Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Vision (6/23/11): Paul's Burden for Israel

Image:  Hawaii scene.

Last Sunday morning we began a journey through Romans 9-11 and the doctrine of election. In the opening verses (Romans 9:1-5) Paul expresses his burden for his fellow Jews who have overwhelmingly rejected the gospel. Here are some of the sermon notes:

After all the glories of the picture of assurance Paul presented in Romans 8, he begins Romans 9 by saying, “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart” (v. 2). Why would he say this?

The answer comes in v. 3: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Though Paul knows the excellent glories of assurance in Christ, he has a deep and abiding burden for his fellow Jews who have persisted in rejecting Christ.

We can offer this analogy, hopefully without trivializing Paul’s sentiments:

Imagine you are part of a family that has always wanted to take a vacation to Hawaii. This has been your family’s dream. You have watched videos about Hawaii, read books on Hawaii, talked about Hawaii, and dreamed about Hawaii. One day you get a call and discover that a benefactor has given you a ticket to Hawaii. But there is just one ticket available. You can go, but you will have to leave your family behind. Maybe this is dimly analogous to the way Paul was feeling.

To make the analogy more accurate, however, we would need to alter the scenario. Imagine that you received tickets from the benefactor for yourself and for all the members of your family. When you gave them their tickets, however, they laughed at you, mocked you, and ripped up the tickets in front of your face. What is more, they even tried to destroy your ticket. Maybe this is closer to capturing Paul’s state of heart. He had been given to know the gift and grace of God in Christ, but his people, his ethnic family, had by and large rejected Christ.

One of our applications at the conclusion of the sermon centered on the question of whether or not we too carry a deep and abiding burden for the salvation of those nearest to us. The Reformer John Knox is said to have prayed, “Give me Scotland or I die!”

Where is our burden for our families, for our community, to hear the gospel?

Grace and truth, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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