Lord, reveal the glorious mysteries of Your Word for our soul. Amen.
Text: Romans 10:4-10
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
What we emphasized yesterday from this text was this, that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Today what we will consider is closely connected with it, namely, that Christ is in the mouth and heart of the believer by means of the Word. The righteousness of the law is expressed in the Scripture: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart’.” This passage is taken from Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Paul teaches us here to read Christ everywhere in the Scriptures, even where we might least think of finding Him. This is truly a remarkable lesson in how to read the Old Testament correctly. In the Word we have Christ closer than we can say. You should not burden yourself with ascending and descending, to go here and there to be justified. The law lays the burden of deeds upon us. But here in the Gospel, there is no room for deeds to justify. Do not burden yourself with bringing Christ up from below or down from above. After all, He has come to us and is risen from the dead, has triumphed over the kingdom of death, taken away the curse of the law, burst our prison, and is glorified, so that there is no limit to His power or presence. That is how He is in the Word, in the Word which His Church preaches. When you have this Word in your mouth and in your heart, then you are justified.
So Christ, who became Man for you and died and rose again for you, is with you and in you, and all that the law demands is done. The glorified Savior is in the Word, Christ Himself, not just His teaching and Spirit and power. He Himself is in it, and thus He is in me and I in Him. Long enough I thought I had to fly up to heaven on the wings of the spirit and devotion to find Him, or to sink myself down into the depths of the fear of hell to be worthy of Him. My soul flitted here and there. I knew the Gospel’s teaching of justification by grace alone through faith, and my heart hungered for peace with God, but I thought that Christ had to reveal Himself to me from on high or from the depths, until finally God’s Spirit in the Word taught me that Christ is there, there in the Word. And now I am happy to tell you: Christ is with you in the Word. Don’t you believe God’s Word? Don’t you believe Paul’s testimony? May the Spirit make this clear to you! Otherwise you will search hither and yon for Him who is already with you, in your mouth and in your heart. But confess Him in word and deed, as far as you know Him, and call on His name. Then trouble, sin, and affliction shall teach you to find Him in the Word.
O dear God, remove the covering from our eyes. Amen.
I live with pains of longing –
My heart has made a place –
And thousands with me thronging
In faith Thee to embrace.
If Thou alone art mine,
What more shall I be yearning?
Thy grace let me be learning,
In Jesus all is mine.
Laurentius Laurentii: O Syndere betænke L 182:3 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Von Gott will ich nicht lassen (ELH 465); alternate hymn: We have a sure prophetic word ELH 234:1.4