October 13, 2022 12:00 am
In Romans 10:21 the Apostle Paul invites us to forsake the binding chains of religion and embrace the liberating arms of a relationship.
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Anyone who's trusting in their own efforts to achieve salvation is going to be sadly and tragically disappointed in the end. Ladies and gentlemen, you trust for your salvation, your labor and your effort and your strength and your purpose and you will go to hell forever. But run to the hands of God, run to the hands of his Son, the Lord Jesus, and trust his effort and his strength and his labor and his works and you will go to heaven. The only way that anyone can receive and experience salvation is through Jesus Christ. Even though salvation is freely granted to us, it's not free. Jesus had to suffer in order to make our salvation possible. In Romans 10 21, the Apostle Paul invites us to forsake the binding chains of religion and embrace the liberating arms of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Today Stephen's looking at this passage and he's called this message the wounds of God. Please open your Bible to Romans 10 as we get started. One of the chief Roman gods was named Mars. He was handsome yet vindictive and cruel. At one point he was almost vanquished by another God who had two giants stuff him into a jar. He called out to his father Zeus to help him. Zeus wasn't too interested in helping him because he was too busy at the moment throwing people off Mount Olympus.
Somehow Mars escaped and lived to see another day. He's often depicted as carrying a blood stained spear and supposedly his throne on Mount Olympus is covered in human skin. This last summer I visited one museum in England where relics dating back to the time of Paul were discovered in these ancient Roman temples. People had written notes to their gods on ceramic and pottery and on metal. These prayer requests so to speak and they offered them and they survived to this day excavated near these ancient temples. It was interesting to me to read how these people in the first century were asking their gods to basically answer their prayers in a vindictive and cruel way. One man requested that his God would take the life of his enemy. One woman wrote on her tablet requesting that her God blind the person who had stolen her jewelry. Another man requested that his God curse all of the efforts of his business competitor. Romans knew nothing of love between their gods and themselves and certainly didn't really have any love for them. They just hoped that they would carry out their wishes. If you got in the way of Zeus back in the days of Paul they believed he'd just swallow you.
That would be the end of it. And yet the revelation of the true and living God is vastly different. Paul is painting a portrait of this true and living God in Romans 10 the latter part of the chapter in fact the very last verse.
I wanted to save it just for today so we could spend just our time focusing on this one verse. This is the portrait that Paul is painting of this God who is very very different. You may remember as you're turning Paul at one point stood in Athens. This was the city built at the base of Mount Olympus the place where they believed all the gods resided and he stood there and he declared you remember the message to the who the unknown God.
They said that in Athens there were more gods and goddesses or statues than people. And he arrived and wanted to deliver the gospel to them and so he stood and delivered this message to the unknown God. We do know from history that 600 years before Paul's visit history recorded that Athens had been overrun by a terrible plague and hundreds were dying and they were convinced that it was the gods who were upset with them and the problem was they just didn't know which gods. So they devised a plan where on this one stated day they would let loose up flock of sheep and the instructions were that they were to let the sheep roam at will and wherever a sheep would lay down they were to sacrifice that sheep there in honor of the God whose temple was nearest the sheep where he lay. The problem was when they let the flock loose few sheep lay down and there was no temple in sight. They followed their orders they sacrificed the sheep and because there wasn't any temple nearby they simply raised on that spot some sort of momenta and they inscribed upon it to the unknown God. They wanted to cover all of their religious bases maybe they had left out a god and how ironic that the Apostle Paul would arrive and deliver the gospel of Jesus Christ the one who is the physical manifestation of a mortal God who came not to swallow up his enemies but to voluntarily die for the sins of the whole world and the physical manifestation of the true God would be called the lamb and Paul stood right there on that spot and delivered the message. But imagine him delivering that message to this audience who knew nothing but capricious gods hateful gods and he would give them the message that the true and living God was wounded for them.
He bore wounds on their behalf. Quite a different portrait than one they would be used to in fact it would go against their concept of what God must be like. And so when he arrives here at the end of what we call Chapter 10 he paints this portrait of God. He says in this text but as for Israel he says all the day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. Now there are obviously two portraits here aren't there.
Did you notice them. One is of a patient God and the other one is of a defiant nation. Let's notice first the portrait of a patient God. As you study this particular portrait of God there are two very dominant themes. You could say that Paul uses two bright colors to describe this kind of true God that he followed. The first thing that sort of catches your eye in this picture of God is this bold color we'll call it a persistent invitation.
Paul is quoting Isaiah but look at it again. But as for Israel he says all the day long I have stretched out my hands. Now you know when you've waited for somebody or something it seems like it's taken a long time and you use that expression don't you all day long. I have been waiting here all day long for you to show up. I waited all day long for the telephone to ring. I stood in line all day long and we're exaggerating. God is not. He's doing the exact opposite of that. All day long I have stretched out my hands.
How long is all day. Well go back centuries to Moses and watch as God patiently invited his people to follow him and obey him only to have them gripe and complain and disobey and wander away time and time again. Go back even further than that to Abraham and the patriarchs on God patiently waited for them to follow and obey him and sometimes they would and most times they wouldn't go back even further than that to Adam and Eve. And you find God saying Adam where art thou as if to say Adam I'm waiting for you. You want a picture of God. The true portrait shows him patiently inviting mankind. There's another dominant color in this portrait not only a persistent invitation from God but personal involvement of God.
Look again all the day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. You know we humans become successful and we prove it by sending people to do our bidding and the more successful you are the more people you have representing you the more people you have doing your business answering your calls and typing your letters and arranging the details of your day and you just keep going up the ladder until you can sort of disappear and everybody does everything for you right. I remember as a seminary student running errands for a very successful commercial real estate company the president very wealthy and successful man I'll never forget the day I realized that it was possible for someone to never go shopping. I showed up to do some errands and I saw him in his office and there was a tailor in there with the measurements and fabric samples and all of that and meeting with the president I found out later they picked out his belts and consulted him on his shoes and they designed his suits and purchased his shirts and I thought I kind of like that actually.
Can you imagine never having to go to the mall again. He's somebody so everybody does his bidding. Well God is the ultimate somebody. Is he not. Notice the personal pronouns.
I have circled those in my text. I have stretched out my hands personal involvement in the word became flesh and dwelt among us lived here among us. John Chapter 1 verse 14 he himself came to seek and to save those who were lost. Luke 19 10 Behold I stand at the door and I knock. He could have said anybody in this invitation to that wayward church to have fellowship with him but he is portrayed as doing the knocking salvation and fellowship comes from the personal invitation and personal involvement of God and we read him here all day long I have stretched out my hands. Think about hands hands represent labor and strength and effort and purpose direction. Ladies and gentlemen you trust for your salvation your labor and your effort and your strength and your purpose and you will go to hell forever.
But run to the hands of God run to the hands of his son the Lord Jesus and trust his effort and his strength and his labor and his works and you will go to heaven. If you have been overseas especially in third world countries as I have been you won't be surprised by the superstition of this article the news and observer ran a few months ago. It's still surprising I know to our American minds although we're very superstitious people or a nation ourselves but the news and observer ran an article a couple of months ago about how tens of thousands of people lined up Thursday in Hong Kong to see one of Buddha's fingers. It was on loan from China for 10 days although the article says people were herded past in a hurry. Many people said the relic offered Hong Kong fresh hopes of peace and calm. This bone fragment had been flown in on Wednesday for a temporary display as locals were celebrating Buddha's birthday. Several hundred thousand.
Did you get that? Several hundred thousand people paid their respects while saffron robed Buddhist monks chanted prayers and visitors quickly filed past the finger. Chu Danyin said to a reporter I hope the relic can help people become happier. 70 year old Margaret Luck's eyes welled with tears after spending just a few moments gazing at the bone fragment encased in bulletproof glass and she said I believe this finger will protect me through the pains of life. Whose hands do you trust today. When I read this invitation in Romans 10 verse 21 you go back to Isaiah 65 where it first appears and you can't help but fast forward the tape from that 65th chapter of Isaiah to Matthew Chapter 27 where Jesus Christ will indeed in a literal way stretch out the hands of God on a cross they will be nailed there and even in his dying his arms will be spread as if to say whosoever will may come.
Whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out all day long. I stretch out my hands to these people. This is a beautiful portrait of a caring compassionate loving involved persistent God and it's made all the more beautiful by the second portrait that appears in the latter half of this verse. This is a portrait of a defiant nation.
Look there. He says I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. Again two dominant themes or two colors are used to paint this portrait of mankind. The first color is that of disobedience. The Greek word translated disobedience refers to somebody literally spurning belief digging their heels in they will not believe. It's interesting that the New Testament translates that word often a disbelief or disobedience.
They seem interchangeable. Paul calls the world of unbelievers the sons of disobedience. He warns the believers in Ephesus with these words. Let no one deceive you with empty words for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Unbelief is tantamount to disobedience. So God is seen here stretching his hands out toward a disobedient people a nation who refuse to believe they spurn belief they turn a blind eye to the evidence.
Let me give you one piece of evidence that they saw or had represented to them. You remember when Jesus Christ was crucified if you study the gospel accounts you get the full picture and Mark's gospel informs us that as he breathed his last Mark recorded the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom beginning at the top going all the way to the bottom. This was the veil that separated the holy place where the priest did their ministry and the holy of holies where supposedly of course the power of God resided and it did in fact until it could bud was written over and Herod's temple it was not so but they still carried on that ritual and religion and so you had this veil separating the holy of holies from the holy place. Well that veil was ripped in two as Jesus breathed his last signifying as it were access into the presence of God. We're all priests.
First Peter 2 9. We all have access to God. There's no longer a mediatorical work of priesthood.
We are priests and priestesses in this new economy. But can you imagine this happening. Can you imagine this veil being ripped apart starting at the top torn all the way down to the bottom.
Now if they follow the prescription of its manufacturing from the Old Testament say probably did in Herod's temple. It was 28 cubits high. That's 40 plus feet high.
That's higher than the ceiling. Can you imagine that. Can you imagine seeing that. Can you imagine hearing it. The sound of the ripping no scaffolding no ladders suddenly as if some invisible hand which it was the hand of God tears that veil just slowly enough so that everyone can see.
Can you imagine that. What would you have done if you'd been there. The text tells us that this happened during the time of the evening sacrifices when the most people possible could have seen it and heard it. There it comes ripping apart from the top to the bottom. What would you do. You would stand there probably with your mouth open and then you're one of the priests.
You would stand there for a moment or two maybe three and then say something like this. We need to sew it back up. Somebody go get blue thread. We've got to put it back together again because this is our religion. We don't understand what happened but we'll connect the dots of course later through the gospel accounts.
The timing of this was perfectly timed but that doesn't matter. We spurn belief in this one. Sew it up. We'll keep our religion.
And that's exactly what they did. And Paul paints the portrait here all day long. I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient people.
There's more in this portrait. The second color is the color of obstinance. It's not a very pretty word is it.
Ever been called obstinate. The word here in the original language is anti laganta anti meaning against laganta meaning speech anti speech anti speaking toward God. In other words the unbeliever doesn't just not believe the unbeliever has to speak against the one called God Jesus Christ his son.
They cannot just not believe they have to speak against his name. The late 19th century philosopher Nietzsche profoundly influenced the Western world. He wrote I call Christianity the one great curse the one enormous perversion the one instinct of revenge. Christianity is the one immortal blemish on mankind.
He would be followed by those who believed him men like Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx who would then spawn their own particular beliefs that religion is man made it's only something we've created and in fact if you carry it too far it does you wrong and evil influencing millions of people with their anti speech. You say well that's old stuff. I mean we're more sophisticated now.
Yes we are but the human heart has not changed. I went to get the oil changed to my pickup truck this week and they've got those magazines there on the counter and Time magazine was sitting right on the front right on top. This particular week's issue I love it when the Lord does it gives me an illustration right in fast lube. I'm there studying for my sermon an article by Dean Hamer a molecular biologist at the National Cancer Institute. Hamer's written a new book called The God Gene eight pages of postulation. He says our most profound feelings of spirituality may be due to a little more than an occasional shot of intoxicating brain chemicals governed by our DNA. God he concludes is an artifact of our evolved brains. Now why is man so intensely interested in denigrating God. Why not just not believe and leave it at that. Why eight pages in Time magazine.
We're going to get eight pages. Paul answers the human heart is not only disobedient to God but obstinate. It is involved in anti speech in an attempt to drown out the sound of the law of God written on their hearts. Maybe if I speak against them loud enough I can't hear my conscience. Maybe I won't see creation and connect the dots. You ever heard anybody hit their thumb with a hammer and say Buddha Krishna boy Confucius that hurts. You know. No I don't think so. And Jesus this Jesus that if I were God I'd do something about it.
He did. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son but Agnes his unique son to be wounded by mortals. Whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.
All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. Now this can apply not only to the nation Israel which is the specific context it would certainly apply to the world of Gentiles. Israel refused to believe but so do millions of Gentiles as well right. Israel speaks against Christ but so does the world. And the amazing news about that particular text is that God is still holding out his hands.
They have not dropped to his sides yet. He is still personally persistently inviting humanity to come to himself and the invitation then is still open for you if you have yet to come. Let me tie up our thoughts here with a couple of invitations that I can rest from this text I think without torturing it too badly some things that I think God would be telling not only unbelievers but believers through this persistent personal invitation. Number one God is holding out his hands toward those who are tired of living up to religion. Jesus Christ once said to the Israelite nation you're tired you're weary. I know you are. Come to me and I will give you rest. Your yoke is heavy.
Mine is light. It's faith alone. Stop living up to all of the regulations and the rituals. Come to me for a relationship for those of you who are tired of trying to live up to your religion. Stop. Run to the hands of God through Christ. Over the last few months we've had several Hindu come to faith in Christ through this ministry.
They have gotten off of that cycle that never ending treadmill and they have found rest. I see a second invitation here. God is holding out his hands toward those who are tired of not only living up to religion but those who are running away in rebellion. Did you notice who he offers this invitation to. All day long I've stretched out my hands to my dear friends.
No stretch my hands out to disobedient and obstinate. This is the renegade. He offers a peace treaty. It is this wooden cross and it is the bridge that crosses the great divide as we heard sung it alone.
The same prophet quoted here in Romans Chapter 10 Isaiah the great prophet also quoted God and giving his personal invitation to the nation in that first chapter that great invitation where he says listen let's be reasonable. Let's think about this. Though your sins they're scarlet that is they're permanently stained. Come to me and I'll make your heart like fresh fallen snow. Though your sins are red like crimson come to me and they'll be white as wool. Only God can do that.
Turn your heart and mind into something like fresh fallen snow. My wife and I had some surprise guests a few weeks ago. They trekked back to our college days actually even further back.
The girl was a junior bridesmaid in our wedding and now she's a mommy with five kids. It made us feel terribly old but we welcomed them anyway and enjoyed fellowship with them. And just as we were saying goodbye in the foyer of our home one of their little guys ran from outside inside into our living room and we've got this sort of cream white colored carpet and he was burying the beautiful red clay of North Carolina. And about the time he hit the middle of the living room his dad said stop and he stopped and he turned and what and we have some permanent reminders of our fellowship with them and they laugh. We said it doesn't matter our kids have made stains too.
I didn't add we killed our kids for doing it but that's not true. So I set to scrubbing and couldn't get it all out. You know what that's like? You probably have a few of those spots yourself. Just a little orangish tint.
You wouldn't know it if you came. You'd have to know where to look. I know because I scrubbed at it.
Just a slight slight brown orangish tint. No way I could make that look brand new. God says do you have permanent stains from your past? Do you have things that you don't think could ever be blotted out of your record? Let me take care of that. I have the ability as God to take your heart and renew it.
To take crimson stain out. No matter what you've done. No matter what your anti-speech has been. No matter how heavy the burden of sin. He stands before you like he stood before Thomas and said to him see here my hands.
And those of us who've come to faith could do nothing more than like Thomas kneel and say to him my Lord and my God. This one who has been wounded for us and chosen to retain the wounds in his hands and feet as eternal reminders that this God became involved. This God cared. This God persistently invited. This God was personally involved and he is the only true and living God.
Let me give you one more. This is for the believer. I think you could see here that he would be holding out his hands toward the believer is tired of serving out of his own resources. You know the hand of God not only redeems but you find it as hand rest and refreshment.
He reinvigorates he redirects. Could this invitation not be to us as well. Believers can be obstinate too right. Not you the one next to you.
I'm talking about that one. They can be disobedient right. It is in the heart of all of us to talk back to God periodically. It is in the nature of all of us are redeemed to let him know he's straight off the path we've chosen. One of my favorite hymns was written by William Williams a Welsh preacher a friend of Whitfield and Wesley not so much known for his preaching but he is known for his him. Guide me oh thou great Jehovah pilgrim through this barren land. I'm weak but thou art mighty. Hold me with thy powerful hand.
How I thank my God that all day long he holds out his hands to a rebellious and obstinate people. I hope you've placed your faith in Jesus Christ and that you're resting in what God has done for you. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary North Carolina. This was the final lesson in the series how to get to heaven from earth. The series is available as a set of CDs if you'd like to have it in your library of biblical resources. It's also posted to our website if you'd like to listen again free and on demand. It not only explains the gospel but also explains our responsibility to share it with others. Call us at 866-48-Bible or visit wisdomonline.org. We look forward to being with you next time and bringing you more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-07 22:04:40 / 2022-12-07 22:14:21 / 10