Sunday, June 25, 2017
 

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Paul's concern for Israel; My concern for Americ ]









PAUL'S CONCERN FOR ISRAEL; MY CONCERN FOR AMERICA

 

Romans 9:1-5 says, "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises: of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." I want you to think with me on Paul's statement in verses 2 and 3 which tell us that Paul had a great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart because so many of his own race had rejected the Christian religion and would have to face God in the judgment for it. What a sensitive man he was! What an affectionate concern he had for the souls of other people, especially those,who were close to him by reason of race and background. First let us notice who it was that caused so much mental distress for Paul. He experienced much inward pain in thinking about the people of his own nation who had rejected Christianity. Paul affirmed that all, regardless of race, who reject the gospel of Christ will be shut out of heaven. Because he became a Christian and dedicated his life to preaching Christianity, his own nation detested him and considered him a traitor to the faith of his fathers. More than forty of them had bound themselves with an oath that they would kill him, and the entire nation seemed, wherever he went, to be moved by the same impulse(Acts 23:13). Nevertheless, Paul continued to be a patriotic Hebrew and continued to love his nation. In Phil. 3:5 Paul said, "I was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which in the law, blameless." When God appeared to him, knocked him blind and caused him to leave Judaism for Christianity, this did not cause him to disclaim his race or culture.

 

Paul continued to be a patriotic Hebrew and continued to love his nation. If our Christianity is genuine, it will not destroy our natural affections, but will purify and ennoble them. Domestic affection is all the stronger and the brighter under the influence of the Christian religion. Because Paul had embraced, so to speak, a new religion, he does not turn in bitterness against his former co-religionists. He was still a patriotic Israelite. Because he has become wiser than they, he does not look down on them with scorn and contempt. Instead he had a great heaviness and sorrow for his kinsmen according to the flesh. It was indeed a saddening reflection to Paul that his race would lose out on the eternal salvation which God was offering to all mankind through Jesus Christ. They have had a glorious past, and the human race is indebted to them for their part in preserving the true knowledge of God. God had used them to reveal himself to mankind for 1500 years. They had the law of Moses for their guidance, the patriarchs for their example, Jesus Christ, God's own Son for their Messiah and Deliverer; they had the adoption, the glory, the covenants and the Abrahamic promises for their encouragement and inspiration. Paul loved them and did all that he could to help them. 

Paul's remarks and concern for his own race leads us as Americans to think of our race, who for the most part have also rejected Christ. If Paul could say that the most of his nation has rejected Christ, we can also say that the most of our nation has rejected Christ. America is the wealthiest, most privileged and most influential nation on the face of the earth. However, only a very small percent of Americans are members of the New Testament church. Atheism, materialism, secularism, pleasure and false religion commands the respect of most Americans. Americans worsnip thne gods of money, pleasure, sex and power. Our sadness is intensified by the great privileges we enjoy, both religious and material. America has less than 5% of the world's population, yet we are the most influential nation on the face of the earth. Our language is the number one foreign language taught in all nations of the world. English is the most influential and most universally spoken language on the earth. All over the world people are interested in learning how to speak English.Interestingly, it is not British English the world is interested in, but American English. No language in the history of the world has been more universally spread than English. 200 million people speak English in China, and that is greater than the entire population of the United States. In Singapore, a business man said, "We must be able to speak English in order to make a living." In India, men consider their wives to be in a higher class if they can speak English. In that country husbands have a greater respect for wives who can speak English. You can be ^certain that the young marriageable women of India are learning English. I am told that all computers in the world use English and all landing instructions in all airports of the world use English. Language scholars declare that they can see no change in the foreseeable future so far as the growth and prominence of the English language is concerned. I say these things not to boast, but to remind us of the great privileges we have as Americans. Everyone in the world wants to learn how to speak our language. And let me give you the most startling, fact of all.

The most influential people in the entire world, so far as the English language is concerned, are people who live in the state of California. Language is very slow to change, but changes are being made in English. New words, expressions and phrases are being created and are being learned in all parts of the world. But these changes are being made in the state of California. I was surprised to hear both British and American educators make this statement about California. What people say in California is important; the eyes and ears of the world are on California. In all probability most of this language change is due to the fact that California is the entertainment and movie making center of the world. What an opportunity this presents to the religion of Christ. With English spreading throughout the world, the church has an excellent opportunity to spread true Christianity. The greatest preachers in the world live in America, and they preach in English. If the world wide spread of English continues, our preachers will be able to go almost anywhere in the world and preach the gospel in English. The future looks great for the religion of Christ and New Testament Christianity, if we are able to see the opportunity. But we ought to be greatly concerned about our fellow Americans who have for the most part rejected the gospel of Christ. If Americans are the most influential people in the world, we should be as concerned about them as we are the people of India, China or Africa, including the poor, ignorant and oppressed in this country. The second thing in this text I would call your attention to is the nature of the anxiety Paul had for his countrymen. He described it like this, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart." Other translations use the words, "great sorrow and unceasing anguish." One of the words used by Paul means pain of either body or mind, resulting in sorrow, annoyance and affliction. The other words means consuming grief, torment and distress. The pain did not come from his body. It was a mental distress, a sorrow of the heart or mind. Furthermore, it was not a sorrow which came and went. Please note his words, "I have a continual sorrow in my heart." He always had this feeling when his thoughts turned to his kinsmen who were lost.

It always grieved him that so many of his own race had rejected Christ who said, "No one comes to the Father but by me." He also said, "If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins"(John 8:24). People who die in their sins cannot go to heaven. Whatever you do, don't die in your sins. Human beings are eternally existing beings. Having come into existence, we will exist forever in some state of existence. It was this truth that caused Paul such anxiety of mind. The souls of other people and the awfulness of their eternal destiny caused him great disturbance of mind. It was his great love for people which made him feel so badly. The thought must have often come to Paul's mind, "What will happen to these people when they die?" Paul was a hell fire and brimstone preacher, a term often applied to preachers today when they preach on the subject of hell. How lightly people take this kind of preaching today and speak of it in a joking manner! This feeling which Paul had for his kinsmen we should all have for our relatives, friends and fellow-human beings. It is no use to try to get this feeling by reading books or to pump yourself up to it in private.This feeling is the work of God in the Christian's heart. We must prepare and soften our hearts by taking God's word seriously. Let the eternal destiny of our fellow human beings be often on our minds. The depth of his sensitivity, affection and concern for the eternal welfare of his own people is expressed in v. 3, "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." Lest anyone doubt his sincerity in making such a rash statement he said, "I say the truth in Christ; I lie not." Some have expressed their love for others by professing themselves ready to give their life for their friends, but Paul declares the intensity of his affection by a willingness to give his soul for them, if it would procure their eternal salvation. We cannot give our place in heaven to some one we love and then be separated from God forever for making the trade. It is not possible for anyone to do this, and Paul did not say he wished it. But he felt he could wish it, if it were possible to do so. It reminds us of the statement of Moses when Israel sinned and
God threatened to exterminate the entire nation. Moses requested God to forgive them and said, "If not, blot me out of your book which you have written." But God said to him in Exodus 32:33, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of my book." Paul  therefore meant that he would be willing to have his name blotted out of the book of life, if it would result in the saving of his race. I consider this statement to be an hyperbole, which is an exaggerated illustration to get our attention. But this just may be the most remarkable hyperbole in the human language. No one could doubt his affection for his race, after a willingness to take their place at the final judgment and let them take his place. 

Let me make one practical observation on what we have learned, and I shall be done. It is that we must never give up on our fellow human beings—whether it be our enemies, our own race and culture, our friends, or our relatives. We must love them to the end—be that to the end of our life or the end of their life. But someone says, "Will not such a continual feeling for the lost destroy our happiness? Not at all! Paul was not an unhappy man. He didn't go about publicly moaning and groaning because so many people in his nation were not saved. Oh no, he rejoiced in the Lord and bade others to rejoice. Christians are the happiest and most contented people on the face of the earth. God s favor on us in this life and the glorious destiny which awaits us in the future fills us with so much contentment and happiness that our cups run over. Christians have great joy in other things, although we have great heaviness of heart for those who are lost. We can be in great heaviness and great exultation at the same time. The human personality is a many splendored thing, and each person is a very complicated piece of mental machinery. For this reason we will never give up on those around about us who are not Christians. This heaviness of heart will make us prepared at all times to help them. Furthermore, we are encouraged by the fact that there seems to be a renewed interest in religion in this country. U.S. News and World Report made this statement, "From the smallest hamlet to the largest city, on television and in private, religious belief is a growing, moving force." In 1984 the Gallop Poll organization asked Americans, Did you attend a church or synagogue in the  last seven days?" Four out of ten persons said, "Yes." That's forty per cent. Religion Is back in America. Its time for Christians to be motivated to study more, put forth more effort and be bold enough to confront people with the gospel of Christ. Motivation is the need of the hour. We need to be motivated like a young man I read about who was invited to a coming-out part in the state of Texas. A super rich Texan had a daughter of marriageable age, and he decided to give her a coming-out party. He invited eligible young men from within a hundred miles around to come to the big party on his spread of 200 thousand acres, with dozens of producing oil wells.

Toward the latter part of the evening, the Rancher invited all the young men out to his Olympic size swimming pool. Strangely enough, he had stocked the pool with water moccasins and alligators. He then announced to the young men that the first one who jumped into the pool and swam the length of it would be given his choice of three things: 1 million dollars in cash; or ten thpusand acres of his best land; or the hand of his beautiful daughter in marriage. He pointed out that his daughter was his only heir and that when he and his wife died everything would belong to her and the man she married. Just as soon as he had finished those words, a loud splash was heard at one end of the pool. All testified they had never seen a man swim so fast and were sure he must have broken the world record. Almost immediately the man swam the length of the pool and emerged dripping wet.  As the dripping young man climbed from the pool, the Rancher ran to him and said, "Well, son, you ve got your choice. Do you want the million in cash?" The young man responded, "No, sir." Then he said, "Well, do you want the ten thousand acres of my best land?" The young man said, "No, sir." Finally the host said, Then I assume you want the hand of my beautiful daughter in marriage?" To everyone's amazement the man again replied, "No, sir." Somewhat puzzled and frustrated the host demanded, "Well, son what do you want?" The young man responded, "I want to know the name of that dude who pushed me into the swimming pool." The point of this story is that this young man was motivated to get out of that swimming pool as quickly as possible. Most of us as Christians need to be motivated, but I am not sure what it is going to take to motivate us to put forth more effort and time to reach those who are not Christians. There is energy, time and effort in each one of us which lay there unused, and all we need is motivation to revive them. What must a person do to become a Christian? First, make a complete surrender of your life to Christ. Then turn your life in the direction of heaven by repenting of the sins of your past life with a commitment to live as God would have you to live. Then you must confess Jesus publicly as God's divine Son and have your sins washed away in the water of baptism. Only when a person has done all these things can he say, "I have been born again." 

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