罗马书 10:1 弟兄们，我心里所愿的，向神所求的，是要以色列人得救。2我可以证明他们向神有热心，但不是按著真知识；3 因为不知道神的义，想要立自己的义，就不服神的义了。4 律法的总结就是基督，使凡信他的都得著义……。13因为「凡求告主名的，就必得救。」14 然而，人未曾信他，怎能求他呢？未曾听见他，怎能信他呢？没有传道的，怎能听见呢？15若没有奉差遣，怎能传道呢？如经上所记：「报福音、传喜信的人，他们的脚踪何等佳美。」……17 可见信道是从听道来的，听道是从基督的话来的。
(Adapted from Good News)
The Danger of Ignorant Zeal
by John MacArthur
September 24, 2018
Being a member of a healthy church isn’t an end initself. It’s a wonderful blessing and privilege to sit under the faithfulteaching of a shepherd who rightly handles God’s Word. But we must never allowthat blessing from God to cultivate complacency in our relationship with Him.The nation of Israel serves as a sobering reminder of that danger.
Regarding Israel, Paul writes, “Brethren, my heart’sdesire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation” (Romans 10:1).This is vital to understand, because he’s not talking about rank pagans here.Israel had the Old Testament. They believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, andJacob. They believed in the God who created the world and everything in it, whogave His law to Moses, who was the Redeemer and Savior of Israel. Prior to thewriting of the New Testament, they were the sole possessors of God’s writtenrevelation. As God’s chosen people, they had more spiritual light shed on themthan anyone else in history. To them belonged “the adoption as sons, and theglory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service andthe promises” (Romans 9:4). But it wasn’t enough. They were not saved.
Christ Himself continually pronounced judgment onapostate Israel. Even as He walked to the cross, while the professionalmourning women were weeping over Him, He turned to them and said, “Stop weepingfor Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).Jesus saw the whole nation of Israel as apostate. They had the Old Testament,but they had misrepresented its meaning and twisted its revelation into asystem of salvation by works. As Paul explained, they had “a zeal for God, butnot in accordance with knowledge” (Romans 10:2).And religious zeal—no matter how vigorous and pious—is worthless if it’s notgrounded in God’s truth.
Paul goes on to explain specifically why Israel’sknowledge was lacking. “For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seekingto establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness ofGod” (Romans10:3). In other words, Israel had underestimated God’s righteousness, andoverestimated their ability to satisfy the righteous standard of His law. Theycompletely misunderstood their own depravity and inability. Therefore, theyfailed to humble themselves like the publican in Luke 18:13,who pounded his breast in horror over his own wretchedness and said, “God bemerciful to me, the sinner!”
Instead, the people of Israel were convinced of their owngoodness and acceptability before God. They had a warped view of sin, a warpedview of God’s righteousness, and a warped view of their ability to attainsalvation by their own efforts. Worse still, they had a severe misunderstandingof the cross of Christ. As Paul wrote in Romans 10:4,they didn’t understand that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness,”that the only way we will ever be righteous is through the One who satisfiedthe Law perfectly. Missing that pivotal point was a disaster for Israel’stheology. It distorted their understanding of sin, Christ, and salvation. Theysought to manufacture their own righteousness instead of relying on Christ’s,which is available, as Paul says, “to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).Their faith was firmly focused on their own works, not the completed work ofChrist. Despite all the revelation God had given them—despite the incarnationof the Son of God Himself—they were not saved.
Israel’s rejection of the Messiah was so wrenching to theheart of Paul that in Romans 9, he says, “For I could wish that I myself wereaccursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmenaccording to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). He agonized personally over the apostasy ofIsrael.
But Paul’s thoughts don’t end in desperation. In Romans10:13–14, he identifies the source of his hope: “‘Whoever will call on thename of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom theyhave not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? Andhow will they hear without a preacher?”
Imagine for a moment that the theory of natural theologyis correct—gospel preaching and evangelism are entirely unnecessary to seesouls saved. That renders more than two thousand years of missionary workutterly futile. It means the incalculable sums that God’s people have put intomissions were a prodigious forfeiture, and that the lives sacrificed for thesake of the gospel were a pathetic waste. The same goes for all the martyrsthroughout church history—if it’s true that people can get to heaven withoutknowing anything about Christ and with no exposure to the gospel, the martyrswere not heroes of our faith but fools who died worthless deaths for anonexclusive gospel and in defense of meaningless biblical precision.
Make no mistake: the rise of postmodern Christianity andthe supposed wideness in God’s mercy isn’t a harmless, potentially helpfultheological perspective. It’s a direct assault on the gospel work of the churchand an affront to the integrity of countless believers who suffered and diedthroughout its history.
Paul knew better. He understood that he did not labor invain, but that the gospel he preached, and that countless others after himpreached, is the only hope in the world for those caught in the grip ofself-righteousness. Romans 10:13-14 is his rallying cry to get busy about thework of the gospel. His case is clear: You can’t be saved if you don’t believethe gospel, and you can’t believe the gospel if you haven’t heard it.
Paul is so energized by the work of the gospel that hebursts into enthusiastic praise for God’s faithful evangelists: “How beautifulare the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:15).He understood the farce of attempting to achieve your own salvation, and he waspassionate about the only truth that could set sinners free.
In Romans 10:17, Paul continues, “So faith comes from hearing,and hearing by the word of Christ.” That word of Christ was best summed up bythe Lord Himself in John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; noone comes to the Father but through Me.”
The world must hear the message of Jesus Christ, and wehave the precious privilege of serving as His ambassadors and heralds. May wenever be so content with our theology—never so satisfied with our salvation andsovereign grace—that we forget that our great God has not only saved us but hasalso called us to be the means by which He will save others. As long as Hegrants us breath, He has work for us to do. May we be faithful in therelentless proclamation of the glorious gospel of Christ, for His glory and thesake of His kingdom.
(Adapted from Good News)