Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Right Kind Of Zeal (Romans 9:30-10:4)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Please remain standing. If you're able, let's return. Let's turn, return to Romans and turn to Romans Nine, verse thirty. Romans nine verse thirty. This is Romans nine verse thirty, and I'm going to read through ten, verse four. This is God's word. It's important that you give your attention to it. What shall we say then, that gentile's, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it? That is a righteousness that is by faith, but that Israel, who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness, did not succeed in reaching that law? Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written. Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved, for I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of the righteousness of God and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, for the righteousness to everyone who believes. May God bless his word to us and please be seated. Teachers want their students to...

...learn the subject. Parents want their children to grow up and be successful. What pastors want? Pastors want their parishioners to be saved. They want the people that are hearing the words that they speak to hear them and be saved, to find life, saved from what to be saved? To have an understanding of salvation doesn't really make any sense unless you have an understanding of what you're being saved from. Well, fortunately, we've already spent a good time on that this morning, haven't we? Saved from our sin, which leads to death? I'm saved from our pride, which enslaves us, anger that destroys us, lust that blinds us, guilt that pierces our heart makes us heavy. It's sin, of course, that we all share, its sin that we're born into, its sin that we commit in this life. And in light of all this sin, Paul feels for the Jews and he says in verse ten brothers, my Heart's desire and prayer to God for them. That is Israel, that is that they may be saved, and this, of course, is my prayer for you as well this morning, my heart's desire, this is why I became a pastors, so that you may be saved. But, as any parent, teacher or pastor knows, one thing I've learned in all these roles is that you can't make anyone do anything is can't. I've experienced this as a parent, as a cello teacher and as a pastor. No matter how much I want something to happen, no matter...

...how badly I want a thing, I just can't make it happen. I can't. I can't save you, I can't cause you to save yourself, but I can do that thing that Paul does here and that parents do and the teachers do, and that's point paints in this direction. Guide, lead, proud, yell, preach, do everything we can to encourage and instruct and help, to understand so that we can get you to that goal. But if you are to benefit from it, you have to be teachable, you have to listen, you have to pay attention, because there's certain instructions that are being given. Do this, do that, avoid this path, take this one, and this morning that's exactly what I want to do. I want to show to you and explain to you these two paths, these two choices that we have in this life, one that leads to the righteousness of God and salvation and life everlasting, and the other that does not but leads to death. First let's start by looking at some of the details in the text, and in doing that, the first thing will observe is an observation or a puzzle that Paul something he observes, a puzzle that he presents, and it's the first verse that we have, verse thirty. What shall we say then, in light of everything that he's said thus far? What do we conclude? And then he gives us the conclusion, which is itself a little bit of a puzzle. So here's his conclusion. I'll read it to you again from verse dirty, that Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have obtained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith, but that...

Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness, did not succeed in reaching that law. So you see what he's saying. He says there's these two groups, generally speaking, and there's all kinds of exceptions and qualifications that he's made in other places, but these setting forward this basic principle and fact of history that the gentiles who were not given the law of Moses, who didn't pursue the Law of Moses, ended up receiving justification the righteousness of God. There are all these gentiles, Paul says, who are standing before God and said and who are accounted as righteous, as holy. And yet then there is is real, who was given the law, who has pursued the law, a law that was meant to lead to righteousness, but they've not obtained it. How can the gentiles be justified before God, entering into the blood these blessings? But Israel not gentiles who are associated with paganism, idolatry, all kinds of sexual immorality, hatred, ignorance of God and all the things that he's given to Israel, they've obtained the righteousness of God. And then is real, to whom belongs the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the law and all the rest. They missed it. How are these things true? How does this work together? This reminds me of an experience I had in junior hive. There was a teacher who, on the first day of class, he was a math teacher, and he went to all the students and he handed out a quiz. This was on the very first day and this was a kind it was seventh grade, but it was an upper level math class. And he hands out this test all these students, and most of them are really hard working, diligent, quick...

...students. He hands it out and he says, I want you to follow the instructions and then we'll will take this quiz and and then we'll go on with the rest of the class. Well, then you saw two things happen. First, you saw some of the students just sort of sitting there quietly, looking lazy, not really doing anything, not paying an attention. Then after a few minutes they start getting up and they just turn their quizzes and and then there's these other students working really fast and really hard trying to answer all these questions, and then they turn it in and they're looking around like, what am I doing wrong? And they turn it out and they hand it in and then the teach sure started dividing these tests into two piles and the students that seemed to be really fast and turned it in the beginning without having really done any work. All got a's and the students who were working really hard all failed, and everyone's going well, well, I'll say everyone was confused. Well, not everyone. The students who passed knew exactly why they had passed. It was the students who didn't pass. We're saying, I answered all the problems, I did better than I thought I would do, I'd worked really hard and did it fast. That's the sort of situation that the Israel is finding themselves in and that's the puzzle that Paul is addressing, and he gives the answer in verse thirty two. He says why? Answer? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. He goes on to say that they he's what he's saying here is that they pursued it in a particular way. So what? Going back to the test, what happened there? What happened is that the teacher had directions on the very top of the quiz that said write your name, sit for three minutes, then turn...

...in the quiz, and that's what he said. When he hands out the test, he said follow the directions, and everyone did that. Those who followed the directions, who simply wrote their name, sat for three minutes and turned it in. All past the test and God a's the people that skipped the directions assumed they knew what was going on, and we're working frantically because they're smart, good students. They didn't pass just by getting all the answers correct. There were, there was a direction given the teacher, of course, was the point at the beginning of class was listened to me and follow my instructions. This was the real lesson that was being taught. But something similar is going on here. There is a way in which Israel is expecting to get the A, there's a way in which they're expecting to obtain the righteousness of God, to stand before him and be declared you are justified, you have done well, and they think the way is by doing the works of the law. If we'd work hard enough, if we do enough, if we're fast enough, if we're good enough, if we're obedient enough, if we're holy enough, we'll get the A, will get justification, will get glory, will get heaven. But Paul says it was never that way. They pursued the law as if it were based on works, he says, but it's not based on works. You didn't hear the directions, you didn't understand you didn't follow them. How do you obtain the righteousness of God? How do you pursue the law? Through faith, through faith, that's how you pursue the law and that's how you obtain justification. And that's why the gentiles got it, because they they got all the benefits of obedience of...

...the law through the one who obeyed for them this law. To go a little deeper on what Paul is saying and to expound a little more from other places, Paul tells us it served this particular purpose. He gives two examples. In Galatians, for example, he calls the law a schoolmaster. That is meant to lead us to Christ. The law under with Israel received was to teach them. It was to teach them the requirements of God, it was to teach them their failures of their requirements, and it was to teach them the forgiveness that they received. That's what the sacrifices were all about. That's why the sacrifices were attached to that law. It was all to teach them and lead them to Christ. It was to show them, not if you do all these things you will be saved. It was to show them you can't do all these things, but I am providing for you a salvation in collossions to seventeen and Hebrews nine nine. Another a metaphor is used. The law and all the ceremonies are called a shadow of the things to come, like a like a shadow on a body. It's very similar to the body. It in many ways is it moves perfectly with it right, it's attached to it. Your shadow is never sort of somewhere else, it's never in another room. You never have to go get your shadow. It's always there, it's always with you. It's that connected. And yet it's not you. You can jump on your somebody can jump on your shadow and it doesn't hurt you. Right, somebody can poke it or put a hat on it, but it doesn't affect you personally. There's a separation between these two things and that's what Paul says about the law. He says it's a shadow of the things to come. There's an intimate connection, but they're not the...

...same thing. The ultimate reality, the alternate thing God is giving is not the law but righteousness through Christ. But the Jews, he says, Israel, his brothers, didn't understand this. They had this zeal for God. He says. That's a positive thing, a good thing, but not according to knowledge. Zeal is, of course, very impressive, but it doesn't really mean anything if you're not using it properly. Imagine a the we just had the Olympics. Imagine Olympic runner, toned perfectly, training all the time, the fastest in the world, on your mark, gets a go and then he runs the other way right. You can be impressed at his strength, is stamina, at all the training he did, and yet go, oh no, what are you doing? You're going the wrong way. You this is zealous, this is powerful, this is good, but it's not according to knowledge. This is what they did, and that's kind of like what these students in this class did that I described. They were zealous, they wanted to perform, they wanted to do it right, but they weren't doing it according to knowledge because they hadn't paid attention, they hadn't listened well in scripture. It's worse. It's not merely a lack of understanding. Its Sin, Sin that clouds the heart, sin that blinds our eyes, and that's why God comes into the world to remove these things from us. Zeal is, of in course, impressive, but it has to go the right way. And what happened, Paul says, with Israel, is that they're moving along this path of the law, they're moving along it in an historical kind of way, historically moving through. But then, but then when they...

...reach the end of the law, when they get to the end of the road and there is Christ, this great stone, this great rock of Salvation, they stumble over it, they fall over it because they were never going to reach Christ. They were trying to establish something on their own. Everything that they were doing, he says, wasn't to find the righteousness of God, it was to establish their own righteousness. The gentiles, on the other hand, coming from the other direction, not coming in their own power and their own strength, but recognizing how evil they are, recognizing how fallen they are, seeing that they cannot please God on their own, they come by faith and instead of seeing a stumbling stone and a rock of offense, it's the foundation of the temple, it's the House of salvation that God welcomes them into and they come in and they rejoice. These are the two ways that we have, a way of building our own righteousness, of establishing our own glorious house, or trusting in Jesus. Charles Hodge says, the knowledge that the Jews had was neither enlightened nor wise, neither right about its objects nor correct about its character. In many ways this shouldn't have been a surprise. God was saying these things all along. The prophets were telling them, they were being reminded, the covenants encapsulated them. But sin is stubborn, and that's our lesson. We are meant to hear Israel and hear her experiences and not say you guys were idiots. No, we see ourselves in them. We see that this is our experience, our stubbornness, our failures. But when Jesus Christ comes into the world, lives a perfect life on our behalf,...

...provides for us everything that God has promised in his covenants, and he says this is yours by faith alone, not by the works of the law. It allows us to jump tracts. God allows us to jump tracks. He says, you don't have to stay on this path. Anymore. You don't have to continue building your righteousness and depending on it. And if you know how good, for those of you are listening on audio and putting that in quotes, good your righteousness is. This is good news because when we look at our hearts and we see our failures and we see our stumbling and we see how badly we are doing life, how badly we are actually meeting the righteous requirements of God, the fact that God is saying, I'm giving it to you all through the sacrifice of my son. It belongs to you here receive it. That's good news. To be forgiven of our sins, to be given the righteousness of God and all the things that we inherit as a result of that. That's wonderful. Staying on that old path would be like finding a box of like. You go to a you find a a box of like an Ikea bookshelf in a dumpster. You say I'm going to build something great and you pull it out and you find that the woods warped in, the pieces are missing and your but you're going to do it anyway, right and you're putting it together and there's no shelf in the backs missing. There isn't the proper side, there's no screws and the little turnything they give you isn't there. But yeah, you're going to keep working on it. That's what we are doing when we pursue our own paths of self righteousness. We're working on this dumpster project. Meanwhile, God has said here is...

...a house, a mansion, a Seity, a new heavens and a new earth, and it's it's yours. I've built it it, I've built it, I've constructed it and I've put the foundation. The thing that you used to stumble over is now the corner stone, The rock of righteousness, the security of all of your life. Don't keep building your bookshelves, but trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Hear what Paul is saying and be saved. Pursue The Lord and his righteousness and pursue it with zeal, but don't pursue it by continuing to work on your on yourself, thinking that one day you will finally please God by doing enough good or atoning for enough bad. Please God by accepting the gift that he is giving to you, and the rock of offense that is Jesus Christ will become the one on whom in whom you will never, ever be put to shame. You will never be embarrassed. No one will ever look at you when when the judgment comes and say, well, that was a silly thing you've been working on. When we receive the glory of God that comes through faith in Christ, none of us will be ashamed, none of us will be embarrassed, none of us will think we lost a single thing, and indeed we won't. Christ is the end of the law. He is the righteousness of everyone who believes. Believe on him and be saved. Let's pray.

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