Romans 11:1-5 God’s Remnant


Paul is in the middle of proving that God’s historical purpose toward the Jewish nation has not failed. To prove it he unfolds the seven main arguments found in chapters 9-11. At the start of chapter 11, the point to which we have come in our verse by verse exposition of Romans, we are at Paul’s fourth argument. Question: “I ask then: Did God reject His people?” Answer: “By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin” (v.1). Here Paul is using his own case as proof that Israel has not been abandoned. As long as there is only one believing Jew – though, in fact there are many – no one can affirm that God has rejected Israel utterly. Paul is a remnant himself, whether or not there are any others. But, in fact there are and always have been others.

Here are several points of application we can take from verse one: (1) We should not be discouraged in our evangelism, because all whom God is calling to faith in Jesus Christ will come to Him. If anyone should have been discouraged in his evangelism, it should have been Paul in his attempts to reach the Jewish people. He was God’s chosen messenger to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15), but Paul always began his missionary efforts with the Jews and again and again he was rejected by them. (2) We should be warned against presumption. It is true that all whom God is calling to faith will be saved, but this does not mean that all of any race, social class, or denomination will be. Being a Jew did not in itself save these people, though there were great advantages to Judaism, as Paul acknowledges. Neither will membership in a Christian denomination save you, though there are also advantages to belonging to a good church. We must not presume on our affiliations. (3) We should put all our confidence in God, who alone is the source, effector, and sustainer of His people’s salvation. How foolish to put your confidence in anything else, or even in a combination of lesser things. If a person can be a Jew, with all the spiritual blessings attending to that great religious heritage, and yet be lost, certainly you are foolish to trust in your ancestry, nationality, education, good works, or (strange as it may seem) your good intentions. Salvation comes from the Lord; it comes from God alone. Make sure you are trusting Him and what He has done for you in Jesus Christ.

In Romans 11:2-5, the apostle touches on a great Old Testament story as support for his contention that God has not abandoned Israel and that the Word of God has not failed. It is the story of Elijah, following his victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:16-19:18). This account begins the fifth of Paul’s arguments in Romans 9-11 in which he proves that the purposes of God for Israel have not failed and are in fact continuing.

The new idea in this argument is the “remnant.” This word refers to a small surviving part of something, either an object or a custom or a people. In the Old Testament the word refers in most cases to a small company of Jews who survived or were to survive the invasions, destructions, and captivities inflicted on them by the Assyrians and Babylonians in the sixth and eighth centuries B.C.

So, to whom is Paul referring when he speaks of “his people, whom he foreknew”? There is no question that Paul has been proving God’s faithfulness to his people by referring to an elect remnant. Since God has elected some Jews, though as remnant, to be saved along with the believing Gentiles, it’s clear that Israel as a nation has not been cast off. The “his people” in verse 1 and “his people, whom he foreknew” in verse 2 refer to the same people, and this people must be the nation as a whole. This is the direction in which the chapter is moving.

The application of these truths in regard to Israel is what the rest of Romans 11 contains. We will be following it out in detail as we make our way through chapter 11. But there are two applications for us today: (1) God always has a remnant, and the remnant is often much larger than we might suspect. I think of many Christians who are working in difficult places or under difficult circumstances – in inner city mission, for example. They have worked hard; there have been meager results. What they have done may have been misunderstood and rejected, perhaps even violently. They might be inclined to give up, thinking, “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your alters; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” (v. 3). If you are thinking or feeling that way, you need to know that God still has his seven thousand who have not bowed down to Baal, that you are therefore not alone and that your work will not be without results.

(2) The Remnant of those who are God’s people have not bowed to Baal. Baal was a particularly corrupt god of the ancient Canaanites whose worship consisted of blatant sex worship, coupled with pure materialism. Sound familiar? We have the same thing today. Our western culture, particularly in America, is charging down the twin freeways of sexual promiscuity and blatant materialism. But God has His remnant. There are devout people, who are living for God and trying to do the right thing, often in what are terrible circumstances. We should be encouraged to know this, seeking out such persons and encouraging them whenever we can. That is what the church is to be, after all – the company of those who are living for God and are encouraging one another to live for Him even in this present evil world.

So let us get on with it. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” and so run the race set out for us (Heb. 12:1-2), whatever it may be. Moreover, let us run it, knowing that one day, like ourselves, all God’s elect people will stand before Him having conquered this present wicked world. And though we will generally have been despised and persecuted, we will know that God has accomplished His perfect will in us and that nothing we have done for Jesus will have been done in vain.

Romans 11:1-5 Reflection Questions:

Once again Paul raises the question of whether God has abandoned Israel and perhaps broken His promise to them. In verses 1-6 Paul uses the story of Elijah (from 1 Kings 18-19). How are Paul and Elijah similar?

The idea of a “remnant,” a few people, who remain after a great disaster, comes from the heart of the Old Testament, from Isaiah 10:20-23 where the prophet describes those who will return after the punishment of exile. Who is the remnant Paul has in mind?

What are some major sidetracks and pitfalls that keep people from discovering Jesus Today? How can we expose the futility of following these paths?

Romans 10:16-21 Excuses and the Outstretched Hands of God


Several thousand years ago, there was a man who was chosen to follow a great leader. The leader possessed outstanding religious and moral qualities, and the man I am talking about lived with him and learned from him for three years. He was part of a small group who were privileged to do so. In time this man became disillusioned with his teacher and eventually betrayed him to his enemies when he had an opportunity to profit personally from the betrayal. But then he became disillusioned with himself for what he had done. Disillusionment led to depression, depression to desperation, and desperation to despair. In the end he killed himself by hanging. That man’s name was Judas and his teacher was Jesus Christ.

Few people like to discuss their failures, but there are failures for all of us, even as there was for Jesus. (At least they are failures from a human point of view, though not from God’s perspective.) The point is we need to understand “failures.” Paul did. God gave Paul great success in his missionary work, enabling him to plant churches throughout much of the ancient world, particularly in Asia Minor and Greece. But Paul was too honest not to describe his failures, too. One of the places he does so is in Romans 10:16.

Paul has been describing the chain by which the gospel comes to an individual, enabling the person to call on Jesus Christ and be saved. But the apostle is nevertheless aware that it is possible to fulfill the two human parts of that chain – sending and the preaching – and still have people fail to believe the good news or call on Jesus. Unbelief is a sad and painful reality to those who know Jesus Christ. But it is still a reality, which we must acknowledge if we are not to become discouraged and utterly ineffective in our witnessing.

Scoffers abound and critics multiply. But the lesson of history is the unique power of the Bible to change people’s lives and build churches. This is what Paul is getting at in verse 17. What Paul is saying in this verse is: “Faith comes from hearing the gospel preached, and the reason faith comes from hearing the gospel preached is that Jesus Himself, the object of the gospel as well as its subject, speaks through the messenger to call the listening one to faith.” The Bible says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. That is the way that salvation came to you, if you are saved. If you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, you need to understand this verse is very true and accurate when it says that, “faith comes from hearing the message. God planned it that way. The message is being taught. Your part is to open your ears to that truth, trusting that, as you do, God will make the message true for you and that you will find yourself calling on the Lord Jesus Christ to be your Savior.

In verses 18-20 Paul is dealing with excuses. The first excuse is that the Jews were not responsible for their unbelief for the reason that they had not heard the message. Paul’s answer is that they have heard it, and he establishes this truth by quoting Psalm 19:4. We cannot object, as this imaginary listener to Paul’s teaching might be supposed to object: “But isn’t it the case that they have simply not heard?” That is not a way of getting off the hook for most people. The message has been known, and they have heard it – so they are without excuse. You are without excuse, too, if you have refused to come to Jesus Christ as your rightful Lord and Savior.

Yet the human mind and heart are quite subtle. “True,” our imaginary questioner might say, “the Jews as a whole have heard and been acquainted with the gospel. But isn’t it true that the problem might lie in another area, not that they have not heard but that they have not understood the message when it has been made known. Wouldn’t that explain their unbelief?” Paul’s answer is another quotation, in fact several. He quotes from Deuteronomy 32:21 and Isaiah 65:1 (and, at the very end, from Isaiah 65:2). Paul is saying that the Jews did understand the gospel, because they were provoked to jealousy when the Gentiles, upon whom they had often looked disparagingly, believed it. Otherwise why would they care if the Gentiles believed it? But that was not the reaction Paul was seeing. There was jealousy and anger on the Jews’ part. This indicated that they understood very well what was happening. They knew that the message being received by the Gentiles was a message of salvation by the grace of God apart from keeping the law and that it was being taught not as a contradiction of Judaism, but as a fulfillment of it. That is what made it so offensive.

It is characteristic of Paul’s method of teaching that he ends a reasoned argument with quotations from the Old Testament, establishing what he just said. In fact in Romans 10 he has already given us six quotations from the Old Testament: Joel 2:32 (in v. 13), Isaiah 52& (in v. 15), Isaiah 53:1 (in v. 16), Psalm 19:4 (in v. 18), Deuteronomy 32:21 (in v. 19), and Isaiah 65:1 (in v. 20). The seventh quotation is a continuation of the reference to Isaiah 65:1, since with it Paul simply moves on to the next verse (Isaiah 65:2) in verse 21: “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” This is a moving statement, because it spells out the nature of God’s love in contrast to the disobedient and obstinate rejection of the love of God by human beings.

The first part, the part that spells out the nature of God’s love teaches three things about it: (1) It is continuous. God pictures Himself as holding out His hands toward Israel for an entire day. (2) It is compassionate. The love of God for sinners is not only continuing love. It is compassionate, that is, it is filled with passion for you. This is clearly taught in this text, for the picture of the constantly outstretched hands of God is meant to portray compassion. It is the posture of a parent reaching out to a crying child. It is the picture of Jesus, who reached out to us from the cross. (3) It is costly. There is one more important thing to see about the outstretched hands of God. They teach us that the love of God is costly – that is costly to God. Those hands bear the imprint of the nails brutally pounded through them as Jesus was affixed to the cross to bear the penalty for our sins.

What has been the response to God’s great love? This is what the second half of the verse is telling us. The response has been rejection. Two words summarize it: (1) Disobedient. When we think of the gospel, we usually think of it as an invitation, and it is true that the Good News is sometimes presented in that way (see Matt. 11:28 & Rev. 22:17). But what most of us forget is that the gospel is also a command. It is a command to turn from sin to faith in Jesus Christ and to follow Him in obedient discipleship. It is a characteristic of people to labor strenuously to disobey this command, It was that way for Israel, and it is also true for people today. (2) Obstinate. Not only was Israel’s response to the gospel one of disobedience; it was an obstinate disobedience. That is, it was hard-nosed, steely-faced, heart-encrusted, and doggedly persistent. So is ours. What was true of Israel is true of all natural human responses to God’s love in Christ Jesus.

Jesus described this in a parable (Matt. 21:33-46). The picture is of obstinate resistance to the rights and love of God and it describes what happened. The prophets were the servants. They had been beaten, killed, and stoned. Jesus was the Son. He was crucified. Therefore, the kingdom was taken from these Jewish tenants, and the door of salvation was thrown open to the entire world. Because of Jesus’ death, the way was open, and anyone – Gentiles as well as Jews, women as well as men, slaves as well as free born people – anyone could come to God through Him.

We have found exactly the same thing that both Jesus and Paul found. The unregenerate world is not interested in the gospel. And, if the truth is told, there are a good many apparent Christians who do not seem to be very interested in it either. They treat church attendance lightly, preferring to stay home Sunday’s and watch T.V. rather than worship God, who saved them, and allow the teaching of His Word to nourish their emaciated souls. They don’t study their Bibles and they do not read Christian books. They don’t tell others about Jesus. They don’t work for Jesus, and they don’t even give money so that others can do the work in their place. They just live for themselves. Are they not like those Paul describes? Disobedient?

God is calling you, and He is doing exactly as Paul says He does in Romans 10:14-15. That is the way the gospel comes to everyone. You need to hear the message, because it is in the teaching of the gospel that the voice of God is heard and His outstretched hands are seen. It is a wounded hand that holds out salvation to you and invites you to come. Reach out and touch that hand. Then allow it to enfold you in an embrace that nothing on earth or in heaven will ever diminish or disturb.

Romans 10:16-21 Reflection Questions:

In 10:16 Paul goes back to the question that has caused him such anguish. “Why are so many of the Jews refusing to believe in the Messiah?” In a series of Old Testament quotations who does Paul, playing the lawyer, call as witnesses against the Jews, and what is significant about each piece of testimony (10:16-21)?

At the end of chapter 10 of Romans we do well to stop and ponder the strange path by which the gospel first made its way into the world, humbling the proud and lifting up the lowly. Is this what happens with the preaching of the gospel today? If not, why not?

In what ways has the gospel burst into your life unexpectedly?

Weekly Seed of Faith 11/18/20

Seed of Faith – The Person Of Worship   By Pastor Dave  

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” John 4:23

Dear Faithful Seed Sowers,

We have looked at the place of worship and the place of worship. Jesus surprised the woman at the well, “You will not just worship here or at the temple in Jerusalem. The place of worship is your heart” (My translation).  We have learned the that position of worship is to bow down, to humble ourselves, to fall flat on our faces. “Proskyneo” worshipers are those who are prostrate on their faces. We have learned that the purpose of worship is to ascribe worth to someone or something. Last week we were challenged to think about where we spend our time, our money and what we think about the most. What, or who, do we idolize and worship?

This week we will look at the person of worship.  We need to be careful what our idols are and what we worship because we become like what we worship.  That is a profound thought. The place of worship — is our hearts.  The position of worship — is bowing in surrender and humility. The purpose of worship — is to ascribe worth to someone or something —where do we invest most of our time, talents, and treasures for what we idolize, we become like.

I would like to flip the statement when Jesus speaks to the surprised woman at the well written above.  I would like to talk about worshiping in truth.

When we honestly worship in truth, we worship the person of Jesus.

Stop and think about the Old Testament people who followed God for 40 years in the wilderness.  We have only been in the wilderness of this Covid-19 shutdown over eight months now–for 40 years, we’d need another 400 months of covid.  I do know that if we keep our eyes on Jesus, we are going to make it through this season. 

When I think of worshiping in the truth, I think of the Tent of Meeting that Moses set up. Do you realize that the Tent of meeting was called the tabernacle? The Tent of Meeting was a tent, it was put up and taken down every time the cloud moved. I wonder how many times in 40 years that tent was taken down and put up? (The Seed Christian Fellowship is a portable church.  We rent a city room; we have rented it for almost ten years! 51 Sundays a year, plus Holy Week and Christmas Eve, we bring our trailer and we unload and set up and then tear down and store our portable TENT of a church.  Let me tell you, after ten years, it is a real sacrifice of the heart to oversee this enormous project called CHURCH. 40 years?)  Moses and company set up and tore down their tabernacle tent for not ten, but 40, years.

What was the original tabernacle, what did it look like? Was it a beautiful edifice or a building of great beauty? Were there stained-glass windows, great arches, fancy carpet, or wood flooring complete with paintings, ornate sanctuaries, and beautiful pipe organs? Not at all, not even close—the tabernacle of the Israelites was made of wood and animal skin. Nevertheless, every part of the old tabernacle was significant. Think of it this way, the tabernacle taught the way to God. First, the tabernacle had an altar for sacrifice that contained a laver, or a bronze wash basin, where the priests cleaned their hands. The traveling tabernacle, and even the magnificent tabernacle that Solomon built, had these items in the courtyard and in the Holy Place, and in the Holy of Holies.

I think the tabernacle is a perfect illustration of how a person must approach God.

The altar, which is the first thing we come to, is the cross of Christ. The cross was given to teach us that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (no cancellation of our debt, no penalty) of our sins. First, we need the cross in order to direct our attention to the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

Next, we find the laver — the bronze wash basin which is a picture of cleansing. Christ provides our cleansing when we confess our sins and enter fellowship with him. Next we find the table of shewbread or manna — bread of presence, within the Holy Place. This bread speaks of Christ as the bread of life. Now we come to the altar of incense. The altar is a picture of prayer, we grow by prayer as well as by feeding on Christ, the bread of life. Behind the altar of incense was the great veil, dividing the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. This was the veil that was torn in two at the moment of Christ’s death! It demonstrated that Christ’s death was the fulfillment of all these figures and the basis of the fullness of our ability to now approach our Almighty God directly because of what Jesus Christ did for us once and for all.

Finally, within the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant with its mercy seat upon which the high priest placed the blood of the lamb once a year on the Day of Atonement. And in the Holy of Holies there was symbolized–by the space above the mercy seat—the magnificent presence of God into whose presence we can now come because of the great mercy of God revealed in the death of Christ for us.

We all come to God through Christ.  The cross is the altar in which Jesus Christ became the sacrifice and it is only through this sacrifice on the cross that we can enter the Holy of Holies.  I can only imagine Christ with the wash basin.  Can you see Christ with the wash basin? Can you enter the story and see Jesus pick up the wash basin and wash the feet of His disciples?  Can you place yourself into the story? Imagine Jesus washing YOUR feet. Remember this amazing fact: Jesus washed the feet of all the disciples, even Judas’ feet–who would quickly betray Him, a pretty humbling act of worship. What a powerful illustration of worship: before Jesus shared the breaking of the bread and remembering the cup of salvation, He washed feet.

Jesus is the bread of presence, Jesus is the incense, Jesus is the prayers of the people.  It was Jesus’ death that tore the veil. The veil was torn in two so that we can come straight to the mercy seat. We can worship in spirit and truth. We can go right to God.

When Jesus stood before Pilate and was questioned, Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”   I think that is the question that we are all asking now.  What is truth?

After Jesus picked up the basin and towel, He washed the disciple’s feet. Then He shared the bread of presence and He told them of His soon-coming sacrifice: Jesus must be lifted up so all who believe in Him would have eternal life. Then in John 14 Jesus shared those comforting and challenging words …

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7

So What?
God truly has a sense of humor. With the COVID 19 upon us, some of us cannot even enter our churches! What in the world is God doing?

Could God be teaching us to learn how to worship Him in truth?

Have you ever stopped and pondered the room that Jesus has prepared for you and me? I have.  It’s been a hard year of loss for our family. My dad died two days ago as did my cousin. I’ve also lost my mother-of-love, and my older brother. My wife and I have moved her 88 year-old dad into our home. Life is very different these days.

In our church, I have brothers and sisters who have lost loved ones, too. Many have had no opportunity to grieve with their family over their losses. “God, what are you doing?” I trust that God is sovereign. I must trust that God will be with us. For me, there is no other way.

God is doing something new in our worship.  God wants our true place of worship to be in our hearts.  God wants our position of worship to be on our faces in humility and adoration.  God wants our purpose of worship to be about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There is no room for any other idol of our making.  God wants our worship to be about the truth, the way, and the life. No one can come to the Father unless they come through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, His humble servanthood of the wash basin, His cleansing us of our sins, and of our partaking of the bread of life—His body and of the cup of forgiveness, His shed blood.

Listen — Jesus says, “God is spirit, and his worshipers MUST worship in spirit and in truth.”

Here’s your homework for the week, so what?

What is the most magnificent church building I have ever been to?
What was so magnificent about it?
Describe that church…
Now ask yourself:
Is my heart anywhere near as beautiful a place for me to worship God?

I think of visiting the Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel, the Cathedral of St. Peter. I can see the tall, arched ceilings. I can see the statues, the magnificent pipe organ. I can see the candles and the altar. I can smell the incense. I see the Bible sitting on the altar. And I wonder, what does the chapel of my heart look like?

Have you ever seen a picture of the Pieta?  It is the picture in our opening for this SEED OF FAITH for today.  It is found in Old St. Peters Basilica in Rome. Michelangelo sculpted this beautiful work saying it was the most perfect block of marble he ever worked with.  “In her utter sadness and devastation, Mary seems resigned to what has happened, and becomes enveloped in graceful acceptance.” All these years later, I still remember standing there. There was a large crowd with me, I do not recall that at all.  What I recall is being moved by love.

This week I want you to think about the church of your heart and what it looks like.  Maybe it is time to clear out the old and bring in the new. Maybe it is time to worship in truth. Is Jesus Christ your truth? Do you believe his words to the woman at the well?

Take a long drink from the wellspring of our Lord and Savior. I am now imagining my heart’s chapel in a whole new way. Does it matter how many songs I sing? Is there even such a thing as too many times of prayer? Does it matter if I sing hymns or praise songs? Kind of thinking we humans may have this whole thing backwards a bit. Start with your heart. Start there. Worship God in truth.

I think the Old Testament Israelites had a great start: a tabernacle that moved where they moved.

My heart…moves where I move.

May this scripture be true of you and of me: …a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers MUST worship in spirit and in truth.”

See you Sunday. Stay safe out there. I will be flying alone to my dad’s funeral this week. Please cover me in prayer.  I will be wearing my mask, face guard, gloves and social distancing. I will wash my hands and spray colloidal silver spray everywhere I go. I covet your prayers. Prayers for my wife as she stays behind and does the caregiving for her dad. God is at work in us recreating the PIETA in our hearts. If you’ve stayed with me until now, I’m guessing God is at work in you, too. I’m praying for you.

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave

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Romans 10:14-15 A Plea for Missions (Evangelism)


Romans 10:14-15 are a stirring plea for missions, one of the most important in the Bible. But much of the force of these verses comes from their setting in Paul’s argument. Think of the preceding verse: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v. 13). That is a wonderful statement of the universal application of the gospel. It is for everybody. Anyone who calls on Jesus Christ as Savior will be saved. But how can people do that unless they know about Him? And how can they know about Jesus unless someone goes to them to teach them about Him? Those are precisely the questions Paul has in mind as he begins this new section.

Not only are these verses related to verse 13, they are also related to what follows, to verses 16-21. For Paul, in this entire section (Romans 9-11), is dealing with Jewish unbelief, and he is going to show in the latter half of chapter 10 that the unbelief of Israel is not God’s fault, since God had sent messengers to the Jewish people. Paul himself was one. He had preached the gospel, and he had done so clearly. If the Jews did not believe, it was not because they could not, since they had both heard and understood the message. In these verses Paul gives us a series of linked statements, leading from an individual’s calling on Christ in faith, backward through the mandatory intervening steps of belief in Christ, hearing Christ and preaching about Christ, to preacher’s being sent to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ to those who need to hear him. In other words, the text is a classic statement of the need for Christian preaching and for the expanding worldwide missionary enterprise.

The first thing that is necessary if a person is to be saved, is that he or she “call on” Christ. Verse 13 flatly distinguishes between “believing” (the Greek word is “faith”) in Christ and “calling on” Christ for salvation: “How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?” Many people know about Christ. A significant number of these also probably believe that He is the Son of God and the world’s Savior, as the Bible teaches. But they have never called on Him in personal trust, and so they are not Christians. They are not saved. Let me make this personal. It is not enough for you to understand the preaching of the Word of God to be a Christian, important as that is. It is not enough for you to know theology or even to be a student of the Bible. I commend all those things to you, but they alone do not make you a Christian. To be a Christian you must call on the Lord Jesus Christ personally, saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, I confess that I am a sinner. I cannot save myself, and I call on you to save me. Help me. Save me from my sin.” If you will do that and really mean it, Jesus will save you! In fact, He already has, because it is His work in you that leads to that confession.

The second step in Paul’s linked series of statements is that a person must believe in Christ in order to call upon Him. I have just said that mere intellectual belief is not enough. There must be personal trust or commitment to Him as Lord and Savior. Yet this does not mean that the other part, intellectual belief or content, is unimportant. On the contrary, it is essential. For how can you call upon one you don’t know? How can you ask Jesus to save you from your sin unless you understand and believe that He is the Savior? Intellectual understanding without commitment is not true faith, but neither is commitment without intellectual understanding. If you must believe on Jesus in order to call on Him, then your mind must be engaged in knowing who He is and what He has done for you.

The third of Paul’s statements is that in order to believe in Christ a person must hear Christ. The point is that it is Christ Himself who speaks to the individual, and that it is hearing Him that leads first to belief and then to calling on His name in salvation. This should not surprise us, of course, because this is exactly what Jesus taught. John 10 is a clear example. In that chapter, Jesus was speaking about Himself as “the good Shepherd,” and He was explaining how His sheep know Him and respond to His voice (John 10:2-5, 14-16). When a minister stands up to teach the Bible, if they do it rightly, it is not their word you are hearing. It is the Word of God, and the voice you hear in your heart is the voice of Christ. And when you respond don’t think you are responding to them. You are responding to Jesus, who is calling you through the appointed channel of sound preaching.

We have already moved on to the fourth step in Paul’s series of linked statements, which are in the last analysis a great plea for missions. It is that for a person to hear Christ, someone must proclaim Christ to him or her. This is a strong statement for the necessity of preaching. Today’s preaching is not valued equally with the Word, but it is through preaching that the Word is most regularly made known and blessed by God to the saving of men and women. In real preaching the speaker is the servant of the Word and God speaks and works by the Word through the servant’s lips.

This brings us to the fifth and last step in Paul’s linked statements about the way people are brought to call on Jesus Christ for salvation. Paul has indicated that people must believe in Christ before they can call on Him. They must hear Christ before they can believe. There must be preaching of the Word if people are to hear Christ. Now he concludes that for Christ to be proclaimed to such people, preachers must be sent to them. By whom? By God, of course. This is God’s work; no one can take it lightly upon himself. It is why Jesus said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Matt. 9:38). If God does not send the messenger, the message will not be blessed by Him, and those who hear will not be saved.

But it is also true that messengers must be sent by the churches, just as Paul and Barnabas were sent on their missionary journeys by the Gentile church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3). In fact, one of the objectives Paul had in writing Romans was to enlist the support of the Roman church in his plan to take the gospel beyond Rome to Spain and other places to the west (Rom. 15:23-29). The application for us is that if people today in unreached areas of the world are to hear the gospel and have the opportunity to believe on Jesus Christ, those who know Christ must pool their resources to send God’s messengers to them. We must do it. A strong missions program is mandatory for an obedient church.

Romans 10:14-15 Reflection Questions:

Does your church have a missions program?

Is God calling you to go preach the Word? Will you obey His call?

In what ways were Paul (quoting Isaiah 52:7) and the apostles who went to the Gentiles with the gospel fulfilling the traditions of Israel rather than being disloyal to them (10:13-15)?

What people do you feel the strongest desire to reach with the gospel?