1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:1–3, NKJV).
Israel was lost. Only the gospel of Christ, not the Law of Moses, would save them (Rom. 1:16; Acts 4:12). Therefore Paul, himself a Jew who previously persecuted Christians, earnestly desired and prayed for their salvation. He was convinced their zeal for God did not save them. Misguided by their allegiance to the Law, they refused to submit to God’s plan of salvation. Even now, many religious people who are zealous for God contradict the gospel in their zeal (Matt. 7:21-23). We should not confuse passion for God with God’s approval. Scripture says God wants sinners to be saved and “to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). God will not save us from our sins when we are ignorant of the truth of Christ (John 8:24). The example of Israel warns us not to establish our own way of salvation like they did (“their own righteousness,” Rom. 10:3). They believed their salvation was through the Law of Moses and rejected “the righteousness of faith” revealed in the gospel (Rom. 10:4-8). We must be careful not to make a similar error. We must submit to God’s righteousness by faith in Christ and obedience to His gospel (Rom. 10:3, 9-13; 6:17-18). Then we can be confident of our salvation, regardless of whether we are a Jew or a Gentile (Rom. 8:1-2; Gal. 3:26-29).
And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29, NKJV)
The giant’s incredible size loomed over the valley as he hurled his insults toward the armies of Israel. He was a champion among the Philistine warriors, and everyone knew why: he was huge! Several feet taller than the average man, no one could hope to survive hand-to-hand combat with Goliath of Gath. No one, that is, except a youngster named David. Armed with faith in God, David displayed remarkable courage as he first challenged and then defeated the giant. His confrontation with Goliath is an impressive display of faith, courage, conviction, and the victory God gives those who rely on Him (read 1 Samuel 17). David’s brothers scolded him for talking about doing battle against the giant. His response, “Is there not a cause?” resounds today (1 Sam. 17:29). Enemies to the faith exist, the cause for battle remains (2 Cor. 10:3-6). (1) False doctrine is a mighty giant we must battle. Contending for the faith is not fashionable to many Christians, yet the cause exists (Jude 3-4). (2) Worldliness is a formidable giant we must battle. Every day, the world defies the armies of the living God (1 John 2:15-17). (3) Complacency is a dangerous giant we must battle. Apathy is an intimidating opponent we must slay with fervent zeal to do the will of Christ (Heb. 6:11; Rom. 12:11). Faith overcomes evil giants that oppose the living God (1 John 5:4). Christians must fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Take up the whole armor of God and trust God’s victory through the power of Christ (Eph. 6:10-13, 17). Soldiers of Christ, arise. The cause is great, but our God is greater (Rom. 8:37).
3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:3–5, NKJV)
The diligence with which Jesus labored is a model of zeal, endurance, and accomplishment. As He prepared to heal a man who was blind from birth, He explained the principle which drove Him each day. He had been given work to do by His Father (who sent Him to the earth). His time on the earth was limited, and so He diligently went about doing His Father’s work (which was teaching the gospel and showing Himself to be “the light of the world” – the Christ, the Son of God). Just as the Father gave the Son work to do, Christians are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). With Jesus as our model, let us be zealous to walk in (do, practice) the good works of God each day, by living soberly, righteously, and godly (Tit. 2:11-12). Night is coming for us all, when our time to labor for the Lord will end. So, as long as we have today, let us be diligent children of light who do the Father’s will, and “through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:9-12).
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:1–3, NKJV)
Religious zeal can be misinterpreted as divine approval. The Jews of Paul’s day were trusting in the works of the law of Moses to save them (Romans 2:17-24; 3:20, 27-28). Not a few Jewish Christians were being influenced to demand Gentiles keep the law of Moses to be saved (Acts 15:1, 5, 23-24). The epistle to the Romans explains the futility of the Jewish attempt to be saved by the law of Moses, and to force it on the Gentiles. Paul said trying to be saved by the law of Moses amounted to establishing their own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:3; 1:16-17; Galatians 2:16). Paul desired the salvation of the Jews, but their zeal without knowledge would not save them. Zeal does not establish God’s approval, faithfully doing the Father does (Matthew 7:21-23). Zeal is not a substitute for knowing God’s will. Zealous ignorance is removed only when a humble heart hears the word of God and obeys it in faith (Matthew 7:24-27; Acts 3:17-19). Learn God’s will and have the faith to obey it to be saved from your sins (Acts 4:12; 10:34-35).
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,” (Acts 20:18–20, NKJV)
These words were spoken by the apostle Paul to the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:17). He had lived among them for three years (verse 31). His service to the Lord was marked by humility and zealous endurance, even while the Jews of that city plotted against him (Acts 19:8-9). In spite of this, Paul continued to courageously proclaimed the gospel of Christ. He understood what we must also perceive, namely, that the gospel saves sinners and protects Christians from the enemies of the faith. This is why we seek to declare the gospel publicly and privately. The gospel is God’s power to save the lost and equip the saved to do God’s work (Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Nothing should be held back; It must all be preached. Avail yourself of every opportunity to teach and to be taught God’s word. It helps you serve God “with all humility” and with the zealous courage of faith.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8, NKJV)
Too often we have an attitude that says, “Here am I…send someone else!” Isaiah’s ready faith to volunteer to speak for God to His wayward people arouses our zeal to do the same. We must be ready and willing to accomplish God’s purposes. You can have this attitude in your marriage, devoting yourself to be a loving husband or a respectful wife. Like Isaiah, if you are sent to preach the word of God, do so with diligent, enduring faith. If you lead God’s people as an elder, faithfully attend to your stewardship to the glory of God. God wants willing servants. Devote yourself to greater zeal in the Lord’s service. Isaiah is a great example to follow.