grow in grace and knowledge? Of course they do - 2 Peter 3:18 is an encouragement to do just that. But does that mean that they "grow" from believing in a false god and a false christ and a false gospel to believing in the true God and the true Christ and the true gospel? Of course not. Belief in the true God and the true Christ and the true gospel is the STARTING POINT of a believer's spiritual life.
Now other things that we hear quite often are things like, "You require perfect, complete, exact understanding of every last scintilla of doctrine, a perfect mental grasp of all theology, an infallible understanding of all the verses of the Bible, and absolute doctrinal purity and mental clarity." Some will say that we believe that these things are prerequisites to salvation, while others will say that we believe that these things are immediate and inevitable fruits of salvation. We've already covered the prerequisites piece - knowledge and understanding, whether perfect or not, is not a prerequisite for salvation. But what about the fruit or result of salvation? Do we espouse doctrinal perfectionism, as some would accuse? Does every saved person perfectly, completely, exactly, infallibly understand every doctrine? Of course not. And once again, we've never said anything that even comes close to that. Once again, we have a blatant non sequitur. Their reasoning is this: Since we believe that all saved people believe in the doctrine of efficacious atonement, then we believe that all saved people perfectly believe all doctrine. Yeah, I know - that's quite a stretch. But we're not talking about rational people here. But why would they even concoct something like this? It's because they want to speak peace to people who hold to all kinds of heresy. It's really easy to just say, "Nobody has perfect doctrine," and then go on to fellowship with heretics. But most professing Christians will draw the line somewhere, won't they? Suppose a professing Christian says that Jehovah's Witnesses are not saved. We ask why, and the professing Christian says, "Because they do not believe that Jesus is God." Now we could turn around and say, "What - are you requiring perfect, complete, exact understanding of every last scintilla of doctrine, a perfect mental grasp of all theology, an infallible understanding of all the verses in the Bible, and absolute doctrinal purity and mental clarity?" They've been caught in their own trap. This reasoning is really quite ridiculous, isn't it?
In a similar way, some of our enemies will say that we're not allowing for anyone to be in error on anything, and we're not showing any grace to people who may have just misinterpreted Scripture or been taught wrong. We can use the Jehovah's Witness scenario again as an example. If a professing Christian says that Jehovah's Witnesses are not saved because they don't believe that Jesus is God, we can turn around and say, "What - are you saying that Christians cannot be in error? I mean, the Jehovah's Witness may have just misinterpreted or have just been taught wrong about some of the Bible verses regarding the person of Christ. Are you not showing any grace to your brother in Christ just because he may be off on some doctrine?" You can see where I'm going here. "He doesn't believe that Jesus is God, but he's just been taught wrong." "He doesn't believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but he's just been taught wrong." "He doesn't believe that Jesus was a substitute or representative, but he's just been taught wrong." He doesn't believe that salvation is by grace alone, but he's just been taught wrong." "He doesn't believe in original sin, but he's just been taught wrong." "He believes that salvation is totally, 100%, by his own works and efforts, but he's just been taught wrong." Is being taught wrong a basis for not judging someone to be lost? How ridiculous is that?
What does the BIBLE say about people who have been taught wrong about essential gospel doctrine? There are multitudes of passages about this, but let's just look at a few. We already read last time in the Old Testament where God used false prophets to teach the people false doctrine and thus to blind the people. Let's look at some New Testament passages. First, Matthew 15:14 - this is Jesus speaking:
Matthew 15: (14) Leave them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind; and if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.
Jesus called the Pharisees blind leaders of WHO? Believers who were just taught wrong? No. They were the blind leaders of the BLIND. And WHO falls into the ditch? Just the leaders? No, those whom the Pharisees TAUGHT. The Pharisees TAUGHT a false gospel, and the ONES WHO BELIEVED the false gospel that they were TAUGHT were just as blind as the teachers. None of this nonsense that those who were taught the false gospel from the Pharisees could still be believers who were just taught wrong. NO TRUE BELIEVER believed the false gospel that the Pharisees taught. As John 10:5 says, the sheep NEVER follow a stranger. Now over to another passage in which Jesus talks about the Pharisees, which is Matthew 23:15:
Matthew 23: (15) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you go about the sea and the dry [land] to make one proselyte; and when he has become so, you make him twofold more a son of Hell than yourselves.
The Greek word for "proselyte" means "convert." The Pharisees converted people to their religion by TEACHING them their religion. And what does Jesus Christ say about those who were TAUGHT WRONG? Does He call them believers? No - He calls them twofold more children of hell than the Pharisees! Where's the objection that they were just taught wrong? After all, they never had the opportunity to hear the truth, and they believed what they were taught. Why would God call them children of hell? Once again, we see that the Pharisees TAUGHT a false gospel, and the ONES WHO BELIEVED the false gospel that they were TAUGHT were unsaved. NO TRUE BELIEVER believed the false gospel that the Pharisees taught. Let's now turn over to 2 Timothy 3. Let's first read verses 6 and 7:
2 Timothy 3: (6) For of these are those creeping into houses and leading silly women captive, [the ones] having been heaped with sins, being led away by various lusts, (7) always learning, but never being able to come to a full knowledge of [the] truth.
Are these women believers who have just been taught wrong? Now verse 13:
2 Timothy 3: (13) But evil men and pretenders will go forward to worse, leading astray and being led astray.
Are those who are taught wrong going any less astray than the teachers? No - in fact, those who lead others astray have themselves been led astray by others. Now let's turn over to 2 Peter 2 and read verses 1 and 2:
2 Peter 2: (1) But false prophets were also among the people, as also false teachers will be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, and denying the Master who has bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. (2) And many will follow their destructive ways, by whom the way of truth will be evil spoken of.
The false teachers bring in destructive heresies, and then what is said about those whom these false teachers taught? That they were believers who were just taught wrong? No - those who BELIEVED the false gospel that they were TAUGHT are described as FOLLOWING THE DESTRUCTIVE WAYS of their teachers. The Greek word for "destructive" means "damnable" or "ruinous."
And how about the argument that these are believers who have just misinterpreted some difficult passages of Scripture? Let's stay in 2 Peter and turn over to the next chapter, chapter 3, and read verses 15 and 16:
2 Peter 3: (15) And think of the long-suffering of our Lord as salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him; (16) as also in all his epistles, speaking in them concerning these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the unlearned and unsettled pervert, as also [they do] the rest of the Scriptures, to [their] own destruction.
Now first of all, I want to say that the gospel is not difficult to understand. It's simple enough for even a child to understand. Yet what does Peter say here about some of Paul's doctrine that IS difficult to understand? If you really think about this passage, it's quite telling. Instead of excusing these people who misinterpreted the passages because they are hard to understand, he says that they PERVERT these hard-to-understand Scriptures to their own destruction! What does this mean? It means that when someone comes to a hard-to-understand passage and interprets it in such a way as to undermine, question, or oppose essential gospel doctrine, he shows he is unregenerate! The difficulty of the passages is no excuse! Note that the people who pervert the hard-to-understand passages are called "unlearned and unsettled" -- being unlearned and unsettled is also no excuse! So when BELIEVERS approach a hard-to-understand passage of Scripture, what do we know? We know that they will NEVER interpret it in such a way that undermines, questions, or opposes essential gospel doctrine.
Let's go into some other accusations. One quite bizarre accusation is that we believe that every saved person must know the Calvinism-Arminianism controversy and believe that all Arminians and all tolerant Calvinists are lost. You know, there are a lot of stupid people out there. This is how the asinine reasoning goes: Since we believe that all who speak peace to those who bring a false gospel of universal atonement are unsaved, then all who are saved must know about the false gospel of universal atonement, even to the point of knowing what many of them are called. Just think about it: Suppose someone is a professing Christian who knows what Muslims believe and yet says that Muslims are his brothers in Christ. I then judge that professing Christian to be unsaved. Then someone comes along and tells me that I believe that every saved person must know what Muslims believe and must know that all who call themselves Christians who speak peace to Muslims are unsaved. That's just ridiculous. There may be many saved people who have no idea what Islam is or what Muslims believe. There may be many saved people who have no idea what any other false religion is or what they believe. When it comes to judging a person, I couldn't care less if that person knows about the Calvinism-Arminianism controversy or the Sunni-Shia controversy or what Calvinists or Arminians or Sunnis or Shias believe. What I care about is if that person believes THE GOSPEL. If that person believes THE GOSPEL, then he believes in efficacious atonement, and if he ever encounters anyone who does not believe that efficacious atonement is an essential gospel doctrine, he will know that this person is not saved, whether or not this person calls himself an Arminian or a Calvinist or whatever.
Related to this is the accusation that we require every saved person to know what every theological term means or else we judge them to be unsaved. Some of them think that if a person has never heard of the term "universal atonement" or doesn't know what the term "universal atonement" means, we automatically judge that person to be unsaved. People really think we are unloving, don't they? I mean, how MEAN would it be for us to do some of these things that they're accusing us of! It's incredible. Listen, we don't even judge a person to be lost based on the fact that he has never heard of the phrase "efficacious atonement" or doesn't know what the phrase "efficacious atonement" means! And here I am saying that all saved people believe in efficacious atonement! Yet I'm also saying that some saved people don't even know what the phrase "efficacious atonement" means! How is that the case? Just think of someone whom God has saved and caused to believe the gospel. That person believes that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross makes the only difference between salvation and damnation. Yet he has never heard of the words "efficacious" or "atonement," and when he does hear them, he doesn't have the slightest idea what they mean. Are we going to judge him to be lost because he doesn't know what the phrase "efficacious atonement" means? Of course not! That would be a wicked thing to do! If this person is saved, he believes in efficacious atonement while not knowing the actual words "efficacious" or "atonement." Do you see what I'm saying? I'd really like you young children to make sure you're listening here. If you don't understand what a particular word or phrase means, we are NOT going to judge you lost based on that. Okay? It's good for you to ask what a word means that you don't understand, and don't be afraid to do that because you think that we'll look down on you or think you're not saved. We do NOT require ANYONE to know the meanings of all the theological terms we use. Many times, we use them as a way of getting something across in a shorter period of time. For example, when I say "universal atonement advocate," that's the same as saying, "someone who believes that Jesus Christ died for every single human being without exception." But for the sake of brevity and efficiency, I just say, "universal atonement advocate." But if you don't understand what that means, we who are Christians will not judge you lost because of it. In the same way, we get accused of requiring people to be able to articulate (some say perfectly) what they believe, or else we judge them to be unsaved. Again, this would be a wicked, unloving thing to do. Now when I say "articulate," I mean to put into words. There are children who are saved who cannot put into words what they believe, because they have not reached the point in their lives where they are able to articulate what they think. They are just as saved as the most eloquent, articulate Christian who has ever lived. You children, if you are not able to explain in words what you believe, we who are Christians will NOT judge you lost because of this. We will NOT say that you are unsaved just because you cannot put your thoughts into words. Okay? The same goes for ANYONE who is not able to articulate what he believes, such as a person who is handicapped. Having said that, it is ALSO true that a true Christian will NOT confess belief in a false gospel. Confession of belief in a false gospel is not a problem of articulation. If a person confesses the belief that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception, we WILL judge him to be lost based on his confession of a false gospel. And it is also true that, even though a saved child or a saved handicapped person may not be able to ARTICULATE what he believes, it is certain that he DOES believe the true gospel, even if he is not able to put his belief into words, since he is SAVED, and all saved people believe the gospel.
Here's another related accusation. Some say that if a person does not define or articulate the gospel exactly as we define it, using the exact same words we use, then we judge them to be lost. This is just more slander. The gospel can be defined using many different words; in fact, the Bible defines the gospel in many different ways, and I have defined the gospel in many different ways. It can be as short as "Christ crucified" and as long as "God's promise to save His people, giving them all the blessings of salvation from regeneration to final glory, conditioned exclusively on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, totally apart from the sinner's works and efforts." Again, we DO NOT reject the profession of people who do not define the gospel using the exact same words as we use.
Finally, I'd like to mention perhaps the most common justification that professing Christians use for speaking peace to those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel, besides, of course, the justification that THEY were believers when THEY were ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel. (They like to use that one a lot, don't they?) In order to justify their view that there are some regenerate people who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel, they go to specific believers who are mentioned in the Bible who they believe were ignorant of a doctrine like efficacious atonement. They'll go to all the Old Testament Saints. They'll go to John the Baptist in the womb. They'll go to the publican who cried out, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner." They'll go to blind Bartimaeus, who cried out, "Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!" They'll go to the thief on the cross who said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when you come in Your kingdom." They'll go to the Philippian jailer who was told by Paul and Silas, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Of course, they conveniently leave out the next verse, which says, "And they spoke the Word of the Lord to him, and to all those in his house." They'll go to anywhere in the Bible they think a believer was ignorant of what we would say is an essential gospel doctrine. They'll say, "See, these people were ignorant of what you say all believers believe, and they were saved."
The answer in any of these cases is really quite simple, and it's in the form of a syllogism. Here it is: All regenerate people believe the gospel. Mr. X is a regenerate person. Thus, Mr. X believes the gospel. You can plug in ANY of the believers in the Bible and any time in the past, present, and future, for Mr. X, and you'll never go wrong. For example, let's plug the believing thief on the cross into the syllogism. So here it is: All regenerate people believe the gospel. The thief on the cross was a regenerate person. Thus, the thief on the cross believed the gospel. Simple, right? Now some of our enemies might say, "Yes, all regenerate people believe the gospel, but the gospel isn't what you say it is." And we've gone right back around to the beginning of this sermon, haven't we? Actually, we've gone right back around to the beginning of this series on Romans 10:1-4. Let's use the thief on the cross as our example to wrap up this series. From the previous syllogism, we know that the thief on the cross - and I'm talking about the one to whom Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, Today you will be with Me in paradise" - that thief on the cross believed the gospel, because he was a regenerate person. The question then is, WHAT did the thief on the cross believe? Well, we know from 2 Corinthians 4:6, that God shone in the heart of the thief on the cross to give a KNOWLEDGE of the GLORY OF GOD in the FACE OF JESUS CHRIST, which is just another way of saying that God gave the thief on the cross a knowledge of the righteousness of God. We know from Romans 1:16 and 17 that the gospel reveals the righteousness of God, and we know from our text in Romans 10 that those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God are unregenerate. Thus, we know that the thief on the cross believed the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel. And what is that righteousness of God that is revealed in the gospel? Romans 10:4 gives us a brief definition, and Romans 3:9 through 4:8 gives us a more detailed definition. The righteousness of God shows God to be just to justify the ungodly based on the propitiatory sacrifice and imputed righteousness of Christ alone, totally apart from the sinner's works and efforts. This work of Christ demands and ensures the salvation of all whom He represented. The work of Christ makes the only difference between salvation and damnation. The thief on the cross knew this. Blind Bartimaeus knew this. John the Baptist in the womb knew this. The penitent publican knew this. The regenerate Philippian jailor knew this. All the Old Testament saints knew this. All the unlearned and illiterate believers knew and know this. Those without theology books knew and know this. Regenerate children know this. All who know Christ know this. They may not be able to articulate it, they may not be able to recite the five doctrines of grace, they may have never heard of the phrase "efficacious atonement" and may have never heard of Arminians or people who believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception. But if they are regenerate, we know that God has shone in their hearts to give a KNOWLEDGE of the GLORY OF GOD in the FACE OF JESUS CHRIST. They believe the good news of God's promise to save His people based on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. They will NEVER believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception, because they KNOW that the work of Jesus Christ is EFFECTUAL to save EVERYONE for whom He died. This knowledge is NOT a condition of or prerequisite to salvation; it is a necessary and immediate FRUIT of salvation. God glorifies Himself in the heart of every single person whom He regenerates by giving them a knowledge of His gospel whereby He shows how He is just to justify the ungodly. And none of these saved people will EVER boast except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, because they will NEVER believe that salvation is conditioned on themselves in any way to any degree. Christ, and Him crucified, is our only ground of salvation and acceptance before God. Amen.