Romans 9:1-5; 10:11-15; 15:18-21
Anyone want to make a difference in the world? I think we are all intent on changing the world in some unusual or powerful way. But along the way we get side-tracked or, probably, most of us just realize that the world is too big and we’re not all that capable of accomplishing much. Need to be a super-hero or at least crazy smart. And so we convince ourselves that someone else needs to answer the call, but we aren’t big or important enough to really make a difference.
John Piper – Don’t Waste Your Life
The people that make a durable difference in the world are not usually the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by one great thing. If you want your life to count . . . you don’t need to have a high IQ. You don’t have to have good looks or riches or come from a fine family or a fine school. Instead you have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things — or one great all-embracing thing — and be set on fire by them. You’ve got to be burdened, like Jeremiah, with a “fire in your bones.”
Paul was a disenfranchised, persecuted, oppressed, religious no-name Jewish rabbi in the middle of the Roman Empire. He converted to Christianity, which was even smaller than Judaism at the time, and got even more persecuted, more oppressed, and more disenfranchised than he was before. He was imprisoned for years, and eventually beheaded by the Roman state. But not before his beliefs set his soul on fire. And his burden, fueled by those beliefs, moved him to changed the world over.
Let’s look at the burden of Paul in Romans 10:11-15
11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame,[a] 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful[c] are the feet of those[d] who announce the gospel of good things![e]
Look at the Logic of the Burden.
Anyone who hears and believes will be saved.
To hear God must send people to tell them.
People share Jesus with all people = people get saved.
Those who hear and believe will be saved….That single idea catapulted Paul to do what he did. Romans 9-11, Paul goes on to say that he can’t make people believe, but he can make sure that they hear. And if they hear, at least some will believe and be saved. That logic gave him the burden that launches Paul out into the world to do all that he can to make sure people hear (Romans 15). If I share, people get saved.
In Rome as in Jackson
Now, listen, people in Jackson will not believe unless they have someone tell them the good news of the Jesus Christ. So then what’s the problem, what’s the problem, what’s the problem? Why aren’t people coming down the aisles every Sunday in every church in Clarke County. Is the problem with people outside the church? Are you saying that what God says will happen, won’t happen. They just denying our proclamations and invitations?
Maybe partly. But No. My guess is that the larger issue is on the other side of the equation. Perhaps we aren’t sharing God’s gospel.
Now why? Why is that?
Again, what catapulted Paul. Look at beginning of chapter 9. Let’s read it real slow. Beginning of chapter 10. Can we say that? Can we be that burdened?
Maybe we have a hard time with it, because we don’t have God’s passion to reach the lost. Jesus “felt compassion, felt compassion, felt compassion. Wept, cried out, prayed.” (Luke 15) Weeping and tears of joy when the son is found. That’s the depth of God’s passion for lost people.
See, but here’s the deal. I can maybe guilt you into sharing the gospel once. Gimmick you into inviting someone to church once. Strong arm you into taking a church guest to lunch once. But until the burden for lost people burns inside of our bones, we will always be a church that waits for God to send lost people to us, rather than a church that knows God has sent us to them.
Paul cannot stand the fact that there are people like him who don’t know the Lord (Romans 9-10). Go forward to Romans 15, and he cannot stand the fact that there are people halfway around the world who don’t speak his language or look like him who are waiting to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. It wakes him up, fuels his waking hours, compels him to endure torture, shipwreck, stress, hunger, depression, imprisonment.
“I am under obligation…” he says to Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1). I owe God this vessel, my life, my time, my all. And this is basic, this is first. I must go. Before all other things, I must tell the world about my Jesus.
How to Keep a Burning Passion
- Imagine the end. This world is a fading shadow. And we will all stand before the Great Throne Judgment. And our neighbors, relatives, co-workers, fellow Jacksonians, Clarke Countians will be there with us also. Some, maybe many, bound for Hell. What will we say? It was outside of my “comfort zone.” I was “too tired.” I thought somebody else would do it. I didn’t want to be one of those Jesus nuts.
No! Whatever it takes to reach whoever we can. “That somehow, in some way” we might win some. We must do something until we are satisfied that our consciences are clean.
- Imagine the awful reality of Hell. Consider the future of people in our county, who are cut off from Christ in disobedience and unrepentance. If that potential misery has no impact on our hearts, we might as well close and shudder our doors right now. Let’s say it plainly. Coworkers, neighbors, relatives are going to Hell. Righteous condemnation of the Almighty Judge of the living and the dead. Have we some watchmen/women in the room? Who will tell the world, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” You will give an account. And the day of his wroth is terrible. Get right.
- Remember the extremes God went through to get you.
The mystery of the world is not that sinners get justice. I understand that. It’s that sinners get mercy. And it wasn’t a cheap grace that bought you. It was a costly grace.
Paul wasn’t looking for it. Jesus knocked him off his high horse, didn’t he? And he said, “I want you. You’re mine now.”
If you’ll remember that the Son of God tasted the bitterness of death and judgment, that He went to that extreme to say, “I don’t want you to perish. Come to living water.” Then, you can sit across the table from a lost friend and say, “God wants you. I want you as a brother, as a sister. He’ll love you. He’ll make you new. He wants you.”
Piper again. Jesus calls…Jesus wants lost people….Jesus is after lost people…
That’s why we sing…Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling….
Lord, be merciful to us.