Summary: Believers have a responsibility to pray for and work toward sharing God’s love with unbelievers.
A. Consider your prayer life? Do you ever spend time praying for those who don’t know Christ?
B. This may include work acquaintances, friends, family members and even spouses and children.
C. And if salvation is all of God, what good does it do for us to pray for them, if say, they are not of the elect?
D. And how do we pray for them? We don’t always, if ever, know God’s plan for their life.
E. But pray we should, for Jesus said we should pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send laborers into fields white for harvest. (Matthew 9:38)
F. Realizing the condition of the lost should spur us on to pray for them. Already in our study, we have examined the condition of people without Christ. Our personal salvation cannot be all that matters.
G. As with any prayer we make, we should make sure we have dealt with any issues hindering us spiritually.
H. A part of praying for God to send laborers into the field includes the possibility we may be the laborer. That is, we need to be open to any opportunity God gives us to share his love.
I. Mission work does not just take place overseas or in countries where the gospel has not penetrated. Amazingly, there are people in America and probably even in our own community who need to hear or need to hear again.
J. Witnessing also involves the need for boldness. There are various reasons we use for not speaking up-why we let an opportunity go by. Truthfully, none of them are sufficient or acceptable for there is never a good reason for not sharing. We need to ask God to help us be strong in sharing our story.
K. We also need to pray for God to work in the hearts and minds of those he places in our path or those we help spread the gospel to so they can clearly hear and understand the message.
I. Paul’s Longing For His People To Be Saved (vv. 1-4)
A. Paul longed for the Jewish people to be saved. (v. 1)
1. This is a general and blanket statement that is not intended to mean no Jews had accepted Christ.
2. There were many who believed but many more did not because of preconceived notions held about the Messiah or because they had fallen into the misunderstanding of the Law’s purpose.
3. Others may have taken sides with the religious leaders, many of whom rejected Jesus, and some who outright attributed his works to the power of the devil or demons within him.
4. Paul took into account this situation and wondered why they couldn’t see the light as he had.
5. He had a heart-felt longing for them to be saved, and he prayed diligently for God to open their blinded eyes.
B. Reasons Paul mentions for their disbelief. (vv. 2-3)
1. Now we might wonder what will happen to Jews who don’t believe in Christ but have maintained a zealous belief and commitment to the same God that Jesus proposed to represent and even be.
2. We can even think of devout Muslims who also believe in one God-the God of Abraham, which amazingly is the same God we worship.
3. In spite of this loyalty, rejecting Jesus as God’s son sent to be the Savior of the world disqualifies them for forgiveness and a place in heaven.
4. Jesus said there was only one way to the Father, and he was it. (John 14:6)
5. In the case of devout Jews, we may be tempted to cry unfair. They are dedicated to the same religion we are (with the exception of believing Jesus was the Messiah) but they are still going to miss out on heaven.
6. Paul references their zeal in verse two but then concludes it is misdirected zeal. This is why he is so concerned for them. He recognizes that enthusiasm-as good as it may be, if it is directed in the wrong direction is no good.
7. The unbelieving Jews had replaced faith with customs and traditions and were placing their stock in them instead of faith. Obedience to God’s law was also of great importance.
8. Paul himself had been caught up in this scene but discovered on the Damascus Road that none of these actions or any others could take the place of faith. Having realized this, he was very intent on sharing this same message with his people.
9. His statement about his people is very blunt and to the point-“They won’t go along with God’s way.” (v. 3)
10. The Jews failed to understand God’s way of making people right with him-though God had certainly not hidden this from them on purpose. Instead of going the correct way, they were clinging to another way-keeping the law.