Saturday, August 5, 2017

Proper 13

Romans and the Reformation
A sermon series based the book of Romans in anticipation of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
6 August – Proper 13 – Romans 9:1-5

I’d go to Hell for You – Romans 9:1-5

Almighty God, You invite us to trust in You for our salvation. Deal with us not in the severity of Your judgment but by the greatness of Your mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Paul is so concerned about his fellow citizens the Jews not accepting Christ that he says he would be glad to be cut off from Christ to get them to come to Christ. George Whitefield had a similar passion for winning people to Christ. Once he even told a non-Christians that he was willing to go with him to jail or even to hell, but he was unwilling to go to heaven without him. How would such a statement stand today?  

So, what about you? Who do you worry about? Whose walk with God are you anguished over? Hoping for them. That they find the hope you have found? Can you name them? Do you include them in your daily prayers? And if not, why?

This concern for the lost. This love for those missing. This passion for the non-Christian. Are the taproots of evangelism. In a time when Christians are prone not to seek Christian converts, this passage of Paul’s concern may be, to some, embarrassing.

Why I’d go to hell for you

1. To keep you from going to hell.  Accursed: V. 3 ἀνάθεμα – Paul is deeply concerned about his fellow countrymen– who have not yet accepted the Gospel. He is so concerned that he would be willing to be excluded from the Kingdom if it were the price of getting into the Kingdom. 

Paul is willing to go to hell. If his going would keep others from going there. In this age of pluralism. Some may argue it to be presumptuous and in bad taste to even consider witnessing to non-Christians on behalf of Christ. Would Paul agree?

Paul’s had “great sorrow (λύπη) and unceasing anguish (ὀδύνη)” in his heart because his fellow countrymen, though they were very religious, were lost. So great was his anguish, he was willing to be cut-off from God; if it meant his fellow Jews would be saved. (10:1) – 

2. To persuade you that Christ is the Savior. Paul says he is telling the truth. V. 1 - A recent researcher claims the average person tells one hundred lies daily. Was it the same in Paul’s day?  

Apparently, telling lies was a practice. Paul felt it necessary to assure the Roman Christians that he was not lying but telling the truth in Christ. It is not merely telling the truth. But the truth in Christ. It is the truth in relation to Christ – spiritual truth, divine truth.

It would be easy to think, “I’ll go to hell…so you can go to heaven!” But it isn’t that simple. You cannot enter heaven on another person’s merits. You can’t avoid condemnation. By allowing someone else to take your place. For it is Christ alone who became your substitute. 

Hence the question. “Did the Father also die for you?” He did not. The Father is God only as is the Holy Spirit; but the Son is both true God and true man. He died for me and shed His blood for me.  1

The Lord demands perfection and rightness. He has said, ‘You shall be holy as I the Lord am holy.” To keep us from being separated Christ entered time and space. 

He was abandoned by God and by men for your salvation. As Isaiah predicted, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7-9)

3 To enable you by faith to have a life in Christ. – Paul says his conscience   confirms that he is telling the truth. 

Paul’s heartache leads him to do two things. 

First, pray for them. 

Second, he would teach them whenever and wherever he could.2  Paul’s first course of action whenever he came to a new town was to find the local synagogue and teach the Jews why Jesus was the Christ.  3

There is no doubt; Paul had a heart for the lost. His constant plea was for others to follow his example.4 With that in mind, how then can you follow Paul’s example and have a heart for the lost?

How might we imitate Paul’s heart for the lost? 
Be grounded in your faith.

Paul was definitely a man who knew what he believed. (ref. 2 Timothy 1:12). He was “rooted and built up… and established” in his faith. (Colossians 2:7). A well-grounded faith is necessary if you are to have a heart for the lost. Otherwise, what will you share with them if you don’t really believe it yourself.

Have a sense of urgency.

Why did Paul constantly travel from city to city teach others? Because he had a sense of urgency. He knew the eternal punishment that awaited the lost.5  Time and time again, he alerted people to the destruction that awaited those who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior (Philippians 3:19). If you are to have a heart for the lost then you must live with a sense of urgency because of the destruction that awaits the lost.

The Church is literally a hospital and a hospice for sinners. If we are going to speak of salvation in medical terms… Here the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments, “the medicine of immortality" 6  is dispensed, as the Great Physician prescribes them. Christ is your Divine Healer. 

Man is sick and dying with sin and the grace-filled Word and Sacraments give him life and healing. Sure, there are those who seem to think the Church is nothing but a sort of "museum of the saved" or the "collection of the already sanctified brethren" as the unwashed dare not enter. 
But you’ll never find a “No Vacancy” sign outside the church door.  May the Lord give us a passion for those who are missing. There is still room - in the Father’s house. 

  1. Christian Questions with Their Answers, Luther’s Small Catechism © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
2.   (Acts 9:20, 28; 13:14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:2, 10; 18:4; 19:10; 28:17)
3.   (ref. Acts 9:20; 17:1-3)
4.   (ref. 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:9)
5.    (ref. Colossians 1:28-29; 2 Timothy 4:1-2)
 6.   As St. Ignatius of Antioch called them.

Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Words – 1,200
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability – 81.3
Reading Level – 4.5

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