Monday, May 3, 2010

How Shall They?

“How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?” (Romans 10:14-15)

The steps taken in order to reach the lost, in Romans 10, are absolutely necessary for true evangelism to take place. Although the methods may vary, the formula does not—it must not!

A believer must be sent and exhorted to preach the Word of God to those who have not heard.

An unbeliever must hear the Word before he is able to believe and call upon Jesus for salvation!

Twice in Scripture, once through the prophet Isaiah and once through the apostle Paul, God declares—in a very poetic way—His sentiments regarding this process! “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things” (Romans 10:15).

Beautiful—that is how He describes their feet…not their desire, not their willingness, not even their heart—but their feet. Odd! But there it is, in black and white! And what God calls precious we must too—for according to Romans 10:14-15, the lost will never be able to (fully) come to Christ without a witness to show them the way.

To the Savior, the act of going—the actual walking (a sign of movement and determination)—is highly treasured. Therefore, to the Christian, the act of going must be highly prioritized.

“How shall they preach unless they’ve been sent…?” Romans 10:15

In order to be “one that is sent” you must have someone sending you. The choosing and sending of missionaries was a very important part of the early church—and it was faithfully practiced. I found it fascinating to read in Scripture that the leaders of the church took seriously the command to “separate, [lay] their hands on them, and [send] them away” (Acts 13:3). They were not waiting for someone to feel “the call” and then choosing to “support them”—no, the leaders were actually, after much prayer and fasting, selecting and calling for that person or persons to go!

The Holy Spirit was very much involved in this process, and, it appears that both the elders and those being “set aside” were sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. The elders were actively involved in looking within their congregation for those who they could send into “all the world” or at least into their respective Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.

How easy for a church to become so focused on the needs of the local body (although valid) that they quickly loose sight of the Great Commission. We don’t like to “lose our best,” in fact, we may become greedy as a church and never want to say “goodbye” to anyone. We become so comfortable with praying and supporting that we forget the most obvious: God intends more to go!

The last thing our Savior did before leaving this earth was to verbally commission all believers to "go into all the world"! As long as there are those who have not heard…it is of utmost importance to send those who have, out!

He calls the FEET OF THEM THAT PREACH a beautiful thing. A church should be focused on the feet—producing more and more workers with the ability and the tools to go—either into the local community or into another culture’s community.

(Mark 6:7; Acts 1:24-26; Acts 6:5; Acts 13; 1 Timothy 1:18)

“And how shall they hear without a preacher…?” Romans 10:14

God ordained that through the foolishness of preaching man would be saved—“for God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty…that no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27, 29). And, as Paul further points out, “we preach Christ crucified!” Period. Nothing more, nothing less! We are not commanded to confound those to whom we speak…we are commanded to preach Christ—He alone does the confounding, the convicting, and the converting! “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

(Mark 6:12; Acts 2; Acts 7; Acts 13:4a)

“How shall they call on Him in whom they have not heard…?” (Romans 10:14)

It is here that we incorporate not only the responsibility of the Christian but also the response of the non-Christian. After teaching several parables, Jesus addressed the crowd with this powerful statement: “If any man has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 4:23). In other words, having a pair of sounding devices (one on either side of your head) may guarantee the fact that you have ears…but not necessary that you “hear.”

There is a vast difference!

So many people walked away from Jesus while He taught here on earth, either scratching their heads—bewildered, without a clue as to what He meant, or in anger—offended by His inferences.

They were not willing to understand His deeper meaning—it was easier to not get it than to ponder the prophecies declared of old and acknowledge their fulfillment! It was easier to kill Him than to repent of personal sin and hail Him as the Messiah!

Jesus went on to say how important it is to “take heed that you hear!” Before you begin to listen…be determined to be attentive to what is being said! Paul “beseeched” his audience to give full attention to his words. Peter lifted up his voice and begged the people to “hearken” unto that which he had to say.

When what we say is true and vital to salvation, we must plead for the audience to listen up!

For although many may reject what we say, there are those who will “heaken to [the] words” of Christ—they will understand what they hear because they have taken the time to truly listen. Those who have “ears to hear” are given the grace to humbly accept what they now perceive to be true!

(Matthew 13:17; Mark 4:23-24; Acts 2:14; Acts 7:2; Acts 13:16; Acts 26:3; James 1:22; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 1:3)

“How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed…?” (Romans 10:14)

Once someone has heard the message of the Gospel and perceived it to be true, he must then “reckon” it to be so! It must be appropriated—it must be “believed”—or it is of no effect. There were those in Scripture who heard and chose not to believe…what a very sad reality. But those who “gladly received the word,” verbally stated that acceptance by asking a very simple question: “What must I do to be saved?” Willing to do whatever is necessary to be saved, those who truly believe are ready to act out that belief! And that leads us into the very last point!

(Acts 2:37, 41; Acts 13:48; Acts 16:30)

“How shall they call…?” (Romans 10:14)

The importance of this last step is quite critical. To believe is a quiet dawning on the soul…to call is the public confession of what has already taken place. Scripture states that we must do both—we must believe (“believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16:31) and we must call (“why tarriest thou? …call on the name of the Lord” Acts 23:16). “To call” is to identify oneself with Christ—publicly pulling away from your former life and worldview. “To call” is to preach ones first sermon as you declare to the world (at least the world around you) that “Jesus saves!” “To call” is to identify oneself with “all the saints in every place.” And “to call upon the One” in whom you DO believe, is to secure the assurance of ones salvation! I know—I’ve been there!

(Acts 23:16; Romans 10:12, 13; 1 Corinthians 1:2)

“How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?” (Romans 10:14-15)

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