By Milton Vincent:
A Heart for the Lost, pp.25-27
The more I rehearse and exult in gospel truths, the more there develops within me a corresponding burden for non-Christians to enter into such blessings. This is also what seems to happen to the Apostle Paul while writing the book of Romans.
In Romans 5 Paul exults in his righteous standing before God. In chapter 6 he speaks of the freedom from sin which Christ has accomplished in the lives of believers, a freedom which Paul later confesses had not yet become fully revealed in his own daily practice (chapter7). Nonetheless, coming into chapter 8, he recounts the fact that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. With increasing flourish, he rehearses numerous gospel themes throughout the length of chapter 8, and he climaxes the chapter with a triumphant exclamation regarding the endless love of God which enables Christians to conquer overwhelmingly in all things.
What effect do such gospel meditations have upon Paul? What emotions do they produce in him besides the obvious joy he feels while reciting them? Paul bares his soul at the very beginning of chapter9: “I have great sorrow,” he says, “and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ, for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
Coming down from the heights of gospel meditation, Paul’s heart is devastated by a burden for his fellow-Jews to experience the saving power of the gospel. His burden existed long before he started writing, but it is undoubtedly intensified by his rehearsal of gospel truths in Romans 5-8, a rehearsal which inevitably leads his thoughts toward the plight of those outside of Christ.
Hence, if I wish to have a ‘Romans 9’ kind of burden for non-Christians, I should become practiced at celebrating the gospel as Paul does in Romans 5-8. Over time, my joy in the gospel will become increasingly tinged with grief, and this grief-stained joy will lend a God-inspired passion to my ministry of evangelizing the lost.
Grief is a good word to describe how I feel tonight. When I first read A Gospel Primer, this section stood out to me, but didn’t ring true; tonight it does. I sit here tonight overwhelmed with thoughts of the cross and burdened for those who don’t know of the redemptive power that hung there. I am in tears as I remember how lost I was apart from Christ, how much He’s done through me for His glory. I am in tears as I grieve the eternally-damned souls of my friends, family and co-workers.
For those who are keen to pray for me, please pray for the staff at the hood this summer. There are many who are still unsure of who Christ really is. He is the God of hope, love, eternal security and so much more.