1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”* that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
* Deuteronomy 30:14 NIV No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
This chapter has five references to the heart (all underlined) beginning with verse one where Paul says Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. Here, like the last chapter, Paul begins with a statement of his deep love for Israel and his great desire for their salvation.
Then in verse six we have But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) where the Apostle compares the righteousness dependent on faith to the righteousness that comes from keeping the law (v5) and it is not nearly as difficult. Paul adds the phrase ascend into heaven as an allusion to the ascended Saviour interpreting as if the Christian must ascend up to Him or if He must be brought down to the Christian (Ellicott’s Commentary paraphrased).
Then in the final three verses we have The word is … in your heart; believe in your heart; and with your heart you believe and are justified. The last two are what you believe in your heart about Jesus being raised from the dead by God, but for that to be true, you must first have the word of God in your heart.
To have His word in your heart, you must have thought deeply on what it means that Christ died for your sins and was then raised from the dead three days later. So you have thought about this, talked about this, even debated about this and over time you believed and the word was now in your heart – planted firmly there. As a result you believe in your heart and it is with your heart you then believe and are justified.
It’s Monday and what a great way to start our week, but by knowing in our heart Christ dies for our sins, was raised from the dead three days later, and that our belief, our faith therein is what justifies us.