Allow Yourself to “Go There”
1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation. 2 I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 Since they are ignorant of the righteousness of God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, 5 since Moses writes about the righteousness that is from the law: The one who does these things will live by them. 6 But the righteousness that comes from faith speaks like this: Do not say in your heart, “Who will go up to heaven?” that is, to bring Christ down 7 or, “Who will go down into the abyss?” that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. 8 On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, 12 since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.14 How, then, 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 are the feet of those who bring good news.
Have you ever allowed yourself to seriously contemplate what others believe? Have you ever “gone there” mentally? If a coworker or friend or neighbor or family member told you they were something other than Christian, have you researched their beliefs? Do you know what Mormons believe? Jehovah Witnesses? Hindus? Muslims?
Make no mistake. It is not for the faint of heart. It is much easier to stay ignorant. But knowing nothing about what someone believes usually leads to doing nothing about their predicament. Not knowing the foundational thrust of what non-Christians believe makes it easy to “look the other way” and pretend everything is fine.
The apostle Paul, however, was not afforded the option. There was a personal, intimate, passionate reason his heart was to see the Jewish people saved (10:1). Though he was a missionary to the Gentiles, he grew up a very religious Jew. He knew they were zealous. He knew they had all the knowledge. He knew they had the ancient Scriptures. He knew they hoped in their works to earn favor with God. He knew their hope was in Moses who went up and down the mountain to bring the law (10:2-7).
Thus, he knew they were not true children of God. He knew their faith was in their history and Moses and genealogy and works and righteous deeds . . . not Christ. He knew they, without faith in Christ alone, would spend forever and ever in hell.
What is the result of knowing the truth about what non-Christians believe (10:2-7)? Having a passion to see them saved (10:1), an unquenchable desire to see them come to faith in Jesus (10:8-10), and a sent life to tell them the truth (10:11-15).
When a follower of Jesus knows what others’ believe (10:2-7) – beliefs that will condemn them to an eternal hell, separated from God forever – it drives the disciple of Christ to action. A passionate action to pray (10:1) and an intentional lifestyle on mission (10:8-15).
Paul intimately and thoroughly knew the beliefs of the non-Christian Jews. He never pretended that he didn’t. His knowledge led him to action. His knowledge, coupled with his love for his own people, drove him.
What about you? Have you ever forced yourself to sit down and learn what the non-Christians in your life really believe?
Consider. . .
- Who are the people in and around your life the Father has sent you be a Gospel light for? Prayerfully consider and list them by name. Ask the Father for a deep love for them.
- Do you know what the people you are sent to believe? Do you know their religious background? If it is something other than Christian, do you know the core of their beliefs? For a GREAT resource, check out Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (carm.org).
- Have you forced yourself to contemplate how what they believe contradicts the Bible and Christianity? Have you thought about where their faith will ultimately lead them? What does that do to your soul?
- Consider Romans 10:13-15. Trace out the logical progression and thought process Paul gives. What does that mean specifically for you, especially as it relates to those whom you are sent?