Scripture Text: Romans 10:1-4
Imagine a church that gathers together on Sunday morning. The building is packed full of people. The preacher preaches a message that is well received. The church is busy doing various things for the community. The congregation faithfully gives of their time and money to support the church. The members love each other, enjoy their fellowship, and are friendly to guests. Does that sound like a church you would want to join? What is missing from the church I just described? Where is Jesus Christ in all of that? Where is the Word of God mentioned? There are thousands of churches like what I described that are doing well as a group but are failing to be the Church of God. There are thousands of churches that are doing well but who do not submit to Jesus Christ or faithfully preach His authoritative Word. Some churches have lost their way and are focused on the wrong things. It is more about themselves than their Savior.
Paul addressed a similar situation in this passage. His fellow Israelites were focused on the wrong things and were not believing in Christ. Paul spent much of this letter explaining what God expects of us in order for us to be in a right relationship with Him. Paul revealed the theme of Romans in chapter one where he mentioned that the good news of Jesus Christ is God’s power for salvation. It shows us that the righteousness of God is through faith (not works) for anyone who believes in Christ. Paul explained how we all need a Savior, how righteousness cannot be achieved by what we do, and how there is no condemnation for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Paul knows that many of his fellow Israelites have not embraced the Gospel and are lost. We see three things in this passage that speak to how we ought to be the Church.
Have a Heart for Salvation
What do you think should matter most to us? Is it being faithful to God and bringing Him glory? How concerned should we be that other people are lost and on their way to Hell? Does it really bother us? Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!” While I would not be so bold (or judgmental!) to say who is saved and who is not, I do wonder how anyone who was once under God’s wrath and bound for Hell, but then received God’s grace and forgiveness, could not be concerned for others who are in the same boat they once were. Could it be that they are still in the same boat with them? Can we really know Christ and not want others to really know Him as well? We see in this passage that Paul really desires his fellow Jewish brothers and sisters to know Jesus Christ and live.
Romans 10:1 1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
Paul’s desire is for his people to hear the Gospel and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He not only desires it, he prays for this to happen. Is that your desire? Do you pray for others to know Christ? We see something similar in the previous chapter. Paul wrote at the beginning of chapter nine that he had such great sorrow and anguish for his kinsmen that he could wish that he were accursed and cut off from Christ.
Romans 9:1–3 1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
How many of us would be willing to be cut off from Christ if it meant that others would be saved? How many of you would give up your place in heaven if someone else could go? Paul does not think he can die to save other people, because only Jesus could do that, but if he could, he would be willing to do it. Paul had a desire to see people saved. Do you have that desire? If so, does that desire motivate you to do something about it? Or, are you more concerned about your own interests, your own desires, that you have no time to be concerned about others? Do you ridicule other faiths or worry what they may do to you instead of praying that they will come to a saving knowing of Jesus Christ? I think Paul’s concern for his fellow Jewish brethren indicates a few things:
- Paul cared for them. No matter what disagreement they had had or how much they may have persecuted him, he wanted them to be saved. Is there someone you need to care a little bit more, or care at all, for their relationship with God?
- Paul realized that as hard as he may preach the Gospel to others, it was ultimately out of his hands. He prayed for their salvation. He turned to the One Who can save them. Is there someone you need to pray a little more for their salvation?
- Even though Paul advocated the election of the saints by God’s predestining purpose, his prayer for them may indicate that their present unbelieving state was not final. Paul did not abandon hope that they would be saved. You should not give up on those you love. Share the Gospel. Pray for others to receive it.
Be Zealous for the Right Things
Have you ever been really passionate about something? Maybe it was a job, or a date, or a win from a game. Have you been passionate for something you did not get? So were the Israelites. Paul mentioned earlier that they had failed to achieve what they pursued. On the other hand, the Gentiles achieved what they did not pursue.
Romans 10:2–3 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
It was righteousness. We would like to think that God’s people always do the right thing, but that is not true. We would like to think that everyone who comes to church or who grew up in church is right with God, but some are not. There are people who grow up in a church, listen to the lessons in Sunday school, sing songs during the worship service, hear the Gospel preached every Sunday morning, and leave just as lost as when they came. People can faithfully do church without being the church. Some think that just attending church or giving to it or their history in a church earns them something. It does not. Others sincerely think that they can do things to earn a right relationship with God, but they cannot. We can be sincere about many things, and be sincerely wrong about all of them. We can really believe something and it be a lie. Is that you?
The problem with the Israelites of Paul’s day was that they really thought that they could be righteous by doing it themselves. They did not submit to God’s righteousness. Many Israelites were passionate about following the Law of Moses for their salvation. Most Pharisees were passionate about persecuting Jesus. Even Paul, as a Pharisee, was passionate about persecuting the Church. Some religions are very passionate about killing those who do not believe like they do. What things do you sincerely believe that are wrong? That is a problem many have today. Being zealous is a good thing, if it is for the right thing. The problem with the Israelites was that their passion was misdirected. Many of them did not trust in Jesus Christ as the sole means to be right with God, which grieved Paul. They attempted to be righteous by their own works and did not submit to God’s righteousness. Paul wrote something similar in his letter to the Philippians.
Philippians 3:8–9 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
Those who pursue a right standing with God on the basis of works rather than God’s saving grace are legalistic and will fail. The true Way, Jesus Christ, is that God’s righteousness is given to those who believe the Gospel and trust Jesus Christ. We have to put aside any means of doing it ourselves and pursue the righteousness of God found in Christ Jesus by faith in Him. Are you passionate about tradition, about material things, about doing things a certain way, or even about the Bible, that you miss a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you zealous for the right thing? Do you really see the worth of Jesus Christ and love Him? Be passionate about Him.
Submit to the Righteousness of Christ
Being zealous about Christ means we will submit to Him and His righteousness. Is that how you really feel? Do you like to submit to anything? Most people enjoy being in charge or in control of their lives. We do not want someone to tell us what to do. Ask your spouse if he/she likes to be told what to do. If we want to have a right relationship with God, we will humble ourselves and submit ourselves to Him. If we try to be in charge and do it our way, we will lose ourselves. The last verse in this section tells us about Jesus’ relationship to the Law and why we must submit to Him.
Romans 10:4 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
The reason we must submit to Christ and trust Him is because He is the “end of the Law for righteousness”. The Law of Moses has reached its goal in Christ, meaning it pointed forward to and anticipated Christ. The Law of Moses is also no longer binding upon us since the old covenant has ended and a new covenant has begun. God has made a new covenant with His people that does not depend on the Law, but rather on His Son. We are no longer under the taskmaster of the Law, but we are under the loving protection of a Savior who freed us from the Law and sin, if we believe in Him. We must put aside any thought that we are righteous in ourselves, because our good deeds are filthy rags. To be right with God, we must trust Christ Who has perfectly followed the Law of God and purchased salvation for us, and submit to Him. Remember, the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to those who believe.
Romans 1:16–17 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
How faithful are you in submitting to Christ? How faithful are you in following Him for your salvation? Faith is the vehicle for living for God. Many claim to have faith in Christ. Many will point to a time when they said a prayer or make a profession of faith for Christ. Has that faith sustained you? Genuine faith in Jesus Christ leads to submission to Him. Are you submitting to Him? Is there any area of your life that you are not letting go? If you give yourself fully to Him, you will not be ashamed. You will not be disappointed. The riches of His grace are given to those who faithfully follow Him.
In closing, what do you trust will make you right with God? Is it yourself? Is it your tradition? Are you submitting to Jesus or are you trusting in yourself to be right with God? Are you relying on what you have done in the past, how much money you have given, how long you have been in church, to make yourself right with God? Are you placing too much importance on lesser things that you are missing the most important thing — a genuine relationship with Christ? Be passionate about Christ, not the temporary things of this world. You will not be disappointed.
Lastly, do you have a heart for others to know Christ? Do you really care about people getting to know Christ? Do you think that is someone else’s job, not yours? Every believer is called to be a witness for Christ. Do you love others enough to tell them about Christ? Do you love them enough to pray for their salvation? Do you love your Savior enough to tell others about Him? We cannot help but tell about what we love. So it is with our relationship with Christ. If you really love Jesus and are passionate about Him, others will know. Who will you tell this week? Who will you pray to receive salvation this week. It is good news, but only if it is received in time. Amen!
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.