Summary: Where is the Word of faith that we need? How do we acquire the faith we need for salvation?
“Where is the Word?”
INTRODUCTION: You have probably heard people say, “WHAT you believe is not all that important as long as you are SINCERE.” How many agree with that statement? Disagree?
You could be VERY SINCERE and take the wrong medicine and end up in a lot of trouble. You could be SINCERE in going the wrong way on the interstate and end up in an accident and lose your life. You could be very SINCERE in believing something and yet be dead wrong in that belief.
The Lenten Season is a time to examine our lives and our beliefs--a time to get ready for Easter. Today’s scripture gives us the opportunity to examine some of the basic beliefs of the Christian faith and what meaning they have for our lives.
Paul writes to the Romans to assure them that his message was the Good News of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. He wanted to make sure they were standing on solid footing in their faith.
Story: Two longstanding church members were out in their boat fishing and they had taken a new Christian with them that day. They were discussing their faith and their devotion to God. As they were talking, one man’s hat blew into the water. So he stood up, calmly stepped onto the water, walked over to his hat and picked it up off the water and walked back to the boat. The new Christian was amazed at how this person could seemingly walk on water. As the new Christian was thinking about this, the other member’s hat blew into the water. He calmly got up and stepped into the water, walked over to his hat and picked it up and walked back to the boat. The new Christian was overwhelmed by the spirituality of these two Christians.
Then he thought to himself, “If these guys can do that, so can I!” He “helped” his hat blow off and into the water. He very calmly stepped out of the boat and was inhaling water instantly.
As he fought his way to the surface, gasping for breath, the two church members looked at each other and said, “I think we should have told him about the sand bar on this side of the boat.”
The church at Rome was made up of a mixture of both Jewish and Gentile believers., both mature Christians and new converts. At that point in history they were experiencing some tensions within the group because of their diverse backgrounds. He wanted to make it clear that no one has an “edge” on God; rather that all stand condemned before God because no one has been able to keep the law. Then he goes on to declare the good news of forgiveness and new life that comes through faith.
At the beginning of Chapter 10 Paul tells this group, “It is my greatest desire and prayer to see the Israelites saved because they have a zeal for God, but they are going about it the wrong way.” They were zealous people but their zeal was not based on knowledge.
STORY: The story is told of a little boy who was scared to go to church one Sunday. He cried and cried and his mother couldn’t find out what was wrong with him. He loved to go to Sunday school and church. She kept questioning him and finally he blurted out, “I’m afraid of the zeal.”
“What zeal?” she asked.
“The preacher said last Sunday “the zeal has eaten me up!”
“I’m afraid of the zeal. I’m afraid it will eat me if I go to church.”
I think this little boy misunderstood, but the Jews also misunderstood. They were trying to make their salvation a “do it yourself project” by strictly keeping the law. He told them that it did not require great heroic feats such as trying to bring Christ down from heaven or up from the grave. (verse 6, 7). Paul was referring back to Deut. 30:11-14 where that scripture says “now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven so that you have to ask, “who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it. Nor is it beyond the sea so that you have to ask, “who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it. No the Word is very near you: it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
This Old Testament scripture, one that the Jewish Christians would be familiar with, leads us to today’s scripture. Paul is telling the New Testament Christians the same thing and this also applies to us today.