For I could wish that I myself were cursed – Romans 9:3
Losing A Game on Purpose: Have you ever wished that you could lose a game for the sake of someone else winning? Have you ever played a game and while you were playing it you felt sorry for the opposing player and tried to lose for their sake? I think I have a few times with my son, but no one else! Are you kidding, it’s a game the goal is to win, not lose. It’s in our nature to win.
Have You Ever Wished You Could Take Someone’s Sickness? Let’s take this up to a more serious level. Have you ever been with someone who is sick, maybe with the flu and you said to yourself “I wish it was me that was sick and not them, I wish I could take that sickness for them?” Have you ever said anything like that? How about seeing someone who is dying of cancer or starving to death or maybe someone who is dying an excruciating death of AIDS, have you ever wished you could trade them places and you were the one dying and not them? On a small-scale I’ve been like that with my wife and my kids when they’ve had the flu, and I’m sure that I would wish it on myself rather than them if it was something serious as well. But that’s for my kids and my wife, they are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, it’s my job to give my life for theirs. But for a stranger? or a fellow citizen? No, I’m not there yet.
Taking Someone Else’s Hell: What about if you knew someone was going to Hell, they were on their death-bed and yet they seemed to be blind to the Gospel. Would you wish to trade them places at that point? I mean, this person is going to spend the rest of EVERLASTING ETERNITY in a lake that is filled with FIRE! So, if you could, would you trade them places in order to buy them some extra time that they might hear the Gospel a few more times and possibly believe? You would have to take on their disease, die their death and spend an eternity in their HELL. Could you do that?
Begging God to Send You to Hell: Okay, this is where things get really rough. You now look at this same person who is dying, they have rejected the Gospel and are headed for an Eternity under the Wrath of God in hell. You have such compassion on them that you close your eyes as tight as you can and cry out to God begging Him to give you the disease and heal that person. Then you ask that they would experience the grace and mercy of God through salvation and that you would take their place of unbelief and be cut off from Christ forever only to spend the rest of Eternity in the extreme agony that Hell will bring? I would venture to say that not many people have had those feelings at all. The very thought actually makes me sick to my stomach, I think I’ve had nightmares like this before. However, the thought might cross your mind if it was your child, but the more you pondered on the finality of the death and the torture of hell, you would likely change your mind. If I was ever to take Hell for someone else I think I could only do it for my wife and kids. I get weak just thinking about it.
Paul was in Agony of Spirit: Paul knew what this life was all about, when he came to faith he gladly took on a new name and changed his identity. He knew that he would suffer and he gladly did it. He was whipped five times 39 lashes (like Jesus was whipped). He was beaten, had big stones chucked at his head and was left for dead. He was shipwrecked, jailed, falsely accused and the list goes on. He said that Christians should be the most pitied people on the face of the earth if this physical world was all we had to look forward to!
Does Your Church Resemble Paul’s Attitude? When we look around today at our 10 million dollar, 20 million dollar, 30 million dollar church buildings and our success driven Christians sitting under our prosperity driven preaching, we resemble little of what the early church looked like. Most of our goals aren’t to literally lay down our lives for the sake of Christ and His Gospel, but rather they are to achieve and conquer. We work hard for our stuff, we deserve it right? Well before I get to carried away with this thought I want to swing back to the main topic of my post. “Would you be willing to lose your soul so that someone you don’t even know could experience God’s undeserved mercy and grace?”
Romans 9:1-3 “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers”
Speaking The Truth, I do Not Lie! Paul paints a picture here that cuts me deep within my heart every time I read it. He says the words “I speak the Truth” and “I am not lying” and “my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit”, so I think it’s safe to say that Paul is telling the truth. What he’s actually doing here is telling the world in this passage that “what I’m about to say, I say under oath.” Then he goes on to explain that he wishes that he was ‘Accursed‘. Sounds like a pretty harsh word, so I looked it up and this is what it means “under or subject to a curse; doomed“, so Paul is saying he wishes that he was ‘doomed‘. Then he says the most damnable words “I wish I was cut off from Christ“. Can you actually imagine saying anything like that? Saying “I choose hell.” Who says that? The only person that can say that is someone who has taken on the heart of Christ to such a degree that they literally walk and act like He did. Christ became a curse for us, and Paul wishes he could do that for the sake of his fellow Jewish brothers. He so desperately wants them to experience the grace and mercy of God that he’s willing to take hell for them.
Can you imagine what the preaching would look like if every preacher around the globe trembled under that type of agony? I can tell you this much, there would be a lot less entertainment in the church and a whole lot more Fear and Trembling.
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for. – C.H. Spurgeon.
In the words of Spurgeon, are you warning people of the wrath to come? Maybe you should read Luke 16:19-31 for a refresher on the terror of Hell. So many today say, “You shouldn’t try and scare people into heaven!” Are you kidding me? Do you know the Horror of God’s wrath? Yes, we should be warning people that their crimes against a holy God will lead them to an eternity in Hell, and they MUST repent and trust the Savior or they will certainly perish. I think we need some Charles Spurgeon’s, Johnathan Edwards & George Whitefield’s to come back and shock the church back into reality. Are you praying for souls and imploring them to consider their eternal fate?
Closing Thoughts: I guess all that can be said after reading this type of passage is, do we have any anguish at all over souls that are perishing around us, let alone ‘unceasing anguish’? To have unceasing anguish is to NEVER STOP THINKING about it, it’s always in the forefront of your mind. Do we even care for the lost at all? Do we actually even love Jesus at all? I mean, didn’t he tell us to “Go and preach the Gospel?” And what do the majority of us do? Nothing! I believe that we need to be baptized with the same anguish that Paul had. We need to beg God to reveal His heart and gospel to us like we’ve never understood it before, how Paul understood it.
Join me in prayer that we would be baptized in anguish and sorrow for our fellow countrymen and women who right now are dying and heading for hell. The truth is, that most of us will never get to the place that Paul was, he was willing to trade knowing Christ for a spot in hell for the sake of someone else. Let us at least pray that we would have enough compassion to actually get off our chairs, turn off our TV’s and reach a generation for the GLORY of CHRIST.
“This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls.” ~ Keith Green
2 Corinthians 5:11 … Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men (KJV)
Preparing The Way