Coming to God is not just a matter of having good opinions about Him. It involves the heart as well as the mind. Here are the differences between mental belief only, and believing in Christ with the entire person.
‘That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’
Well, the subject now before us is simply God’s definition of faith, and these verses give us that definition, from the Apostle Paul, who was undoubtedly a genius in his own right, as it were, and yet inspired by the Spirit of God. And he unfolds the whole definition for us in these verses, and how much we need to understand it. Now let me tell you very briefly a little of the background to the verse. In verse 1, brethren, says Paul, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. The Jewish religious establishment in the first century AD, the time of the Apostle Paul, imagined that they were pleasing God, but they were not. According to the Apostle, they needed to be saved. They thought themselves to be extremely religious, but no, says Paul, you need to be saved. Now that’s a grand term, and it is really a synonym for conversion, you need to be converted.
But saved from what? Well, saved from condemnation, saved from punishment for sin, saved at the end of life’s journey from coming under the judgment of God and under eternal punishment. The chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, most of the entire religious establishment, and the generality of Jewish people who were not turning to the Lord through the New Testament preaching, they needed, says Paul, to be saved. Well, he goes on in verse 2, for I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. That is to say they are extremely fervent in following their understanding of religion and in maintaining the ancient worship of the Jews, which was after all given by God.
But they did it in quite the wrong frame of mind. They did not listen to God. God throughout the Old Testament had spoken to that nation and had explained repeatedly and so very carefully through the prophets, through the scriptures of old, that the human race was alienated from God, and that the Jews and all other nations under earth needed God’s forgiveness.
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