Worship Fuels Missionary Zeal

Paul’s Separation

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:3 ESV)

Paul says something profound here. The intensity of his sorrow comes to a climax in this passage.

  1. I wish God had cursed me: the word is “anathema” which we are all familiar with, meaning devoted to destruction, or to be cursed for all eternity. We know that is what it means because of the next phrase, “cut off from Christ”. This is an eschatological cursing, not just that things will go bad, but that he would be sent to hell that others might have eternal life with God.  Moses prayed this same emotional prayer in Exodus 32:32 “So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Exodus 32:31-32 ESV) Is Paul really asking that God would send him to hell? Kinda.
  2. I “could” wish is very important. The word in greek there is imperfect, which means, in the end that he could wish to be cast away from Christ if that was possible, but he understands that it isn’t possible. This is the climax of emotion for Paul in this passage, saying that he would rather be accursed than his brothers. They were the ones who were cut off from Christ and he was chiefly concerned for them.
  3. My kinsmen according to the flesh: He is speaking specifically about unbelieving ethnic Israel here. He speaks like this again in Romans 10: 1-4. He is longing for their salvation.

Amplification

How can the Holy Spirit use his word to help us in worship that it might fuel our missionary zeal?

  1. Understand that the gospel separates and divides.
    1. The Reality of the Division: The gospel is an intense proposal. This is not mere religion that we are discussing. We are saying that if you believe in Jesus you spend eternity with God, but if you believe in anything or anyone else you spend eternity separated from him. There are those who would paint Jesus as a weak, sickly religious leader who mainly wanted people to just love each other and get along. LLoyd Jones treats this well:
      1. “There is a loose, foolish notion about Christianity that it is something which abolishes all divisions and distinctions and brings everybody together in a nice, happy, cheerful feeling of fellowship, so that we are all nice to one another and everything is smoothed over. It is entirely wrong!”
      2. Jesus said it would be intense. Jesus said it would bring controversy. Jesus never said that we would get along with those who disagreed with the truth of the gospel. He said they would kill us. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36 ESV)
    2. The Nature of the Division:  The division that many of you have experienced either in your workplace or your home or with your extended family is based on understanding. Let’s address it as an illustration between two people. If you are both pagans, you understand each other. When you become a Christian, you still understand what it means to be pagan. The guy who is still a pagan himself doesn’t understand you. You are now the weirdo, the fanatic, the churchy guy. He doesn’t understand you. Why? What created that? The gospel. You aren’t the same guy that you used to be.
  2. Aim at Christ and people will come to you.
    1. Where do you find your head, heart and hands?
    2. CRITICAL: Think this week about the reality of your salvation. Think deeply about what it means to be saved by the God who should have crushed you. Think about what it means to have the son of God, the savior himself, Jesus Christ come to you and call you brother or sister. Think about the reality of your salvation being planned and executed by the Trinity. God chose you in him, Christ died to provide substitutionary atonement for you, the Holy Spirit regenerated your heart so you might understand the gospel and follow Jesus and your eternal destiny is secured in Christ. What does it mean to be saved? Think about that and recite with David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. (Psalm 51:12-13 ESV) What came first? The joy or the evangelism? The joy came first. Why? Because worship fuels missionary zeal. Let’s pray that God would restore to us our joy in the gospel and that our neighborhood, city and nation would be shaken because of it.
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