Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense. And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
To God there are no race, creed, color or culture differences in people all over the world. There are only two classes of people: believers and unbelievers; the saved and the unsaved; those who have sought to attain His righteousness through faith, and those who have tried to attain righteousness through works. Which class of people are you in?
Israel in this portion of scripture represents those who try to attain right standing with God through their works. Everything to them is considered as a work of righteousness as they try to be good enough to gain God's approval. They go to church regularly; make sure they pray and read their Bibles every day and try to live according to the Ten Commandments. They are rule conscious. They never are quite sure they will be received into heaven when they die because they don't know for sure if they have been good enough to make it in. They live with a gnawing unrest within their hearts; never an assurance that they are a child of God and as such will be welcomed into His heaven with open arms!
The Gentiles are those who have received Jesus' work on the cross of Calvary as full payment for their sins. They have exercised their faith by believing in their heart that He is God's Son and was sent to the earth to redeem them from their sin and give them an opportunity, by faith, to step into all that God has made available to them through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. They know that once they believe in their heart that Jesus died for them and confess Him as their Lord that their sins have been forever forgiven and they are in right standing with God and have the full assurance of an eternity spent with Him in heaven. Peace overwhelms their hearts because they do not have to work to try to be good enough to gain God's approval. They simply rest in His assurance that they are children of God, with full rights of son-ship, able to walk in the promises of God for their lives. Faith has become the signpost around their necks that says, “I am God's child and I receive His promises fully as I walk out my salvation by faith.”
So I ask you this morning: “Which group of people are you in”? Do you belong to the camp of the Israelites or the Gentiles? Are you trying to attain right standing with God through the works of the Law or are you living out your salvation by faith?
Hebrews 4:15-19 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
The Israelites could not enter into God's rest, or their Promised Land, the place of salvation, because they did not believe. There hearts were filled with unbelief. Faith was not a part of their lifestyle. They believed they had to live by a set of rules in order to be good enough to please God. It was impossible to live perfectly without sinning. So they forfeited the right to be pleasing to God because they did not believe Him.
How does that apply to our lives today? In 1 Corinthians 10 the Word of God says that the things that happened to the Israelites while they were in the wilderness were written as examples for us that we might not get caught up in the same things that they did. We are to learn from their example.
Hebrews 4:1-3 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith I those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
The Israelites didn't not mix God's word to them with faith, so it was unprofitable in their lives. They couldn't receive from Him all that He had planned for them because of unbelief in their hearts. God's promises must be received by faith for them to be appropriated in our lives.
My Friend, are you trying to gain God's approval through good works? Do you feel that you are not good enough for Him to love and accept you into His kingdom? That's a lie from the devil! God's promises are yes and amen to those who will receive them by faith! God loves you so much that He proved it by giving His very own Son to die for your sin so that when you exercise faith to receive that promise of salvation it will be yours. Won't you open your heart to Him today and make this day your day of salvation?
Maybe you have been going to church for years and trying to live as good as you can to earn your way into heaven. Friends, that will never work. You can't pray enough or read your Bible enough or do enough good works to pay the price for your sin. Salvation is not passed down from parents to children and baptism, in and of itself, is not going to pay the price for your sin. The only way it can be paid is by realizing that Jesus paid it all for you and accept His free gift of salvation into your heart by faith.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Father, I pray for those this morning who my be trying to reach you through good works. I pray for those who are lost and without any hope in this world of ever being able to spend eternity with you. Your word says they are separated for eternity from you and are without hope in this world because they have not accepted Your free gift of salvation. I pray that the scales will fall off their eyes this morning and they will see that their works can never make them good enough to be acceptable to you. I pray that no matter how religious they are they will see that it is only by faith that they can know You and receive Your salvation. Father, break into their hearts and shine the light of Your glorious gospel of Jesus Christ into their hearts and cause them to see that the only way to heaven is to come to You in faith receiving His shed blood as the payment for their sin. I bind every work of the enemy that has stopped them from receiving you in the past. I cancel the assignment that he has on their lives and ask that You, Father, would break through the hardness of their hearts to show them the way to salvation. Father, You said that You are not willing that any should perish but that all might come to salvation. I ask You to do that work in the hearts of the lost today. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
This is your call to salvation my friend. You are not assured of tomorrow. Today may be your last chance to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Please pray this prayer of response to His call on your heart:
Father, I come to You this morning to say that I have tried to live my life in such a way as to please You. I realize today that my works of righteousness will never be good enough to earn my salvation. I ask You to forgive me of my sin, to come into my heart and save me. I receive Your salvation by faith knowing that Jesus paid the price for my sin and it is only through receiving His finished work on the cross personally, for myself, that I can receive son-ship and a inheritance of all that You have provided for me. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving me. I will live for you from this day forward and I will rest in Your salvation. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.