Manage episode 336965722 series 3038820
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Heavenly Father, we thank you that you, the Great God of the universe have given us this opportunity to come and worship you. We thank you Jesus, that while we were yet sinners, you came and you died for us. Not because there was anything lovely in us presently or in the future, but because you are a loving God. Lord, I pray, remove any distractions and help us focus on your Holy Word. Help us to meditate today on the Sovereignty of God that you are God over everything, over every detail, over all the minutia of our lives and all the minutia in the world. And help us take solace in the fact that you're in control, even when we look at our lives and we look at the world, it seems like everything is out of control. Your word tells us that when we submit ourselves to you, when we love you with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, you take every single aspect of our lives and you weave them all together for our good and for your glory.
Bless our time in the Holy Scriptures now, as we look at a profound passage. It's difficult in many ways, but it's not difficult to understand. It's difficult to receive, so give us grace to receive it. We pray Holy Spirit, come now and minister to us. Take these words that are on paper, that are on screens and apply them to our hearts. Make us the people who love you with everything that we got. Love the Gospel with everything we got, so much so that we're willing to sacrifice anything and everything, so that others might have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and be prompted by the Holy Spirit generated in their hearts and drawn to you. Bless our time in the Holy Word. We pray all this in Christ's Holy Name. Amen.
We're continuing our sermon series through Romans 9. Today, we're in Romans 9:1-5. The title of the sermon is, Heartbroken Over Eternal Souls. We've moved from one of the most popular passages in all the Scripture, Romans 8 to one of the least popular and most avoided. It's a difficult passage, but it's not that difficult to understand. I can explain it to you. It's difficult for many to accept and receive, partially because it cuts against the grain of our very nature. Our nature is driven by self. In many ways, we are natural Pelasgians. Pelagius taught that we have the power to come to Christ whenever we want. That we have a free will that's truly free and we can choose Christ whenever, wherever. That's not true.
I love this portion of Scripture. It's balm to my weary soul, because it shows us that God is Sovereign. That God is King. That God is God. He is all powerful. He can do whatever he wills, and whatever he wills is good because he is good. I love this portion of Scripture because it reminds me I'm not in control, nor do I need to be. God is in control. And thanks be to Jesus Christ, the one who is in control loves me and wants the best for me. In Romans 8, one of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Well this verse is only true, if God is Sovereign over every single detail in the universe. If God is Sovereign over everything, then he is Sovereign over who gets saved, because who gets saved is part of everything. And if you don't understand just how totally Sovereign God is, you don't really understand the character of God, not yet.
Romans 9 is an explanation for why the word of God has not failed, even though God's chosen people Israel, as a whole, are not turning to Christ and being saved. In Romans 8, God says, "There is nothing that can sever God's people from God's love." There is nothing that can sever God's people from God's love, and here someone can raise the question, "Whoa, whoa, hold on. What about Israel? What about the Jewish People, the chosen people of God? Why aren't they flocking to Christ as they should be?" They have received so many of the privileges that many people are not born into.
Here St. Paul says, "Hey, hold on. God never promised that salvation will be given to all of ethnic Israel, because salvation isn't based on DNA. Salvation isn't based on our genes. It's not based on our religious pedigree. It doesn't matter how many religious people you had in your family before you. What matters is faith in Jesus Christ, your own personal faith in Jesus Christ, your own relationship with Christ." God's word has not fallen and the sovereignty of God's grace has brought in, in Romans 9, as the final ground of God's faithfulness, despite Israel's faithlessness, their failure to trust in Christ. And therefore, God's sovereignty is the deepest foundation for the precious promises of Romans 8.
With that said, would you please look with me in Romans 9:1-5, "I am speaking the truth in Christ. I'm not lying. My conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 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. They are Israelite. And to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen." This is the reading of God's holy, inerrant, infallible, authoritative word, may write these eternal truths upon our hearts. Three points to frame over our time. First, anguish over lost souls. Second, accursed and cut off. And third, religious privilege doesn't save.
First, anguish over lost souls. Look at verse one. Look at Paul's solemnity. He's giving a declaration with the deepest sincerity that he can muster. He says, "I am speaking the truth in Christ." He invokes Christ, the second person of the Trinity. "I'm not lying. Speaking the truth. I'm not lying. My conscience bears me witness." Brings in his conscience. "In the Holy Spirit," brings in the third person of the Holy Spirit, to show us just how sincere he is and what he's about to say. Why? Because he knows that he's said some things that are problematic for religious Jewish people of his day and religious Jewish people of our day. Before Paul looks at how God has taken the Gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles community, grafting Gentiles in the place of Israel. That's what Romans 9-11 is about. He wants to make sure that these people, his brothers, his brethren, his kinsmen. His brothers that he grew up going to synagogue with these people. This is his family.
He wants the Jewish community to know that he is writing these words with tears. He's not angry. He's not hostile toward them. He's speaking with a loving and burdened heart. Why is such a strong assertion of truthfulness of his love? Because he knows that he has spoken hard truths. And when you speak hard truths to people, it's easy for them to misinterpret your intentions. He's speaking truth, because he loves. Probably because Paul also knows that his fellow Jews were suspicious of his loyalty and his patriotism, because he was used by God to bring so many Gentiles into the people of God. He was viewed by a number of his Jewish people as a traitor, that he has lost his natural affection towards his people and he denies this.
They doubted his love. So that's what he starts with. Why would they doubt his love? Because he said hard things, like Romans 2:24, "For as it is written, the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." He's talking about religious people who offered God nothing more than mouth service. They worshiped God with their mouths, but their hearts were far from him. The Gentiles saw the testimony, the sermon of the lives of these people. And he said, "You worship God?" They blaspheme the name of God. Romans 3:9, "What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin." This was his message.
His message has never changed. His message was, it doesn't matter what your pedigree. It doesn't matter what your genealogy. It doesn't matter what your DNA. It doesn't matter how many faithful people you had in your past, in your family. None of that matters, because God doesn't have grandchildren. God only has children. So everyone is a sinner. He's preaching the same message to both Jews and Greeks. And the Jews will say, "Hold on, hold on. You're saying we're as much sinners as the Gentiles?" And Paul says, "Yes. We're all sinners. We're all under the condemnation of God. We all deserve damnation. We're all accursed apart from God." And then he says in verse six, and we'll cover this next week in Romans 9:6. He says, "But it's not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel." It's not your genealogy that saves you. Saying it over and over and over, God's covenant doesn't guarantee the salvation of every Jew. The ultimate reason why some are cursed and cut off from Christ is that they are not among the elect.
Romans 11:7, "What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elective obtained it, but the rest were hardened." Before he gets to these hard truths about election, he wants everyone to know that these truths are coming from a heart that loves people. He says in verse two of chapter nine, "That I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart." You can feel his pain as grief. It's a perturbed heart, kind of like Christ was. And the more that you know Christ and love Christ, the more Christ-like you become. This is why Jesus saves us, so that we can be refashioned and transformed into the image of Christ, that we become more Christ-like, and Christ loved sinners. Christ gave everything to save sinners.
On his way to Jerusalem, he knows the passion is coming. He knows the crucifixion is coming, and he knows the people that he is dying for, killed by. These are people that he loves and he wants them to be saved. This is what Jesus says, as he cries out in lament about Jerusalem, a city that hardened their hearts against the word of God. Matthew 23:37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you are not willing."
Paul continues and this is point, accursed and cut off. In verse three, he says. This is how deep his grief. This is how deep his sorrow. He says in verse three, "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." Well, you got to pause here and meditate on what he's saying. What are you saying, Paul? The first thing that he's saying is an implication. What he's implying is, that his kinsmen, his brothers according to the flesh, his fellow Jewish believers are accursed and cut off from Christ. He does soften the statement of their loss by expressing in relation to his own anguish, but the statement's unmistakable. He's saying that the Jewish people who rejected Christ are accursed, that they're lost. They're on their way to hell, under the judgment of God.
The word for accursed here is anathema. It's used in other places, like 1 Corinthians 16:22, "If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. O Lord, come." So why are these people accursed? What makes one accursed? Well, breaking the moral law of God. You break the moral law of God, God's curses upon your head. It's upon your soul. And there's only one way to be saved from the curse that we all deserve for our law breaking. That's the trust in the God Man, Jesus Christ, who was cursed on our behalf. These people rejected the only one who could save them from the curse of the law. Galatians 3:13 says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree."
Paul knows this. Paul knows that the only way to be saved from damnation is to trust in Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ, the substitutionary atonement, he bore the curse that we deserve. And as soon as we trust in him, the curse is lifted off from us, and Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. "He who knew no sin became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God." Paul knows this, but he still sees his brothers and sisters as kinsmen in the flesh. They've rejected Christ, and he says some haunting words. He says, "For I could wish that I were accursed on their behalf." What he's saying is hypothetically, if there were a way for them to be saved and for me to be cursed, I'm willing to take their curse upon myself and bear eternal torment forever.
Of course, he's speaking hypothetically. It's impossible that any mere man could be cursed in exchange for the salvation of others, but Paul expresses this impossible wish in uncertain terms. He says, "My conscience bears me when it's in Christ, I'm saying the truth in the Holy Spirit." He knows it's not true, but if it were true, he would do it. The wish can't be fulfilled. Nothing can sever believers from the love of Christ. We already know this from Romans 8, but he says, "May I be damned so that they would not be." Martin Luther comments. He says, "It seems incredible that a man would desire to be damned in order that the damned might be saved."
Well, this is as Christ-like as you can become. He sees people that he loves and he's willing to do absolutely anything and everything sacrifice everything for these people to meet Christ. That's what Christ did. He knew that there was no other way for people to be saved, other than for Christ to come, live a perfectly obedient life of love toward God and people. And then, Christ goes to a cross. He's crucified and the crucifixion was chosen by God. This is pre-destined sovereignty of God. He controls every single detail. God chose crucifixion, because it was the most excruciating form of capital punishment ever known to man, and even that was just a tip of the iceberg of the spiritual anguish that Christ went through. Christ bore our curse upon himself, and that curse was bearing the wrath of God in his soul. Christ went through hell so that we would not have too.
You can hear the grief and the voice of St. Paul here at the unbelief of his people. And I wonder, could you say this? Could you say anything remotely close to this? Could you say you love someone so much that you give up your own salvation for them? Those of us who have loved ones who were lost, perhaps a sibling or a spouse or a child or a parent, a grandparent, friends, we know this grief. We know this sorrow. We made joy time with them, laugh with them, even play with them, but there's always a pain underneath knowing, unless this person trusts in Christ, we will spend eternity apart from each other. Luther put it this way, "Love is not only pure joy and delight, but also a great and deep heaviness of heart and sorrow."
The good news is, we don't have to give up our salvation for the salvation of others. But if you put yourself in this posture of heart, where you're willing to give up your salvation for that of another, well it makes other things so much easier, like sharing the Gospel with them. As awkward as it can be as politically incorrect as it may be, you can have a difficult conversation with the person. And by the way, this is what St. Paul and by the way Jesus calls each one of us to. The great commission wasn't just given to the disciples or the Apostles or professional trained clergy. The great commission was given to each one of us. Jesus Christ tells each Christian, "Look, I've saved you and now I'm giving you a job. I'm commissioning you, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to do everything that I have taught you."
I do want you to increase your evangelistic ministry. You should have one. Every Christian should have an evangelistic ministry, where you have unbelievers that you are heartbroken over, sorrow, anguishing your heart over, and you beg God to save them. And you take any and every opportunity to share the Gospel with them, to read Scripture with them, to speak truth in love and serve them. This is what Paul did. These aren't just words for Paul. He devoted his life, his whole life to sharing the Gospel, planting Churches and doing missionary work. Paul's immense heart broke for Israel and he uses the same word when he writes to the Galatians, the word anathema. The Galatians were being seduced away from the true Gospel in Galatians 1:8. He says, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a Gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed."
So what he's saying to false teachers who do not preach the full Gospel? He says, "May you be cursed for preaching lies." What he's saying is, "Damn you for destroying the Gospel." This is the worst kind of curse that could be brought against a human being. It goes back to the Old Testament, when God's curse was upon Canaan and God tells the people of Israel, "Don't even take their goods. Slaughter them, give them up to absolute destruction." This is the kind of anathema that Paul is calling upon himself. "I am willing to go through this anathema so that my kinsmen could be saved." And the reader of Romans who knows his or her Bible will immediately spot, that the posture of heart in verse three is very similar to that of Moses.
When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and he sees that the people of Israel have fashioned golden calf, and they're worshiping it. Moses discovers the sin of the people and he knows that God is about to vanquish them, and he says, "God, you got to hold on." And he intercedes for them in Exodus 32:30-32, "The next day, Moses came to the people. You have sinned." And he said to them, "You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.' So Moses returned to the Lord and said, 'Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin. If not, please blot me out of your book that you have written."
What a heart for the lost, and I pray that the Lord develops a similar heart in each one of us. This is why we exist. This is why this Church exists. This is why we have an army volunteers, every Sunday, show up here like 6:00 AM. They're here till like 2:00 PM, sweating and burning calories. You worship God and you get a workout. It's like CrossFit. Jesus is the center of the cross. This is what we do. We do everything. We do glorify God, and we want unbelievers to meet Jesus. That's what we want. And every single Sunday, there's unbelievers that show up and we hear, people get saved. We prep people for baptism, discipleship, et cetera. The Lord is doing his work.
Third point is religious privilege doesn't save. Romans 9:4, "They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises." What he's saying is, some people are given more revelation than others. These are spiritual privileges. If you grow up in a Christian family, you have a father and a mother who care for you, teach you the Gospel, teach you Holy Scriptures, have devotions with you, pray with you, pray over you, care for you. And they embody the truth of the Gospel with their own lives. That's incredible privilege. I think of my own parents. Every single morning, I walk down the stairs as I go prep breakfast on the way to school. And my dad is on his knees, open Bible, praying to God. My mom and my dad loved the Lord, incredible privilege. But what we are you saying here, it doesn't matter the privileges that you've been given, if you don't do anything with them, if you don't make them your own, if you don't accept these blessings, privileges.
The privileges missed, the first one is adoption. And here he is talking about Israel not as adoption given to individuals. And this has to be clarified because in Romans 8, he does say that we have been, "Christians individually adopted into the family of God." Israel did not have the same adoption. They had a national blessing of adoption conferred on them, but they still had to appropriate for themselves. In the Gospel of Matthew, we see this application from the Old Testament, when Jesus Christ was born and then Herod issued the threat of infant slaughter. An angel comes and warns Joseph in a dream to flee from Bethlehem and not to return to Nazareth, but go to Egypt until the threat had passed. And then Matthew tells us, that Joseph took Mary and the baby Jesus and fled to Egypt. And when the Herodian persecution was over, they come back to Israel, thereby fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy that we're given. And this is the text in Matthew 2:13-15.
"Now, when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him.' And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt, I called my son." Well, the original reference to this adoption was when God, through Moses brings Israel out of captivity, out of the yoke of slavery under Pharaoh and calling the nation, his son. And that's Hosea 11:1, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." The Israelites were those who had been called to enjoy the adoption, but then they've run from the Lord, turned from the Lord and turned to idolatry.
The second privilege that they were given is the glory, and the Greek word for glory's Doxa, where we get the word doxology from. When we sing the Doxology after every Sunday Service, we're giving glory to God. He deserves it. The Latin equivalent of the word Doxa is Gloria, from which we get the Gloria Patri, Glory Be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning and is now and ever shall be. Amen. In this context here, Paul is undoubtedly referring to God's presence to people of Israel. God was amongst them, but the reader of Romans have forgotten that Paul has attributed this characteristic to Christians, that God is in us. The Holy Spirit is in us in a way that wasn't true with Israel, but they did experience the Glory, hovering over the mercy seat in the Arc of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies and glory in Israel is connected to the Shekinah, the blazing light that manifested God's Glory and made him a consuming fire.
Ezekiel saw the Glory of God rising from the City of Jerusalem and departing. And at the birth of Jesus Christ, the Glory of God flooded the landscape and the angelic choir gave Glory to God. The covenants were given to Israel, the covenants with Adam, with Noah, with Abraham, with Isaac, Jacob, Moses and with David. And the covenants we inherit from the Jews, not from the Gentiles. We inherit these from Paul's kinsmen. The covenants belonged to them. Covenants and promises probably goes together, but we'll get to the promises later, but all these covenants that God made and all the promises that God made belong to Christians as well. You elect remnant of Israel, you future ethnic Israel as a whole, and you Gentiles who trust in the Messiah and are grafted into the tree of the covenant of the promise, these are ours. Why? Because in Jesus Christ, "All the promises of God are yes," as 2 Corinthians tells us.
The giving of the law. We received the law because the law was given by God to Israel. The law wasn't given to Hammurabi. It wasn't given to Babylon, Phoenicia or Egypt. The law was given to Israel and through Israel, it was given to all of us. And the law was given to us, so that we might realize that we are sinners in need of the Grace of God. Romans 3:19, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God." The whole world.
The moral law is given to every single human being. It's not just the Jewish people. And as you read the Ten Commandments, you realize that there's a self authenticating power to them. That these are God's words and these words are written on our hearts, so that's the self authentication. And ultimately, the law is given to us to show us that we need salvation. We need Christ. Romans 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." In the long term, aim of the law wasn't our condemnation. It was our salvation. For trusting the Messiah for our righteousness, the law has become to us, what it was given for, a servant to lead us to Christ. And the word worship.
The worship was given to the people of Israel and the word for worship that he uses here is the same word as service. So to worship God is to serve God. To serve God is to worship God, the Greek word [foreign language 00:29:19]. Our instructions about how to bring praise, sacrifices to God in corporate worship were given to us through the people of Israel. And the word here refers to ministry of priests and the offering of sacrifices. And the supreme temple service, the supreme temple worship was the Passover. In the Passover, a lamb was to be slaughtered. Blood was supposed to be shed. And then you take that blood and you paint it over your doorway, so that the angel of death passes over your household. And then, 1 Corinthians 5:7 says that, "Christ is our ultimate Passover lamb. He has been sacrificed." He has performed the final and decisive atoning temple service on the cross. So when we say the temple service belongs to true Israel, we mean in the fullest saving way, our sins are forgiven and God welcomes us into his fellowship.
Then six, he says, "The promises we're given to them." Which promises? And there are thousands in Scripture, but in particular, it's the promise that God would save his people from their sins, and we'll get that from the very beginning in Genesis 3 right after the fall. In Genesis 3:15, God gives us the Protoevangelion, the first Gospel in Genesis 3:15 where he says the following, "I will put enmity between you." He's talking to the serpent saying, "And the woman, between your offspring and her offspring, he." So this is the offspring of the woman. "He will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel." And this is God promising that the seed of the woman. This is going to be a human being, but it's a human being who can vanquish Satan. So it has to be God. He's the only one who can vanquish Satan. He's the one that will come and he's the one that will save.
A friend sent me a video this week of Jordan Peterson. Apparently, he's been getting into the Bible recently, and it was a video of him with a slide behind him of every single Cross reference in Scripture. And it's just arc after arc after arc. And I'm like, I already knew this, but he was amazed. There's 65,000 Cross references in the Bible. I actually think it's more, but 65,000 Cross references in the Bible and he's like, "This book is ... You can't make this up. This is a miracle." He called it the first hyperlinked book ever. He's like, "There's no links to click, but it's hyperlinked." It's telling one story. 3000 years, three millennia, 40 plus authors, three plus language, all speaking in harmony unison about this Gospel. We have sinned. God is gracious, sends his Son to vanquish Satan, sin and death.
All these things, the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship of God and God's promises, they came through to Paul's kinsmen Israel. Don't you see? This is why Paul is in tears. You've been given so much. You've been given every single piece of the puzzle. You're only missing the Cross at the center, Jesus Christ. Romans 9:5, "To them belong to patriarchs. And from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God overall, blessed forever. Amen." The implication of this is stated in Romans 11:28, "As regards the Gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers." And we'll get into that in a few weeks. But in other words, God freely chose Abraham, freely chose Isaac and Jacob and promised to their descendants that they would be heirs of God. And what we see from Romans 9-11 is that, this is meant in three ways.
First, that there is an elect remnant of Israel. There always was, and there always will be. Elijah, I don't know if you remember this one text, where he's just complaining to God like, "God, I'm the only Christian. I'm the only one that loves you." I wonder if you ever feel like that in Boston. I'm the only one. I'm the only one in my company, probably the whole university. If you go to BU, you're probably right. I'm the only one. I'm the only one. And God says to Elijah, "Stop complaining. I've got 7,000. 7,000 people who have not knelt a knee to Baal. Well that's election. That's God's saving his remnant.
There's also promise that all ethnic is real. At some point, in some future time, when they're alive, will be saved. It will be incredible revival amongst Jewish people. And Gentiles, that's us who trust in the Messiah, become sons of the fathers with the same blessing as the natural children. So if you repent of your sin and trust in Jesus Christ, you become a child of Abraham as much as Isaac was. Everything promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is yours, in the Messiah Jesus Christ.
Verse five, I don't know if you noticed. He says, "Christ, who is God overall, blessed forever." Paul does affirm Jesus' Jewish ancestry, that Jesus was fully human, but he doesn't stop there. He gives one of the clearest, most decisive affirmations of the Deity of Christ, that we find anywhere in Scripture, that Christ is God. He's over all things, the entire universe. The Jews use this expression to refer to God's dominion over the entire creation. "Christ is God over all, blessed forever." So if you're having a conversation with a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness, they don't believe that Jesus is God, just keep this one in the back pocket, Romans 9:5. Just take him there, Romans 9:5, "Christ is God, blessed forever."
Here, someone might raise a legitimate question and say, "Will we go to heaven, be sad throughout all eternity, because of those who are cursed and cut off from Christ in hell?" What if we have a loved one who never turns to Christ? Brother or sister, sibling, spouse, child, there will be a sadness in eternity because of them. And the answer is no. The Scripture says, "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore." But God will have to wipe out tears.
God will have to wipe off our tears. Why are we weeping in the first place, in a place of bliss? I think there will be moments in the very beginning, where we wish we had done more, kind of like Schindler's List at the end, where he is like, "Here's the watch. Here's the pen. I wish I had done more." Well, that's just a reminder for us to do the more now, be encouraged to be more bold and preaching the Gospel now. "And with respect to any affection that the godly may have had to the finally reprobate, the love of God will wholly swallow it up, and cause it wholly to cease," as Jonathan Edwards says.
In conclusion, pray for God to burden your heart for the lost. If you hear this and you're like, "I've never even thought about praying for the lost." Well first, pray for your own heart, you're living in disobedience. Pray for your own heart to care for the lost and then pray for the lost and share the Gospel with the lost. Romans 10:1, this is what Paul says, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." St. Paul had to pray for God to save people. He couldn't do it himself. He believed in the sovereignty of God. He believed that God elects people to salvation. And because he believed that God elects people to salvation, he prayed for God to save the elect. A lot of people use God's sovereignty in saving people as an excuse to do nothing. Well, if God saves people, then he doesn't need me to share the Gospel. If God is the one to predestine people a salvation, well he doesn't need me to do any. He doesn't need me to pray. That's false.
If God predestines the end, he predestines the means. And the means that he predestines is for every single one of us to pray for the lost and share the Gospel with the lost. And the fruit of Paul's anguish is to pray for them and ask that God would save them. If Paul had to pray, if Paul prayed for the lost, we should too. If Christ prayed for the lost, we should too. Jesus Christ on the cross says, "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." He's praying for the loss. And because Christ prayed for the loss on the cross for their salvation, we are called to pray as well. 2 Timothy 2:25 says, "God may perhaps grant them repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth." May the Lord do so even now.
If you don't know if you're a Christian, if you're still under the guilt of your sins and accursed and cut off from Christ, well don't stay there. Today, turn to Jesus Christ. Look to Christ on the cross. Christ crying out from the depth of his soul and anguish and heart, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Christ was accursed. Christ was caught off from God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, so we would never have to be. He bore the wrath of God, so that we would not have to. He bore the curse, so that we might receive the blessing. So trust in him as your only hope, and you will be saved today.
I'll close in Matthew 11:25-30, before we transition to communion. It's a text where Jesus Christ thanks God for closing the eyes of some, opening the eyes of others and saying that only the one to whom the son reveals the Father can be saved. And still Christ says, "Come to me all who are burdened and heavy laden." Matthew 11:25-30, "At that time, Jesus declared, 'I thank you, Father Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. Yes Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. And you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Lord, we thank you for all the spiritual privileges that you have bestowed upon us as a Church and as individuals. We thank you for the full canon of Holy Scripture, a word that testifies to you, a word that reveals you, a word that reveals the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ. Lord, we thank you that your, "Word is living and active, sharper than any two edge sword, piercing the division of soul and of marrow, revealing to us the intentions of the heart." And we come to you Lord and we ask for forgiveness of all our sin, of all our pride of all our selfishness and self-reliance, and help us not trust in our spiritual privileges.
Make us people who only trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And make us people who walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel, to bring glory to you and attract attention to the beautiful Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, every single person who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. We pray all this in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior. Amen.