The Way of the Burning Heart

[27] And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, [28] for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” [29] And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” (Romans 9:27-29 ESV)

The Election of God is Not So Limited to the Jewish People that It Can’t Exclude Many Jews (27-29). 

Those within ethnic Israel shouldn’t rest on their “Jewishness” to secure salvation for them. Paul quotes Isaiah 10:22-23 in this passage pointing out again the idea of a remnant. This isn’t new and it isn’t out of keeping with the character of God. Though ethnic Israel be numerous, those who are saved will not be. Tom Schreiner is right when he says, “The salvation of only a remnant among the chosen people continues to advance the theme of mercy against the backdrop of wrath. When one sees that the majority of Israel are vessels of wrath, then the mercy vouchsafed to the remnant is all the more precious.” The grounding of Paul’s statement comes in verse 28 when he says that the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay. That is, the Lord will swiftly, and thoroughly accomplish his purposes through the salvation of the remnant and the judgment of everyone else, Jew or not. That has always been the plan. Paul adds another prong to his argument, though and this one is an emotional one.

He quotes Isaiah 1:9 now. Even the salvation of the remnant is a miracle of mercy. Israel was no better than Sodom and Gomorrah, and yet God rescued them. He did so through a “seed” or those who were the true children of Abraham. Here’s how the illustration shakes out. When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he rescued Lot and his family, correct? Was it because they were holy people? No. They were rescued because of their covenant connection with Abraham, the true friend of God. So too will the remnant called true Israel be rescued; not because of anything good in them, but because of their covenant connection to Abraham as children of faith in Jesus. So, God’s rejection is not total. Election is still at work and God still has the freedom to do as he pleases, for not all Israel is Israel.

How does that work for us, then? We too are children of Abraham, Galatians says, if we believe in Jesus: Galatians 3:7-9 “[7] Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. [8] And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” [9] So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” This means that God, in his mercy, has rescued us as well.

The most important phrase in this section is the phrase “of the Lord of hosts had not…” The reality of salvation is that if God doesn’t save us, we all go to hell when we die. It sounds simple, but it is the most important reality that this passage demonstrates. Salvation belongs to God. Your being Baptist, or a good person, or walking an isle, etc., doesn’t save you. All that stuff doesn’t even impress God. The salvation of your soul belongs to God no one saves but him. If you are not a Christian, not a follower of Jesus, then in this moment call upon God to save you. Only he can save.

Think back to Luke 24. Why did these guys burn when Jesus was explaining the Scriptures to them? Because they saw their place in the plans of God and by his mercy, they were sitting with the one in whom all the promises of God are “yes”. What about you? Is your heart burning as you see your place in the plans of God? Does your heart burn when you read sentences like, “once you were not beloved, but now you are beloved?” I pray that it does. How I pray that it does. And if it does, what happens next? Look at Luke 24: 33-35.

[33] And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, [34] saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” [35] Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
(Luke 24:33-35 ESV)

If you’re excited about it, if your heart is burning, can anyone else tell? These guys met Jesus and immediately started talking about it. I know that is difficult for a lot of us to do. I get that. For many of you, evangelism is like trying to fold the fitted sheet. I know I should, but I never do a good job of it. The early church grew because it was populated by people whose hearts were aflame with love for Christ first. Jesus was their identity as disciples.

Often our identity is turned towards other things. Starbucks cups for instance. We have a friend who worked with a girl who would make coffee at home and pour it into the paper Starbucks cup so that people would think she got her coffee from Starbucks rather than from home. What about the white headphones from Apple? You see them everywhere and they are saying something about people’s technological allegiance (see tomorrow’s book report). All of us are saying things about our identity as people. What if, as Christians, our hearts were so  aflame with love for God, as if it was with our heart, soul, mind and strength and love for our neighbors, almost as much as we love Starbucks and iPods and ourselves? What would happen?

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One thought on “The Way of the Burning Heart

  1. We would change our world! We would no longer be vanilla and invisible but vibrantly relevant in our culture as we point people in an authentic way to Jesus. Too many of us are pouring our own brew into a labeled Christian cup to impress others while living a lie. We need to get real if the world is ever to believe our testimonies about Jesus. If we are a sham, the world assumes Jesus is too.

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