In our most recent Sunday School lesson, we took a look at the spiritual identity of God’s elected Israel.  If you missed out on that lesson, definitely go back and take a look at that lesson!  Our lesson for this week takes a look at the fact that Israel is in need of the gospel and that it is available to them.  So, lets dive into our lesson for this week.  This week’s lesson is being taught from Romans 10:1-10.

Paul’s Desire for Israel

Now, we have seen Paul, in my opinion, talk about Israel in a couple of different ways in this quarter of lessons.  In our lesson last week, when he was talking about God’s elect, Paul was speaking of Israel as an example to the Lord’s spiritually elected.  Now, we have also seen Paul discuss Israel having need for the gospel because they are in as much sin as Gentiles are.  In our lesson this week, we see Paul continuing on the talking point for Israel’s need to turn to Christ.

We open with Paul saying, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved (v.1).”  Paul clearly declares this to his brethren which, again, he was a Jew that had Roman citizenship.  Paul does not want to see his brethren destroyed spiritually, but wants for them to live on eternally.  As we saw in our recent lesson, many Jews felt they were already saved just by their birthright, but we also saw that their birthright did not grant them salvation.

Paul’s wish here is one that I believe many of us likely have for those that we care about and love as well.  If you have listened to me throughout the years, then you know how great my desire is for all of those around me to be a part of God’s heavenly kingdom.  I grieve tremendously for those that elect to walk a path outside of the way of Christ — that is where Paul is coming from as well.

Zeal for God but not according to to knowledge

The next three verses in our lesson really sticks out to me and can be said about many professed believers today.  Paul says of Israel, “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 (vss.3-5).”

There are many people who are in this same boat with the Jews.  The Jews, Paul says, had a zeal (fire and passion) for the Lord but there was one problem with their zeal – it was an ignorant zeal.  What does this mean exactly?  Well, lets take the Pharisees of Jesus’ and Paul’s day for an example to explain this sentiment.

I suppose we could say that the Pharisees had a certain kind of fervor for the Lord when they were accusing Jesus of blasphemy.  The problem they ended up running into, however, was that they were totally ignorant to the Law that they taught and preached when they tried to accuse Jesus.  They were seeking to establish their own righteousness according to how they had bent the Mosaic Law to their fashion.  That certainly did not work with God in the flesh as Jesus Christ who constantly berated them and called them hypocrites.

The end of the law

What the Jews did not understand was that Christ was truly the “end of the law” as Paul says here in this scripture.  This should not be a controversial statement but I have run into many people who are completely confused by Paul’s statement in this scripture.  Let’s make something clear here:  Paul was not saying that Jesus came into the world and said “no more Mosaic Law – it’s over!”

Jesus is the conclusion of the Mosaic Law – that has become the best way that I can explain what Paul said here.  In His own words, Jesus proclaimed, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17).”  So, what does this mean?  No man can achieve salvation by attempting to keep the Mosaic Law because no man can keep the Law.  As we learned earlier in this quarter, once you fail in one part of the Mosaic Law, you fail it entirely (Jas. 2:10).  You only get one shot to keep the Law and everybody blows that shot in a matter of seconds to minutes.

However, since Christ actually fulfilled the Law, we have learned that through our faith in Him, we can gain salvation.  Through our faith in Him, there is forgiveness and mercy where neither exists in the Mosaic Law (Acts 13:38-39).  The law simply points out the wrong that one has done but does not offer mercy or forgiveness.  This was knowledge that the Pharisees were ignorant of, especially when Jesus was in the world ministering.

Modern day zeal of ignorance

The same thing is still happening our world today.  Today, there are many people that believe they can tell you all that God has planned and will do because they glanced at a scripture or heard what someone else said about something in the bible.  They believe they know when Jesus is going to return, who the Antichrist is, and even who is going to heaven and hell.

The problem is that sound doctrine shows much of what those folks are preach is simply not true.  I don’t say this to talk meanly about anybody but the truth on the modern day zeal of ignorance has to be spoken of.  Why?  Because such ignorant zeal is what drives people away from the Lord instead of drive people to the Lord.  We have to be careful of those with such zeal and do our best to show them sound doctrine so that they can preach truth instead of according to their own righteousness.

So, what should we do?  Be diligent to sound doctrine.  As I often say, don’t just glance at scripture or listen to what one person says about something they may have read in the bible.  You must study – I mean seriously study.  Scripture – the Bible – is one big connected circle and so when you read through scripture, be sure you cross reference to the point that you get the entirety of the picture.  

Also, be sure you connect yourself with other wise-minded individuals spiritually who can offer correction and confirm your thoughts before you go believing you have the entire truth.  There is nothing wrong with having zeal for God, but let us be sure that our zeal for Him is not ignorant zeal.  Ignorant zeal is very dangerous and does not help anybody.

The Word of Faith We Preach

So, in these next few verses, Paul begins to conclude our lesson by touching on the word of faith which we preach.  Let us notice that Paul quotes Moses when he spoke of the Mosaic Law.  He says, “For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them (v.5).”  Moses would later say what Paul quotes in the next couple of verses (vss.7-8) which insinuates that there is work that had to be done to enter into the heavenly kingdom.  Well, this sort of righteousness, if it could even be obtained (it cannot) would be a self earned righteousness.

As you have heard and seen me say before, self-righteousness is no good.  Thankfully we cannot obtain righteousness through such a manner!  Thankfully righteousness comes by faith.  Moses stated (Deut. 30:11-14), “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”  What did Moses mean and why did Paul quote this?  Well, Paul wanted to make it clear that obtaining heaven is very close (near) to all of us.  You did not have physically try to go up to heaven which we know is impossible.

How does one obtain heaven?  Paul said, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (vss.9-10).”  

I said the other week that heaven cannot be obtained through works (labor).  I imagine there are many people who wish there was a price/ticket that they could pay to enter into heaven.  I suppose that would be a great deal easier than having faith in Christ.  It is not enough for us to simply say that we believe – we must have faith.  Faith is an action.  The action required is that we must strive to live in the way of Christ.  

There are many professed believers but their is no confession in their heart!  Why?  Because they are not living in the way of Christ.  Again, many are living like some of Israel in Paul’s day in that they live with a zeal of ignorance.  They also live as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day in that they talk God all day long, but they are without sound doctrine in Him and His way.  So, we can all be saved, but to be saved, we have to break away from the zeal of ignorance and truly live in the way of Christ.


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