Zeal and Interest for Loved Ones
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Rom. 10:1-4 NKJV)
Paul wrote concerning his countrymen, that he observed some good things in their lives. One in particular was -- ZEAL! But he was very mindful that such was insufficient. He observed certain deficiencies in their lives that concerned him very deeply: they were ignorant of God's righteousness (His
plan to make people righteous, 1:16-17). Their ignorance, made their zealous efforts fruitless. Even though they were working, perhaps very hard, "going about,.." In reality they were involved in "establishing their own righteousness." That being the case they were lost, needing to be saved, securing their soul's salvation.
He would have liked nothing more than to have them saved. He would have been able to give just about all that he had (Rom. 9:2-3). Yet, he knew that unless they gained the knowledge of God's plan to make people righteous, they would go on in their ignorance, and consequently could not in
reality submit "themselves to the righteousness of God." How sad that made him. Even with his desire and prayer in their behalf, they remained lost.
What a powerful lesson for us, today, as we've finished the last of a century and enter a new millennium! If we have loved one (and surely we all do) who are lost, do we have this same concern, and recognition? Are we making adequate effort to reach them and hopefully motivate them to correct their condition while time last? If we are not, shouldn't we be?
What is appropriate in this regard?
1. Desire and prayer is surely appropriate. A great privilege Christians have is a open line to God, our heavenly Father, and He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. With that privilege let us exercise that option. Access to such power, wisdom, grace and mercy, what value! However, we must accept the fact that is only one aspect (component) of the total picture, and that in and of itself is NOT going to result in their salvation, unless they become a participant.
2. Recognition and commendation for their zeal
and or other good attributes are in order. One of the best ways to break
resistance, is to identify and commend good qualities. There is no need for insincerity, guile, and flattery. Be completely honest, and only commend qualities that are divinely approved. But, most people possess and manifest some GOOD behavior traits.
3. Pinpointing the deficiencies is essential if
we are to be helpful and they are to make appropriate alternations in they
relationship to God and behave properly in the house of God (1 Tim.
3:14-15). It is absolutely essential that ultimately we "zero in on" the
behavior that is out of harmony with God's revelation. It is necessary that the
loved one see and accept the FACT that they have the deficiency that
needs to be identified and dealt with.
4. Submission to God's plan to make men righteous
must be the goal, because anything short of that will result in disaster
ultimately an eternity of torment! One has to hear the word and be
convinced that Jesus is in fact the Son of God (Jn. 20:30- 31; 8:21-24). Having
taken that step, each must see the need to repent (Acts 17:30-31) as Paul
proclaimed to citizens in that historical city of Athens. Repentance
has to be followed by a confession of the mouth (Rom. 10:9-10, Matt 10:32-33) that Christ is the Son of God, understand that this is "unto salvation" in the direction of, but not the final step! At that juncture, one is a proper candidate for baptism in water (Acts 10:47-48) for (in order to have) the remission of sin (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Only when thee steps are taken does the Lord add him/her to the church (Acts 2:47; Matt 16:16), that which He loved so much that He gave Himself for (Eph. 5:25; Acts 20:28). Yes, there are a number of things we can do for our loved ones who are unsaved. However, when we have done all that we can, as did Paul, then let us feel for the them, but let us NOT give up or in to some false idea such as: sure they are "good people and safe" even though they have not obeyed the gospel.
The gospel of Christ is the good news that Christ is the END OF THE LAW FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS! That is He is the end --> the aim, the results toward which the law pointed. Just as true, also, when Christ came and was sacrificed for us, that law (of Moses) is NO LONGER God's regulations for man (Cf. Gal. 3:24-25). It had a purpose, and it has accomplished that, and is no longer binding on man. For we are children of God by faith, having been baptized INTO Christ and consequently put Him on (Gal.3:26-27). Friend, if that does not describe your position (condition) today, I'd love to heard from you, and I'm committed to doing all that I can to assist any honest and good hearted person to reach that goal of safety IN CHRIST JESUS! What a wonderful position to occupy. Do we understand? Do we appreciate what we have? I trust that we do.
By William C. Sexton
From Expository Files 7.3; March 2000