Today’s devotional reading on “The Mind of a Christian” takes me to a passage Paul wrote about his Jewish countrymen. He said, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God 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. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:1–4)
This echoes how I feel about those who don’t know Christ, Jewish or otherwise. It is my heart’s desire and in my prayers to God that they may be saved. Some of them are religious, but base their ‘salvation’ on the things they do, or their faithful church attendance, or that they are ‘good’ people. They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Their minds have not yet grasped the wonder of what God has done.
His saving power is in that last verse above . . . “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Jesus is the end of rule-keeping and self effort, the end of all personal striving to be righteous, the end of trying to earn salvation. This is the glory of God — to grant salvation to sinners because Christ paid our penalty, bore our punishment, died so we could live. He is the end of the law, the end of my self-effort because no one can be saved that way. We all fall short. No matter how good I might be, it is not good enough.
For those who believe in Jesus, the awesome good news is this: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9). This is the knowledge that was missing for Paul’s countrymen. They didn’t know it, or didn’t submit to it. Instead, were trying to be righteous by themselves. Actually, self-righteousness is the default mode for humanity. Because of it, we who are Christian often feel as if no one hears us, no one cares about God’s good news. The world can seem a dark and lonely place.
Last night at our small group Bible study, we looked at a few chapters in Revelation. Our group leader has nearly forty years experience in teaching the New Testament. The rest of us have either a few years of Bible college or very little Bible education, yet we saw and agreed on one thing: God is awesome.
As we read and studied, our professor reminded us that the early church and even the church today can feel small, a minority that few people give any positive attention to or value. We are without respect in a world that has decided God and the Bible are irrelevant. For that, this last book of the Bible offers us a revelation of Jesus Christ in His glory. God pulls back the curtain and lets us see what is really going on in eternal reality, the truth about all things, and on Whom our value and attention ought to be. Read in that light, chapters 4-7 exploded God’s glory into our feeble hearts.
Here are just a few verses from that revelation of Jesus that take my eyes off all littleness self-concerns, and put them on the One who is in charge . . .
CREATOR: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
REDEEMER: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9–10)
ETERNAL HONOR: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12–13)
ETERNAL LIFE: “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:15–17)