People who know the Lord want those closest to them to know Him, too. Lost people don’t care about the souls of others. They are not spiritually capable of it because they are still self-centered at heart, not God and other-centered. They don’t burn up inside to see their unsaved friends and family be born again because they have never been born again themselves. They don’t have any desire to share their faith and introduce others to Jesus because they don’t know Him either. They have no urgency about the state of other people’s souls because they feel no urgency about the state of their own souls. But people who have received the salvation of God and have tasted and seen that the Lord is good desperately want others to share their joy. They KNOW that people they care about who die without receiving Christ will be judged for their sins and spend eternity in hell apart from God. And that truth is on their conscience every day, guiding what they do and say and think and how they pray and live.
In Romans 9:1-5, the Apostle Paul models this constant burden for other people’s souls that every Christian should possess. In Romans 8:31-39, Paul has just finished describing all the incredible blessings that belong to every true Christian. He has ascended to the very heights of heaven in thinking about all that it means to be in Christ by faith and to know that God is always for you. But now his thoughts turn to those who have rejected Christ, specifically his Jewish brothers and sisters who have been unwilling to believe in Jesus as their Messiah. And Paul is moved to weep tears of sorrow for his lost nation (Romans 9:1-2). In fact, Paul is so wrecked by the thought of his own Jewish brethren dying without Christ that he even wishes that he could give up his own saving relationship with Christ to see them be saved instead (Romans 9:3). Have you ever felt that way about someone that you wanted to see saved? Well, Paul felt it about untold millions who had rejected and were still rejecting their promised Savior.
These people for whom Paul wept daily were so much like the students at NRCA. They had been given every possible spiritual advantage and blessing to draw them to humbly embrace Jesus with joy and thanksgiving. The Jews had received all the covenants and promises of God as descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the same way, NRCA students are taught daily in a community of faith by passionate, believing Christian teachers. Some are also raised in strong Christian homes and church families. The Jewish people had received God’s holy Law through Moses and the glory of God’s presence dwelled among them daily in the tabernacle and then the temple (Romans 9:4). And from their earthly line had come the Messiah, the one and only Savior of the world (Romans 9:5). In the same way, NRCA students daily hear the Bible taught to them with conviction, clarity, and compassion. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the way of salvation through Him is constantly poured into their ears and eyes. Any student who attends and leaves our school without submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ will be without any excuse on the day of their judgment. Shouldn’t that very possibility drive our believing students, teachers, and parents to daily tear-filled prayers? If we want to reach our community and world for Christ, we must begin with our own backyard. Yes, we must maintain our own joy just as Paul did, as one who rejoiced in the Lord always and encouraged every Christian to do the same. But we must also let God’s Spirit give us a steady, burning passion for the souls of those nearest to us who have yet hardened their hearts against Him. That’s what God says to us today in Romans. How will you respond?
The Text (Romans 9:1-5)
1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Questions to Think About
- Do you feel a burning passion to see people you see often be saved? For whom do you feel such a soul-burden right now?
- When was the last time that you shed tears in thinking about an unsaved friend or family member?
- Are there people close to you with whom you have never talked about your faith?
- Have you ever tried to share your faith with someone else in the hope that they might become a Christian? What happened?