Zeal – Knowledge = No Salvation

What a call for the church to be about spreading a knowledge of Christ with great zeal for God’s glory and a love for the nations of the world.

One of the passages of scripture from my own personal meditations that has had the greatest impact on me in recent weeks is Romans 10:1-2 where Paul says about his kinsmen, the Jewish people: My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For, I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not according to knowledge.

What struck me here is that it is possible to have a zeal for God and be lost. A zeal for God and lost – perishing! “My heart’s desire is that they be saved,” he says. So they are not saved. Why? They have zeal for God. They are, in fact, part of the chosen Jewish people. But he prays that they would be saved. What’s wrong? What’s wrong with their zeal? And Paul answers: It is not according to knowledge. True knowledge is necessary for salvation. They have zeal. But it is not rooted in knowledge.

Now zeal – the passion of the heart for God – is important. Jesus said to love God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind (Matthew 22:37). He said that lukewarm people will be spewed out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16). And just two chapters later, in Romans 12:11, Paul will say, “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.” Literally: “Boil in the spirit.” Zeal is important.  But without knowledge it does not lead to salvation.

– John Piper, “Let Us Draw Near to God” (sermon on Hebrews 10:19-22)

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