There is one verse in particular that stuck out to me from this passage and it may surprise you which one it is. It is not one of the 2 “famous” verses that I mentioned in last week’s post – verse 9 or verse 13. Rather it is verse 2:
“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.”
This verse is a mandate for missions. It is a mandate for church-planting. It is a mandate for evangelism.
There are billions of people scattered around our globe who are zealous for God. Their religiosity echos their heart’s desire to know God and to have the God-shaped vacuum in their lives filled with the God who created them, loves them, and longs to be reconciled with them.
But their zeal is not based on knowledge. Rather it is based on tradition. Or it is based on heritage. Or it is based on guilt. Or it is based on misinformation.Or it is based on government mandated faith.
Zeal for God must be fed by truth. And when it comes to knowing God, though it is not a tolerant position to take, Christianity has cornered the market regarding truth. The truth of the matter is that LIFE is only found in Christ. Knowing Christ equals knowing God.
Hence, it behooves Christians to do everything that they can to enable the world know this. This is why I say…
…this verse is a mandate for missions. It is a mandate for church-planting. It is a mandate for evangelism.
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 10: 14-21 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-24
Romans 9-11 are easy to skip over when reading Romans – or at least easy to breeze through without thinking through. The reason for this is because they pose questions for most believers – especially believers who do not want to take the time to think through theologically. Questions about election. Questions about the role of Israel in God’s purposes. Questions about evangelism and the responsibility that believer’s have. As I pondered this section I spent some time thinking about verse 8 – “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”
Children of the promise – that is who we are. I love God’s promises. And there are some great ones throughout the Scriptures. It was Adoniram Judson, one of America’s first missionaries, who once said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” But sometimes God’s promises don’t seem so bright. Take for instance verse 15: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” What if God chose not to have mercy on me? How would I feel about that? What if (according to verses 20-22) God made me for “dishonorable use”? Or that I was created as a “vessel of wrath prepared for destruction”? My future would not be so bright after all.
That’s why I don’t think you can read chapter 9 without reading chapter 10. Because in chapter 10 you get, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.” Here are a few chapter 10 promises to balance out what God says in chapter 9…
v.9 – “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
v. 13 – “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
I love being a child of the promise. And I love Romans chapter 9. I’m just exceptionally glad that Paul also wrote chapter 10. and indeed, my future IS as bright as the promises of God.
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 10:1-13 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-23
Oh, that we would have more of Paul’s spirit here! Do you grieve? Do you feel sorrow and anguish over your kinsmen, that they are accursed and cut off from Christ? I know that hundreds of you do. That’s good. Nurture that grief with Biblical truth. And remember, Jesus said that we should love not only those who love us, but also our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44). So may Bethlehem (Church) be a place of tears as well as joy. May we be Biblical Christian hedonists! As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:10, “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”
And if anyone should raise the legitimate question: Will we then be sad throughout eternity because of those who are accursed and cut off from Christ in hell? Will heaven be a place of eternal grief? – the answer is no. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes . . . neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4). Why? Jonathan Edwards put it like this:
With respect to any affection that the godly have had to the finally reprobate, the love of God will wholly swallow it up. And cause it wholly to cease. (The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust], Vol. 2, p. 899)
Those who die in their sinful rebellion – we say it with tears now – will not have the power to hold heaven hostage with their own misery. Here we groan and weep. There we are consumed with the glory of Christ.
Let us learn from Paul. He knows that his kinsmen are lost and ready to be cast into outer darkness forever. But he does not say that with rage or fierceness. He says it with anguish.
Wow! Talk about having a heart for people to know Christ. Paul is saying that he is willing to give up his own salvation if only his Jewish kinsmen would believe and be saved. And this is incredibly remarkable when you recall how much knowing Christ means to Paul. In Philippians 3:8-10 Paul says, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering….
Knowing Jesus was EVERYTHING to Paul – and yet he was willing to give it up if the Jewish people would turn from their sin and find Life in Christ.
Reading and pondering this passage make me realize how little I care for the salvation of others. I am selfish in my salvation. I don’t pray for people to turn to Christ like I should. I don’t cry over people going to hell. I don’t plead with friends and family to turn from their wickedness and embrace Christ.
“Lord, would You change me and more and more give me a heart for people like Paul had for the Jews. I confess my apathy towards evangelism. I confess my indifference for people who die without Christ. I confess that my heart is cold. I need your Spirit to bring the passionate heat of revival to my passiveness and listlessness when it comes to sharing the gospel.”
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 9:6-32 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-23
Corrie Ten Boom was at the Nazi death camp Ravensbruck where roll call came at 4:30 every morning. Most mornings were cold, and sometimes the women would be forced to stand without moving for hours in the bone-chilling pre-dawn darkness. Nearby were the punishment barracks where all day and far into the night would come the sounds of cruelty: blows landing in regular rhythm and screams keeping pace.
But Corrie and her sister Betsie had a Bible, and at every opportunity they would gather the women together like orphans around a blazing fire, and read Romans 8:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Corrie later said:
I would look about us as Betsie read, watching the light leap from face to face. More than conquerors. It was not a wish. It was a fact. We knew it, we experienced it minute by minute in an ever widening circle of help and hope. Life at Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory (2Co 3:18).
As I was pondering this passage I found myself thinking about the extravagance of God’s love. What do I mean by extravagance? God went above and beyond what He should have done. He should have condemned us and poured out His wrath upon us but instead He chose to display His love in an astounding way. He sent His Son to woo us back to Himself. My pondering of this turned into a prayer – which went like this…
Baruch ata Adonai. Blessed are You Lord. You have lavished upon me a love that I have yet to understand. It is a love that overpowers my sin, my failure, my worries, my helplessness, my apathy. You continue to love me no matter what because of the magnanimous work of Christ on the cross.
More and more would You, by Your Spirit, enable me to grasp how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ that I may experience the fulness of knowing You. More and more would You root me in Your nourishing love so that I may grow and enjoy the vitality of my relationship with You. More and more would You draw me into Your passionate embrace that I may incarnate that same love to the people around me.
I am grateful that because of Your great love I am “more than a conqueror.” I am grateful that because of Your great love that NOTHING can ever separate me from You. I am grateful that You went above and beyond and demonstrated Your love in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 9:1-5 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-22
“EXTRAS” is a follow up to the Friday Pondering post. It gives insight, commentary, and illustrations from pastors and scholars who also have spent time pondering the passage.
Howard Hendricks writes that…
The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity, but to make you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner, but to make you like the Saviour. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts, but to transform your life.
On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription:“ James Butler Bonham—no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom.” No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of His true followers.
Romans 8:28 is an easy verse to believe when the sun is shining, but it’s something else entirely in the darkness of human tragedy. We doubt this verse for two reasons. First, Paul says “we know” when most of us don’t feel like we know. Second, Paul says “all things” when most of us would rather say “some things.” Surely the key word is the word “good.” For us, “good” usually means happiness, health, prosperity, and good fortune. Those things are indeed good, but God’s good far exceeds our limited vision. (Ro 8:29) tells us that God’s good is that we should be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Anything that makes us like Jesus is good. This gives an entirely new perspective to heartaches and tragedies. They are part of God’s plan to chip away little by little at our character until Jesus is fully formed in us.