Romans 10 continues with a discussion of the correct and incorrect ways to pursue the Lord. Paul explained that his heart’s desire was for the salvation of his Jewish brethren. They had missed God’s richest blessings, because of their failure to seek God by faith. He identified that the Jewish failure was the result of their zeal for God, a zeal that was not according to knowledge. He declared that they were ignorant of God’s righteousness, which is what drove the Jews to attempt to establish their own righteousness by good works. Paul stated, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’ But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach)” (Rom. 10:1-8).
What does Paul mean by a zeal for God?
What does that word zeal mean, and how could zeal be good for you, or a stumbling block, like it was for the Jews? The word zeal means to have an enthusiasm, or passion, or an excitement for something. Zeal can be used in a good way, or it can be used to describe a passion for something sinful. Zeal is translated as indignation in Acts 5:17, where the Bible speaks of the resentment and hatred of the Pharisees for the apostles. Paul referred to his own zeal for persecuting the church before he came to faith in Christ (Phil. 3:6). However, zeal is also used for God’s enthusiasm and passion for His people, and of God’s people in loving others (Zech. 1:14; 2 Cor 9:2). Therefore, you can have a zeal for God and for people, or you can have a zeal against God and against His people. Remember in our last study, we looked at how people were pursuing God in the wrong way. This is exactly what Paul is trying to further explain here. This is why it is vital that you pursue the Lord in the right way, which is by faith, and not like the Jews who pursued Him by works and their own self-effort.
Notice also the love that Paul had for his brethren in the Jewish nation. He sincerely cared about them and wanted them to find the life and love of God that he had found in Christ. His heart’s desire and prayer for them, was that they might be saved and come to experience God’s blessings. However, he knew that this would never occur, unless they came to a true zeal for God, according to the truth that had been revealed to them through the Scriptures. Therefore, his plan was to explain certain passages to them that were clearly revealed in the Old Testament.
How can you get a correct zeal for God? Verses 1-8
Paul now proceeds to explain to his readers what a correct zeal for God looks like in practical terms. How does someone obtain the correct zeal? Notice the principles that are revealed in these first eight verses. Paul reveals five very specific things that produce the correct zeal for God.
1. Love produces a correct zeal.
Love will always motivate you to the greatest zeal that you could ever aspire to in your life. As Paul said in verse 1, “my heart’s desire” for the Jews is that they might be saved. What was in Paul’s heart toward his brethren? It was love! This is exactly where Paul got his zeal for his Jewish brethren. He loved them, because he had been filled with God’s love and was walking in a love relationship with Jesus! When Paul spoke about what drove him inside his soul, we don’t have to guess about the answer. He said, “For the love of Christ compels us” (2 Cor. 5:14). This word compels means to constrain or to force an action to be taken. This is what motivated Paul to suffer the things he did, to labor in evangelism, and to plant and disciple churches, even while enduring great hardships. Paul said earlier in this epistle that he had, “great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:2-3). Paul’s love for God and for Jews and Gentiles alike is what motivated him!
In contrast, the Pharisees were motivated by self-righteousness, which only produced man-made religious fervor. They were zealous, but not for righteousness. They were zealous in their hatred for Jesus and everything that He stood for. They had zeal without knowledge and without love. How different was this zeal from what Paul experienced! Have you considered what you are zealous for in life?
Where can you get a love for God that will give you a correct zeal? This zeal comes directly from your love relationship with God. Remember that Jesus told us that the two great commandments were of utmost importance for every disciple. He said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). If these two commandments don’t describe a godly zeal for God and for others, I don’t know what does. The greatest zeal and enthusiasm you could ever have would be to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. That’s excitement and passion, wouldn’t you say? It’s excitement for the Lord, and it is motivated by love. If you want to be excited about the Lord, ask Him to open your eyes to His love for you, and you will fall in love with Him. Consequently, this will fill you with zeal that will motivate you to serve Him and people.
Is this what motivates you? Does the love of God burn inside of you? Is it His love that compels you to serve Him and others? This is the only zeal that will motivate you to pursue Him. Remember that Jesus reproved the Ephesian church, because they had left their first love. Note that He didn’t say that they had lost their first love. No! They left their first love, because it is a choice to love Him or love something else. Jesus said to this church, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent” (Rev. 2:4-5). Jesus told this church that they had a lot of good works, but what was missing was their first love. It had been a little more than 30 years after this church had been established, and look what had happened. If this happened to them, this can happen to anyone!
Do you have your first love? Are you excited to spend time with Him? Are you motivated to serve Him? Are you passionate and zealous in your love towards Him? If you say, “Not like I used to be,” then let me encourage you that your love for Him can be renewed and restored. Jesus told this church how to do it. What did He say? “Remember therefore from where you have fallen.” Begin by remembering what it was like when you first fell in love with Him. You were broken, and He mended your heart. Then Jesus said, “Repent and do the first works.” Coming to Jesus in repentance and confession is where the turn-around will happen. Acknowledge what you are loving more than Him at this moment. Then confession must be followed up with going back and doing those first works again. What do I mean? Go back and start reading the Bible like you did at the beginning. Start spending time with Him in prayer as you did when you first got saved. Start going to church like you did when you first believed. Begin to talk to others about your faith like you did when you first came to faith in Christ. These are the things that Jesus meant when He said, “do your first works over again.” Jesus tells this church that they better do this, or they will have their lampstand removed. In other words, they will cease from being a light to their community, unless they repent. Why? Because the love of God is the proof you have His life within you! It is the proof that the Church is governed by Christ. Being motivated by works, self-righteousness, or guilt will never produce the zeal that God wants you to have. Love for God and His people are the ultimate motivators of this correct zeal.
2. Prayer produces a correct zeal.
In addition, prayer is a second motivator of correct zeal. Notice the very next thing that Paul said in verse 1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God...” Prayer is what connects you with the God who is love. Thus, prayer will naturally produce correct zeal. This zeal can only come from the God who is zealous for righteousness. He is zealous for what is right. If you want to be zealous for righteousness then you must be connected to Him in prayer. He must rule inside of your heart. You must be filled with His Spirit. This is what takes place in prayer. Consequently, if you are shallow in your prayer life, you will have little zeal for Him. If you want to deepen your zeal, excitement, and passion for Him, then get on your knees and ask the Lord to touch and awaken you. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). What a promise Jesus gave here! Everyone who asks in faith is going to receive. What is stopping you from asking right now to be filled with His Spirit so you can be stirred up with godly zeal? Notice also in John 16:24, Jesus said to His disciples, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” The word “Ask” is in the imperative mood in the original language, which means it is a command. That means prayer is not an option, it’s a command. He is commanding you to ask of Him. The word ask is also in the present tense which means God wants you continually asking from Him. In addition, Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” Do you see how your love for God and your prayers are directly connected together to bring a zealous passion for righteousness? If you love Him, you are going to obey this commandment, and you are going to call on His name. You will call upon Him for His power, and your joy is going to be full. If your joy is not full today, you need to pray! This is where real zeal comes from!
3. Knowledge produces a correct zeal for God.
The third thing you need for correct zeal is a correct knowledge of God and His Word. In verses 2-3 Paul declared, “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” The Jews did not have a correct knowledge of God; therefore, they did not have a correct zeal. The Jews, during the time of Christ’s first coming, had a knowledge of the teachings of the famous rabbis of that time, but not a knowledge of the Word of God. This is why Jesus said to the religious leaders, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:6-8). Today in Israel, this is still the problem with the Jewish people. When you talk to them, they say, “My rabbi says this or that,” but you don’t hear them quote the Scripture.
Sadly, the same thing happens in the church today. Christians often quote their church catechisms and traditions of their church organizations, but rarely refer to the Word of God. When individual Christians come to me for counseling, and they confess that they have little zeal and passion for God in their lives, I ask them, “Are you reading your Bible and praying daily?” The answer is always the same. It’s, “No, or very little.” When people come and they are depressed or hopeless, the answer I give is always the same. Go, wait upon God in prayer, open your Bible, and let the unadulterated knowledge of God flow into your heart and mind. His Word will awaken your heart and soul. I can’t tell you how many times I personally have gotten depressed or hopeless, and I will always turn to God in prayer and read the Scripture. He has always been faithful to awaken me and fill me with His Spirit and His zeal.
Your zeal doesn’t just come from knowledge, but from a full knowledge of God. The word knowledge in verse 2 is the Greek word epignosis, which means full knowledge. It's a combination of two words, epi which means to overflow, or have a fullness, and then the Greek word gnosis for knowledge. The Jews knew about God, but didn’t have a full knowledge of God. In other words, the more you know God, the more zeal you will have for Him. Do you have that full knowledge of God? Are you gaining in your knowledge of Him every day? If you are believer, and you have never read through the entire Bible; you don’t have a full knowledge of God. If that is you, this is what I would suggest you do. Begin reading the New Testament in Matthew and read until you get to Revelation. Then turn around and do it again. After you have read the New Testament several times, then begin in Genesis and read the entire Old Testament. This will give you a full knowledge of the God you serve. I would also encourage you to pick up a simple devotional aid to help you understand some of the difficult passages, especially in the Old Testament. My suggestion would be a book entitled, “With the Word” by Warren Wiersbe. I’m sure you will love it!
One last thought on this topic, do you realize that all of the religious systems of the world, other than Christianity, all have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge? Even when you look at the cults, such as Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonism, Christian Science, or Unity, they all have either subtracted from the Word of God, or they have added to the Bible their own books, which change the message of the Scripture. This is why I say, they have a zeal for God, but not according to the full and correct knowledge that can only come from the Word of God. I encourage you to stick to the Word of God, and you will not get off track.
4. Submission to God’s ways produces a correct zeal.
Why did the Jews have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge? Paul declares in verse 3, that they were ignorant of God’s righteousness, which then motivated them to try to establish their own righteousness, thus rejecting God’s righteousness. “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” This one verse is so important, because it reveals the natural result of not having a full knowledge of God. A person who is ignorant of how to have a right relationship with God will instead try in their own strength and good works to make themselves right with Him. When a person does this, they are in reality not submitting themselves to what God has already done to give them a right relationship with Himself. This self-effort also kills a person’s love and zeal for God, because they can never measure up to God’s perfect righteousness. Or, the opposite takes place. A person can arrogantly think that they have established their own righteousness, and they look down on anyone who can’t do what they are doing. This is exactly what the Pharisees and Sadducees did.
However, the key to experiencing the correct zeal for God is simply submitting to what God is willing to give to anyone who believes. What is God willing to give you? He wants to justify you and give you His righteousness! Submission to God results from humbly realizing that you can never live up to God’s righteous standing, and then honestly confessing your sin and turning to Him in repentance. It is then God who gives you His righteousness by faith. Note how Paul explains this to the arrogant Corinthian church. In Second Corinthians 7:10-11, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!” Notice the word zeal in this list of results of godly sorrow and repentance. What does humility and repentance do for you? It stirs up that correct zeal inside you, and motivates you to take the correct actions that God requires. Therefore, don’t try to establish your own righteousness before God. Acknowledge that you are a sinner, ask for His grace and power in your life, and the zeal of the Lord of hosts will flood your heart.
5. Faith produces a correct zeal.
In verses 4-8, Paul establishes the fact that faith produces the correct zeal for righteousness. Paul writes, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’ But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach).” Why is Paul quoting portions from Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 30:12-14? He is seeking to prove from the Old Testament that it revealed two different paths which people may take to attain righteousness. One would produce self-righteousness, because it resulted from a person trying to do things in their own strength. The other would be motivated by faith and would bring the true righteousness of God. Moses revealed that a man could not ascend into heaven, or descend into hell, to accomplish what Christ had already done. All a person must do is confess with their mouth by faith the Gospel that Paul was preaching to them, and they will be saved. Paul will go on to clearly explain this in his own words in verses 9-13.
The most important truth in this section of Scripture is that, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.” The word end is a Greek word that means goal. In other words, faith in Christ is the ultimate goal for which God gave the law in the first place. The law was given to show each of us what God has commanded us to do. However, knowing what we should do, would then naturally reveal to us that we were not keeping the law. Paul taught the Galatian church this very truth. He said to them, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). The law reveals to each of us that we were in great need, which causes us to cry out to God for His mercy and grace. Yet, when I talk to people and they say. “Well, you know, I keep the Ten Commandments.” My eyebrows go up, and I say, “Well, you are a better man than me, because I have never kept the Ten Commandments.” Why do I say this? The Ten Commandments are not just commanding an outward action, but also an inward attitude of the heart. This is why Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard it said... 'You shall not murder...,' But I say to you, 'Whoever is angry with his brother... shall be in danger of the judgment.' Jesus also said, 'You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:21-22; 27-28). I usually ask men and women this question, “Have you ever had anger or lust in your heart towards another?” The answer always comes back, yes! I finish with one further statement. “Then you have broken God’s law, and that should concern you!” James explained this truth when he wrote, “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
It is essential to realize that the law is a spiritual thing (Rom. 7:14). The law of God must be kept in your heart. But, my heart and the heart of every person breaks God’s law every day. There is no possibility that you or anyone can keep the law. Why? Because you are a sinner by nature. We break the law of God in thought, in word, and by our actions. Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day, “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law?” (John 7:19). Place the emphasis in this verse on the words none of you. Paul said it just as plainly, “For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh” (Gal. 6:13). The point is, as you realize that you continually break God’s law in your heart, you will come in humility and repentance to God who will have mercy upon you.
This is why Christ is the end of the law for righteousness! When you put your faith in Christ, the ultimate goal of the law is accomplished. That goal is to bring you to repentance, because you realize you can’t keep His law, and to cause you to trust in Him who has fulfilled the law (Matt. 5:17). When you believe that Jesus fulfilled the law, then God can fulfill His ultimate intention which is to justify you from your sin. Faith will give you the zeal and passion for God that the law never could. Paul said it this way. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:2-4). Do you realize that the righteous requirement of the law has been fulfilled in you because you believe? Faith is the only way you can be declared righteous before God, because you believe in the righteous One who has fulfilled the law and set you free!
How does Paul apply this truth concerning correct zeal for God? Vs. 9-13
Consider the five points I have just made. If you put your faith in Jesus, and submit to God’s plan for how you can be saved (by receiving Christ by faith), if you have the correct knowledge of God (who Jesus is), if you pray and ask God for what He has promised (He has promised to save you), it will all be because you have a zealous love for Jesus, and you will be saved. Paul now explains the application of verses 1-8 here in verses 9-13. Notice the topics Paul addresses in these next few verses. He describes how faith works together with the confession of your mouth, and your prayer that calls on the name of the Lord. This is what a person will do who is zealous for God. The result will be your salvation! Paul said it this way, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved’” (Rom. 10:9-13). How can you be saved from your sin and the consequences of breaking God’s law? Notice the three things he states you must do!
1. Believe in your heart. Vs. 9
The key to verse 9 is this phase “believe in your heart!” The essence of salvation is faith in God. This is clearly understood when you remember the story of the woman, a sinner, who came to Jesus while He sat at dinner in Simon the Pharisee’s house. She came to Jesus weeping and washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. Jesus acknowledged that she had a zealous love for Him and said to her, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:50). Here is a woman who loved Jesus, and He acknowledged that it was her faith that saved her from her sin. Faith inspires you to confess your sins to God, and confess your faith to people. Faith causes you to receive Jesus. Faith motivates you to call on His name. The Apostle John said, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Faith is the key to receiving Him and becoming a child of God.
Now, I've shared with you many times in these last few studies, the difference between extreme Calvinism and what the Bible teaches about salvation. Here is another very important difference. The Bible teaches that a person must believe, confess, and call upon the Lord, and the result will be that they will be saved. However, extreme Calvinists believe just the opposite. Calvinism teaches that before you can believe, you have to be born again and saved. But that would mean you would have to be saved, before you could be saved. I usually ask those who believe such things, to show me where this is taught in the Bible? Then I turn them to these verses and explain that their beliefs directly contradict what Paul teaches here. There is no way around these verses in Romans. I do not become born-again so I can believe; I believe so I can be born again and be saved.
Now some say, “But, doesn’t Paul put confess with your mouth first in the order, before he says believe in your heart? Yes, that is true, but look at the very next verse. In verse 10, Paul reverses the order and puts believe first. “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). This is the reason that believing with the heart is the key to all that is taught in these verses. Believing is where it all begins in the heart. Notice again, Paul is teaching that once the heart believes, you are believing to righteousness. This means that God’s righteousness is imparted to a person because of their faith. Confession is just the proof that the heart does believe. We have already studied that, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). This is also how God’s righteousness is given to you. You are saved from your sins by faith alone and God’s grace. Let me give you one more proof. In Acts 16:31, what did Paul command the Philippian jailer? He told him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” This is the Gospel that Paul preached, and it should also be the message you preach.
2. Confess with your mouth. Vs. 9-11
I have just stated that confession is the result of true faith. Jesus taught all the people that they must confess Him before men. In Matthew 10:32-33 Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Confession of your faith before others is essential if you believe in Him. Confession before men is an act of faith. A person who believes will naturally confess Him. The point of confession is so important that the rest of Romans 10, beginning in verse 14 to the end of the chapter, is dedicated entirely to this issue of confessing and sharing the gospel message. Confessing your faith is what a true heart of faith will do. If you have believed and you have been saved, God has radically changed you. To say nothing to others is a complete negation of that fact. If Jesus made confessing your faith before men so explicit in His teaching, then this is extremely important. I remember the day after I made my commitment to Christ, I was reading my Bible, and someone said to me, “Why are you reading the Bible?” I responded, “Because something happened to me last night after going to the Billy Graham Crusade. I believe what Billy Graham preached about Jesus.” Now, I hardly knew anything about what the Bible taught, but I knew I believed in Jesus. That was the first confession of faith that I ever made, and it wasn’t the last. If you truly believe, confess your faith to someone today! If you confess Him, you will never be put to shame (Vs. 11). Note that Paul quotes this same verse again from Romans 9:33.
3. Call upon His Name. Vs. 12-13
In verses 12-13, Paul declares, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved’” (Rom. 10:12-13). Paul again makes it clear that it doesn’t make any difference to God if you are a Jew or a Gentile. God loves you and wants to bestow the riches of His grace and mercy upon anyone who will call out to Him. Paul explains that God is Lord over all and rich to all who will come and ask of Him. Think on this great grace that can be yours today if you will only ask! How can you be sure that this is really true? Look at the word whoever. Paul used this word “whoever” in verse 11, when he quoted “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Paul uses the word again in verse 13 when he quoted from the Book of Isaiah. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It doesn't say, “If a Jew calls on the name of the Lord he will be saved,” no, it says “Whoever” calls upon Him. Paul used this word whoever many times in this epistle. Why? This word is used hundreds of times in the Old Testament and continually by Jesus in His ministry. This word must have jumped out at Paul from the Scripture and convinced him that God had no partiality for the Jew over any other group of people in the world. He must have realized that God’s intention from the beginning of time was always to save and bless the entire world, not just the Jews. This is why Paul also wrote to the Galatian church and told them, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
Paul may also have been convinced that there was no distinction between people from the most famous promise made to the Jewish people. God said to Abram, “Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3). Notice that God’s promise was for all nations to be blessed through Abram. Not just the Jewish nation, but all peoples. This is surely why Paul proclaimed that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord, and “whoever believes will not be put to shame.”
I also believe that this word “whoever” should again be a rebuke to extreme Calvinists. Why? Because extreme Calvinists believe that only a certain few people, or only an elect, can be saved. Why? They believe that only the predestined to be saved can be saved, and all the rest of the people are predestined to go to hell. In other words, there is no option for whoever desires to be saved in their teaching. If God didn’t mean whoever, then He would not have used the word in the first place. Both teachings cannot be true. My choice is to go with Jesus! He uses the word whoever 39 times in the book of Matthew alone. Jesus used the word anyone 23 times in the Gospel of John. In Luke’s writings, Jesus used the word everyone 10 times in His sermons. That should tell you something. Count for yourself how many times Jesus used these words. This word whoever means something. If He didn’t mean what He said, then we don’t understand the meaning of any of His words. But we do understand what Jesus was saying. He means what He said! So, remember there is no distinction between a Jew and a Greek. The word distinction literally means to discriminate. People may discriminate against you, but God will never discriminate against you. His door is open to all, anyone, everyone, and whoever will come to Him! Why? Because God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). All you must do is believe in Jesus with your heart, confess Him with your mouth, and call upon Him in prayer!
Let me leave you with one parting thought. Do you realize that before you ever believed or called on Him, that He was calling you? He was calling you through your own conscience and the thoughts of your mind. He was calling you through the words of Scripture that you heard or read. He was calling you through the words of someone He sent to you, that confessed His name to you. He was calling out to you. I know this is true, because I can look back in my life before I was saved, and I can see that He was calling out to me. I remember hearing His call to me as a teenager as I watched the movie the “Greatest Story Ever Told.” My own conscience convicted me when I did wrong things. God sent people to me over and over again to share Christ. I remember coming out to my car one day, and there on the seat of my car someone had put a Gospel tract through my open window. I read it and thought, “Wow, I never thought about the claims of Christ.” He sent several friends that I used to party with, and they shared the Gospel with me. I could tell that there was something different about these guys from when I knew them. They seemed alive with the joy of the Lord. Then one day in 1969 I saw a television advertisement for the Billy Graham Crusade at Angel Stadium. The crusade was happening that very night. I said to myself, “I am going to this to see for myself.” I got up out of my chair and drove to the stadium. I heard Billy Graham speak on the forgiveness that God wanted to bestow on anyone who would believe. I was absolutely sure I needed God’s forgiveness for all the wrong things I had done. When the invitation was given to come forward, I refused to go forward. I said to myself, “I’m not going down there. I don’t have to do that.” I got up and walked out. But as I drove home that night, I remember that was the first time I prayed and said, “Lord, I believe in you. I believe what that preacher was talking about. I want to receive You. Come in and take over my life.” I have never been the same since that day. God delivered me from drugs, drinking, and all the immorality I was involved in. He transformed my life. If you are reading this and realize you need His forgiveness, just ask Him now to forgive you, and He will come into your life and change you too. I realized that before I ever called out to Him, He had been calling me for a long time.
To conclude, notice what it says in John 10:3, Jesus is referring to Himself as the Great Shepherd of the sheep, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and He calls His own sheep by name and He leads them out.” That is exactly what the Lord did to me, and to all who follow Him today. He knows your name. He has called you by your name. Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” If you will hear His voice today, He will fill you with zeal to follow Him!