Monday, November 4, 2013

Grace And Praying For The Lost by Martin Wiles

Romans 10:1-13
Introduction:
A. Consider your prayer life? Do you ever spend time praying for those who don’t know Christ?


B. This may include work acquaintances, friends, relatives and even spouses and children.

C. And if salvation is all of God, what good does it do for us to pray for them, if say, they are not of the elect?

D. And how do we pray for them? We don’t always, if ever, know God’s plan for their life.

E. But pray we should, for Jesus said we should pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send laborers into fields white for harvest. (Matthew 9:38)

F. Realizing the condition of the lost should spur us on to pray for them. Already in our study, we have examined the condition of people without Christ. Our personal salvation cannot be all that matters.

G. As with any prayer we make, we should make sure we have dealt with any issues hindering us spiritually.

H. A part of praying for God to send laborers into the field includes the possibility we may be the laborer. That is, we need to be open to any opportunity God gives us to share his love.

I. Mission work does not just take place overseas or in countries where the gospel has not penetrated. Amazingly, there are people in America and probably even in our own community who need to hear or need to hear again.

J. Witnessing also involves the need for boldness. There are various reasons we use for not speaking up-why we let an opportunity go by. Truthfully, none of them are sufficient or acceptable for there is never a good reason for not sharing. We need to ask God to help us be strong in sharing our story.

K. We also need to pray for God to work in the hearts and minds of those he places in our path or those we help spread the gospel to so they can clearly hear and understand the message.

I. Paul’s Longing For His People To Be Saved (vv. 1-4)
A. Paul longed for the Jewish people to be saved. (v. 1)
1. This is a general and blanket statement that is not intended to mean no Jews had accepted Christ.
2. There were many who believed but many more did not because of preconceived notions held about the Messiah or because they had fallen into the misunderstanding of the Law’s purpose.
3. Others may have taken sides with the religious leaders, many of whom rejected Jesus, and some who outright attributed his works to the power of the devil or demons within him.
4. Paul took into account this situation and wondered why they couldn’t see the light as he had.
5. He had a heart-felt longing for them to be saved, and he prayed diligently for God to open their blinded eyes.

B. Reasons Paul mentions for their disbelief. (vv. 2-3)
1. Now we might wonder what will happen to Jews who don’t believe in Christ but have maintained a zealous belief and commitment to the same God that Jesus proposed to represent and even be.
2. We can even think of devout Muslims who also believe in one God-the God of Abraham, which amazingly is the same God we worship.
3. In spite of this loyalty, rejecting Jesus as God’s son sent to be the Savior of the world disqualifies them for forgiveness and a place in heaven.
4. Jesus said there was only one way to the Father, and he was it. (John 14:6)
5. In the case of devout Jews, we may be tempted to cry unfair. They are dedicated to the same religion we are (with the exception of believing Jesus was the Messiah) but they are still going to miss out on heaven.
6. Paul references their zeal in verse two but then concludes it is misdirected zeal. This is why he is so concerned for them. He recognizes enthusiasm-as good as it may be, if it is directed in the wrong direction is no good.
7. The unbelieving Jews had replaced faith with customs and traditions and were placing their stock in them instead of faith. Obedience to God’s law was also of great importance.
8. Paul himself had been caught up in this scene but discovered on the Damascus Road that none of these actions or any others could take the place of faith. Having realized this, he was very intent on sharing this same message with his people.
9. His statement about his people is very blunt and to the point-“They won’t go along with God’s way.” (v. 3)
10.  The Jews failed to understand God’s way of making people right with him-though God had certainly not hidden this from them on purpose. Instead of going the correct way, they were clinging to another way-keeping the law.
11.  We might say there are ways and then there is the way. All roads may have led to Rome at one point, but all roads do not lead to salvation and acceptance by God. There are many broad roads, but the narrow path of faith in Christ is the only road going the entire distance to God.
12.  The example of the Jewish people reminds us that all our efforts-apart from faith, are useless for making us acceptable to God.
13.  Good intentions can be slippery. They do not guarantee the results will be good. They do not guarantee we will take any action at all. They are often compromised by our bad intentions-intentions we may not even be aware of. They can lead to pride and even cause us to bypass God’s clear commands.
14.  All of this reminds us of the saying; “We can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong.”

C. The correct way to God (v. 4)
1. Paul remarks that Christ accomplished the end of the law or perhaps the whole purpose of the law.
2. He then concludes that all who believe in him are made right with God.
3. This is a restatement of all he has already maintained; he simply restates it as it relates to his people the Jews.
4. The law pointed to Christ and expressed God’s demands. Christ fulfilled the law because he was perfectly obedient to it. When in Christ, we also have the strength to live up to God’s requirements by the power of his Spirit in us. He makes us right with God.
5. In Christ, we are released from the pressure that Old Testament saints lived under as they hopelessly tried to obey the requirements of the law.
6. Along with this, in Christ we are released from the enslaving power of sin, guilt, shame and punishment.
7. We can live with the freeing realization that we are no longer under condemnation.

II. Paul’s Longing For Everyone To Be Saved (vv. 5-13)
A. Paul compares the way of the law and the way of faith. (vv. 5-8)
1. Under the law, all commands had to be obeyed to be accepted by God.
2. God commanded the people to keep his laws, and then told them they would live if they did. (Leviticus 18:5)
3. Bearing that in mind, no one was ever accepted this way. The law showed God’s standards and experience taught no one could live up to them.
4. Imagine the helplessness and hopelessness of being told to do the impossible yet still be held responsible for not being able to do what you were told.
5. Faith on the other hand simply says to trust Christ and God will accept us.
6. Paul uses a portion of Moses’ farewell challenge to God’s people prior to their entrance into the Promised Land to emphasize his point.
7. It is not necessary to try and go to heaven to get Jesus; he already came in the incarnation-taking on human flesh.
8. Nor do we go to his tomb where he was laid for we won’t find him there either or even beyond to try and conquer death and hell. God brought Jesus back to life, proving he accepted the payment made for our sins.
9. Nor is God found in spatial places. No matter how far we might ascend we would not locate heaven.
10.  All that remains is for us to trust in the way God has designed.
11.  The lesson is clear: we often try by our own efforts to reach God when all we have to do is reach out to his reaching down to us.

B. Paul relates the way for all to come to Christ. (9-13)
1. Verse nine is another familiar verse in the Roman road of salvation.
2. Salvation results from several things but is a single process: confession that Jesus is Lord and heart belief that God raised him from the dead.
3. Liberal theologians have tried to dismiss the necessity of believing in the resurrection as a requirement for salvation, but seemingly Paul ties it in to our request for forgiveness and belief.
4. In I Corinthians Paul reminds us the resurrection was necessary for the validation of the atonement Christ made on the cross. Without it our faith is of no value. The resurrection proved God accepted Jesus’ payment for our sin.
5. We often try to make salvation a complicated process but Paul shows the beautiful simplicity of it. We simply believe and confess.
6. Anyone who does this will not be disappointed.  (v. 11) You might respond, “Well I’ve known many occasions of disappointment.”
7. Paul is not saying we will never be disappointed after salvation. God will not disappoint us in not rewarding our belief and confession. He will save us upon our request and by his grace. This salvation is given to Jew and Gentile alike-in other words everyone who asks. (v. 12-13)

Conclusion:
A. Believers have a responsibility to pray for and work toward sharing God’s love with unbelievers.

B. God gives the wonderful assurance that all who call upon the name of his Son will be saved.


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