WHATEVER IT TAKES TO WIN SOULS by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
Romans 9:1-5 1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Overall Background: Romans 9 reveals the heart of Paul more than any other chapter in this book. He makes a statement in verse 3 that is shocking and confusing and unrealistic. Listen to verse 3 “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.” The word accursed is “anathema.” It’s the translation of a Hebrew word “charam” that was used to describe the destruction of the city of Jericho and all the plunder of the Canaanite cities. The Jewish rabbis used that word to refer to excommunication of people who were unfaithful to God and His Word. It means to be kicked out of the faith. Paul is saying exactly what is said – “I’m willing to give up my place in heaven so that my people can be saved.” WOW!
The only other time that we hear something so explicitly is in the Old Testament. Moses was called up on Mount Sinai to receive the commandments for the people of Israel. He was there for 40 days and 40 nights and the people got bored waiting for him. So they decided to build themselves a golden calf and started a drunken orgy. God was angry to say the least and wanted to destroy the people and make a nation out of Moses. Listen to what Moses says in Exodus 32:32 “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” All I can say is WOW!
We don’t even like to give up our special seat in church. A pastor friend told me sometime back that he had to get on this member because a visitor had come in and sat in their seat and they sat in their special spot and – boy – this person was mad. By the way – I don’t get it how people can sleep in church pews. Anytime someone says to me they have trouble sleeping, I am tempted to say – “Have you tried the church pews? They’ll put you to sleep right away!”
Application: Do we care about the lost enough to give them our place in heaven? Are we doing whatever it takes to win souls? How do we see lost people? If you want to know what Clearview is about, this is the message for you.
2 very important observations in this passage:
I. THE CLOSER YOU ARE TO CHRIST, THE CLOSER YOU’LL BE TO HIS HEART.
Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ,
Background: What does it mean to be in Christ? It means to be loved by Christ and to love Christ. Listen to the last part of Romans 8 – 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What does it mean to be in Christ? It means you understand that He loves you unconditionally; that He loves you infinitely; that He loves you unendingly. It means to be close to Him. The more you are close to Him, the more you begin to see His heart.
Question: What is on the heart of Christ?
Listen to what Christ said in Matthew 18:11 “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
In Luke 15 when the Pharisees and the scribes were complaining about how he sits and eats with sinners, listen to what Jesus said in verse 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
The more you draw close to Him, the more you begin to see His heart; the more you see His heart, the more you will see His love for the lost.
Listen to the rest of that verse. Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,
No wonder Paul makes such a bold statement – the source of His love is Christ.
Application: The first question this morning is not whether you love lost people. The first question is whether you understand the love that Christ has for you. If you are not connected to that love, your love will always be conditional, selfish, and superficial. Look at our churches today – there’s no passion for the lost; there’s no urgency for the gospel.
We’re sitting in our comfortable pews saying “Hello Jesus. We want you to bless us. We want to do another Bible study. We want to sing to you our favorite songs.” What do you think He’s saying? “You want me to sit here and bless you and watch you do your bible study and hear you sing to me but the whole time you are not doing what I came to do.”
II. THE MORE YOU ARE LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE GREATER WILL BE YOUR BURDEN.
1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, (keep this phrase in mind. We’re going to return to it in a moment.) 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites,
Who is Paul referring to? His own Jewish people. Keep in mind that these people were his worst enemies. He used to be a leader among them at one time. When Stephen was being stoned to death, Acts 7:58 tells us “the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” Acts 8:1 “Saul was consenting to his death.” Acts 8:3 “Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”
Then, Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and his life was radically changed. Now the word got out that “He who formerly persecuted us (the church) now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” Galatians 1:23
Now the Jewish people hated him. They wanted to kill Paul – the turncoat. They had falsely accused him; they had chased him from city to city; they had him thrown in prison; they had him whipped 5 times; they had stoned him and left him for dead; and at one time in Acts 23 about 40 of them had taken a vow that they would not eat nor drink until they had killed him.
How does Paul refer to them? He calls them in verse 3 “my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law (don’t forget God gave them the Ten Commandments not Charlton Heston), the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
There is no hatred, no bitterness, no animosity, and no unforgiveness in Paul. He is saying these things with a broken heart. Sometimes we say the right things but without a broken heart.
For e.g. Two friends were talking and one asked the other – “I heard you dismissed your pastor. What happened there?” He replied, “Well, he was always telling us that we were going to die and go to hell. But we have a new pastor now.” The first man asked, “So is his preaching any different?” He answered, “No, he also tells us that we are going to die and go to hell.” The man was puzzled – “What’s the difference?” The man replied – “When the second man says it, it sounds like it is breaking his heart. But when the first guy did it, it sounded like he was glad of it.”
How can you have such a heart like Paul? Listen to verse 1 “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit.”
Charles Spurgeon said, “O Beloved, we need the Spirit of God to work this feeling in us! It is of no use to try to get it by reading books, or to pump yourself up to it in private – this feeling is the work of God! A soul-winner is a creation.”
Many of us try to win souls but with the wrong motivation – to grow our church, to gain the admiration of others. None of these will do it. It can only happen when the Holy Spirit begins to work in our hearts. Just like a mother has a loving desire towards her newborn, we have a loving desire towards the lost. Imagine if you knew that your son/daughter were to go to hell, what father/mother would not say – “I’ll take his/her place in hell. Let him/her go to heaven.”
The feeling is so overwhelming that all reason comes to a stand still. Then, you say with Moses – blot me out of Your book; you say with Esther – if I perish I perish; you say with Paul – I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.
What does this church need? What does our community need? What does our nation and world need? Men and women, boys and girls who will have a burning heart for the lost.
For e.g. Many of you have heard of the gladiatorial games in ancient Rome. It was horrible as blood flowed everywhere. As soon as one game was over, they would bring in sand, rake it over and do it all over again. One day a philosopher was watching such a spectacle in the Roman Coliseum and he said to his friend – “What is needed is the heart that would make it impossible to look upon such brutality and bloodshed.” Then, he added, “the future would belong to the force that could create such a heart.”
You want to know the heart of this pastor. You want to know the heart of Clearview. Here it is. No tradition, no personal ambition, no hidden sin can stand in the way of that burning heart for souls.
Invitation: Are you saved? Are you doing whatever it takes to save others?