Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter
Romans 9:1-3, ESV – I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
This passage of scripture may well be Paul’s most passionate expression of grief over the condition of his fellow Jews. Knowing of Paul’s position on election and the sovereignty of God, some have argued that Paul’s strong language here is rhetorical, designed to make a point. CH Spurgeon does not agree . . . “A true passion grinds words to dust. When the heart is full of love, even the boldest hyperboles are simple truths! Extravagances are the natural expression of warm hearts even in ordinary things and, when a man’s whole soul gets to seething like a caldron and boiling like a pot with sympathy and pity for men that are being lost, he speaks what, in cold blood, he never would have said.”
Here’s what Pastor Greg Laurie says about this passage. “The apostle Paul had something essential for effective evangelism: a God-given burden for those who did not know Jesus Christ. In his case, the burden was for his own people, the Jews. He cared. It burned inside him.
General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once said that his desire, had it been possible, would be to dangle his evangelism trainees over hell for 24 hours. That way, they could see the reality that awaits those who do not know Jesus Christ.
That wouldn’t have been necessary for Paul, who spoke of his love and burning passion for unbelievers. I think it is there for us in Scripture so that we don’t become so obsessed with our own struggles and spiritual growth that we forget about people who need to know Christ. I think Paul makes an amazing statement in Romans 9 when he says, in essence, “If it were possible, I would give up my hope of eternal life so that others who do not know could come to faith.” That’s a pretty dramatic statement.
As believers, you and I have a responsibility to those outside the church—those outside the faith. If God’s love is really working in our lives, it should motivate us to do something for Him. Do you have a God-given burden for those who do not know Jesus Christ? If you don’t, do you want one? If you pray that God will give you this burden, then be careful. The results could be life-changing. You just may be surprised at how quickly He answers you.”
Some key take-ways for our staff:
1) There is a difference between the gift of evangelism (Eph.4:11-13) and a burden for the lost. We do not all have the gift of evangelism, but we can all have a burden for the lost. And we can respond to that burden through our own unique gifting.
2) The final matter in this discussion is not whether God intends us to have a burden for the lost, but rather, what we do in response to that burden. It doesn’t cost us anything to have a burden for the lost, but it may cost us a lot to respond to that burden.
3) It is not our responsibility to save the lost, but it is our responsibility to give ourselves to God’s initiative to save the lost. There is a difference!
4) As our passion for God’s glory increases, our burden for the lost increases.
Greg Laurie’s devotional – http://www.harvest.org/devotional/archive/devotion/2004-02-12.html
CH Spurgeon – “Concern for Men’s Souls” – http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols22-24/chs1425.pdf