The Word To Faith Movement
How then shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe on Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace,
who bring glad tidings of good things!”
But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
“Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by those that are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”
But Isaiah is very bold and he says:
“I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”
But to Israel he says:
“All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
Father, we recognize, as we stand here today, that many of us fit that bill there, that we were a disobedient and contrary people. In some ways, perhaps in many ways we still find ourselves tempted to be contrary and disobedient. And Lord we than You for the work that You do in our lives regardless, even though we are so often stubborn and stiff-necked, You’re patient, Lord, You work in our lives to draw us to Yourself to make us more like You. And so God, we pray that You would help us, Lord, to be an example of Your grace, that You would work in us that we would shine forth Your glory, that people would see that we are more and more like You as we draw closer to You. So, God, work through Your word, by Your Spirit, to make us more and more like Your Son, for we ask this in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people agreed saying, “Amen.”
You can be seated.
How many of you have a friend or a family member, co-worker or a neighbor that you would like to see come to the knowledge of the truth about who Jesus is? I would venture to guess that probably every single one of us would raise our hand; hopefully you should raise your hand. That was the question that I began with a couple of weeks ago when we began Romans chapter 10. And you may remember that at that time, when I asked that question, I asked you to do something; I asked you to reach in to the seatback of the chair in front of you and take out one of these prayer cards, and to write down the name or names of those people who come to mind when you are asked that question – Do you know someone that needs to know about who Jesus is, that you want to see come to the knowledge of the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ? And hopefully you wrote a name down, and hopefully you kept that in your Bible and you’ve been praying for them. In fact, do any of you have those cards that you wrote that name down? Several of you do. If you don’t, would you, again, reach into the seatback in front of you, grab one of these little prayer cards? You see it there. And I want you to write down the name or the names of those people that come to mind when you’re asked that question – Do you know someone who you would like to see come to the knowledge of the truth of who Jesus is; come to salvation in Jesus Christ? Write down their name or the names of several people; I have one here with a couple of names on it. It may seem like a small thing to you, but I’d encourage you to keep that in your Bible, to take it with you. And do that right now; write down the name or names of people, and then hold it up. I want to see them held up. I know this is out of sorts for us here at Cross Connection; you might feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. I only see about 10% of you holding them up. Come on. This is the big test of the day. I know this is hard work here. Normally we don’t have group interaction; you’re going, “This is out of sorts. I don’t like this.” I’ll probably get e-mails later from people saying, “I didn’t like this. I felt put on the spot.” [laughter]
Good, be put on the spot. Okay, hold them up. Here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to pray for these right now, while we’re holding them up.
Father, we pray for those that You have put on our hearts right now, those people who, Lord, You have placed in our lives, and You’ve placed us in their lives that we might be a witness to them. We ask, God, that You would move through us to be a witness. Lord, we pray that You would begin to work in the hearts of these individuals that are written on these cards. It may seem simple or small, but God, we know that You are a great and awesome God, You work in the lives of humanity. And so God, we pray that You’d work in the lives of these people, and that You’d draw them to Yourself, and that You’d give us opportunity to be a witness to them, that we would see them come to faith in You. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Again, that may seem out of sorts, it may seem odd to you, it may seem a rather simplistic thing, to write down a couple of names and to pray for them, just take 30 seconds to pray for those people, that they come to faith, that you’d have an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. But the reason that we did this is because, as Paul reveals here in Romans chapter 10, verse 1: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, evangelism begins with prayer; evangelism begins with prayer. Evangelism is the declaration of the good news, it’s sharing the Gospel. And that begins with prayer, because evangelism begins with God. God is the One who initiated the work for our salvation. He is the missionary God; He reaches out to humanity. When humanity was initially lost and fallen, in Genesis chapter 3, there Adam and Eve hid themselves from God, and God sought for them. He called out to Adam, “Where are you?” So God is the initiator, and we respond as He initiates.
But then God works through us, His church; we’re called the body of Christ. And so we are reaching out to people who don’t know yet, who have not yielded yet to the work of the Spirit of God in their lives, that have not received the grace of Christ for salvation. And so in writing down these names, and praying for these individuals, we’re asking God to move. We’re asking God to move by His Holy Spirit in the lives of those people, that He would begin to draw them to Himself.
Paul, in Romans chapter 9, he revealed his great sorrow and the continual grief that was in his heart for his own countrymen, his own family members who did not know the truth about who Jesus was. They may have heard the name Jesus of Nazareth, they may have heard the stories about the things that He did during their day, and yet many – the great majority of them, in fact – had not received Christ Jesus as their Messiah, as their Savior, as the One who would bring righteousness into their life. Furthermore, those people that were Paul’s countrymen, the Jewish people, not only had they not received the grace of God and the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, but they were seeking to make themselves righteous by their own religious works. They had not obtained the righteousness of God that is a free gift of grace – by grace through faith – they had not received it from God by putting their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Instead they were trying to make themselves righteous by their own works. And yet we read in the book of Romans that by the works of the law no flesh shall be made righteous in the sight of God. So it’s a futile thing to try and make yourself righteous by your own good deeds. We can only be made righteous by the work of Christ, by the work of God. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 5, speaking to a gathered multitude there around the Sea of Galilee, He said to them there, “Unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter the kingdom of God.” He said to them, “Unless you are more righteous than the most religious people in the world, you will in no way get into the kingdom of God.” And for the people that were hearing that that day, that probably caused their heart to skip a beat because they knew for certain that that they were not more righteous in their works than the most religious people of their day. He was speaking to just common people – fishermen, tax collectors, herdsmen, farmers, people there around the Sea of Galilee who knew that they were sinners, knew that they fell short of God’s glory. And so, to them, hearing those words, it would have been quite a blow to them because they would know they just can’t measure up. Many of you recognize that we do not measure up to the righteous standard. We know that God’s righteous standard is His own sinless perfection, and we cannot be that holy by our own strength.
However, we may know some people that are religiously good, they do good things, they seem to be good people. And they think that by their good deeds they’re going to be okay before God on the day of Christ Jesus, but the reality is that there is no flesh that shall be justified in His sight by the works of the law.
Most certainly there were people in Paul’s family, people that were very close to him, people that he had known his entire life that had not received salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And as a result of this, Romans chapter 9, verses 1, 2, and 3 show that Paul had a great burden, his heart was sorrowful because these people had not received the grace of God. And every single one of us here this morning, we have people in our lives who, our hearts are burdened because we know that if they were to die today, they would enter into eternity not experiencing the grace of Christ. They would not be able to experience the presence of God in eternity, because they have not put their faith in Christ. And so we’re burdened by that; especially if that individual is a child of ours; especially if that individual is a family member that we know very well and have grown up with, and we realize that that person does not know Christ, and so they would enter into the experience of eternity apart from God. And so Paul says that he was burdened, he had great sorrow and continual grief in his heart because there were people in his own family that did not know the salvation that is in Christ.
But as we come to Romans chapter 10, we see that Paul did something with that burden. He did the right thing with that heavy burdensome sorrow that he had. He directed it to God in prayer. Romans chapter 10, verse 1 again: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” Evangelism begins with prayer. Yes, God can work independently of our prayers. He does not need us to pray. But for some reason God has chosen to involve us in the work of redemption by prayer, and as we’re going to see later on in our study this morning, not just by prayer, but also by preaching. And so God desires that we would be involved in this work, through our prayers, and also our endeavors in proclaiming the Gospel of God to people who don’t know it yet. No, salvation is not dependent upon us, it’s dependent completely upon God. Jesus is the One who worked the work effectively to bring about our salvation, but God has chosen to involve us in the redemption work of the lost in the world.
Isaiah chapter 37, we saw this a couple of weeks ago as the great example of God working through our prayers. In Isaiah chapter 37 the nation of Israel was under attack by the Assyrian army. The nation of Judah, the southern tribes of Israel, their cities, 46 of their cities had been destroyed by this time in Isaiah chapter 37, and now the Assyrian army was surrounding the last mainstay, the city of Jerusalem. And it was for certain that the city of Jerusalem would fall to the army of the Assyrians; there was no way that that city could defend itself. All the Assyrians had to do was to surround them, cut off their supply lines, and wait them out. And so Hezekiah, the king, he came before God in the temple there in Jerusalem, and he prayed to God, and God heard his prayer. And there in Isaiah chapter 37, verse 21 God said to Hezekiah, “Because you have prayed to Me, here’s the deliverance that I’m going to bring.” There was nothing that Israel could do to deliver themselves. There was nothing that they could do to get rid of the enemy that was around them, and so they prayed. And when they prayed, God answered, and God dealt with the enemy, and God brought redemption.
Not just in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. In Philippians chapter 1, in verse 19 Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, and he’s writing from a prison cell in Rome. And he writes to the church in Philippi during his first imprisonment in Rome, and he says to them there in Philippians chapter 1, verse 19, “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” “I know that I will be delivered by the power of God and your prayers.” So we see very clearly that God involves us in the work of deliverance by prayer. It’s ultimately God who brings about the work for deliverance, but He calls us to be involved through intercessory prayers. The intercessory prayers of the saints are important in the deliverance of people who are in bondage. This is seen throughout the Scriptures, but most notably in those two passages in Philippians and Isaiah. God works through our prayers. As D.L. Moody once said, and I shared a couple of weeks ago, “Where prayer is focused power falls.”
And so there are unbelieving and unsaved people in our lives, people that we would like to see come to salvation, people that we’re burdened for because we know that they do not know the Lord. And they may be self-righteous, they may be antagonistic towards the things of God, they may have a great hostility towards the Scriptures and towards the Gospel, and you may think that “this person will never come to faith, I’ve tried to share with them so many times and they’re so hard-hearted against the word of God.” Well, have you seriously prayed for them? Have you committed to daily, or maybe a couple of times a day, maybe every time you sit down for a meal, three times a day, maybe for some of you that’s six or eight times a day, I don’t know, but whenever you sit down to eat, have you committed to consistently pray for the salvation of that individual or those individuals who have not yielded to the work of the Spirit of God in their life? I submit to you that if we would pray consistently and diligently, we would see God move in a miraculous way. Why? Because He’s a great God!! And He moves mightily. So evangelism begins with prayer. But evangelism doesn’t end there. It starts with prayer, but it doesn’t end there.
At the end of the last section that we looked at this last time, we finished with verses 12 and 13 of Romans chapter 10 a couple of weeks ago, Paul wrote there that there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks, or Gentiles, as it relates to salvation. God is not a respecter of persons. God saves sinners; He’s not a respecter of persons. He doesn’t look out and say, “Well I like that group over there less than that group over there. And I like this group more than that group.” No, God is not a respecter of persons; the Scriptures make that very, very clear. The problem is every single one of us are respecters of persons. We are tempted to be ones who respect people who look more noble, people who look more wealthy. A study was done, someone was just sharing this with me yesterday, a study was done that people, they see a nicely washed car, even if it’s an old beat up car, but if it is nicely washed, we think that that person is more respectful of their things. So we’re respecters of people who drive nicer cars. I heard a study on the radio a few months back, and it said the sexiest people in the world drive Volvos. And so maybe there’s some people who look around and they say, “That person drives a Volvo, so that’s the sexiest…” We’re respecters of persons based on the stupidest things. And so we cast that upon God, and we think that He must also be like us. God is not like us!! He’s not like us. He is not a respecter of persons.
He is rich, we saw this there at the end of last section: He is “rich to all that all upon Him,” verse 12 of Romans chapter 10. “For ‘whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Paul proves this point, that God is rich to all who call upon Him. He proves it by citing the words of Isaiah, by citing the words of the prophet Joel. “Whosoever believes on the name of the Lord shall not be ashamed,” said Isaiah, and “whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” says the prophet Joel. The terms of salvation are the same for all. The terms of salvation are the same for all. “Whosoever believes on Him shall not be put to shame,” because “whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Now, this was a very offensive teaching to the Jewish people of Paul’s day, for they regarded themselves as an especially favored people. They considered themselves, because they were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they considered themselves to be more favored than all the other people upon the earth. So when Paul, a Jewish man by birth, says, in this letter, that God is rich to all who call upon Him, whether they’re Gentiles or Jews, there were many Jewish people who were quite offended by this teaching. But whether or not a person is offended, the truth is there. “God is rich to all who call upon Him,” because God is not a respecter of persons.
The question then is: If it is true that “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” how does one come to call upon the Lord? Well Paul gives us the answer in verses 14 and 15. Look at this – Romans chapter 10, verses 14 and 15: “How then shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe on Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’”
Evangelism unto salvation begins with prayer, but it involves preaching. Evangelism involves preaching, or the proclamation of the truth. It demands that it be spoken forth. The Gospel needs to be declared, not just thought about, not just imagined on or thought on, it needs to be spoken. Now the word Gospel in the original language, in the Greek language, is the Greek word Euaggelion, and it means glad tidings or good news. And while that word – Gospel – is a noun, it implies the necessity of action, it implies the necessity of proclamation. The good news needs to be sounded forth, it needs to be spoken. And one who speaks forth the good news, the Euaggelion, is an evangelist. An evangelist is one who declares the good news of the Gospel. Now, you may be thinking at this point, “Well I’m not an evangelist. Billy Graham is an evangelist, Greg Laurie’s an evangelist, maybe Pastor Josh is an evangelist, maybe Pastor Miles, as he stands up there, he’s an evangelist.” But the Bible says that we, the people of God, the children of God are to do the work of an evangelist whether we count ourselves to be evangelists or not. We need to declare the good news. We want people to call upon the name of the Lord for salvation. We want them to believe in Him so that they would not be put to shame. Therefore, to this end, we pray. We pray for the salvation of the lost. But we also preach the good news of salvation because we know that the Gospel of God, Romans chapter 1, verse 16 – The Gospel of God is the very “power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” The Gospel of God is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.”
Imagine that you had a friend who had a terminal disease. You received a call from them, they had just been diagnosed with a disease, and it’s certain that because they have this, they will die. Now, if you love that friend, if you truly have a heart of compassion for that friend, as a Christian you’re probably going to begin to pray for them. You might even write their name down on a prayer card and turn it in, and ask us to be here at the church praying for them as well. But imagine that if, as you’re praying for that friend who has this disease, you realize that you have the cure for that disease. You would not only pray for them, wouldn’t you also want to go and tell them, “I know the cure for this disease that you have?” How many of you recognize that you would definitely do that? We know for certain that we would do that. But the reality is that every single one of us have friends and family members, co-workers, neighbors, who they are diseased by the disease of sin, and it is certain the soul that sins shall surely die. Every single human being is diseased with sin, they’re sick by sin, and you and I have been given the cure for sin and death – the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It’s been given to us; certainly we want to pray for people who don’t know the cure. Certainly we want to pray that they would come to know what that cure is, but because we know the cure, we are under a debt to share that cure with other people. This is exactly what Paul said in Romans chapter 1 – “I am indebted to preach the Gospel to all humanity.” He knew that by virtue of the fact that he had received the cure for sin and death in salvation by the Gospel, he knew by that very fact that he had that within him, that he was to declare it to other people. As Jesus said in Mark’s Gospel, “Freely you have received, freely” what? “…give.” We’ve received the Gospel freely, we ought also to give it.
Now we could spend all kinds of time talking about the progression that we see here in Romans chapter 10, verses 14 and 15. We could talk about the progression of sending and preaching and hearing and believing and calling, but we don’t really need to because the gist of what is being said here is very clear: There are sinners in need of salvation, and so God the Father sent His Son to accomplish the work for salvation. Jesus came to accomplish the work for our salvation. He was sent by God the Father – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” So God the Father sent the Son to accomplish the work for salvation, and Jesus has sent you and I to preach the Gospel of salvation to those who do not know it. In John chapter 20, verse 21, Jesus said there: “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” In Mark chapter 16, verse 15, Jesus said to His gathered disciples there: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to every creature.
Well then Paul, quoting the prophet Isaiah, says here: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” As is typical of Paul’s writing, he quotes the Old Testament to give to support to what he’s saying here. And he quotes a very curious passage of the Old Testament. Both the prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah chapter 52, and the prophet Nahum, in Nahum chapter 1, said these very words – “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” Now, mind you, this may seem like a rather odd reference to us sitting here in the United States of America in the 21st Century. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things?!? And you know, you could read a dozen different commentaries on this passage of Scripture and get a dozen different ideas about what it means to have beautiful feet. But we all recognize that feet, unless you really like feet, feet are not the most beautiful part of the human body. Amen? We keep them covered for a reason. Although here in Southern California we all wear sandals most of the time; but we don’t really put our feet on display, we’re not huge fans of feet, for the most part. I don’t know, maybe there’s some people here who are really into it. …got a pedicure the other day. Now, unless we understand something about Middle Eastern culture, this reference doesn’t really have the weight, the impact. But you see, in Middle Eastern culture, the foot is considered the lowliest part of the human body. It’s considered to be defiled. You may remember in the Gospel of John chapter 13 when Jesus gathered with His disciples to partake the last Passover with them, there was a basin of water there for foot washing. But none of Jesus’ disciples stepped up to wash one another’s feet, and at the beginning of the meal, before they even started, Jesus, He washed His disciples’ feet. And they were in awe of this, to the point that Peter says, “You’re not supposed to wash my feet.” He recognized that this was not a good situation, because in that culture, it was the job of the lowest servant, the lowest ranking servant had the job of washing feet, because feet were considered disgusting.
You may or may not remember back in December of 2008 our then president, George W. Bush, was giving a press conference in Iraq, when a journalist, an Iraqi journalist, stood up and threw his shoes at the president. Anybody remember that? And George Bush had some pretty good skills, he ducked and he got out of the way. He did pretty good in that instance. And here in America there were a lot of people talking in the news about how goofy this is, this guy threw his shoes. But in all the Arabic press they understood exactly what that meant; that was one of the highest forms of an insult. Among the Arabic peoples, among the Middle Eastern peoples, to hold up your foot to them, to show the bottom of your foot is like flipping them the bird. You know what I’m talking about. It’s not a good thing. It you were to hit someone with your shoe, it’s the highest level of an insult.
When in 2003 Baghdad was liberated by the United States military and coalition forces, the newly liberated people of Iraq came into the streets, and one of the things that you may remember seeing on TV is that they tore down statues of Saddam Hussein, and they were hitting those statues with their shoes. We may look at this here and go, “What is that all about? Hitting them with the shoes?” But the highest form of an insult.
And so when Isaiah and Nahum, speaking to a Middle Eastern culture, said, inspired of God, “How beautiful are the feet…,” the people would hear that and they’d go, “No, wait a minute, that doesn’t make any sense. Beautiful feet, that doesn’t fit with our cultural understanding – how beautiful are the feet.”
So what exactly is meant by this reference – How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings, that bring the news of peace? Well, these words were initially fulfilled – the prophecy of Isaiah, the prophecy of Nahum – the first fulfillment of this came when the children of Israel, who had been captives in Babylon for 70 years, when they were released by the new Medo-Persian king who took over. When they were set free from their captivity, the messengers who were dispatched to go and tell the Jewish people that they were set free from their captivity, this word was fulfilled – How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the message of peace. These messengers are coming bringing glad tidings. The idea here as Paul uses it, as a reference in Romans chapter 10, is that the Gospel is so glorious that it beautifies even the most lowly part of who we are. The Gospel is so beautiful, so glorious, so awesome, that it makes our lowliest members beautiful. How many of you recognize in your own life that the Gospel has transformed your messiest part into something that is glorious for God’s glory? How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things, the Gospel of peace.
Well Paul continues, verse 16, Romans chapter 10 – “But they…” They in this context being Israel. “They have not all obeyed the Gospel.” They have not all obeyed the Gospel. The Gospel has gone forth, the good news that we have been set free by the work of Jesus Christ, it has gone forth to all these people, especially the Jewish people, for the Gospel came to them first, by way of proximity, by the fact that Jesus came there among them, the Gospel came to them. So the word of salvation and redemption and liberation had been brought to them, and yet they had not stepped into the freedom that they could have in Christ. And so Paul says that they, the children of Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “they have not all obeyed the gospel.”
What does it mean to obey the Gospel? Well Paul gives us insight again by quoting the Old Testament, from Isaiah: “For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’” Quoting Isaiah chapter 53, verse 1 – “Who has believed our report?” He says, “They have not all obeyed the Gospel, for who has believed our report?” You see, to obey the Gospel is to believe the Gospel; to obey the Gospel is to believe the Gospel. In John chapter 6, a multitude around Jesus asked the question, “ What is the work of God that we should do?”
And Jesus answered and said, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” To obey the Gospel is to believe the Gospel. And the children of Israel, those that descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they had not believed the good news about salvation, redemption, liberation in Jesus.
Verse 17, Paul continues, one of my favorite verses in the whole text: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” See, this is why it is so important that we proclaim and preach the Gospel. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” “How shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? How shall they believe on Him whom they have not heard?” And how shall they hear without someone proclaiming the good news?
You see we’re going to see when we get to Romans chapter 12, in just a few weeks, in verse 3, Paul says there, “For I say, through the grace that is given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” I believe, based on Romans chapter 12, verse 3, that God has given every human being a measure of faith. Imagine it this way: God has planted in the heart of every human being as seed of faith, and that seed of faith can be germinated by the word of God to grow and produce fruit. The word of God waters that seed of faith causing it to grow up and produce fruit. And this is why the word of God being sown among humanity, being poured out upon humanity is so very important, that we spread the Gospel. Because the word of God causes that seed of faith to spring up, to be germinated, and there grow forth. That’s why evangelism is so necessary. Yes, our personal testimony about what God has done in my life, what God has done in your life, that may well be important; but if we fail to preach the Gospel, if we fail to give forth the good word of God, we fall short of Gospel proclamation.
Now, as an aside, let me say that there are differences of opinion as it relates to the importance of the role of our preaching in evangelism. There are differences of opinion as it relates to our role in seeing the salvation of the lost. There are some, when we say that it is essentially important for us to declare the word of God, there are some who look at this and say, “You’re diminishing the sovereignty and power of God to save humanity.” Not so, I say. Now there are three common views. Let me give them to you; three common views about the role of humanity in salvation of the lost:
The first is this – God will save the elect whom He has chosen, and He is so sovereign that He does not need us at all. There are those within the church, Christians who love God, who believe that God will save the elect whom He has chosen, and He is so sovereign that He doesn’t need us to preach the Gospel, He doesn’t need us to go into the world and proclaim it. Now to that, we would conclude: Yes, it is true, God is powerful, God is sovereign, He can reveal Himself to people in a salvific way, apart from our preaching of the Gospel. We see that in the life of Abraham. No one preached the Gospel to Abraham; God revealed Himself, and Abraham became a follower of God by faith. So it is possible that God can save people apart from the salvific work of declaring the Gospel.
The second view is that God will save the elect whom He has chosen, and He is so sovereign that He does not need us to preach, but we preach for the glory of God and out of obedience. Yes, it is true, we declare the Gospel out of obedience. God commanded us, Jesus told us in Mark chapter 16, verse 15, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” So yes we are preaching the Gospel out of obedience.
But the third view is this – God has elected to save those that are in Christ, having believed in the Gospel, having obeyed the Gospel through faith, having heard the proclamation of the word of God, the Gospel, which is the very power of God unto salvation. God has chosen to use us to preach the Gospel. Yes He is sovereign, yes He is powerful; Jesus accomplished the work for salvation that you and I could never accomplish, but He has called us to preach the Gospel, and He counts that we are involved in the work of salvation through prayer and the preaching of the Gospel. It’s important that the word of God go forth. Paul said in Romans chapter 1, verse 16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of God, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” In Ephesians chapter 1, verse 13, he said, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of the truth of the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
Now if it is true that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, then how is it that Israel, who had so much of God’s revelation, who had received so much of God’s word, how is it that Israel was not saved, the majority of them? Yes there were many, as we’re going to see as we get into Romans chapter 11, there were many Jewish people who came to faith in Christ, but the great majority had refused to submit to the Gospel’s demand to believe in Jesus. So even though they had so much of the word of God, how is it that they had not believed?
Look at verse 18, Romans chapter 10: “But I say, have they,” Israel, “not heard? Yes indeed:
‘Their sound,’” the Gospel sound, “’has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” Quoting Psalm 19.
Paul says, “Yes,” the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they have heard the Gospel. How is it then, if faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, how is it then that those that had a great amount of God’s revelation had not believed? I suggest to you that Jesus gives us the answer in the Gospel of Matthew, in chapter 13, where He tells a story about a sower. How many of you have heard the parable of the sower before?
A sower went forth to sow seed, a farmer went forth to plant seed. And some of that seed, says Jesus, it fell upon the wayside, the well-trodden ground where people were walking. And the birds of the air came and snatched it away. Some more of that seed fell among stony places, or shallow earth, and it sprang up quickly, but then the sun came and burned it out. Some more of that seed fell among the thorns, and as it began to grow, the thorns grew up and choked it out. But some more of that seed fell on good ground, ground that was plowed, ground that was ready, and it grew up and it produced fruit, some 30 and 60 and 100 fold, says Jesus.
Now Jesus’ disciples came to Him later, and they said, “Jesus, what are You talking about? We don’t understand this whole story You’re telling?”
So He explained to them, “Let me tell you what it means.” He said the seed, in the story, is the word of God, and the sower went forth casting the word of God liberally, he was casting it wherever he could. But the seed fell on some hearts that were on stony places, and the birds of the air, the enemy, the adversary, the devil, he came and snatched away the seed. And some of that seed fell on shallow earth, and although it sprang up quickly, the sun, which is hot trials, came and burned it out. And some of that seed fell among thorns, and it choked out, and those thorns were the cares of the world, the desire for the things of this world. But some of that seed fell on hearts that were ready to receive it, that produced fruit.
Why is it that someone can hear the word of God, if faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, why is it that someone can hear the proclamation of the word of God and not receive faith unto salvation? Because their hearts have not been made ready; their hearts are filled with the desires of the things of this world, the cares of this world choke it out. The trials of difficulty come and burn them out when they begin to follow the Lord. Or perhaps the enemy comes and snatches it away, or plants seeds of doubt there.
So this is why I believe it is essential and important that we pray for those that are not saved, that God, by His Spirit, would prepare their heart for the word of the Gospel. “God, would You begin to break up the hard ground of that heart? Draw them to Yourself, that they would know who You are and come to faith.” But then, after having prayed for that person, we need to make sure that we speak forth the word of God.
Verse 19, Paul continues: “But I say, did Israel not know?” They knew about the things of God. They had received so much of God’s revelation through Moses, through the prophets. “Did Israel not know? For Moses says,” now quoting the Old Testament again. Paul says Moses spoke, saying, “’I will provoke you to jealousy by those that are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.’”
Now this idea that Paul starts with here in Romans chapter 10, verse 19, he’s going to elaborate more upon in chapter 11 when he talks about provoking Israel to jealousy. So we’ll talk more about this when we get to Romans chapter 11, but let me just at least say at this point that evangelism begins with prayer, but evangelism involves and demands preaching. It involves proclaiming the truth. Thirdly, evangelism demands demonstratable proof of the goodness of the power of the Gospel. You see where Paul says here, quoting Moses, that the Christian will stir jealousy in the life of the non-believer? Our lives, so affected by, so transformed by the power of the Gospel should cause people who don’t know God to be jealous of what we have. People who look at the life of the Christian who’s been saved by grace and transformed by the work of God, they should look at their life and say, “I want the peace, the joy, the love, the self-control that that individual has. I want the things that they have in their life because of the Gospel.” So the Gospel should be demonstrated in our lives that it is powerful, that it is true. And this is what Paul is speaking of when he quotes Moses about provoking to jealousy those who are a nation by those who are not.
Verse 20, he continues: “But Isaiah is very bold and says:
‘ I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest by those who did not ask for Me.’
But to Israel, Isaiah says:
‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’”
Paul, finally, quoting Isaiah chapter 65, verses 1 and 2. Notice all the quotations, all the references that Paul is making to the Old Testament, to the prophet Nahum, to Isaiah, to Joel, to Moses; he’s going back to the Old Testament constantly because he knows his audience here in Romans chapters 9, 10, and 11 is a Jewish group. They knew Moses, they knew about Isaiah, Nahum, and Joel. They knew these words, and Paul is using these words from the Old Testament to show them that this teaching that he’s giving forth is true, it’s right.
God says, in Isaiah 65, through the prophet Isaiah: “’I was found by those who did not seek Me,’” that is the Gentile peoples. Most every one of us sitting in here today are not Jewish, we’re Gentile people. The Bible says in Romans chapter 3 that man does not seek for God. We were a people who did not seek for God, but God initiated, as the missionary God, seeking out for us. And so God says, “I was found by those who did not seek Me. I was manifested to those who did not ask for Me.” That’s us.
“But to Israel, God says:
‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’”
God had revealed Himself in a magnificent way to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and yet, in their stubbornness, they hardened their hearts, they were a difficult and contrary people. They refused to obey the Gospel’s demand, which is to believe in Jesus. But anyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame, and “whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That’s for Jews and Gentiles alike. You see there are some, sitting in here today, who have Jewish heritage, and you’ve put your faith in Christ. You are what we shall see in Romans chapter 11 next week, you are the remnant of the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the nation of Israel – those who have put their faith in Christ for salvation.
But the call is simple and clear: Whosoever will believe shall not be put to shame, for whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Let’s stand together and pray.
Father, we thank You for Your great grace. We ask, God, that You would stir us by the very fact that we have received Your grace, that You would stir us to be a people who are praying for those in our lives, connected to us, who don’t know You yet, who maybe to this point have been a disobedient and contrary person, they’ve been hostile towards Your good news, the Gospel. But God, we pray that our lives would be so filled with the glory of Your grace that they would be visible, tangible evidence of Your good news and Your power, that our lives would provoke to jealousy those in our families, among our co-workers, friends or neighbors, those who don’t know You, that they would see the life that we have in You and they would be desirous of it. God we pray that You would break up hard hearts, that You would make those hearts ready for the good seed of Your word, and Lord that You’d give us boldness to speak forth that word, the simple, clear Gospel of grace, that there is salvation only in You, Jesus.