By Patrick McGuire
Many have heard of the alleged “Roman Road to Salvation.” It tells of how one can lead oneself to salvation by reading a few disconnected phrases in Romans (with a John 3:16 thrown in there for good measure) and viola! You’re saved! The details go something like this:
Step One: Realize that you are a sinner! Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Step Two: Because you are a sinner, you must die as a result of your sins! Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Step Three: You earn God’s free gift of salvation by asking Him for it! Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” This works because it says in Romans 10:13 “for Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
We are told in the “Roman Road to Salvation” that if we understand those three things, we are saved and become “Christians.” Salvation is ours for the asking. Jesus is up there waiting for the askers to ask. Sounds nice and tidy, eh?
Well, maybe not…
Christianity makes becoming one of Elohim’s people a foregone conclusion similar to getting a snow cone at the end of a Little League ballgame. It’s not that way at all. The above phrases from Paul’s letter are plucked from their contextual foundations and placed upon a flagpole of deception. For one thing, why didn’t Paul write that “these are the three steps to salvation?” These are phrases plucked from chapters three, six and ten. Let’s take a look at the alleged “Roman Road to Salvation” and see if it’s real, or an illusion deceiving many.
Step One: The fact that all men are sinners is a principle firmly grounded in the Tanakh. This is not a new Revelation of the New Testament. As a matter of fact, Paul is merely quoting the Tanakh in Romans 3:23:
(Eccl 7:20 NASB) Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.
(Psa 130:3 NASB) If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
(Psa 143:2 NASB) And do not enter into judgment with Thy servant, For in Thy sight no man living is righteous.
(Prov 20:9 NASB) Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin”?
As one can see, this principle is hardly “new.”
Step Two: Once again, this is a principle from the Tanakh:
(Gen 3:19 NASB) By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
(Deu 24:16 NASB) “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.
(Ezek 18:4 NASB) “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.
(Ezek 18:20 NASB) “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
Step Three: The first two steps are realizations gleaned directly from the Tanakh. This step is the root of the deception. They make Romans 10:9-10 look like salvation is candy available for the asking. That is simply not true. Let’s look at a bigger portion of that passage and see what Paul is saying:
(Rom 10:4 NASB) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
This passage is translated in a very deceptive manner. The Greek word for “end” is telos. It means, “the ultimate goal” or “destination.” (Look it up in any concordance. It is almost NEVER translated as “something that is finished.” It means quite the opposite.) This verse should read as follows:
“Messiah is the ultimate destination of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
(Rom 10:5 NASB) For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.
This is a quote from Leviticus 18:5 which says, “(Lev 18:5 NASB) ‘So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD.” Moses states that a man may live if he follows Torah.
(Rom 10:6-7 NASB) But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”
The first word in verse 6 is a conjunction in the Greek which is also translated as “and.” It is not the same objecting conjunction used at the beginning of verse 8. Using “and” shows that this passage as a continuation of the thought that the Torah is life and is not difficult to find or understand. Paul is quoting Moses and applying it to his purpose (Deut. 30:11-14). Paul is saying that righteousness based upon faithfulness does not claim that Elohim’s righteousness through Torah is lofty and in the heavens, nor is it across the deep sea and unattainable.
He that has righteousness based upon faithfulness agrees with Moses that “this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.” (Deut. 30:11)
(Rom 10:8 NASB) But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”– that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
Paul is saying that Messiah is the ultimate goal of Torah and Torah is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart. It is not unattainable, nor is it too difficult (1 John 5:2-3).
(Rom 10:9-10 NASB) that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Paul is using Torah to explain how salvation works. In the previous three verses (6-8), Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 30:11-13. In this passage he is paraphrasing the next verse in Deuteronomy (Deut. 30:14).
(Deu 30:14 NASB) “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.
Since Messiah is the final destination of Torah, if Torah is truly on your hearts and in your mouth, you will confess Yeshua as Messiah and live according to His Torah (“resulting in righteousness”). It is not a lofty and unattainable achievement. But one that Elohim grants to those who are His.
Paul is not saying that salvation is yours for the asking. Paul is saying that if you are chosen by the Father, His Torah will be near to you and in your heart and in your mouth. If you truly know in your heart that Yeshua is Messiah, then your heart “believes, resulting in righteousness.” We can go back to the man Paul is quoting (Moses), and know the definition of righteousness:
(Deu 6:25 NASB) “And it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.
John agrees with this summation by Paul and says that we are righteous just as He is righteous when we obey His Torah:
(1 John 3:6-7 NASB) No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
(1 John 2:29 NASB) If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
“Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved,” Right?? That is not what Paul was saying in that passage. He is saying that it does not matter if you are a Jew or Greek. Your salvation does not depend on your lineage:
(Rom 10:12 NASB) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
Paul makes it clear that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile. Your lineage will not save you. This is a quote from Joel 2:32. Regardless, if anyone can call upon “the Lord” and then they are saved, are they saying Messiah did not tell the truth?
(Mat 7:21-23 NASB) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
So what is the theme of Romans, if it’s not this cheap and easy road? If you study this letter from Paul to the Romans in detail, you will see that he is writing about His people Israel and how Elohim has not forgotten them. He is not writing about how easily people can save themselves, but how His people are predestined to be His by His choice (not ours). He writes about how Abraham and David were declared righteous by the Father, and not of their own accord. He writes about how keeping His Torah is life.
(Rom 3:31 NASB) Do we then nullify the Law through faith(fullness)? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.
(Rom 6:1-2 NASB) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
(Rom 7:12 NASB) So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
- Elohim has not forgotten His people.
- His people are predestined to be His by His choice.
- Avoid sin by being obedient to the Torah. We can do this through the New Covenant blood of Messiah Yeshua which enables His Spirit to write His Torah on our hearts and minds.
These are the themes of Romans. Join us in this verse by verse study of Paul’s letter and see for yourself if this is true.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas