Directing Our Burden for Religious Unbelief.

In Romans 10:18-21, Israel typifies all religions. The religious mind has been well described as full of energy, sincerity, and equity. Religious people make great efforts to do all they can to earn God's favor. They sincerely believe what they are taught. And they hope (although without certainty) that all their efforts are enough. Jesus often has a place in their lives, but He is not governing their lifestyle. This can be seen in patterns of unbroken sin. Human nature will never submit to one Lord alone.

Paul's attitude was not angry as his heart was burdened for his religious, unsaved family and friends (Romans 9:1-5, 10:1). He certainly desired that all the world would be saved, but he most deeply longed for those close to him to understand Christ.

Religious people often have enough information to be saved, but the teaching that has been added to the truth convinces them that Jesus is not enough. Mixing truth with error is the definition of apostasy. Our privilege as Christians is to be ambassadors of clarity and simplicity.

The question in verse 18 was not presented to Paul as an argument, but was a question from his own heart intended to settle his readers. Quoting Psalm 19, he assures his audience that their religious Jewish friends have heard the Gospel as clearly as the stars shine in the sky. Jesus Himself had explained to two disciples how all of the Law and Prophets pointed to Him (Luke 24:13-35).

Romans 10:19 quotes Deuteronomy 32:21 to prove that religious people have made a cognitive and volitional rejection of the Gospel. The way of salvation is actually easier to understand and accept for people who have no previous religious teaching attached (Romans 9:30). Isaiah 65:1-2 describes non-praying, godless people coming to God before His own people who turned to rely on religious good works.

Paul ends the chapter by reiterating that God is merciful. For the entire period of time ("day") from the giving of the Law of Moses through the Prophets, God had been extending His hand to Israel as to a drowning person. But they rejected His offer of salvation. Religious people prove their disobedience because their lives have not been changed by the truth.

Application Points

  • God has sovereignly orchestrated your life to put you in relationship with a select handful of unsaved people, religious or irreligious. They are your primary responsibility to reach with the Gospel! Continue to love your religious friends and pray for them until they understand who Christ really is.
  • Many religious people have heard enough of the truth to be saved. Pray that God's Spirit would use His Word which they already know to overcome the additional error they have been taught.

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know"

Ask ye what great thing I know,
That delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the Name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

What is faith’s foundation strong?
What awakes my heart to song?
He Who bore my sinful load,
Purchased for me peace with God,
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Who defeats my fiercest foes?
Who consoles my saddest woes?
Who revives my fainting heart,
Healing all its hidden smart?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Who is life in life to me?
Who the death of death will be?
Who will place me on His right,
With the countless hosts of light?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

This is that great thing I know;
This delights and stirs me so;
Faith in Him Who died to save,
Him Who triumphed over the grave:
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.