God's Tireless Efforts to Reach Israel (Romans Sermon 79 of 120)
September 11, 2005 | Andrew Davis
Kindness of God
I. A Different Picture of God... But Not Contradictory
Few stories are as dramatic and tragic as the story of unrequited love. You think about how many operas and works of literature and popular songs and poems and odes are written on that theme of unrequited love. One individual loves another and the other either doesn't know they exist or doesn't share their same level of affection, wants to be just friends, perhaps, or perhaps it's a parent-child relationship in which the children are rebelling and do not love the parents the way that they should. It's a tragic story but I would say of all those stories, there's none as tragic as the story of God and the human race.
Of God and the human race, and it's pictured very dramatically for us and unfolded in the history of God and Israel. But it would have been no different with any other tribe or language, or people or nation because, frankly, all of us are in here. When it says, "I was found by those who did not seek Me. I revealed Myself to those who did not ask for Me." And so, here is God extending His arms to rebellious and disobedient people. Not just the Jews, although that's what's being quoted here, but all of us, apart from Christ, not wanting Him, not loving Him. Though, He displays His love day after day, though He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, though He loves His enemies in ways we can't even imagine, yet we spurn Him and turn away from Him and do not love Him. It's an unrequited love.
But you know something, God won't stay that way forever. He won't be a jilted lover forever. Because His love is sovereign and powerful, and it creates what it loves, and that's my hope and yours, that God has the power to speak into a cold and dark and hard heart and transform it. Now, as we look at Romans 10:21, look at it again, the very last verse that Allan read. Concerning Israel, he says, "All day long I have held out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." What we have here is a very different picture of God than we have had in Romans 9. It's not contradictory, it's just different. In Romans 9, we have the picture of a sovereign emperor of the universe, one who sits on the throne and who is addressing the question: Why are so many Jews rejecting the Gospel? That's what's before us in Romans 9:10-11. Why are so many Jews turning away from their Messiah? And the immediate answer that Paul gives in Romans 9:6, "Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel," he gets into the depths of the doctrine of unconditional and sovereign election. That's his immediate answer to the problem.
And so we saw the sovereignty of God there as He calls Jacob and not Esau in Romans 9:11-12 "Before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God's purposes in election might stand, not by works but by Him who calls, she was told the older will serve the younger," but then later in Romans 9:15-16, it says of God, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion… It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort but on God who has mercy." And then again, in verse 18 of chapter nine, "Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden." Now, this is an incredible picture of God, it's a picture of God sitting on His throne ruling over all things, but specifically ruling over human salvation, ruling over human salvation, but in Romans 10, here in verse 21, we have a different picture.
Look at it again. "All day long I have held out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." God here like the father of the prodigal son waiting for his son to return, after he's done with sin, waiting that he would come home. And we have a similar picture in Jesus when Jesus stands over the city of Jerusalem, and says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you. How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you were not willing." The grief and the pain there.
Now, I say to you that it is very difficult to reconcile these two. It's hard to get Romans 9 and Romans 10 to kind of coincide in our minds. How do you get the picture of this sovereign God who gets what He wants and nobody can stop Him in Romans 9, and then Romans 10:21, He's standing and holding out His hands to sinners wanting them to come back. There are many popular depictions of a waiting Savior. You've seen perhaps the picture of Jesus standing at a vine-covered door and knocking. Behind that has be Revelation 3:20, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me," but there He is waiting, knocking, knocking, waiting. And I was troubled by that. I said, "That's not the picture of God I get. He's not passive in salvation." Someone said, "Actually, what He does is, goes around the back, crawls in the window and unlocks the door for Himself."
And frankly if he doesn't do that he'll never get in because the human heart doesn't want Him in. I accept that, I think it's true, but I think there's a theme here. Perhaps you've also seen the hymn, The Savior is Waiting. I remember listening to that and after I started to understand God's sovereignty and salvation, I said, "I'm not likely to sing this hymn again," but now when I see Romans 10:21, I begin to wonder if maybe we should sing it.
"The Savior is waiting, to enter your heart. Why don't you let Him come in? There's nothing in this world to keep you apart. What is your answer to Him? Time after time, He has waited before and now He is waiting again, to see if you're willing to open the door. Oh, how He wants to come in. If you'll take one step toward the Savior, my friend, you'll find His arms open wide. Receive Him, and all of your darkness will end; within your heart, He'll abide."
Now, what I say to you this morning is I think it's a major tragedy for any church to deny one or the other, just 'cause we can't reconcile them. I think it's a major tragedy. It hurts evangelism, it hurts missions to deny one or the other. It's very difficult for us to reconcile these two pictures. People who want to emphasize the sovereignty of God over salvation, they say that God rules over all things, the human heart, they have a hard time with the Savior's waiting. Waiting for what? He moves when He wants, and no one can resist Him. And the Scripture says that.
I was reading a reformed theologian named Dr. Van Buren and he had examples of... He's talking about the doctrine of irresistible grace, which I called sovereign grace rather than irresistible, but at any rate, that God gets who He wants, and He has that power over the human heart. At least, that's an example that he found about 100 years ago of a ballot concerning your salvation. Maybe you've seen it And there's three places to vote; two of them have been taken and there's two ways to vote, yes or no, concerning your salvation. God has voted yes, isn't that good news for you? The devil has voted no. Oh, what a shame. But no big surprise. The deciding vote is going to be cast by whom? Well, whoever gets a little tract, right? And you can get a pen and you can vote yes or you can vote no. Oh, there's all kinds of problems with that.
Are the Devil and Satan really equal in the matter of human salvation? Do we live in that kind of a universe? But even more troubling is the idea that God is waiting for you to make the final determination. It doesn't seem to fit in Romans 9. The question I want to ask this morning is, can we still retain an understanding of God as sovereign over the human heart, able to break a heart of stone, to transform it and make it into a heart of flesh. He's got that kind of power and yet He can say, "All day long I have held out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." Is it possible to understand the sovereignty of God and a passionate appeal to sinners that they be converted? I think it is, I think it frankly must be. We've got to hold them together, we've got to keep both of them in front of us. People who have no problem with the Savior's waiting have a problem with the picture of God in Romans 9. They don't understand it, they don't see how it can be.
We've got to keep both of them in front of us. Frankly, we declare our faith in the sovereignty of God over human salvation every time we drop to our knees and ask God to save someone. I mean, a husband, a wife, a parent, child, relative, coworker. What are you asking God to do? What are you asking Him to do when you get down on your knees? Are you not saying, "Oh God, change their heart, oh, God, give them a love for things they have not loved up 'til now. Oh God, work inside them." That's what you're asking them to do, therefore you're testifying that you believe God can do those kind of things.
Or whenever we send out missionaries to seemingly impossible mission fields, unreached people groups, hostile Muslim groups, other groups that seem totally beyond our reach, frankly, any missionary endeavor, are we not stepping out confident in God, and not in ourselves, trusting in Him? But, friends, I think it is just as great a tragedy to deny that we should stand and make passionate, persistent appeals to sinners to be saved, passionate and persistent, that we need in effect to take this stance all day long. "I've held up my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." It's what God does here in Romans 10:21 with Israel. Remember the passion that the Apostle Peter showed on the day of Pentecost.
After preaching all of that incredible Pentecost sermon, it says in Acts 2:40, "With many other words, he warned them and pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.'" We don't know what he said, Luke doesn't tell us. He said a lot of other things that are not recorded in the Book of Acts. But do you see His passion? Do you see His heart? Do you see His warnings, His pleadings, perhaps even His tears, though it's not recorded. Do you see Him yearning for His people to be saved? And I believe both of these are taught in the Scripture. We've got to hold them together.
And probably the passage that teaches them the most plainly together is Matthew 11:25-30. These are the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and He says in Matthew 11:25, "I praise You, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." Then He said this, "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father, except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him." Strong statement of God's sovereignty. The very next thing He says, is, "Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Is some theological counselor going to sit Jesus down and say, "You seem to be theologically confused. You can't both have 'All things have been committed to Me by My Father,' and, 'Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened.'" Yes, you can. And I think this church needs both. We need a strong commitment to the sovereignty of God over human hearts, along with a passionate, tear-stained appeal to sinners to be converted. We need them both.
II. Israel’s Stumbling Block: The Word of Faith vs. Works of the Law
Now, Israel had a stumbling block in coming to Christ. And that's what we're dealing with here in Romans 10. Why didn't they come? Why were they not responding to this kind of appeal, all day long God holding out His hands. Why are they not coming? Well, we already learned there's a stumbling block. Look back in Romans 9:31-33.
It says there, "That Israel who pursued a law of righteousness has not attained it, why not because they pursued it not by faith, but as if it were by works, they stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written, see I lay in Zion, a stone, that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame." So Romans 10, is dealing with the human level. Its not the level of unconditional election, but at the human level as to why the Jews were rejecting Christ. And there it says at the end of Romans 9 that they are rejecting because they stumbled over Christ. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. Now, it says in 10:3-4 that Israel sought to establish their own righteousness. It says, "They did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own therefore did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law for everyone who believes, so there may be righteousness for everyone who believes."
They stumbled over Christ, they stumbled over the idea that righteousness could be given simply as a gift, couldn't accept it, and so they refused it. In 10:5-7 that this righteousness is a simple gift, it's not some stunning religious achievement. You don't have to climb the highest mountain or travel to the far side of the sea or go down to the depths of the sea. No, all you have to do is hear this Word of faith and believe it. "The Word is near you, it's in your mouth and in your heart." It's a simple thing, that, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved, for it is with the heart that you believe and are justified and it is with the mouth that you confess and are saved," it's that simple. But the Jews couldn't accept it and neither could they accept verses 11-13, that this righteousness is available for everybody. It's wide open now. "Anyone who trusts in Him [in Christ] will never be put to shame."
Look what it says in verse 12, "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile." Oh, how offensive that was to some Jews. What do you mean there's no difference between Jew and Gentile? We are God's people, we're descendants of Abraham and we're waiting for God to whip up on these Gentiles? Not save them. But what is this statement? "There is no difference between Jew and Gentile. The same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" They couldn't accept it.
Now, the proclamation of the Word of faith is essential to salvation. We talked about that last week versus 14-15: "How then can they call on the one they've not believed in, and how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them and how can they preach unless they are sent as it is written, 'how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?'" That's the missionary endeavor. There are evangelists and missionaries, going out all over the world taking this Word of faith, the Gospel and simply preaching it. The Jews didn't want to preach to the Gentiles but Paul did it anyway, against some great opposition he continued to preach. And there he's defending as we talked about last time, he is preaching ministry, to both Jew and Gentile, he's reaching out with the Gospel. And the reason for that is that as we heard in verse 17, "Faith comes by hearing." Look at it, verse 17. I'm going to preach God willing, next time, a whole message on this, the final application in the sermon. I'm not going to get to it till next week. So we're going to talk more about the significance of this statement. "Faith comes by hearing." But just look at it for the first time now.
Consequently it says, "Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ." And so what happens is, as the missionaries, as the evangelists, as the apostles go out and they just preach Christ and Him crucified, they just preach this simple message. What happens is, while the ear drum is vibrating with the sounds, while the concepts are going in the brain, all of a sudden faith comes up in the human heart. Ephesians 2 says it's a gift of God.
2 Corinthians 4 says that God speaks light into the heart and that light is focused on the glory of Christ. But as they're listening to the Gospel, faith comes and they are justified. What a beautiful thing. Faith comes by hearing, the problem is, the Jews hardened their hearts, they did not obey the Gospel. Look what it says in verse 16, "But they have not all obeyed the Gospel." That's the ESV. There's other translations, but I think this is a good one. They hadn't heeded it, they didn't obey it. Friends, the Gospel is a command to be obeyed.
Jesus said in Mark 1:15, this is the beginning of His preaching, in Mark's Gospel, He says "The time has come, the Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news," those are the twin commands of the Gospel, you must repent, you must turn away from sin, you must hate it, stop doing it, turn away from it as a principle, repent and believe the good news that Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. And even more, as it unfolds, that He died in our place, on the cross, He shed His blood, that we might have eternal life. Repent and believe, it's a command. We obey the Gospel we also believe it, but we obey it. Well, the Jews did not, they did not obey. Now, the question you may ask, and it's being asked here in Romans 9-11 is well, the Jews are God's people. Does the fact that they did not heed the Gospel and not obey does that mean that God's Word has failed, that God's Word perhaps is ineffective or God's covenants to His people, that His promises have been broken? Oh, absolutely not. It does not mean that. In fact Israel's unbelief, was predicted 700 years before the time of Christ. Isaiah the Prophet predicted it. Look what it says, again, in verse 16, "They have not all obeyed the Gospel for Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed what he heard from us.'"
Now do you know where that's from? Well, that's the very beginning of Isaiah 53, that's Isaiah 53:1. What does Isaiah 53? Well, any of you who have studied the Old Testament, looking for Christ and find Him, you're going to find Him in Isaiah 53 more clearly than anywhere else in the Old Testament, you're going to find His bloody death on the cross, His substitutionary atonement His death on the cross more clearly depicted there in Isaiah than anywhere else in the Old Testament. This is what Isaiah says, "He grew up before Him. Like a tender shoot and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him, He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering, like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet, we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted, but He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds, we are healed, we all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
That's the Gospel, friends, that's Jesus suffering and dying for us. And Isaiah introduced this saying, in effect, they're not going to believe it Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
III. God Leaves Israel No Excuse (verses 16-21)
Israel's rejection was predicted centuries before, and so in verses 16-21, I believe the Apostle Paul is basically removing any excuse from Israel concerning that rejection. He takes away the excuses.
Excuse #1: “We’ve never heard”
Excuse number one would be simply we never heard about this, we never heard about Jesus, we never heard the Gospel. The problem is, they had heard. It's interesting that the people who bring this up as a, in some way, proof that the exclusivity of Christ can't be true. Because there's so many people who haven't heard the Gospel are not in that category, they have heard about Christ, and they're raising up this question and I've actually said in witnessing opportunity, saying, "Well I am so grateful that at this early stage, you have such a compassion on the lost. I'm grateful that you are so concerned about those who've never heard but the fact is you've heard."
And so whether they ever hear or not, you have to deal with this Gospel, you have heard, and that's in effect what Paul says here. He says, in verse 18, "But I asked, did they not hear, did they not hear? Of course they did. 'Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.'" And by the way, that's a remarkable citation of Psalm 19, it's incredible. Psalm 19 is a great Psalm talking about how the heavens are telling the Glory of God, The skies proclaim the work of His hands. It's an amazing thing because it's just talking about natural revelation, how the sun and the moon and the stars talk about, about God. The rising and setting of the sun every day, gives clear testimony to the existence of God, the creator. Now you say, "What does that have to do with the preaching of the Gospel?" Well, it just talks about God's commitment to communicate to the entire human race. He has a commitment to reveal Himself and in a similar way, He is revealing himself in the Gospel as these beautiful feet as the messengers, the evangelists, the apostles cross mountains and rivers and oceans, to bring this Gospel to the ends of the earth. Their testimony has gone out over all the world, God has sent out His messengers. And by the time Paul wrote Romans, progress, astonishing progress had already been made.
At the end of Romans. You can look there or just listen, but in Romans 15:18-24, you could turn there, if you want or just listen. In Romans 15:18-24, Paul says this, "I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done by the power of signs and miracles through the power of the Spirit. Listen, So from Jerusalem all the way round to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ." Illyricum is Yugoslavia. It's right across from the Italian boot, it's right there. So basically, the entire Northern Region of the Mediterranean Paul says I have fully preached the Gospel everywhere, and he goes beyond that, he keeps going in verse 20, 15:20, he said, "It's always been my ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation, rather as it is written. "Those who were not told about him will see and those who have not heard will understand." That's Isaiah 52, right before 53, Paul knows these verses so that I want to preach Isaiah 53 everywhere I go, kings will hear about Him and rise up princes will see and they'll fall down on their faces. Paul says, "I want to see that happen. So it's my ambition to go where Christ has never been known. But I have a problem, there's no more place for me to work in this area. Everybody's heard of Jesus, and I am a trailblazing missionary, so I've got to go on and so I'll be passing through God willing, through Rome on my way to Spain. Because I just can't find any place to work anymore."
That's incredible. The Gospel had super saturated that area. It wasn't just the apostles, it was the churches they planted, and so the Thessalonian Christians were witnessing. Their faith in God had been reported all over the world, it was multiplying and exploding, it was exciting. And so Paul can make this statement in Colossians 1:23, "This is the Gospel that you heard, and that has been proclaimed to every creature under Heaven every creature under Heaven." Well, we know now it's not literally every single solitary human being but he's saying that the Gospel had been so widely preached that it had made this kind of progress and now it's reached you, Colossians, it's gotten to you.
This is the ultimate end of The Gospel ministry. Jesus said, in Matthew 24:14, "This Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come." So we're going all over the world, just like the sun from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, Jesus's name will be great. So again, I asked Have they not heard?" What's the first thing Paul did in every town he went to the Jewish synagogue, and preached. Oh, they have heard. They have heard of Jesus. There's no excuse.
Excuse #2: “We Did Not Understand”
Secondly, we did not understand, we didn't get it, they told us about Jesus, he told us about Jesus, but we didn't understand. Well how does he deal with this? Verse 19, he says, "Again I asked, did Israel not understand? At first, Moses says, 'I'll make you envious by those who are not a nation, I will make you angry, by a nation that has no understanding.' And Isaiah boldly says, 'I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.'"
This is a very deep answer. In a nutshell. I think what he's saying here is the fact that the Gentiles are turning to Christ shows that not understanding the Gospel is no obstacle, and no excuse you know why, because God can overcome that in anybody. First of all at one level the Gospel is so simple, a child could understand it. God sent His son, He died in our place. Trust in Him and He'll save you. It's really quite straightforward. The depths as we'll see in Romans 11, at the end are so deep none of us can fathom them all. But on the issue of understanding, that was no obstacle for the Gentiles. Now, let's remember the Gentiles… Ephesians 4 describes them in verse 17, and following, Paul says there, "So I tell you this and insist on it in the Lord that you must no longer live as the gentiles do in the futility of their thinking, they're darkened in their understanding, and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that's in them, due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity they have given themselves over to sensuality, so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more."
Those are the Gentiles. They're not sounding too good. It didn't sound like they understand anything. And frankly, Paul says right here, quoting he says, "I was found by those who did not seek me. I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." And God is saving Gentiles by the thousands. Is that an obstacle I don't understand, I don't get it. Well, it is an obstacle that will damn your soul, if God doesn't save you from it, but He has that kind of power. To speak into a dark heart and into a dark mind He can do that. He can create light where there was darkness before. He can speak to a pagan people who have no interest in a Jewish Messiah, and suddenly they can turn. They woke up that morning a pagan idolater, they went to bed that night a Christian. Hallelujah. God has that kind of power and He can do it for Jews, too. He's going to get to that in chapter 11. God hasn't rejected His people, I'm [Paul] a Jew. He can do it in our hearts, too. And so God has the kind of power to reach out and to create inside the heart of somebody who's running from God, to create a yearning for God inside that heart, He has that power. "I was found by those who did not seek for me, I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." That is powerful.
Excuse #3: “God Has Never Revealed Himself to Us”
The final excuse is God has not revealed Himself to us, is that true? Has God not revealed Himself to Israel? Well, how many prophets did he need to send? How many prophecies about Christ was enough? As one of the Jews said, when watching Jesus, "when the Messiah comes, will He do more miracles than this man?" How much more revelation is needed? God has revealed Himself to the Jews powerfully but they have not turned. Romans 10:21, Israel has no excuse because God has constantly made an appeal to them all day long. I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. Oh how powerful is this. Generation after generation, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has been reaching out to the Jewish people. One prophet after another. One messenger after another. Jesus told the parable of the tenant farmers in the vineyard, the landowner rents out his farm or his vineyard to these tenant farmers they are, the Jews. And then he sends messengers to collect a share of the harvest, but they kill them one after another, kill them one after another, killed them finally he says, "Well I'll send my Son. They wi'll respect my son."
They say look, here's the heir, let's kill him and take the inheritance. And so, they kill him, too. What is the point of the parable? Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem you who killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you. I'm standing there, generation after generation. I'm holding out my hands to you. And Jesus in Matthew 23, says, "Therefore I'm sending you prophets and wise men, and teachers, I'm going to send you apostles and you will kill them and you will flog them, in your synagogues, and pursue them, from town to town. That's what you will do all day long I've held out my hands to a disobedient obstinate people. But you know something, even in the midst of this, Romans 10, Do you not see, God's still doing it? Do you not see Him still reaching out, even now, through, the Apostle Paul. Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, come, take my yoke upon you. Trust in me believe in me, I'm still holding out my hands to a rebellious and obstinate people, to a people who murmur against me argue against me who refute the scriptures and show how it can't be Jesus. I've held out my hands and I continue to do so.
IV. Application: Imitating God in Our Evangelism and Missions
What application can we take from this? Well, next week we'll talk about faith comes by hearing. But I just want to zero in on this one thing. I believe that we at First Baptist church, we Christians, we need to imitate God in this. Look at verse 21, Concerning Israel, He says, "All day long. I have held out my hands to a disobedient obstinate people." All day long, all day long, shows perseverance, long-suffering, putting up with the obstacles that have come your way when you try to lead someone to Christ. Putting up with the obstacles that come your way when you try to plant a church in an unreached people. The long suffering, putting up with the obstacles that come when you try to lead a spouse or a child or a friend to Christ, all the flak. The guy who led me to Christ, put up with so many things, I will not want to see a video tape of what I did to him for those 18 months. I was unkind, I was rude. And the Lord reminds me of it often. He says, "Have you done as much for this individual as Steve did for you over those 18 months in bringing you to Christ? "No Lord, I haven't." "Well, hang in there, persevere, be long-suffering, don't give up easily."
So all day long I see that patience there I also see initiative. I have held out my hands. It starts with God and moves out and reaching out to you. There's an initiative. We don't wait for the sinners to come here, then they won't. Why would they come here? We go from here out. We take the initiative and find out where they are. In passion, I've held out My hands. This is tough for me. I can witness on an airplane in a kind of a cold "oh, by the way, this is an interesting thing" sort of way without risking much. But if they start to see some tears coming down my face, like "Whoa, you getting a little heavy on me here, this is too intense back off." And they don't want that. There's an intensity there, but then Acts 2:40, "With many other words, He warned them and pleaded with them. Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Where is that warning and pleading in our evangelism where is the holding out your hands to a disobedient obstinate people. Be willing to be counted a fool for Christ's sake. See the passion, and see the persuasion. I've held out my hands Come now, let us reason together. Let's talk about these scriptures let's talk about the predictions about Christ. Let's reason.
And let's be willing to suffer. Look what He says to a disobedient and obstinate people. You know something, the more I go on in my Christian life, and as a pastor, the more I realize how overwhelmingly powerful, a force is sin. I mean it's just there, it's in my face all the time, not just my own sin, but the sins of others. It is tough to change a human heart, isn't it? This is a supernatural work of God, and if we are going to be fruitful, as a church, if we're going to see a lot of people baptized if we're going to see a lot of people discipled through our ministry, we will have to be willing to suffer their disobedience and obstinance while they wrestle with the Gospel. We go to be willing to put up with it. And I believe that our fruitfulness will be in direct proportion to our willingness to pay that price. The more we're willing to suffer what it takes to take the Gospel, the more fruitful it will be. And I think that's exactly what God's calling on us to do. Would you close with me in prayer?