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God’s Part and Our Part

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 10:14–15

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a simple message. It just needs simple messengers like us to faithfully communicate it to our world.


As we sail back into Romans chapter 10, we are about to study one of the most compelling passages of Scripture in all the Bible. And it might sound like a contradiction to what we have learned in chapter 9 about the doctrines of election and predestination. In chapter 9 it sounded like it was up to God alone to choose those who would believe. But now in chapter 10 it sounds like mankind has to make a choice as well.

How do we resolve a paradox like this? Well, we don’t because we can’t in our finite minds and understanding. Both the will of man and the will of God are taught in Scripture; some passages emphasize the will of God, and others emphasize the will of man.

Now if there is any doubt that we must make a personal decision for salvation, Romans 10 settles the debate. Paul writes in verse 13, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

People ask me from time to time, “How do I know if I am one of the elect?” Well, that is easy to answer: have you called on the name of the Lord to be saved?

Following verse 13, Paul begins asking questions to emphasize our role in the matter of salvation. The first two questions relate to the unbeliever’s response to the gospel. Paul asks in verse 14:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?

In other words, unbelievers need the facts of the gospel before they can call out in faith to God. They need to hear the gospel—they need to know what to believe and in whom to believe in order to be saved.

So, these opening questions in verse 14 relate to the unbeliever’s response. The next two questions relate to the believer’s responsibility.

Paul continues at the end of verse 14: “And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” This is the responsibility of every Christian.

Let me stop here just long enough, beloved, to point out that Paul is not making an appeal for foreign missions or vocational missionaries. Those are included, and Paul will get to that later; but here Paul is pointing his finger at every Christian.

We cannot put a little money in the offering plate and say, “Now you church leaders go find some people to do this.” Oh no. We cannot buy our way out of the Great Commission. The responsibility to communicate the gospel to our world is given to all of us.

Let me tell you, the average Christian today has never verbally communicated his or her faith to coworkers or fellow students or neighbors. It is as if Paul is challenging us here by saying, “Nobody will ever be saved by just watching you—no matter how hard you work, no matter how honest you are, no matter how godly you are.” Those are all important things; but while your lifestyle might demonstrate your faith, it cannot deliver the facts of your faith. Eventually you must clearly communicate the gospel to others.

Paul is not telling us to give up our jobs and become preachers. The Greek word Paul uses here in verse 15 for preaching has a much broader meaning than some formal pulpit message. It means to herald, to announce, to proclaim the gospel.

I think of Edward Kimball as this kind of preacher. He was a shoemaker, and he volunteered to teach Sunday school in his home church in Chicago during the early 1800s. He had a heart for boys living in the rough streets of Chicago’s inner city.

Through his efforts, a young man named D. L. Moody accepted Christ and grew up to become a vocational preacher and pastor. In 1879 Moody won a young man to the Lord by the name of F. B. Meyer. Meyer also became a famous preacher, used by God to reach thousands with his sermons and the books he authored. Meyer won a young man to Christ by the name of J. W. Chapman. Chapman, in turn, grew up to become a preacher, and one day his preaching brought to Christ an American baseball player by the name of Billy Sunday.

Billy Sunday gathered crowds of people under huge circus tents, eventually preaching the gospel to more than a million people. In one of his campaigns in Charlotte, North Carolina, there was such a great response that the meetings were extended. Billy Sunday called on one of his friends to preach one night. His name was Mordecai Ham.

While Mordecai Ham was preaching that night, a teenage boy accepted Christ. His name was Billy Graham.[1]

These six men, through whom millions of people heard the gospel, traced their spiritual lineage back to a man who was not a preacher but a shoemaker. Edward Kimball was a shoemaker who understood that shoemaking was what he did for a living but what he lived for was sharing the gospel of Christ.

Then in his fourth and final question, Paul asks, “How are they to preach unless they are sent?” (verse 15). With this question, Paul finally points his finger at the church, and that includes every biblically faithful church. The church today has largely forgotten that its mission is not to see how many it can seat but how many it can send!

In my home country here in North America, 80 percent of church growth is by transfer—that is, people leaving one church and going to another. The church is not really growing in numbers today; it is just shifting from one location to another. Some people like the music over at another church, so they hop over there; some like the sermon series at another church, so they hop over there; others like the children’s activities in some other church, so they hop over there.

We have the expression today that people are “church hopping”—hopping from one place to another. In the church I have pastored for many years, half of my audience has never joined the church; they are just here for a little while before they hop over to somewhere else.

Paul wants to leave us with a deeper pity for the world and a deeper passion for the work of a local church. We are to bind ourselves together and sacrificially commit to sharing the gospel with our community—and sacrificially giving so that we can send people to other parts of the world to deliver the gospel.

So, how can people believe in Him when they’ve never heard about Him? How will they ever hear about Him if somebody does not deliver the news? And then Paul’s concluding question: How can people deliver the good news of the gospel if the local church will not send them and support them and pray for them? Are we training people to evangelize those who live, not only across the ocean, but across the street?

It is as if Paul is asking in these questions, “Do we really care about our part in the mission of God and the gospel of Christ?”

If we do, do not overlook this wonderful commendation from the Lord Paul presents at the end of verse 15: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

So, how beautiful are your feet, and mine, today?

Let’s ask the Lord to increase our pity for the world and increase our passion for His work! Let’s never be satisfied with silence; but in whatever world God has assigned us to live and work and play, let’s ask Him for opportunities to speak—to communicate—so that our world will hear and understand and, by the grace of God, call upon the name of the Lord, so that they may be saved.

[1] Bill Wilson, Streets of Pain (Word Publishers, 1992), 123.

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