“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
What an affront to the innate pride of man! We inherently desire to come to God on our own terms and find Him through our personally preferred methods. We like to believe that each one of us walks our own path leading to our own perception of God and that no path dilligently followed will come up short. How can it be that God would save anyone on no other basis than the fact that they have sincerely called upon His name?
When asked by a group of followers eager to start earning their Salvation, “what works must we do, that we might work the works of God?”, Jesus simply responded,
“…This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:29)
Man wants to do works to be saved, God wants man to believe. Man wants to trust in his own power and strength to overcome the obstacles between God and himself, God wants man to trust in His power and strength by calling on His name. The Cross of Jesus Christ is foolishness to the Gentile and a stumblingblock to the Jew (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23) because it leaves no place for the works of man; Christ has done it all. The only part we have in it is just to believe.
God’s Method Of Gospel Transmission
“How then 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? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)
I have received many criticisms and objections to my wrtitings over the past few years, but one of the most unusual was from an individual who seemed to find fault, not only with what I am saying, but with everyone who teaches or preaches the Bible. He wanted to know what business I had writing about the Bible at all. “We have the Bible and we have the Holy Spirit, what need have we of you?“, he demanded. My response was these two verses from Romans 10. All I can say is that, for whatever reasons, God has decided to use frail and imperfect people to communicate the Gospel to others.
The Apostle Paul did not come to Christ by the preaching of others, but by a direct, personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, his entire doctrine was founded on the direct inward teaching of the Spirit of God revealed to him apart from the teachings of men. Writing to the Galatians, Paul explained how he himself learned of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ…But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.” (Galatians 1:11, 12, 15-17)
Why does God not move upon everyone to receive the Gospel like this? I do not know. But it is apparent that such a miraculous, inward conversion is an exception rather than a rule. God works in extraordinary ways during extraordinary times. It was necessary that the Lord intervene directly into the life of Paul in order that he receive the doctrines which he would be commissioned to spread throughout the Roman world and ultimately, through his writings, to the entire world.
God has determined, however, that His chosen method would be for people to hear the Gospel preached by an individual and then, by the inward conviction of the Holy Spirit, respond to that preaching and accept Christ as their Savior. God has given us His Word and that is definitely the medium through which the Lord communicates His will and Message to mankind. But even so, He did not intend for people to be left to just stumble their way through the Bible and attempt to work through it alone. Yes, the Holy Spirit does reveal wondrous things from His Word to the hearts which diligently seek to know the Lord; He makes His Word come alive as we study it. Yet God has determined that we should all learn from others and from the preaching and teaching of people commissioned by God to communicate the Gospel. It has always fascinated me that the giants of the Faith and the greatest of Bible teachers throughout history have always been heavily influenced by the teachings of those who preceded them. Except for the Apostle Paul, it seems that God hasn’t taken anyone out to the desert alone to learn the mysteries of His Word without the guidance of those already familiar with it. He uses the words of men coupled with the inward revelation of His Spirit to convey His Message to us.
Faith Comes By Hearing
“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:16-17)
The Gospel is a free gift offered by the Grace of God to sinful man. Yet that free gift must be received, its precepts must be obeyed. Faith is man’s response to the Message of the Gospel and that faith comes by “hearing” (or reading or any other means of communication) the Message preached by those whom God has sent. And the source of that Gospel Message is the Word of God itself. The Bible is the source of faith for both the saved and unsaved. How does a non-believer find faith to believe God? By hearing and heeding the preaching of His Word. How does a Christian grow in faith? By spending time in His Word. Faith finds its source in the Word of God.
Until next time. To God goes all glory. In service to Him,