Paul throws out another of his questions.
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? (Romans 10:14 NASB)
We have nothing beyond the conversation from the thief on the cross near Jesus, to explain anything this man believed, but he obviously did believe. Paul, in Romans 10:14, seems to imply that the respectful thief must have heard; this strikes me odd when the only one doing any preaching is Jesus. The aforementioned thief and Saul, and Saul, the pharisee, both heard and saw Jesus in action. Because our decisions have consequences, the thief paid quickly for his actions, and yet received the gift of life with the Father. Saul, on the other hand, had followers of Christ jailed and killed, and still, God significantly used him to spread the gospel. Did Saul/Paul pay for his sins here on earth? It would seem he did.
Paul again asks.
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!” (Romans 10:15 NASB)
Who and what did Paul have on his mind when he asked this question?
J Vernon McGee says this:
“Paul shows that there must be messengers of the gospel who have credentials from God. Paul, you recall, began this epistle with the claim that he was a called apostle of Jesus Christ (see Rom_1:1). There follows a logical sequence. Preachers must be sent in order for people to hear that they might believe, for they would not know how to call upon God. Paul pinpoints all on believing; this, therefore, necessitated his ministry.”
I am not sure I agree with what we deem qualifications. I, for example, have learned simply by engaging my head in the Word of God and asking questions about virtually everything I read, in contrast to someone from theology school. Assuming that I am qualified to preach the gospel, the opportunities have not arisen as I thought they might; this leads me to occasionally think I have not been sent. Personally, I think that we are all evangelists to some degree.
That being said, does everybody receive what we are saying?
NO, and Paul had the same problem.
However, they did not all heed the good news;
for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?”
(Romans 10:16 NASB)
Once again, I turn to J Vernon McGee.
“The Jews, his own people, hated the apostle Paul even though they applauded Saul, the Pharisee. He is revealing the logic of his position. They rejected his claim, or the right of any of the apostles, to proclaim a gospel that omitted the Mosaic system which had degenerated into Pharisaism.”
Recently, a brother in Christ threw out a challenge/question at me. He asked, why do preachers preach from the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) when Paul received new teaching, which is referred to as a mystery?
Having learned not to answer such things so quickly, I hesitated, and in a matter of seconds, this guy began answering his own question. Such events are typically a good sign that the person asking the question wasn’t interested in obtaining an answer, but was bent on spewing his opinion. This man is typically boisterous, and unwilling to conform to what the Word of God says. Several minutes passed, and other conversations arose; however, I resurrected the subject of the gospels. I pointed out that all scripture is useful and, therefore, fair game to teach or preach from.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 MKJV)
He retorted with, but the gospels were concerned with the law, and Paul preached that we are free from the law.” Don’t you wish that were true, but it is not for Jesus said, I have come to fulfill the law.
Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17 MKJV)
Look at these verses.
For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when the nations, who do not have the Law, do by nature the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law unto themselves; who show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and the thoughts between one another accusing or even excusing one another, (Romans 2:13-15 MKJV)
Having demonstrated that the law is written upon the heart, allow me to show you one more verse that might convince you that WE cannot set aside the law.
There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith, do we truly fulfill the law. (Romans 3:30-31 NLT)
A question, how did Paul open this letter to the church in Rome?
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God, to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. (Romans 1:1 NLT)
Writing with emphasis to a Jewish community, Paul uses a term that should be offensive to anyone, slave; for slaves, whether by force or by choice, have submitted their entire lives to the disposal of someone else. I will tell you something deadly serious to me; I have come to understand that I can’t do this on my own, and desperately need a savior, even to the point of considering myself enslaved to him.
Why say all this? Because Paul makes it very clear that “they,” the Jews,
“did not all heed the good news.”
Paul referenced a passage from Isaiah to indicate his awareness that barely any of the Jewish community are accepting the message of freedom and grace.
“Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? (Isaiah 53:1 ISV)
There is a reason for this conversation. The point is this, Before you trust, you have to listen.
But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to. (Romans 10:17 MSG)
So, the logical assumption is that Israel has had plenty of voices speaking to them about faith and grace.
“But, I say, isn’t it rather that they didn’t hear? No, they did hear— Their voice has gone out throughout the whole world and their words to the ends of the earth.” (Romans 10:18 CJB)
Paul still queries,
So the big question is,
Why didn’t Israel understand that she had no corner on this message?
Moses had it right when he predicted, When you see God reach out to those you consider your inferiors—outsiders!— you’ll become insanely jealous.
When you see God reach out to people you think are religiously stupid, you’ll throw temper tantrums. (Romans 10:19 MSG)
Paul then tells us, He was found by a people who were not looking for Him.
Then Isaiah was bold enough to say: “I have been found by a people who were not searching for me; I have made known myself to people who were not asking to know me.” (Romans 10:20 Williams)
Cold shoulders and icy stares.
Then he capped it with a damning indictment: Day after day after day, I beckoned Israel with open arms And got nothing for my trouble but cold shoulders and icy stares. (Romans 10:21 MSG)
If this says anything to you, it should say rejoice, because we are seeing the birth pangs the Holy Spirit told us about in Matthew 24:8.