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God's Gospel Patience

Romans 10:18-21
But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding." And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." (NIV)

The gospel message should not have been new to the Jews in Rome. It was found throughout the Old Testament scriptures. Indeed, salvation through Jesus Christ is the real story behind all of Israel's history. The prophets saw Christ by faith, and Simeon and Anna recognised the "hope of Israel" as they held the baby Jesus (Luke 2:25-3 8). St Augustine is quoted as saying "Christ is in the Old (Testament) concealed; Christ is in the New revealed".

Religious people, who respect the Old Testament, should be reminded that it points to Jesus. The Jewish people in Rome had therefore already heard the essence of the gospel message, but not understood it and were not seeking the Lord. Nevertheless, God revealed Himself to those who were not seeking Him and offered the hope of salvation to people who refused to obey Him.

It is the same today. God does not only speak to the faithful. His gospel is for everybody. He does not only speak to Christians but to people of every religious and ethnic background. That is why we should not be afraid or ashamed to tell the gospel even if they don't listen, understand, or seek the Lord; and even if they refuse to submit to Him - because that was how God treated Israel. So we must never write off people who are uninterested or unresponsive to the gospel; it is still the power of God to salvation for everybody who believes (Romans 1:16). The fact that they have not yet believed is not a good reason to exclude them from hearing the gospel! It is only through the gospel that they will know who and what to believe. If God did not give up on Israel for 1,500 years, why should we give up on our friends?

Gracious Lord. I am amazed at your patience. In so many different ways You have presented the gospel, all over the world, for thousands of years. You do not abandon any generation to stay in the darkness but have set hope before the world in the person of Jesus Christ. I am sorry when I have assumed that those who do not immediately respond to Your Word will never do so. I am sorry when I have deprived my family, friends and colleagues because I have hidden Your Word. Please help me to learn the gospel patience which is in Your heart and neither be afraid nor ashamed of letting people know that Jesus Christ is Lord. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams