Father, thank you so much for Your Word, that we have the record of what You have to say to us as permanently recorded. And as we now open pages of Scripture, we ask that Your Holy Spirit would be the Instructor, the Teacher. I pray that You would bless these men, that You would build them up in their faith as we look into Your Word. I pray for those who are watching by live stream that You would meet with them right where they are. So, put Your hand upon me strongly for good and use me now to teach Your Word. I pray this in Christ’s name, amen.
All right men, we are in Romans chapter 10. So, I hope your Bible just automatically flops open to the book of Romans right now. My pages in Romans are about to come out. I already had them once re-stitched back in, but that is a good problem to have. We are in Romans chapter 10, and to put a title on this lesson, it is “Gospel Preaching,” gospel preaching. And we are going to look at verses 14 through 17 this morning as we keep working our way through the book of Romans, and I think you will see why I am calling this “Gospel Preaching.”
Beginning in verse 14, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’ However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
The central idea of these verses is the preaching of the gospel. And the importance of the preaching of the gospel cannot be overstated. From cover to cover throughout the entire Bible, God has sent waves and legions of preachers to preach the gospel. It is God’s primary means to get the Word of God out. It is by the preaching of the Word. The prophets of old were gospel preachers. Moses was a gospel preacher. David was a gospel psalmist. Isaiah was a gospel preacher. Jeremiah, Ezekiel were gospel preachers. And as we come to the New Testament, it is just more the same. John the Baptist was a gospel preacher. Jesus Christ Himself was a gospel preacher. God had only one Son and He made Him a gospel preacher. Jesus for three years trained gospel preachers, and He sent them out to preach the gospel. Peter was a gospel preacher. On the day of Pentecost, he just picked up where Jesus left off. Stephen was a gospel preacher. Paul was a gospel preacher. John was a gospel preacher. And when you trace church history, the greatest eras of church history is when God has raised up gospel preachers, and the low valleys of church history is when God has withheld His preachers.
So, the passage that we have before us in some ways is a snapshot of the entire Bible. And in some ways, it is a snapshot of the entirety of church history. So, we are not surprised as we come to these verses to read what Paul states, the chief importance of gospel preaching. It is what the Puritans used to refer to as the primary ordinary means of grace. There are many other means of grace. The means of grace comes through one-on-one witnessing. It comes through parents teaching their children the gospel. It comes through counseling. The gospel comes through singing. The gospel comes through teaching venues. But those are secondary to what is primary, and what has always been primary from the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible and throughout church history has been the preaching of the Word of God.
So, as we look at these verses, and I know most of us here today are not preachers, but you are dependent upon preachers and this is a very important passage in your spiritual life. And there are some here today who are even praying about, “Has God called me to preach His Word?” and I know watching on live stream. So, this is a very relevant passage.
So, I want you to note first as we walk through this text, the necessity of gospel preaching, the necessity of gospel preaching, and we see it in verse 14 and the beginning of verse 15. Now, let me comment on this verse and a half before we begin to look at it. What we have here is a series of questions. It is a series of four rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is really a statement. A rhetorical question raises a question and the answer is so obvious that the one who raises it does not bother to answer it because the answer is self-evident. That is what we have here. And in these four questions, they all begin with the word “how.” You will see the word “how” mentioned four consecutive times, and they are all linked together. They are inseparably linked like links in a chain. And what Paul does is Paul starts at the end and works backwards to the front. So, what he is arguing for here is the necessity of gospel preaching.
So, the first question is at the beginning of verse 14 and he says, “How will they call on Him in whom they have not heard?” The answer is obvious. No one can call on the name of the Lord until they have believed in the Lord. Now, “call.” “How will they call on Him?” That is synonymous with saving faith and it is mentioned in the previous verse, verse 13, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” And it is mentioned in the verse previous to that at the end of verse 12 that “He is Lord of all abounding in riches for all who call on Him.” So, that is synonymous with saving faith. That starts at the end, the connecting point when someone calls upon the name of the Lord.
Now, to be distinguished is the word “believed” at the end of that question, because here Paul uses “believe” in a way that is less than saving faith. He uses it here really for just head knowledge. No one can call on the name of the Lord with saving faith until they have the head knowledge about Christ. Really, it is to believe about Christ. And that is how Paul is using the word here. It is to be distinguished from “call on Him.” In order to call upon Christ, you must know about Christ. You must know who He is. You must know why He came into this world. And more than just know it, you must be persuaded of it. You must be convinced of it by really the work of the Holy Spirit inside of your heart.
And so, believing the facts about the gospel precedes calling upon the name of the Lord. Saving faith never takes place within an intellectual vacuum. There must always be the cognitive facts of the gospel, the absolute truth of the gospel that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, that He is the virgin born, sinless, crucified, sin-bearing Savior who was buried, who was raised on the third day, who ascended back to heaven, who is seated at the right hand of God the Father. And as verse 13 says, “And whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” You must believe that in your heart before you can call upon Him for salvation. And so that is where Paul begins his series of questions here. “How can you call on Him in whom you have not believed?” And the answer is “You cannot.”
So, now with the second question, he will take another step backwards. And he will then say, “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” Again, the answer is, “They cannot.” No one can believe the facts of the gospel until they hear the facts of the gospel. And so, preceding believing the facts of the gospel, you must hear the facts of the gospel. And it is interesting he doesn’t say, “In whom you have not read,” but “whom you have not heard.” And again, the emphasis is it is expected that the gospel would primarily go out preached in order to be heard, not so much written in order to be read, but preached in order to be heard.
Martin Luther, during the Reformation, once said that the church is not to be a “pen house,” but to be a “mouth house.” In other words, it is not to be a reading club, though obviously we read our Bibles and we read books that help us understand the Bible, but the tip of the spear primarily when you come to church is not to have someone read something to you; it is to have someone preach something to you. The gospel is designed in the genius of God to be heralded, to be proclaimed, because there is an energy level and a depth of convictions that comes when the Word of God is to be preached. And so, the highest rung on the ladder for how the gospel is to go out, it is to be preached and it is to be heard. And so that is why Paul continues to make this emphasis: “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” And the answer again is a negative. No one can believe the facts about the gospel until they have heard the facts about the gospel.
Now, I want to show you something here in that question that would easily escape our looking at this, but to be very specific, this does not say that they heard about Christ. Please note how it reads in your Bible. It actually says that they actually heard Christ. Now, that is an important distinction because in every act of preaching there is really to be two preachers, one who is seen, but One who is unseen. And when the written Word is preached, it is actually the living Word, Jesus Christ, who is speaking through this Word. And for someone to call on the name of the Lord, you must actually realize that it is Jesus Christ Himself who is speaking through His written Word and that the authority of Christ Himself is coming through the preaching of the Word of God. And you are not merely hearing a man; you are hearing Jesus Christ Himself.
Now, you see the man and you hear the man, but behind the man stands Jesus Christ. And in reality, though you are not hearing the audible voice of Christ, you nevertheless in your heart are hearing the authority of Christ Himself and you are hearing the truth of Christ Himself. You are hearing more than a man. You are hearing Christ Himself. And I trust that even this moment as I am teaching this that God is giving you ears to hear Christ Himself speak through the pages of His Word as I am opening this up. This isn’t me speaking. This is Christ Himself who is speaking, and that needs to be brought to your attention as we even look at that question. You must hear more than a human preacher. You must hear Christ Himself who is calling out and who is speaking to you. And I would say to you, with all humility, Christ is speaking right now through me to you by means of His written Word.
Leon Morris, who was an excellent New Testament commentator, has gone to be with the Lord, but in his commentary on Romans he writes at this point, “The point is that Christ is present in His preachers. To hear them is to hear Him.” Now, admittedly, there are a lot of bad preachers out there and you are not hearing Christ through them. You are hearing all about them. You are hearing all about the culture. You are hearing all about society. You are hearing all about human wisdom and worldly wisdom, and Christ is not present in them and Christ is not speaking through them. They are drawing from their own well. Christ has abandoned their pulpit.
But when men stand up with an open Bible and they read that passage and they explain the passage and then they exhort with the passage, Christ is in that and He is speaking through His written Word. So that is the second question that Paul raises, “How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” And the answer is that they cannot. But if you truly believe and if you truly call on the name of the Lord, you discern the power of Christ in that message.
Now, the third question. And Paul is working his way backwards to the beginning. And the third question is, “How will they hear without a preacher?” And this underscores that God has chosen to work through means. He has chosen to work through human means. God could have it written in the skies. God could have gospel tracts dropped out of the clouds. God could send legions of angels. But that is not how God has chosen to work. God has chosen to work by raising up fallible weak human instruments so that the power belongs to God and the power does not belong to the frail human instrument. The power is in the message and the power is in the Holy Spirit who is working through the message through a very weak vessel.
So, look at the third question. “How will they hear without a preacher?” And the answer again is a negative. They cannot hear Christ preach through His written Word except there be a preacher who takes the written Word and opens it up and proclaims it. Now, “preacher” here is really in a verb form, and it really literally is translated “without one preaching.” And it is a Greek word. It is the most prominent Greek word in the New Testament for “preaching.” It is a Greek word kerusso, and it actually means to lift up the voice and to announce and proclaim and to declare. It would be much like what we would think of a town crier who would be going through the streets of a town and lifting up his voice so that everyone can hear. The word does not mean “to share.” The word does not mean “to talk.” The word means actually “to announce and proclaim.”
And it is drawn from the culture of the day where Caesar had his heralds in the palace, and Caesar would issue to his heralds his imperial decree. And he would then dispatch and commission his heralds to go throughout the Roman Empire. It was the only way of communication. And they would go into the towns. They would gather the people around them. They would cup their hands, lift up their voice, and say something like this, “Hear ye, hear ye this day. Rome has won a great victory. Rome has annexed another kingdom into the Empire.” There was to be no negotiation. They were not allowed to withhold any part of the message. They were not allowed to add any of their own personal opinion or perspective to the message.
Or the message would be something like this, “Hear ye, hear ye, this day,” as the people gathered around. “Caesar has a son. There is an heir to the throne of Rome.” As soon as the message was given, as he represented Caesar in each of these cities, he was then to report back to Rome. He was to go back into the palace, and he would give an account of himself to Caesar, had there been a full disclosure of the message that had been entrusted to him. And if they were faithless and tried to tone down the message or withhold any part or add anything to it, it would cost them their life, and they would be immediately executed. That is the very word kerusso here.
And as Paul writes to the Romans, to the church in Rome. Oh, they are very familiar with this word. That is where the heralds lived. That is where the heralds carried out their business. That is from whence they were dispatched and where they returned to. And so, that is the historical background to this word, “How will they hear without a preacher?” And the answer is, “They will not.” And it has always been God’s means to call His heralds before His throne of grace and to give them His Word and to send them out into the highways and into the byways of this world and to commission them to go into all the world and to proclaim and to herald the truth that is recorded in this book. So, that is the third question that Paul raises, and again it speaks to the necessity of gospel preaching.
Now, he takes a fourth step back and here is the fourth question. It is at the beginning of verse 15. It begins again for the fourth time with the word “how.” And he comes now to the beginning of this succession of questions. “How will they preach?” How will they herald? How will they declare, “unless they are sent?” And the answer is, “They cannot preach with the hand of God upon them unless they are sent.” Now, “to be sent” implies that there is a sending body, that they are commissioned and sent out. And though not stated in the passage, but as we appeal to other passages of Scripture, it would be a local church where there are the elders who lay hands on one that they have examined, that they believe he has been called by God to preach the Word, that he is sound in doctrine, that his life is pure before God. And they are the sending agents. But standing behind the elders of the church is the Head of the church Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who sovereignly chooses His preachers. He is the one who raises them up.
Paul said in Galatians 1:15, “I have been set apart from my mother’s womb to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.” Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 1 verse 5 says, “Before I was born the Lord knew me and consecrated me to the office of preaching His message.” Now, I want you to just keep your finger here and turn back to Acts 13. I just want you to see one passage, and we’re going to be coming right back to Romans 10. But in Acts 13, I just want you to see how this works out in reality in the New Testament. And in Acts 13, we read in verse 1, “Now, they were at Antioch.” And this will be the first sending church, the first church to send out preachers in the book of Acts. And so, we read verse 2. He gives the names. And the prophets and teachers, they really were like the elders of the church. They were preaching as prophets and they were teaching the Word. And it says in verse 2, “While they were ministering to the Lord.” Isn’t that interesting? When the preacher preaches the Word of God, the ultimate congregation is God Himself, and it brings pleasure to the heart of God to hear His Son proclaimed and to hear His Word rightly divided.
And so, “They were ministering to the Lord and fasting. And the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'” Now, please note on this, as they sent out these preachers, they didn’t send the B team. They didn’t send the junior varsity. They sent Paul, who was the strongest preacher of them all and they sent with him it says “Barnabas,” which means “son of encouragement,” so that the preacher would be encouraged. He needed to have someone at his side who would be encouraging him as he is preaching the Word.
So, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Saul, meaning Paul, didn’t volunteer for this. This wasn’t his idea. This was thrust upon him by God. God says, “I have called them to do this.” And every preacher must know that he is God-called. He is not mama-called or he is not self-called. He has got to be God-called. And he must know in the depth of his soul that he is God-called because if we had time to read the rest of Acts 13 and 14, Paul’s running into buzz saws in every town that he goes to preach. He needs to know that he is there by divine appointment. He needs to know that God has sent him there.
So now, here is what I want you to see. Verse 3, “Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” The elders sent them away. But please note the next verse. Who is standing behind the elders and who is working through the elders to send out these two preachers? “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit,” do you see that? They went and started Paul’s first missionary journey.
The reason I had us turn to Acts 13, and you can come back to Romans 10, is that I want you to see the importance of a preacher being sent out, first by a sending body, most always a local church, but behind that must be God Himself. You can’t be self-appointed. You can’t just be a volunteer. You need to know that God has put His hand upon you to send you out. And let me just make this application because I know most of us aren’t preachers per se like this. You need to attend a church where there is a God-called preacher. And if there is not a God-called preacher, you need to get out of that place and go find somewhere where there is a preacher who is standing up with this book and Christ is speaking through that man. And you need to stand with that man and you need to encourage that man. You need to be a Barnabas to that man, because he is going to have the devil come in at him head on. He is going to have a target on his forehead as he preaches the truth of the Word of God.
But you need to be sitting under a God-called man who opens the Bible and preaches the Word of God. Otherwise, it would be like going to a restaurant, but they never serve you food. You know, “Why in the world am I here?” And you keep paying your money and they never bring you the food. I mean, it is insane. And you go, “Oh, my daddy used to eat here and they served him food.” Well, they are not serving food now, and your daddy wouldn’t be here now if they weren’t serving the food. So, you need to be someplace where there is someone who has been sent by God, who preaches the Word of God so that people can call upon the name of the Lord. So, this is where this all starts.
Now, I want to make a theological point here. As we look at these verses before we move on any further, what is obvious is no one can be saved unless they hear the gospel. And the question is always raised, “Well, what about those who have never heard?” I want you to hear this loud and clear. If someone dies without Christ, whether they have heard, whether they have not heard, they step out into eternal punishment. They are a sinner just like the one who has heard is a sinner. Adam’s sin has been charged to their account over six thousand years ago just like it is charged to the account of someone who has heard the gospel. In the womb, the sin nature of their parents was passed to them and they became a sinner while they were still in their mother’s womb. And for the rest of their life, they have committed sinful acts against the law of God that God has written upon their heart, an inner sense of right and wrong and morality. They have sinned against the high court of heaven. And when they die, they go straight to hell.
And let me just say this and I will say it softly. They deserve to go to hell. It is right and just that they would go to hell. You don’t go to hell because you rejected the gospel; you go to hell ultimately because you are a sinner. That is why we are so committed to sending out preachers. That is why we are involved in missions. That is why we are involved in the work of evangelism. There is no other hope. If someone could be saved without ever hearing the gospel, the kindest thing we could do is never preach to them because that would then render them accountable. No, according to this text, it is abundantly clear that no one can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved unless a preacher is sent and they hear the gospel; and more than that, they hear Christ speaking through that preaching to their heart. So that is why we are so committed to getting the Word of God out. No one is in a neutral zone. No one is standing in the middle riding the fence. It’s the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light.
What we have just looked at is the necessity of gospel preaching. Second, I want you to see the beauty of gospel preaching. And Paul writes in verse 15, “Just as it is written,” and he now quotes from the Old Testament. He quotes from Isaiah 52 verse 7, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” This is an incredible verse. He doesn’t just say “beautiful.” He says, “How beautiful!” The word “how” here is a separate word in the original language and it is a demonstrative expression. It is like “Oh! How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings!”
Now, the “feet” refer to the feet of the preacher, the one who is sent in the question at the beginning of the verse. The feet carry the gospel. The feet take the gospel to others. And the word “those,” “are the feet of those,” “those” refer to those who are sent with the gospel. Now, they are bringing good news which is the gospel of good things. And “good things” is a different word here and it refers to justification, sanctification, reconciliation, redemption, expiation, all of the great truths that are contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what strikes us as strange is that it is beautiful feet. I don’t know about you. I didn’t marry my wife for her feet. I mean, I loved her soul, but…okay, okay, Kent, okay, come on, come on. Do not “boo” during the Bible study. I suffered defeat. Okay, so we will stop there. Because feet are not beautiful in and of themselves. But God is going to have a beauty contest one day in heaven at the judgment seat of Christ, and the winner of the beauty contest at the judgment seat of Christ are those who had beautiful feet who carried the gospel to someone else, whether it is across the street, whether it is down the hall, whether it is across the ocean, wherever your feet would take you, God says, “Those are beautiful feet.”
What an incredible imagery here, and let me give you just an illustration of this. In 490 BC, so this is like over five hundred years before Paul wrote this, there was a battle at the city of Marathon. And it is from this comes the marathon race, and the Persian Empire attacked the Greek city of Marathon. And the Greeks withstood the assault and they defeated the Persians, and they won a great victory in defending the city of Marathon. So, they called a herald. They called a runner by the name of Pheidippides, and they said, “Run to the city of Athens with this message that we have conquered and we have won and we have defended our city.” Athens was 21.2 miles away, and Pheidippides ran as fast as his feet would take him with this good news of the victory that had been won at the city of Marathon. And as he burst into the city, he ran to the officials. The people gathered around him waiting to know the outcome. I mean, would the Persians be marching against them next. Or, “Have you withstood them?” And Pheidippides cupped his hand and he said, “Hail, we are the victors,” and with that he collapsed dead. His lungs could not uphold him any longer. And so, in honor of this race with the good news was birthed the running of the marathon. That is the historical background really behind this as an illustration.
Paul doesn’t have Pheidippides in mind, but it does give us insight into what this is indicating, How beautiful are the feet of those who are running with the gospel of Jesus Christ to others, not strolling and not shuffling their feet, but running! And so, why must these feet be running? Well, we need to ask this question. Because time is passing and souls are perishing and death is coming and eternity is looming and heaven and hell are waiting. I mean, there is no time to waste. And whether you are young, whether you are old, whatever time you have left here on the earth, you have got to be a part of either running with the gospel yourself or supporting someone who is running with the gospel, but we’ve got to get the gospel out as fast as we can. So this is the beauty of gospel preaching. And those feet may not be beautiful in our eyes, but they are dazzling in the eyes of God, and they are dazzling in the hearts of those who hear the message and are saved.
Now, I wish I could just end the study right here and we just end on this up note, but that is not reality, is it? And so, I want you to note the next verse. I want you to see the tragedy of gospel preaching, because not all gospel preaching is beautiful in the eyes of those who hear it. And so, verse 16 begins with the word “however.” So, you know this is turning in another direction.
When someone comes up to me and they give me a complement and then I hear the comma, “however.” I don’t even want to hear the rest of the sentence. I mean, it is not going to be good news. You know, the comma, “but.” The comma, “nevertheless.” Well, that is what we have here, the “however,” and we just kind of brace ourselves a bit. “However,” in other words by sharp contrast, “they,” that refers to those who heard the gospel, “did not all heed the good news.” That is how it reads in New American Standard. This is a rare time I am going to give it to the ESV and even to the King James, okay? So, mark your calendars right here. It is better translated, “obeyed,” obeyed. Now, there is a play on Greek words going on here and it is the exact same word for “hear.” That is why in the New American Standard it says, “heed,” except there is a prefix in front of it, “under,” and to “hear under” means “to listen up,” which is synonymous with “obey.”
Now I am going to stress the importance of this here in just a second. Now, I did some spade work on this, and this word that is translated here “heed” or for some of you “obeyed” in your translation, it is used twenty-one times in the New Testament. Nineteen of the twenty-one times, it is actually translated “obey.” This is one of only two times this word is not translated “obey.” This is the exception, not the rule. The other is in Acts 12 when they knocked on the door, when Peter is standing there knocking on the door and they are inside praying for him to get out of prison, and then they went and answered the door. I think this actually is best translated “obeyed.” “However, they did not all obey the good news.”
Now, here is why this is important and why I am stressing this technicality to you. The gospel is more than an offer. The gospel is more than an invitation. It is an offer. It is the free offer, and it is an invitation, but it is more than that. It is a command that you either obey or disobey, and to refuse the free offer of the gospel and to refuse the invitation of the gospel is for you to be standing in rank disobedience to God because the gospel commands you to repent.
It doesn’t suggest. It does more than offer. It commands your obedience of faith. And just to remind you of this, when we started this study in Romans about eighteen years ago in chapter 1 verse 5, that was before Ford was even born is when we started this, back when Ford was just a Chevy, you know. So, in Romans 1 verse 5, Paul talks about that the gospel is to bring about the obedience of faith. All true faith is obedient faith. Disobedient faith is an oxymoron. Disobedient faith is a contradiction in terms. Disobedient faith is like saying, “A heavenly devil,” or something. I mean, it is just an oxymoron. The moment you call upon the name of the Lord for salvation, that is your first step of obedience that leads you into the Christian life.
Colossians 2 verse 6 says, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” You receive Him by the obedience of faith, and we grow and mature by the obedience of faith. This is very important for us even in our presentation of the gospel and in our listening to other gospel preachers. This puts authority into gospel preaching. We are not saying, “Pretty please.” We are not saying, “Could you? Would you? Should you? Maybe.” No. We are saying,
“God has sent me here this day as His herald to command you to commit your life to His Son Jesus Christ. This is more than just a good idea for you. This comes with the authority of heaven itself.”
And so, the tragedy is he says, “However, they did not all believe the good news.” What a tragedy! The good news, that you wouldn’t believe the good news! And you know what this speaks to? It speaks to the stubbornness of the human heart. It speaks to really total depravity and radical corruption, that the greatest message in the history of the world could be presented to you and you turn your nose up and you walk away from it and you are now living in rank disobedience. You are now in, as R.C. Sproul would say, “cosmic treason” against the King of heaven for you to continue to live in unbelief.
So, the end of verse 16 says, “For Isaiah says,” and he now quotes another passage from Isaiah. This is from Isaiah 53 verse 1, which is probably the most important chapter in the entire Old Testament. “Isaiah says,” and let me also draw this to your attention. Please note the verb tense here, “says.” Listen, Isaiah said that, you know, over two thousand years ago, almost three thousand years ago. But as Paul writes this, he puts it in the present tense. No, Isaiah is still speaking right now through this passage of Scripture. This message is the living and active Word of God. So, “Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?'” And the answer to that implied to that rhetorical question is, “Not all. Relatively few.”
And you and I can expect the same as we share the gospel. Not everyone is going to receive our gospel witness. And when you go to church, if you invite people to come to church to hear the gospel being preached, as we all should do, not everyone we invite to church to hear gospel preaching is going to believe. You may bring your parents. You may bring your in-laws. You may bring a friend, a work associate, a neighbor, and you know this is the greatest news in history of the world and you are so excited about it. You bring them and they go, “What’s the big deal?” Well, “Lord, who has believed our report?” And the answer is, “Not many. Very few.”
But this leads now, and we will wrap this up, to the glory of gospel preaching in verse 17. The glory of gospel preaching, and while many refuse the gospel, others will believe and be saved. And so, we read in verse 17. This is one of the great verses in the Bible. I love this verse. I love quoting this verse. “So,” and that has a summation feel, the word “so.” He is pulling forward now to a bottom line, verses 14 now into 17: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Let me draw some things to your attention here, the word “word,” “hearing by the word.” That is not referring to the written word. It is not logos. It is rhema, R-H-E-M-A, which means “the spoken word.” It means “an utterance” by a living voice. It means, a speech or a discourse. We would say, a sermon. Faith comes by the preached word. Faith comes from the declared Word. There is a unique power that comes when the Word is preached through a human vessel, that whom God empowers and Christ is speaking through him.
The other thing I want to draw to your attention where it says, “of Christ.” In this instance, it is not referring to the word “from Christ.” That is what we call a genitive of source. This is the word about Christ, and it is what we call a genitive or an objective genitive. Technically speaking, it is the message about Christ crucified, raised from the dead, ascended at the right hand of the Father, ready to save whoever will call upon Him. And this really points back to verses 9 and 10 that we looked at last time, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Verse 9 is talking all about the crucified resurrected Christ. And in verse 13, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord,” that refers to Christ, “will be saved.” And so, at the end of verse 17, when he says, “By the word of Christ,” he is saying, “the preached word about Christ.” Think of what the Apostle Paul had to say in 1 Corinthians 2 verse 2, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” In 1 Corinthians 1 and verse 23, “We preach Christ crucified.” Paul made this emphasis on the preaching of Christ. It is really the engine that is driving the car of what God is doing in the world and in the building of the church and the reaching of the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is meant primarily to be preached. It is also meant to be shared. It is also meant to be read. It is also meant to be sung. It is also meant to be counseled with. Of course, it is all of the above, but the emphasis that Paul is intentionally making here is the unique place in the world for the preaching of Christ and Him crucified.
So just to wrap this up, let me just give you some action points. Number one, you need to seek it. You need to seek out a church that preaches the Word about Christ, that is a gospel preaching church, that is not an entertaining church. Listen, we are not here to entertain the goats; we are here to preach the gospel and build up the saints. We are here to call out those who belong to the Lord through the preaching of the gospel. You need to seek it out. If you have to drive fifteen more minutes, twenty more minutes, thirty more minutes, an hour, whatever, it is worth it to be under the preaching of the Word. So, seek it.
Second, sit under it, be there regularly, be under the preaching of the gospel. Even we as believers glory in hearing the gospel preached, do we not? That is why we are to take the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis so that the gospel is continually being preached to us who have already believed it.
Third, soak it up, drink it in, follow it in your Bible, take notes, meditate upon it, act upon it. And then fourth, support it, support it with your attendance, support it with your prayers, support it with your encouragement, support it by inviting people, support it with your financial resources. There cannot be a greater investment of your resources than helping bring about the preaching of the gospel here and around the world. So, that is why we have called this section, verses 14 through 17, “Gospel Preaching.”