So, it is good to see you. I know I need to begin in a word of prayer as we hop into the Word. So, let me lead us in a word of prayer.
Father, we bow before Your throne of grace this morning. We come in the name of Jesus Christ, knowing He is our only point of access because You are so perfectly holy and we know the truth about ourselves that we are unholy. We praise You that You have provided His perfect righteousness and forgiveness for us that we may now come boldly and confidently because our sins have been washed away and because we have been clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ. And as we come now into Your presence, we come desiring to be taught by You and by Your Spirit and Your Word. And so, as we look into Your Word today, I pray that You would open our eyes, open our hearts, enlarge our hearts, activate our wills, be mightily at work here today. I thank You for these men, their commitment to Your Word, that they would rise early and even drive a great distance to be here, and I pray that You would more than make it worth their effort. May there be much gold and silver that we will mine from the quarry of Your text this day. So, work through me now, stir up within me the gift to teach, to preach. Help me speak with clarity and accuracy. I pray this in Christ’s name, amen. Amen.
So, the rest of you men, yeah, come on in, who are just now arriving. We are in Romans 10. Romans 10. So, I invite you to take your Bible, turn with me, and I want to start as I always start by reading the passage that we are going to be looking at. And I advertised it at verses 1 through 3. I am going to read through verse 4. We will see how far we can dig into this passage.
But Romans 10 beginning in verse 1, “Brethren,” and I am reading out of the New American Standard in case you are wondering. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
As you can tell, we have started a new chapter in Romans 10, and we just concluded a blockbuster chapter, Romans 9. There is no chapter in the entire Bible that is more profoundly direct about sovereign election than Romans 9. So, we have just scaled Mont Blanc. We have just scaled Mount Everest in studying the doctrine of sovereign election, that God is the potter and we are the clay, and He has made from the same lump of humanity some vessels for destruction and other vessels to be put on display to showcase His grace.
So, as we come now to Romans 10, I think we should be somewhat surprised the way that Romans 10 starts, that Paul is burdened in prayer for the salvation of people. And we could easily conclude, “Well, if God is sovereign, then why pray? If God has already chosen those whom He is going to save, then why in the world would we even pray?” And that is a very natural question to ask. In fact, if we don’t ask that question, we are not really thinking through the issues.
And yet, here we see the very first verse in Romans chapter 10 is Paul says his heart’s desire and his prayer to God for them is for their salvation, and he has just told us that their salvation has already been foreordained and predetermined from before the foundation of the world. And what I want us to see here is the fact that Romans chapter 9 in no way negates praying for the salvation of those who are lost. In fact, it actually motivates us to pray for the lost, because if God is not sovereign, you are just wasting your time in prayer. You need to go talk to lost people; don’t talk to God if God is not involved in this and if God is not sovereign. The mere fact that God is sovereign in salvation means we should talk to God about this, because God is the only one who can intervene and overcome the resistance of the unbelief in the hearts of unbelievers. So, this is not inconsistent; this is perfectly consistent with the doctrine of sovereign election.
If we only held to Romans 9 and did not hold to Romans 10, we would be what we would call hyper-Calvinists. And hyper-Calvinists have come to stinking thinking. They have come to the imbalance and the abuse that because God is sovereign, therefore there is no need for me to witness, there is no need for me to preach, there is no need for me to pray, there is no need for me to live a godly life, there is no need for me to build bridges to lost people. I have told you before I would rather you be a card-carrying Arminian than to be a hyper-Calvinist, because Arminians at least try to win people to Christ. Hyper-Calvinists just sit in a closet and twiddle their thumbs and stare at their naval and parse verbs. They don’t try to reach the world for Christ. They are not praying for lost people.
So, Romans 10 is a very important parallel chapter with Romans chapter 9. And I do not want any of us to fall into the pit of thinking, “Well, God is sovereign, therefore I’ll just sit back and be a spectator of what God’s doing in the world.” No, we must be a participant in what God is doing in the world. And I will have more to say about that in just a little bit, but this is simply by way of introduction to this chapter. And I think it really speaks to the fact, and I will just put my cards on the table here at the outset that we need to be praying for lost people. We need to be praying for the salvation of those who are around us who are without Christ. And we all need to have a top five list, a top ten list. We all need to have a list of people that we are praying for that they would come to the knowledge of Christ, and they don’t need to know that they are on this list. And they may even be people who profess to know Christ, but as we are with them, with any measure of spiritual discernment, there is reasonable doubt that they actually do know the Lord. Well, we need to come alongside of them with our prayers and pray that if they are not converted that God will make this very clear to them and bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ. And it may even be people in our own family. It may be people that we work with. It may be people that we go to church with. We need to lovingly be in prayer for their salvation.
So, let’s begin to look at this passage, and I’m going to have to apologize. I have only a two-point message, alright? You are still going to get the whole cake, but I have only sliced it into two parts. So, we will see how we do on this. The first thing that stands out to me is verse 1, and I have just put this heading, “Paul’s Burden” or “Paul’s Prayers.” Paul begins, “Brethren,” and he is addressing his fellow believers in the church at Rome. I would remind us that Paul has never yet been to Rome. He has never met these people, yet he feels such a kindred connection with them in Christ that he knows he is united with them in the same spiritual family because they have been born again like he has been born again, and so he addresses them as “brethren.”
He says, “My heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them.” There is a lot to say about this. He has a heart desire. Paul is not a cold, lukewarm, stoic, hyper-intellect who has no emotions. Paul is a brilliant intellect and he is an astute theologian, but it is in no way divorced from having a heart of passionate zeal for those who are without Christ. Paul has a felt religion, and you and I need to have a felt religion, an affectionate religion. You and I need to know what it is to have our heart filled with great affection for God, an affection for believers, an affection for those who are without Christ. And that is what Paul is expressing here.
And this is just really the tip of the iceberg for all this within the depths of Paul’s heart. And that desire is expressed in prayer. He says, “My heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them.” It wasn’t enough that Paul just felt something for those without Christ; he must do something for those who are without Christ. And the greatest thing that you can do for someone without Christ is to pray for their salvation and to witness to them. Paul is unable to witness to the entire nation of Israel but he can certainly pray for them. And that is what Paul is expressing that he does.
This word for “prayer” is an important word for prayer, and it is a rather aggressive word. And it means to be pleading and petitioning. It means to be seeking and to be asking and to be knocking on heaven’s door. It means to be entreating. This is not Paul just going through a little checklist, a punch list of names in a Moleskine who he needs to pray for, but Paul’s heart is in it and he has identified with them in prayer for their salvation. And that is the way we must be as well.
He says he prays to God, and “God” here refers to God the Father. I want to continually draw our attention to who I believe is the forgotten member of the Trinity, God the Father. And every time I see this, I want to bring this to your attention. We pray to the Father through the Son in the Spirit. We go before the throne of God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ and for the extension of the name of Christ, for the extension of the kingdom of Christ, and we come in the Spirit, meaning we are empowered and led and energized by the Spirit to come before the Father’s throne of grace. And this is how Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew chapter 6, “Pray then in this manner,” not “in these words,” as if it is just to be parroted back, but “in this manner: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.'” There is nothing necessarily intrinsically wrong with praying to Jesus Christ. I don’t want to leave that impression. But, even Jesus Himself is pointing to the Father and telling us to pray to the Father. And that is what Paul is doing.
He says, “For them.” “My heart’s desire and my prayer to God, for them.” We ask the question, who is the “them?” And in the context, it is obvious that the “them” refers to Israel. Romans 9 through 11 is a unit in the book of Romans that addresses the salvation of Israel. And it is really not a parenthesis. It is a very natural extension from Romans chapter 8. And in Romans chapter 8, Paul first addressed the sovereignty of God in salvation. Romans 8:29, “Those whom He foreknew,” meaning those whom He foreordained to love. And he said earlier in Romans 1 verse 16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
You put those two verses together, Romans 1:16 and Romans 8:29, and you would ask the natural question, “Then what happened to Israel? If the gospel has to go to Israel first, and if God has chosen those who are going to be saved, then why isn’t Israel in large numbers being saved?” And so, in Romans 9, Paul’s point is God never chose all of Israel to be saved; “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.” Even within one family, within the nation Israel, they weren’t all sovereignly chosen by God to be saved. So, that is why now in Romans 10 he says his “prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” The “them” refers to who he was addressing in Romans 9, the nation Israel.
And, it is only natural that Paul would be focused on the salvation of Israel. You would say, “Ask why?” And the reason is, number one, well, the gospel was to go to them first, Romans 1:16, but Paul is also burdened because he himself is a Jew. It is only natural that you would want those who are the closest to you to be saved, and Paul once was where they now are, an unconverted Jew. And so, it is natural now that he is saved that he would pray for those who are as he once was.
So, his heart’s desire and his prayer to God for them he says in verse 1, “is for their salvation.” It is only right to pray for the salvation of people who are without Christ. And it is important that he says “salvation” here because there are some of our brothers who when they address Romans 9 say it has nothing to do with salvation, that God is only choosing people for service but not salvation. That is a part of my background. That is how I grew up hearing that explanation. Well, I’ve already said that Romans 9, “Vessels of wrath prepared for destruction and vessels of grace,” he is not talking about nursery workers. He is talking about the eternal destiny of people.
And now in verse 1 of Romans 10, it is all the more clear that Romans 9 was all about salvation, the eternal destiny of people being in the hand of God to predetermine where they would spend eternity. And so, I think it is very important that we take note of the word “salvation” here. Paul actually prays for their salvation. And I want to just give you some reasons why we should pray for the salvation of lost people. Number one, God commands that we pray, does He not? That in and of itself should be all the reason we need. And I was trying to think of a good cross-reference, and this morning it came to mind, John chapter 14 and verses 12 through 14. I want to insert this as a cross-reference right now.
In John 14 verse 12, Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples the night before His crucifixion. He is preparing them for life and ministry after His departure, right? So, He is addressing them in matters of ministry 101 for after His departure. And so, in verse 12, “Truly, truly I say to you,” John 14. I have told you that underscores the importance of what is to follow. “Truly, truly I say to you.” “Amen, Amen, I say to you.” It is almost like He is rapping them with His knuckles on their forehead to get their attention. “He who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do because I go to the Father.”
Now, what are these works? Well, these works are the very works for which Jesus came into the world to do. “I came to seek and to save that which is lost.” And when Jesus called these disciples, He called them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At the very heart of what these works are, it is reaching a lost world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And the fulfillment of this will be in Acts chapter 2, when Peter stands up on the day of Pentecost and preaches and he performed greater works than Jesus ever performed. Jesus never preached and three thousand souls were saved in one sermon. Now, Peter could not do better works in quality, but he could do better works in quantity. He could not do better works in depth, but he could do greater works in breadth. And so, when Jesus is talking about greater works here, He is not talking about better works in quality, but greater in outreach.
So, please then note the next verse if you have ever wondered in context how this fits together in John 14, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” In context, what is He indicating that they should be asking Him for, and it is that they would perform greater works in the immediate context. That is very clear. And so, Jesus is instructing the disciples the night before He was crucified that they need to be praying that they would perform greater works. And I think the tip of the spear is in evangelism and in reaching the lost for Christ. It will certainly include discipleship and follow-up discipleship and nurturing and maturing those who come to faith in Christ. I mean, that is in Matthew 28 verse 20, “teaching them all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
But first and foremost, these greater works would have to do with reaching people for Christ, being fishers of men, seeking and saving that which is lost. And it is incumbent, Jesus is teaching them, that you would pray in this regard that God with set open doors before you, but that God would open eyes and open hearts of those who are without Christ. So, that is an important cross-reference. So, why should we pray for unconverted people? Well, number one, because God commands it and Jesus commands it. So, if we don’t pray for lost people, we are living in disobedience to God. And you can also put down 1 Timothy 2 verse 1.
The second reason is that God has appointed not only the end of all things, but the means to accomplish those ends. Not only has God appointed the salvation of the elect, but God has also appointed all the means to reach the salvation of the elect. That begins with sending His own Son into the world to live a sinless life and die a substitutionary death. That is a part of the means of the salvation of the elect. And that also includes sending the Holy Spirit into the world who will convict men of sin and righteousness and judgment. That is also a part of the means of the salvation of the elect even within the Trinity, what the Trinity does as means to the salvation of those who were chosen, but it also involves you and me as well as necessary means.
And just to give you some of those necessary means, there are five necessary means. One is prayer, that we pray for the salvation of those who are without Christ and God is pleased to work through our prayers. Second is preaching, the preaching of the Word of God. God has ordained the public proclamation of the Word of God for the reaching of the lost. Third is personal witnessing, that you and I would fill the streets of our city with our own testimony of telling others about Jesus Christ. If God wanted, God could have written the gospel in the sky, and we just sit back and twiddle our thumbs. God could have sent a band of angels like He did in Luke 2 to announce the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, but He hasn’t done that. God has chosen to use weak, fallible people like you and me to spread the eternal message of the gospel.
And then fourth is godly living. We must back up our witnessing by modeling the message and by living in a manner that is consistent with the gospel that we preach. So, we can’t preach one thing and live another way. That cancels out our witness. And then fifth would be to love the lost and to reach out to the lost and show kindness to lost people, not slamming doors in their face but inviting them to come through our door and to sit down with us and to be able to share the love of Christ with them. It has been well said, “People don’t care how much you know till they know much you care.” And there is an element of truth in that.
So, for these reasons we need to pray. One, God commands it. Number two, God has appointed not only the end, but the means to accomplish those ends. Number three, Jesus prayed. You recall how He wept over Jerusalem, which is surely an expression of His heart even in His own prayers to the Father. And then fourth, just this simple point, God answers prayer. I mean, we don’t want to ever end up in a theological posture where we come to the conclusion that God doesn’t answer prayer. I mean, you are probably converted because your mother prayed for you. You are probably converted because your father lived a godly example before you and took you where the gospel was being preached. God answers prayer.
Now, let me just add a footnote. Does prayer change the sovereign will of God? The answer is no. And let me just tell you this. You don’t want to change the sovereign will of God, because that would imply you are wiser than God, smarter than God, and you have got a better plan than God has. So, don’t think your prayers are going to change the eternal decree of God. It is not. It would be like throwing a snowball at the Rock of Gibraltar. It is not going to move. But as I just said, you don’t want to change the sovereign will of God.
Now, let me just add one more footnote. You and I don’t know who the elect are, so therefore we pray for everybody, and therefore we witness to everybody. Sovereign election is God’s business. The eternal decree is a divine secret that will never be made known to us until we look in the rearview mirror and see what has already happened. We have no insight into the future other than some prophetic passages in Scripture of what God’s going to do in the future. Our concern is not trying to pry open the closed book in heaven of God’s eternal decree. That is God’s book. That is God’s business. You leave that with God. Our business is to go into the highways and the byways and to go into all the nations and to preach the gospel to everyone and to pray for those who are without Christ. And we leave the results to God, okay? So, I think that is a balanced approach what we have just said. The primary point that we are making in verse 1 is Paul’s burden, Paul’s prayers, and this needs to be our prayers and these need to be our burdens as well.
Now second, starting in verse 2, Paul’s reasons, because Paul now begins to unfold reasons why he is so burdened in prayer for his fellow Jews. And it will become obvious in verses 2 through 3 especially that these for whom he is praying are without Christ. So, please note the first word in verse 2, “For.” F-O-R. That introduces an explanation of what he has just said. This is one of Paul’s favorite words in the Bible. And if you’d allow me just to hit the pause button for a second, and just draw this to your attention, verse 2 begins, “For I testify about them.” Verse 3 begins, “For not knowing about God’s righteousness.” Verse 4 begins, “For Christ is the end of the law.” Verse 5 begins, “For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness.” Four verses in a row all begin with the word “For.”
If I was an editor and I do editing of things that I write, I would be striking out. I can hear R.C. Sproul in my ears, “Stop repeating yourself. Start using synonyms.” Well, Paul is stuck on the word “for,” but he is a master teacher and he is unraveling explanations why he is so burdened in prayer. And if that is not enough, look at verse 10, “For with the heart a person believes,” verse 11,” For the Scripture says.” Verse 12, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek.” Verse 13, “For whoever will call on the name of the Lord.” I won’t wear us out with this, maybe I already have, but Paul is constantly explaining what he just said. And for those of you who are preachers and teachers, you need to be always giving follow-up explanations for what you just said. It is not enough just to say it. You need to explain why you just said what you said. That is why I just gave you five reasons why we should pray for the lost. We need to be always explaining, and that is what Paul is doing here.
So, verse 2 he begins, “For I testify,” and the word “testify” here is a Greek word. I am going to pronounce it because you are going to hear the English word in it, martureo. You can hear “martyr” in it, and it means “to solemnly bear witness in a court of law.” And in the first century, those who were witnesses for Christ, many of them ended up being martyrs; certainly, the apostles. And so, it just became synonymous that if you are a witness you are a martyr because you are going to pay a price for being a witness for Christ. It is the word that Paul uses here, and it really testifies how true and authentic what he is saying is. “I testify as if I’m in a court of law about them.” Well, the “them” continues to be the unconverted Jews. So, he is narrowing his focus at the moment. And this is interesting because Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles, but he’s still burdened for the Jews. And this should tell us that we need to be burdened for people not just in our zip code but in other zip codes.
“I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” I mean, this tells us you can be fired up and you are still headed to hellfire, that you can be sincere and be sincerely wrong. You need to tweet what I just said. That you can be zealous for the truth, I mean enthusiastic, excited, lit up, and still be on the broad path headed for destruction. That zeal without knowledge does you no good. And so, the word “zeal” here, zelos, means “heated fervor and excitement of mind.” And so, it is not that the Jews in Paul’s day were unemotional or insincere. He acknowledges they have a zeal for God. He says, “but not in accordance with knowledge.”
Everything begins with knowledge. Everything begins with the truth, and until you know the truth you can’t get there from here. Until you have the truth, you are in darkness and are separated from Christ. And there are many churches that put zeal ahead of knowledge, and those churches unfortunately have many unconverted people in them. Everything must begin with knowledge, the renewing of your mind. Then your affections and your emotions are the result of your knowledge of the truth. But without the knowledge of the truth, it is a false zeal, and it is an empty enthusiasm. You are just whipped up over the style of music. You are just whipped up and it is kind of a crowd hysteria. It is like Pavlov’s dog. You just know it is the time to be filled with zeal because everyone else in the building is filled with zeal. But if there is no knowledge and no truth being taught, everyone is self-deceived and they are not coming to Christ until the knowledge of the truth is being put forth. And this was true of ancient Israel, and it is true of many churches. It is true of false religions.
And so, “knowledge” here is a word that really it is more than just objective facts. It is a Greek word epignosis that also includes a discernment of understanding these facts. So, it is not just that you know where the maps are in the back of the Bible. It is not just that you can cite the kings of the Northern Kingdom. It is not just that you can cite the twelve names of the apostles. It is more than just the facts. It is the discernment to sort through the facts to come to the knowledge of the gospel and your need for the gospel. And Paul knows all about this because this is where Paul once lived.
And I am just going to give you these cross-references without turning us to these cross-references, but Galatians 1:13 and 14, Paul said that he was once “more extremely zealous.” I mean, that is superlative on top of superlative. He wasn’t just zealous; he was more zealous. And it is not just that he was more zealous, he was more extremely zealous. No one was more zealous than Saul of Tarsus. He was running so fast, just in the wrong direction. He had letters in hand to go apprehend the Christians and drag them back to Jerusalem and put them to death. That didn’t accomplish anything. And then, the other cross-reference is Philippians 3:4 through 6, where Paul says, “As to zeal,” he was, “a persecutor of the church.”
So, Paul has already lived this and he knows all about this. And that is where he once was until on the Damascus road God came crashing into his life by the sovereignty of God. Paul would have never been saved if it had not been for the sovereignty of God. He would have been the last person on planet Earth who would have been saved had it not been for sovereign grace to overcome his stubborn resistance and his uncircumcised heart.
So, verse 3, he now follows up, “For not knowing about God’s righteousness.” He is talking about the unconverted Jew, and we could extend this to the unconverted Gentile today. So four, he is giving a further explanation of what he just said in verse 2. Here is why they have a zeal for God but not in accordance to knowledge; verse 3, “For not knowing about God’s righteousness.” “Not knowing” repeats what he just said in verse 2; it is “not in accordance to knowledge.” So, he says, “Not knowing about God’s righteousness.”
And there is a twofold way in which they were ignorant of God’s righteousness. Number one, they were ignorant of God’s high standard of righteousness that it requires perfect obedience to the law of God in order to have a right standing before God. They were totally ignorant of that. They thought God graded on the curve. They thought as long as they were better than the Egyptians or the Assyrians or some pagan tribes someplace, then they were okay with God because they had the Word, they had the prophets, they had the covenants, they had the temple, etc. No, they were totally ignorant that just one sin against God will damn your soul forever. It is that flagrant of an offense against an infinitely holy God. And if you break one commandment, you have broken them all, James 2 says. They were totally ignorant of God’s standard of perfect righteousness and perfect holiness.
Second, they were ignorant of the righteousness that God provides in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, that what God requires God supplies. And that is what Romans 1:17 is all about, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; for it is written: ‘The righteous man shall live by faith.'”
So, they were also ignorant in their striving to reach this standard, that one, they couldn’t reach the standard. Two, that God has provided the provision that they so desperately need, and they are so stinking prideful. They are too arrogant to accept the free gift. They are going to do salvation the old-fashioned way. They are going to earn it. They are going to earn their way to hell is what they are doing.
And so, he goes on to explain in verse 3, “Seeking…” And let me just comment on this. The word “seeking” comes from the same root word as “zeal” in verse 2. So, they were zealously seeking. In fact, the word means “to crave something.” They were wholeheartedly seeking, not just shuffling into church every other Sunday and sitting on the back pew, coming in fifteen minutes late. No, they were wholeheartedly seeking this says, “to establish their own.” “Their own.” And what is to be implied is their own righteousness, their own self-righteousness, their own works righteousness, their own law righteousness. They were doing everything within themselves to pull themselves up the ladder, to climb the ladder to reach God, and they were totally ignorant of the standard that God requires.
And he now gives us the reason why they were seeking to establish their own righteousness. He said, “They.” He is referring to the same group, unbelieving, highly religious Israel, “They did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” God is offering to them a perfect righteousness in the gospel and in the act of justification by faith, and they will not lower themselves. They will not subject or submit themselves to this free offer in the gospel.
And this word “subject,” do you see that in your Bible? “They did not subject themselves.” I want to comment on this word “subject.” It is a compound word. The prefix is hupo, H-U-P-O, which means “under.” The main root word is tasso, T-A-S-S-O, which is a military term, which means to fall in in an orderly manner,” and the idea is to come under a commanding officer. It is the same word that is used in Ephesians 5 that wives are to submit themselves to their own husbands. They are to lovingly, sweetly, but volitionally come under. They are to line up under the headship of their husband; same word that is used here. And Israel refused. They heard the gospel from Christ. They heard the gospel from the apostles. They heard the gospel from the planting of these churches in the first century. They just refused to subject themselves to the righteousness of God. And that is really at the heart of unbelief. It is pride. It is arrogance. It is insisting to go your own way, to do your own thing, to try to follow God on your own terms. They were too prideful to extend an empty hand to God to receive the free gift of His righteousness, and the reason is they refused to assume the role of a beggar because that is where it begins.
What is the first beatitude and the second beatitude? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” “Poor in spirit” means to be a beggar. Poverty, lower than poverty level, you have absolutely nothing. You are like a beggar on the side of the road and Jesus is passing by in Jericho, and the beggar can’t even look up into the eyes of Christ and extends an empty hand. You bring nothing to the table. That is what Jesus says we must be and do in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. You have nothing to offer God, and you have nothing to offer to contribute to your righteousness before God. Israel would not humble themselves, get off their high horse, come down on their knees, and extend an empty hand to a sovereign holy God in heaven. Instead, they were hell-bent that they are going to earn their salvation.
So, I am going to stop right here because I see the clock, and I want us to be able to talk among ourselves. And this next verse is a hugely important verse, and it is so important I don’t want to just jam this in at the end of this study. I want to be able to unpack it. So, we will meet June 20th next time, which is what, in two weeks? So, we will be here in two weeks. Please be here. I am expecting you to drive from Colorado, from Longview, from Big Town, Big Springs, whatever that is, Springtown. I know Fort Worth will be here. So, I need you. Although, I think you may be out of town, Fort Worth. But anyway, I need you all to be here. So, let us just stop right here, and let me just end with a word of application, okay? I said I’ve stopped, and now here I go again. That is what Paul does in Romans. There is like five benedictions. You know, you think the letter is finished and he tees it up and goes again.
It is very simple. Number one, we must pray for lost people. That is the big idea that leaps off the page. And it is the sovereign election of God that should motivate us because we are praying to a God who can overcome the stubborn resistance in the hearts of unconverted people. We have every hope as we pray.
Second, you and I must have a zeal for God that is in accordance with knowledge. We must have a zeal that is with knowledge. And it is not either/or; it is both/and. You must have knowledge of the truth, and everything begins with the truth. But the truth should produce zeal in you. That is a Christ-like quality. You remember in John chapter 2, Jesus said, “Zeal has consumed Me for My Father’s house?” You and I need to be consumed with zeal. And the word “zeal” simply means fervent, fiery. We don’t want to be a stoic, emotionless Christian. Now, we all have different personalities and different temperaments and it comes out different ways in different ones of us. So, I am not to be like you. You are not to be like me. You need be you. I need to be me, in how our emotions come out of us. But having said that, if you don’t have emotion for Christ then I wonder to what extent you really know the truth? Because the truth is like gas on fire, yeah, gas poured on fire. It ignites your soul. So, we want to have zeal with knowledge, zeal produced by knowledge.
And so, I want to encourage all of us. And at the end of the day, only God can really produce this zeal. You can’t whip yourself up into zeal. It is a Spirit-produced emotion within us if it is authentic and genuine, but it is the byproduct of the knowledge of the truth. The deeper you go into the truth, the higher you will be inflamed with zeal. But you cannot start with zeal. You have to start with the knowledge of the truth. Okay, I really mean it this time. I am landing the plane.