There is a great lie that has been perpetuated in America’s religious culture that says that if one has a great passion for God or if one is sincere in his own particular religion that when that person at the end of his life encounters the true God that that God would be obligated to accept him for his sincerity of heart. This false teaching has knocked down the doors of the American Church and has many in the Church contemplating the heresy of inclusivism—that God rewards those who seek any god religiously and with great zeal. This salvation by zealotry applies to the mystic Christian who lives down the street as well to the Pygmy in North Bora Bora who has never heard the name of Jesus Christ, for both seek after God in a their own self-prescribed fashion and both do it with great fervency.
In our study of the Epistle to the Romans, we encounter the apostle Paul contemplating the state of his countrymen, the Israelites, who themselves had great zeal for God. The apostle writes, “My heart’s desire and prayer 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” (Rom. 10:1, 2). Before can we begin to unpack this text, there are two important things that we must acknowledge: First is the Israelites’ great zeal for God as testified to by the apostle, and second is their unsaved and reprobate state despite their zeal for God.
If anyone were to enter into the Kingdom of God on the basis of their sincerity of heart and by their being in the neighborhood of the Truth, it would be the Israelites. These were the chosen, physical nation of God through whom the law, the prophets, and the Christ came, and it is through their Offspring that all the Nations have been blessed. In spite of all of this, the Israelites who rejected Jesus Christ were as lost and reprobate as the Romans who bartered for Christ’s garments as the foot of his cross.
One might object, “But the Israelites worshiped Yahweh—the one true God. Why would they be cast out?” Indeed, the Israelites did claim to worship Yahweh, but they in actuality were worshiping an idol. Their idolatry was demonstrated in this: Yahweh came to earth and dwelt among those Israelites, and they rejected him and crucified him. As Christ declared, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15:8, 9) The Israelites thought that they worshiped Yahweh and did it with great zeal, but in the end they killed the one whom they claimed to worship.
The Israelites’ zealotry for God destroyed them in the end, because their zealotry was not bounded by the knowledge of God in Christ. They missed it. They had the law, the psalms, and the prophets, all of which pointed to Jesus Christ, and they missed it.
Dear Christian, do not think yourself so safe because you name the name of Jesus Christ and have a great zeal for God. If you are not constantly binding yourself to the Word of God and the Knowledge therein, you might find yourself among those of whom our Lord speaks:
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Mt.7:21-23)
Be careful, my friend, and take care to examine yourself by the light of holy Scripture all the days of your life. Zeal for God apart from knowledge is worthless.
Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study