Did They Hear?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Only in Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 10 (NIV).

Zealous for God?

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Paul was obviously addressing these words to the matter of his people, the Jews, who had not yet trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. So, his comments were specific to a unique group of people who were unlike any others in the history of man. They had been God’s chosen people, yet when they rejected God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Messiah, they ceased to be God’s chosen people. He cut the nation of Israel off from the vine, though not all Jews disbelieved. Many did trust in Christ Jesus as their Savior.

They were once, as a people group, God’s chosen ones and the children of the promise. Now they are among the unbelieving and are no longer, as a people group, or as a nation, the children of promise. Instead, the children of promise are now all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, whether Jew by birth or Gentile (non-Jew) by birth. So, there is no exact parallel we can make here to any other people other than to the Jewish nation, yet there are Biblical principles here that can be applied, I believe, both to the unsaved (in/out of the church) and to the idolatrous and adulterous church of today.

There are many in today’s world, I am most confident, who are part of the institutional church who call themselves Christians, and who believe they are numbered among God’s elect, and yet they never made a genuine decision to truly trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. They may be religious, and they may be faithful in going through forms of religion and religious practice, but they lack a vital and personal relationship with Almighty God through personal faith in Jesus Christ. They do not have the Spirit of God within them because they were never ever truly born again of the Spirit of God.

As well, I believe there are many in today’s church who had genuine faith in Christ when they first believed, but at some point in time their trust in God began to give way to the cares or temptations of this world and so now they live for themselves and for what they want and desire. Grieving the Spirit of God, they make their own plans without consulting God, and they rely heavily upon the teachings and philosophies of humankind, which are often in direct contrast to the teachings of scripture. Even though God’s righteousness has been credited to them via Jesus’ shed blood for our sins and their faith in him, they now go their own way with little thought or regard for God’s way of righteousness, and with little to no submission thereof in their daily practice (See the letters to the churches in Rev. 2-3).

Believe and Confess

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

For a Jewish person in that day to confess Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives, and to believe in his sacrifice for our sins on the cross, and in his resurrection, would not be unlike anyone of another religion today (not associated with Christianity in any way) making the decision to believe in Jesus Christ and then making public testimony to such faith. It would mean possible loss of job, income, family, friends, associations and reputation, as well as it could mean being rejected, ostracized, kicked out of family and home, much persecution and perhaps even imprisonment, beatings and death for their faith. It was no small matter for a Jew of that day to believe in Jesus Christ.

So, to translate these words into American culture today is difficult, for they do not hold the same weight. Confessing with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, or even believing that he died and rose again, can be little more than intellectual acknowledgment of such or an emotional experience of the moment with no heart transformation of the Spirit of God actually taking place, for such a confession may have little impact on one’s life here.

So, to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord must bear the weight with it that we have trusted in him as Lord (master; ruler) of our lives, and to believe in his death for our sins and in his resurrection must also carry with it the idea of trust in him which submits to his righteousness, and which cooperates with his work of grace in our lives in turning our hearts from the darkness of sin to the light of Christ; and from the power of Satan and sin over our lives to the rule and authority of God Almighty over our lives, so that we submit ourselves to that authority. As well, to call on the name of the Lord must mean more than just verbally speaking his name or saying a prayer, but must bear the weight of calling upon him in faith, trusting in his salvation, resting in his love and mercy, and yielding to his Lordship. (See Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14 and 1 Jn. 1-5.)

Did They Hear?

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:

“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,

“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”
And Isaiah boldly says,

“I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”
But concerning Israel he says,

“All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

The Jewish people were given the promise of the Messiah to come all throughout the writings of the prophets of old. They were not without knowledge that God intended to send them a Savior for their sins. They were the people of God. They knew his grace, love, presence, provisions, providence, care, justice and mercy. Yet, when he sent his Son, their Messiah, and although he revealed himself to them in many ways, still, as a people group, they refused to accept him and instead they hung him on a cross to die, as though he was a common criminal. They were the first to receive the message of the gospel of salvation, yet, as a nation, they rejected the gospel and chose, instead, to continue in their old ways. So, their lack of faith was not due to lack of knowledge or due to not hearing the gospel. They heard! They just refused to believe. So, God was holding out his hands to a disobedient and obstinate people who refused his Son and his provision of the promised Messiah and his salvation for their lives from sin.

Today, in America, we are not hurting for knowledge of Jesus Christ and his gospel, nor are we in want of the scriptures, for Bibles can be purchased anywhere almost. Spirit-led music and the hymns of old and preaching can be heard on many radio stations, TV channels and on the internet, including on YouTube. There are no real serious constraints in place yet which prevent us from hearing the gospel or from believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. But, I believe a time of severe persecution is in order for us.

Again, although there is no exact parallel to the Jews’ situation here, I believe that there are many professing Christians here in America, and throughout the world, who have also not believed in Jesus Christ; and who have not truly trusted in him and submitted to his righteousness. As well, I believe there are those within the church who have made Christ their Savior by his grace through faith but have since wandered off to follow after the gods of this world, and who have forsaken their first love, and/or who have fallen back into the ways of this world. I believe that God is presently speaking loud and clear to the gatherings of his church throughout the world, inviting the unbelieving among them to faith in Christ, and calling out to his rebellious ones to return to the Lord, and to find their trust to be only in him.

ONLY IN HIM / An Original Work / February 19, 2014

Based off Isaiah 30

Woe to those who look to man’s help;
Who turn away from Jesus Christ;
Forming an alliance not in step with God;
Making their own plans, and praying not.

Willing not to listen to truth,
They close their ears to what is right.
Pleasing words are all that they’ll hear;
Feel good messages that bring cheer.

Trust in your Lord; turn from your sin.
Put your faith now ONLY IN HIM.
Do not turn to idols. They’ll not satisfy.
Jesus will save you. That’s why He died.

Your Lord will be gracious to you.
He cares all about you, ‘tis true.
He forgives you all of your sin
When you give your life up to Him.

Oh, how truly gracious He’ll be
When you bow to Him on your knees;
Turning now from your sin; walking in his ways.
He’ll lead and guide you all of your days.

Now you will sing praises to Him.
He delivered you from your sin.
You’ll tell others now of His grace,
So they may see Christ face-to-face.