If you want to know where I come to Scripture and feel the most inadequate, I don’t know that I will tell you my biggest struggle. Usually that fluxes between loving the Lord my God with all my heart, loving my wife as Christ loved the church, and not exasperating my children to wrath.
But consistently in the second spot of Scripture passages that motivate, convict, inspire, and flat-out smack me in the face is Romans 10. Specifically, Romans 10:14-15. Allow me the liberty, if you will, to express why.
To get there, we need to clear the verses around the ground in question. The section in question really starts with Romans 10:8 and runs through 10:17, so we will start there.
Romans 10:8-11 addresses the issue of how a person receives salvation in Christ Jesus. It is not a matter of making a pilgrimage or giving an offering; it is not a matter of personal self-denial or wanton indulgence. It is the combination of a true belief in the heart and the public confession of Christ. This is not merely reading off a statement or acknowledging an historical possibility, but a declaration based in the decision-making centers of life, coupled with the emotional, volitional, and spiritual parts of our nature. It is a willingness to agree that your eternity and your present are found only in the most impossible thing imaginable:
That God became flesh, dwelt among us, died for us, and then rose from the dead.
Now, I will not sandbag and say that self-denial and offering, worship and obedience do not follow this, but they cannot precede salvation and have any value before Almighty God. Salvation is by grace through faith alone, and the presence of that faith is revealed by confession!
This is the opening point on the passage, and it is the starting point for all who are believers. We should always remember where we start, but then we need to move on and move forward.
Moving forward, I am going to skip over the next two verses and deal with them later. Instead, let us jump ahead to Romans 10:13-15. Here is where this passage hits me the hardest. Why?
- “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” That is not a possibility, that is a reality. While I would agree we have plenty to discuss regarding how people are enabled to call, and who will call, and whether or not God pre-picked or just pre-knew.
That is not the major point here. The point is this: whoever does call will be saved. End of discussion. It is not possible for a person to call upon God for salvation, believing that He is, that Christ is raised from the dead, and have God not respond to that prayer.
- “How, then, will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”
Here is where it gets close to me: people do not call on Jesus because they do not believe. Why do they not believe?
Because they do not know. They do not know about Him or they cannot trust the sources they have for information, like we Christians. WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO MAKE THE GOSPEL UNBELIEVABLE BY OUR ACTIONS and INACTIONS.
- “How will they believe if they do not hear? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
Here is where it hits me hard. This is my life: I glorify God by passionately communicating truth to those I encounter. That is what I am supposed to do. So many times, though, I fail to do this. I miss the opportunities to speak the truth. I fail to live the truth.
I wait for the opportunities to come to me instead of going out after them. This is an area that I must improve. It is my largest, consistent failure in life.
That is why this passage disrupts me every time I read it. This is my calling. This is what I should do, what I must do.
This is what we should be about God’s people and Christ’s Church. Nothing less than providing the clear explanation of the Gospel to all those who need to hear. Whether it is those who need to hear amidst the clamor of drying American religion or those who have never heard at all.
Yet we do not. Moreover, I do not.
That must change.
It will change.
Let us all get our feet moving.
Today’s Nerd Note: Romans 10:12. No distinctions. Not in class or race, not in wealth or poverty. Not even in language or lack thereof.
We have, for centuries, rebuilt the barriers that Christ tore down. That has to stop. We must strive to proclaim the Gospel in all places, to all people, in ways that they can understand.