Romans chapter 9 emphasized God's sovereignty: It is God who carries out His purpose (9:11); it is God who elects (9:11); it is God who calls (9:11); it is God who shows mercy and has compassion (9:15-16); it is God who hardens (9:18); it is God who prepares the vessels of mercy unto glory (9:23); it is God who has called Jews and Gentiles in one body (9:24).
Romans chapter 10 emphasizes mans responsibility: It is man who must pray (10:1); it is man who must submit (10:3); it is man who must believe (10:4); it is man who must believe in his heart and confess with his mouth (10:9-10); it is man who must call upon the name of the Lord (10:12-13); it is man who must hear and believe the gospel (10:14-17). God does the saving but man must do the believing (see Acts 16:31; 1 Cor.1:21).
"Desire" means "wish, longing" (the verb means "to be well pleased"; hence Paul was saying, "I'm longing for their salvation, and their salvation would bring great delight and pleasure to my heart!"). The word "prayer" is not the common NT word for prayer but a word that indicates a specific request in light of a need. It was a specific prayer for a specific need: that they might be saved. In the future, Israel as a nation will be saved (see Rom.11:26). In the present Paul was praying that individual Jews would believe on Christ and be saved. Paul himself was a Jew who trusted Christ for salvation (Acts chapter 9). We, like Paul, need to have the compassion of Christ for those who are lost (Matthew 9:36-38).
There is an extreme and erroneous teaching which falsely says that Gods sovereignty negates human responsibility. It goes something like this: "Why should I bother to pray? A person is either elect or he is not elect. God is either going to save him or not. If it has been determined by God that this person will be saved, then he will be saved whether I pray or not, so why should I pray?" Paul prayed! The doctrine of the sovereignty of God, if correctly understood, is never a hindrance to prayer. The sovereignty of God ought to be a great incentive and encouragement to pray. The God we pray to is the God who controls all things and who works "all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph.1:11). Also prayer gets us in tune and in harmony with the mind and heart and will of our sovereign God so that He can more effectively work in and through us to accomplish His purpose (Phil. 2:13).
When a person is really saved he will have a concern and desire and burden for the salvation of others. He will see others as lost men and women who desperately need Christ. He shares the desire of His God and Saviour (see 1 Tim.2:3-4).
Paul is saying here: "I'm a witness! I know all about their zeal (their ardor, their eagerness) because Im a Jew and I was just like this myself (see Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:6 zeal without knowledge; 3:9-10 zeal with knowledge). A zeal that is not according to knowledge is like a football player who gets the ball and runs with all his might but who runs the wrong way! "Zeal of God" means zeal for God (God is the object of my zeal). Some have zeal without knowledge; others have knowledge without zeal (a dead orthodoxy).
Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. A zealous man is a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies--whether he has health, or whether he has sickness--whether he is rich or whether he is poor--whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish--whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise--whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame--for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance Gods glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it--he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. --J.C.Ryle.
The word "ignorant" connects with the phrase "not according to knowledge" in verse 2. They were ignorant of Gods method of justification based on grace and they were trying their own method of justification based on works/law/flesh. The emphasis is upon the words "THEIR OWN." The phrase "going about" means "seeking." Heres the choice: Should I try to obtain righteousness by my own efforts or by Gods grace? Should I establish my own righteousness or should I submit to His righteousness? Is it ME BRINGING MYSELF TO GOD or is it CHRIST BRINGING ME TO GOD (1 Pet. 3:18)? Do I find righteousness at Mt. Sinai (by trying to keep the law) or do I find righteousness at Mt. Calvary (by trusting the Saviour who was crucified for me)?
Illustration: Those seeking to establish their own righteousness by keeping the law are like people trying to swim from New York to London by their own efforts. Its impossible! Some will do better than others. Some might even swim many miles. But they will all drown and perish in the ocean. Not one will make it. "Those submitting" are like those who simply get into the ship and let the ship take them from New York to London. The ship does all the work. They dont get themselves there, the ship gets them there. Christ is the One who gets us to God (1 Pet. 3:18; John 14:6). Our own works, our own effort, no matter how sincere and diligent we are, will never get us to God (see Eph.2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
When I come to Christ for salvation, this puts an end to my seeking to find and obtain righteousness by keeping the law. All the righteousness which I need is found in Jesus Christ. The law can show me my UNRIGHTEOUSNESS but it cannot give me righteousness: "for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain" (Gal. 2:21). The righteousness of God is obtained at Mt. Calvary, not at Mt. Sinai. Using the ship illustration again: getting onto the ship represents faith in Christ ("everyone that believeth"). Everyone who has come aboard the ship can say: "I have no use for swimming anymore! I have found a much better way! Im trusting this ship to get me to the place where I could never get by swimming! My swimming days have come to an end because Im on the ship!" My days of seeking to obtain righteousness by the law have been terminated!
As Paul wrote elsewhere, "And be found in HIM, not having MINE OWN righteousness, which is of the law, but that (righteousness) which is through the faith of Christ (that faith which has Christ for its object), the righteousness which is of God (literally, "the out of God righteousness", meaning that my righteousness comes from God, He is the source of it) by faith" (Philippians 3:9). The unbelieving Jews were under Gods wrath because they could not live up to His law and they would not submit to His grace.
The word "end" (telos) means "end" or "termination." Murray's comments are to the point:
It needs to be noted that a qualification is added: "to every one that believeth." This qualification implies that only for the believer is Christ the end of the law for righteousness. [Unbelievers, as seen in verse 3, are still very busy pursuing the law for righteousness, even though this method will never work. For them the law has not terminated because they are still trusting in it for their righteousness.] It is, Paul says, for every one who believes that Christ is the end of the law, and his whole statement is simply to the effect that every believer is done with the law as a way of attaining to righteousness [material in brackets and emphasis added]--(Epistle to the Romans, p.50).
"Describeth" means "writes about, describes." The quotation is from Leviticus 18:5 and the emphasis is upon the word "DOETH." Literally, "the man who has done those things shall live." If a person has kept the law then he will live! This is the "gospel" according to law, but really it is not good news at all when we realize that the opposite is also true: "If you have failed to keep the law you will die!" The penalty of a broken law is death. But if a man keeps the law he will live.
Using the swimming/ship illustration again: If you keep on swimming you will get to London! This is very true but it is also very impossible! If you keep the law (perfectly) you will live! This is also very true but very impossible. The total impossibility of a sinful person earning salvation by keeping the law is illustrated in Matthew 19:16-17; Luke 10:25-28 and Galatians 3:10-13.
The legal formula for salvation is this: DO AND LIVE! (Keep all the commandments and keep them perfectly and keep them continually and you will live!)
The grace/cross formula for salvation is this: BELIEVE AND LIVE! Believe and rest upon what Christ has already done (His finished work) and you shall have eternal life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47 etc.).
Man can never say, "ITS DONE! I have done it! Ive made it! I have kept the law and have kept it perfectly! (I have reached London by swimming!)" Utterly impossible! But what man could not do by law, God could do and did do by grace (see Romans 8:3-4). What could not be done by swimming was accomplished by getting on the ship!
The language Paul uses here is taken from Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Who shall bring Christ down from heaven? Who shall bring Christ up from among the dead ones? "Man could do neither but God in grace meets man. It was the Father who sent His Son into the world. It was by the glory of the Father that He was raised from the dead. ĎGod so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Soní and ĎGod hath raised Him from the deadí" (William Kelly). You do not need to bring Christ down from heaven. The Father sent the Son! He has already come! It has already happened! "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). It is a glorious, accomplished fact (which must be believed).
Christ does not need to be raised from the dead. It has already been done. It is a fact that must be believed (v.9). There is nothing man needs to do. God, not man, brought about the incarnation and God, not man, brought about the resurrection. Christ Jesus has accomplished all that is necessary for manís salvation. He has descended to earth, died on the cross and has risen from the dead. These great facts need to be preached and believed.
There is a wide difference between true Christianity and all the other religions of the world. The religions of the world can be summed up by two letters: D-O, whereas true Christianity can be summed up by four letters: D-O-N-E. Who can tell the relief to a burdened heart when it discovers that all is done and all has been accomplished by Another (John 19:30)? (Who can tell the relief to the swimmer who realizes that he does not need to swim to London but that he can simply get on the ship and let the ship do all the work!) See our tract entitled DO or DONE?
"Christ is given and preached. It is for man to name Him with his mouth and to believe with his heart" (William Kelly). "Nigh" means "near." The glorious proclamation about Christ is NEAR. Its not far away. It is accessible to all and available for all! The good news of salvation is within reach of all. (Swimming/ship illustration: The ship is right there! Just get on it!) How near is it? It is in your mouth and in your heart! But you must do something with it! With your heart believe it! With your mouth confess it! (It is near and close to people in America today, so near that it is in their mouths--they use the Lords Name all the time, but in the wrong way, not to confess but to curse!)
Verses 8-9 can be illustrated by the robber on the cross (see Mark 15:32 and Luke 23:39-43). The crucified Christ was very near him! The word was in the robber's mouth but in the wrong way (he reviled Him at first). But this man repented and he believed in his heart that God would raise Him from the dead (Lk.23:42) and with his mouth he confessed Him as Lord and King (Lk.23:42). May we believe and confess as this man did!
Christ has done the work of salvation; man is responsible to believe and confess. (The ship is fully able to get you to London but you must get on the ship!) What is this word of faith which we preach (see v.8)? Verse 9 gives the answer ("that" means "namely"). CONFESS is the Greek word "homologeo (homo=same; logeo=from a verb which means to say, to speak") and thus it means "to say the same thing as another, to agree with another person." The believer is to confess Christ before men (Matt. 10:32) which means that he is to vocally and publicly agree with what God has said concerning His Son (1 John 5:9-12). God has said, "This is My beloved Son" (Matt. 17:5) and the believer who confesses Christ is in agreement with that statement (see 1 John 4:15). God the Son came into the world and took upon Himself human flesh (John 1:14) so that He could die for sinful men (1 Tim. 1:15), and the believer who confesses Christ is in agreement with this fact (read 1 John 4:2-3).
To confess that Jesus is the Christ means that a person agrees that Jesus is indeed the Messiah (John 1:41; 4:25-26,42). According to the Old Testament Scriptures, the Messiah was portrayed as 1) the God-man (Isa.7:14); 2) the mighty God (Isa.9:6); 3) the sinners Substitute and Saviour (Isaiah 53: 4); the eternal King (Micah5:2) and 5) THE LORD (JEHOVAH) OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jer.23:5-6). There is a cost involved in confessing that Jesus is the Messiah (John 9:22) and because of this cost many fail to confess Him (John 12:42). But those who do confess Him before men have Christ's own promise that He will confess them before the angels and before His heavenly Father (Matt.10:32; Luke 12:8).
The word that means the opposite of "confess" is the word "deny" (John 1:20; 1 John 2:22-23). To confess is to say "YES"; to deny is to say "NO." In Luke 22:57-60 Peter should have said, "Yes, I know Him (v.57)!" "Yes, I am one of them (v.58)!" "Yes, I was with Him (verses 59-60)!" But Peter denied Christ (although his denial was only temporary because later, on the day of Pentecost, he boldly confessed Christ and preached Christ before thousands--Acts chapter 2). Thus, when asked this question, "Do you own Jesus as your Saviour and Lord? Do you claim Him as your own?" the believer can respond: "Yes I do! I acknowledge that He is mine! I belong to the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me!" During the great Christian persecutions of the second and third centuries, those believers who would not deny the Lord even at the risk of great suffering were known as CONFESSORS. May we never be ashamed of the God who was unashamed to die for us (2 Tim. 1:8; Rom.1:16; 1 Pet. 4:16)!
Finally, the confession of our mouth must be matched with the conduct of our life. In Titus 1:16 Paul describes a group of people who confess that they know God! But do they really know the living God? Their lips say, "Yes, we know God!" But their lives says, "No, we dont know God." Their walk is in conflict with their talk and this is an abomination to the Lord. These people name the name of Christ but they do not belong to God (2 Tim. 2:19). Though they claim to know God, they are liars and the truth is not in them (1 John 2:3-4). As believers in Christ, may we like Timothy confess a good confession before all men (1 Tim. 6:12). May the world see that the Christ we name with our lips is the God we serve with our lives! Just as a label on a can is there to confess its contents, so believers ought to confess their Lord and Saviour clearly, without being ashamed.
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus"the emphasis is upon the word "Lord." The phrase actually should be translated, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus is Lord." It is the same construction as Philippians 2:11 ("that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord") where it is translated correctly in the KJV (compare also Romans 10:9 in the NASB, NIV, Amplified, etc.). Jesus is Lord! This is the truth that must be confessed out of the mouth of the believer. The word "Lord" is the Greek word "kurios" which is the word consistently used in the O.T. for JEHOVAH (in the Septuagint). We must confess that Jesus is JEHOVAH, which means that He is GOD (the only Saviour and the only God--see Isaiah 43:11; 44:6,8; 45:21-22 where JEHOVAH declares Himself to be the only God and the only Saviour. There is none else!). Jesus Christ is God. He is the sovereign Lord! He is Jehovah Jesus! Believers gladly confess this truth now (Rom.10:9). All men will someday confess this truth (Phil. 2:11). In the early centuries the Christian believers refused to bow down to Caesar and they refused to call him Lord. Instead they confessed that Jesus was Lord!
If Jesus Christ is really MY Lord, then He demands and deserves my glad submission and wholehearted obedience. I humbly bow before His authority and I gladly do those things that please Him. How can I do anything less? Jesus said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:45). On a tombstone in Germany are found these words:
Thus Speaketh Christ Our Lord to us:
You call me Master, and obey me not;
You call me Light, and see me not;
You call me Way, and walk me not;
You call me Wise, and follow me not;
You call me Fair, and love me not;
You call me Rich, and ask me not;
You call me Eternal, and seek me not;
You call me Gracious, and trust me not;
You call me Noble, and serve me not;
You call me Mighty, and honor me not;
You call me Just, and fear me not;
IF I CONDEMN YOU, BLAME ME NOT!!!
There is a great debate going on today concerning the Lordship of Christ. Often the question is asked, "Can a person receive Christ as Saviour and not as Lord?" On the one extreme are those who teach that 1) People can receive Christ as Saviour but reject His Lordship, and thus they can live any way they please; 2) Believers will go to heaven because they are saved, but many of them will live immoral and wicked lives during their time on earth so that you cannot even distinguish them from unbelievers; however, these carnal ones will not receive any rewards; 3) Believers can live in total rebellion against the authority of Christ over their lives and yet still be saved. On the other extreme are those who teach that every saved person will inevitably bow before the authority of Christ and will fully submit to His Lordship in every area of his life and be His faithful disciple. They would say that there is no such thing as a carnal Christian and that any significant evidence of carnality would indicate that the person is not saved at all. As is often the case, Biblical teaching on this subject is found somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Gods truth must ever be kept in careful balance. "The pendulum swings, ridiculous extreme, bypassing the truth which lieth between." Consider the following:
For a lengthier and more detailed examination of these issues, see our booklet, Saved By Grace Alone---A Clarification of the Lordship Salvation Issue.
"And shalt believe in thine heart"the order here is not chronological. The believing actually precedes the confessing (as in v.10). Confession is the outward and audible expression of one's inward faith. "With the heart"--many have an intellectual, head-knowledge concerning Christ, but this is not enough (see Acts 8:37--"with all your heart"). When a person is saved God does a wonderful work in the heart (Acts 16:14). The gospel must be "obeyed from the heart" (Romans 6:17). The heart is involved in serving the Lord as well, "doing the will of God from the heart" (Eph.6:5-6).
"Believe...that God hath raised Him from the dead". Belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ is essential for salvation. Our faith is in a living Saviour (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor.15:14-19). The substitutionary death of Christ is not mentioned here but it is implied here (to be raised He must have died), and the importance of His death has been taught by Paul repeatedly in this book of Romans. "Thou shalt be saved" is Godís sure salvation promise! If man does the believing God will do the saving. Have you claimed this glorious salvation promise and made it your very own? Is your heart believing on Him? Is your mouth speaking of Him?
This verse explains verse 9 ("for") and gives the proper order or sequence of events: first comes belief and then confession should follow. "With the heart man believes unto righteousness"--compare Romans 4:3,5 (a person believes God and it is counted unto him for righteousness). Believing is inward; confession is outward (just as the heart and the mouththe heart is inward and not visible; the mouth is outward and visible).
CONFESSION IS FAITH MADE AUDIBLE! Faith takes place in the heart and no one can see your faith. When we open our mouth and share with others what Christ has done for us and what a wonderful Saviour He is, then we are making our faith audible and clear to others. [Confession is faith made audible just as good works are faith made visible--see James 2:14-26.] How can I know whether you really are saved unless you confess and tell me so? Before a person ever confesses Christ with his lips he has already believed on Christ in his heart. Confessing Christ goes hand in hand with saving faith. If we are really saved, should we not say so? If we are really redeemed, should we not say so (Psalm 107:2)? How can a true believer be ashamed of what Christ has done for him? Should I not speak out and be proud of the One who died for me?
"Confession is made unto salvation." This does not mean that confession is a condition of salvation, but rather confession is a natural result or evidence of salvation. A person does not confess Christ in order to be saved; he confess Christ because he is saved. Confession is not something that a person does to be saved; confession is something that a saved person does! Faith must be expressed outwardly and publicly. Believing is the root; confession is the fruit. Everyone who truly believes should confess Christ (Matthew 10:32; Rom.10:9 and compare Rev. 3:5). However not everyone who confesses Christ is a true believer (see Matthew 7:23; Titus1:16 and 2 Timothy 2:19). [See our study on Professors and Possessors.] In Godís army there is no place for "secret believers." May we never be ashamed of our Commander-in-Chief (2 Timothy 2:3-4)!
Just as a label on a can proclaims its contents, so it is that by confession the believer proclaims who lives within (2 Cor.13:5 "....Jesus Christ is in you"). See also Galatians 2:20.
This verse explains verse 10 ("for"). If we truly believe on Christ then we will not be ashamed of Him, and therefore we will gladly confess Him! "Whosoever believeth" literally means "everyone who believes" (compare Romans 1:16 where you have the same Greek construction: "everyone that believeth"). If we really understand what our Saviour did for us, how can we not be proud of Him? How can we not gladly speak of what He did for us? "The LORD hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad!" (Psalm 126:3).
"Jesus, and shall it ever be, A mortal man ashamed of Thee?
Ashamed of Thee, whom angels praise, Whose glories shine through endless days?
Ashamed of Jesus! That dear Friend On whom my hopes of heaven depend!
No, when I blush, be this my shame, That I no more revere His Name!
Ashamed of Jesus! Yes, I may, When Ive no guilt to wash away;
No tear to wipe, no good to crave, No fears to quell, no soul to save.
Till then, nor is my boasting vain, Till then I boast a Saviour slain;
And O, may this my glory be, That Christ is not ashamed of me!"
The expression "for there is no difference" was also found in Romans 3:22-23. In that passage there is no difference because all have sinned and all are under condemnation (all men partake in the same condemnation). In Romans chapter 10 there is no difference because the same Lord will pour out His riches to all who call upon Him (all men are invited to partake in the same salvation). All have sinned but there is a Saviour who has been provided for all! All men without distinction are condemned; all men without distinction are invited to be saved!
He is Lord over the Jews and He is Lord over the Greeks (Gentiles)! See Romans 3:29 and Acts 10:34-36 (the first time the gospel was preached to the Gentiles). God is RICH unto every person who calls upon Him. He pours out His wealth on those who call upon His Name. Only those who receive the gift of God (Romans 6:23; 5:17; Eph.2:8-9; etc.) know how valuable and precious this gift is. The goodness of God is only known by those who "taste and see" (Psalm 34:8 and 1 Pet. 2:3). Only believers can begin to know "the riches of His grace" (Eph.1:7) and the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph.3:8). How rich are you? (See the paper published by the Middletown Bible Church entitled, The Riches of His Grace--215 Things That are True of Me Now That I am Saved.
Here we find a wonderful salvation promise. Man must do the CALLING; God will do the SAVING. This verse is a quotation of Joel 2:32 which has reference to the Name of JEHOVAH. The New Testament quotes this Joel passage in Acts 2:21 and here in Romans 10:13, both having reference to the Name of JESUS (thus Jesus is equated with Jehovah, a solid argument for the deity of Christ, see our paper on The Deity of Christ). The richest people in all the world are those who are saved! The unsaved billionaires of this world are rich for a second but poor for all eternity! Notice the important invitational words in this passage: Verse 11--"WHOSOEVER"; Verse 12-- "ALL"; Verse 13--"WHOSOEVER".
There are two clear Biblical examples of men who called upon the Name of the Lord: 1) The publican or tax-collector of Luke 18:10-14--"GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER." 2) The malefactor on the cross of Luke 23:39-43 "LORD, REMEMBER ME WHEN THOU COMEST INTO THY KINGDOM." Knowing their desperate need they cried out in faith to the only One who could meet their need. The publican was "justified" and the malefactor was soon to be in "paradise." The Pharisee and the other malefactor both refused to call upon the Lord and refused to cry out for salvation, and they both remained in their sins. They would face a Christ-less eternity in hell.
People can call upon the Lord in many different ways. The thief said, "Lord
remember me." The tax collector said, "God be merciful to me a sinner." A person
may say, "Lord, save me" or "Lord, come into my heart and forgive all my sins"
or "Lord, I'm a great sinner and I need Your mercy and grace" or "Lord, I don't
know what to say, but I need You to be my Saviour." It's not the words that
count; it's the heart. A person could insincerely pray the most eloquent
"sinner's prayer" but words do not save. God looks on the heart. God is looking
for a person who is resting all his weight on the Person and work of Christ,
depending on Christ and on Him alone.
Have you called upon the Name of the Lord?
These are great missionary verses showing the importance of preaching the gospel to those who have not heard. Paul gives the ORDER in the exact reverse of the chronological order: Call on Him, Believe on Him, Hear the gospel, Preach the gospel, Be sent. The chronological order is the opposite: First God sends the preacher who preaches the gospel, the sinner hears, believes in his heart and calls upon the Name of the Lord. We who are saved can thank God for sending someone with the message of good news our way. We who are saved "owe" the gospel to others who have not heard (see Romans 1:15-16 where we learn that Paul was a debtor!).
Calling upon the name of the Lord is not condition of salvation which is separate from faith. Calling upon the name of the Lord is an outward expression of inward faith. Before a person calls on Christ, he must first believe on Christ in his heart. Before the malefactor cried out, "Lord, remember me!" he first believed in his heart. His words merely expressed the faith which he already had. When the publican cried out to the Lord for mercy, he had already believed in his heart. This is why Romans 10:17 says, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?" You cannot call upon Christ for salvation unless you have first believed on Him in your heart. Calling upon His name is a natural manifestation or expression of the faith the person already has.
Before a person believes on Christ he must HEAR (compare John 9:35-38). A person cannot believe on Christ if he has never heard of Christ. Faith fixes itself upon the facts concerning WHO CHRIST IS and WHAT HE HAS DONE. The facts are found in the Word of God and those facts must be HEARD (compare Rom.10:17).
Before a person can hear, he must have the gospel preached unto him (or have the gospel delivered to him in some way such as a tract or Gospel of John, etc.). Without a preacher there is no gospel message and thus there can be no faith and no salvation. Believers have an awesome responsibility in this because WE ARE THE PREACHERS GOD USES (neither angels nor anyone else).
Before a person can preach (v.15), he must be SENT (BY GOD)! God is the One who does the sending! God, not man, sends forth His servants and His missionaries. We do the PRAYING (Matthew 9:38) and God will do the SENDING. How beautiful are the feet of those whom God has sent who are faithfully proclaiming the good news! How ugly are the feet of those who have gone forth preaching the false message having never been sent by God (see Jeremiah 14:14,15; 23:21,32 and also Gal. 1:8-9).
A missionary was preaching in the village market, and some of the people were laughing at him because he was not a very handsome man. He took it for a time, and then he said to the crowd, "It is true that I do not have beautiful hair, for I am almost bald. Nor do I have beautiful teeth, for they are really not mine; they were made by the dentist. I do not have a beautiful face, nor can I afford to wear beautiful clothes. But this I know: I HAVE BEAUTIFUL FEET! GOD TELLS ME SO!" He then quoted the verses found in Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15.
It would be wonderful if everyone who heard the good news would believe the good news and be saved. The tragedy is that the great majority of those who hear the gospel reject it, and this brings us to verse 16.
How tragic! God has good news, and men don't want it! They reject Gods offer of peace (v.15). They reject God's invitation to be saved (v.13). They reject God's riches (v.12). They reject God's so-great salvation (v.9). They reject God's righteousness (v.3). It is the tragedy of man's foolish unbelief! They have not all obeyed the gospel. Indeed, the great majority of people have DISOBEYED the gospel. How does a person disobey the gospel? By refusing to believe it! God's commandment is clearly seen in 1 John 3:23 (the first part of the verse), and those who disobey this command are disobedient to the gospel. Isaiah the prophet anticipated this terrible unbelief in the first verse of that important 53rd chapter which speaks of the Messiah dying for our sins. "Who hath believed our report?" Not many! How sad that the vast majority of Jews reject the great message of Isaiah 53 even to this day (and the majority of Gentiles do as well!). "And to whom is the arm (symbol of strength and power) of the LORD revealed (uncovered, discovered)?" The gospel is hidden to those who are lost (2 Cor. 4:3) and the message of the cross is "foolishness" to them (1 Cor.1:18) but unto us who are saved it is the POWER of God (1 Cor.1:18,24; Rom.1:16). Isaiah 53:1 found its fulfillment in John 12:37-38, and it is still being fulfilled today as men and women reject the gospel of God's grace and refuse to trust the Son of God, the only Saviour.
The word "hearing" (two times in v.17) is the same Greek word as the word "report" in v.16. For a person to be saved there must be a report and a message that is heard, and this report or message must be believed. How can I obtain saving faith? How can saving faith come my way? I must hear the message of God's Word and respond to it in a positive way. God's Word is POWERFUL (Heb.4:12). God's Word is EFFECTUAL (1 Thess.2:13). God's Word is ALIVE (John 6:63,68; Heb. 4:12). God's Word is PENETRATING (Heb.4:12; Eph.6:17). God's Word is able to make a person WISE UNTO SALVATION (2 Tim. 3:15). Man's faith must fix itself upon God's facts and God's facts are found in the Word of God. This does not mean that everyone who hears the gospel facts from the Bible will be saved (as we have seen in Rom.10:16). But it does mean that no one will be saved without hearing the gospel facts from the Bible.
Trying to pierce a sinner's heart without the Bible is like a soldier trying to pierce the enemy's heart without a sword. Believers do not need to defend the Bible nor do they need to try to prove that its true. They simply need to USE THE BIBLE, trusting a great God to honor His Word and do the work in the hearts of men and women. God's Word will go forth and accomplish its purpose (see Isaiah 55:11). God's preachers must be men of the Book! May we never substitute our own ideas, opinions or philosophies for the pure, unadulterated truth of God's Word! Compare Ephesians 1:13 (faith comes by hearing the gospel!).
Why don't people obey the gospel (v.16)? Why don't people come to faith in Christ (v.17)? Why have so many of the Jews failed to obey the gospel and come to Christ in faith? IS IT BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT HEARD? No, they have heard! They got the message! They heard the message! The problem was that they did not respond to the message in faith. God has no problem getting His message to men. Paul quotes from Psalm 19:4, a passage which sets forth the truth that the knowledge of God and the glory of God have been made known to all men in every part of the world by way of CREATION. We studied this in detail in Romans chapter 1. As a result, all men are WITHOUT EXCUSE because God has made Himself known. Often people will ask, "What about those people in far off lands who have never heard the gospel?" On the one hand it is certainly true that they cannot hear the gospel message (of Christ and the cross) without a preacher (Rom.10:14), and the church of Jesus Christ has been given the responsibility and the command to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). We should also note that God is the One who SENDS THE PREACHERS (Rom.10:15 and Matthew 9:38) and in His wisdom God sends the right person to the right place at the right time with the right message. On the other hand, it is true that all men on the face of the earth have HEARD the message of God as revealed in CREATION. Because of sin men rejected and suppressed and cast out the knowledge of God which they had (Romans chapter 1, see especially verses 21-23,28).
Not only have all men heard God's revelation in nature, but there is another message which during this church age is being proclaimed far and wide, namely the gospel message:
"Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15)
"And they went forth and preached everywhere" (Mark 16:20)
"The truth of the gospel which has come unto you, as it is in all the world" (Col. 1:5-6)
"The gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature under heaven" (Col. 1:23)
My gospel...made known to all nations for the obedience of faith (Rom.16:26)
Did Israel know about God's message going into all the earth, to the ends of the inhabited earth, even to the despised Gentiles? They should have known because their own Scriptures indicated this. First Paul quotes from MOSES (see Deut.32:21, and notice that the Bible clearly teaches that Moses was the human author of Deuteronomy, a fact that is denied by unbelievers today). In Deuteronomy 32:21 the people provoked God to jealousy by that which is not God, and so God would provoke them to jealousy by those who are "no people." They chose another god; He would choose another people! "Foolish" means without understanding. Here is a people with no understanding (see Titus 3:3), and yet they believe the gospel. The Jews, who had the Scriptures and who should have had understanding, reject Christ and His gospel. See Romans 11:11.
Paul's second quote is from Isaiah 65:1-2. "Made manifest" means "revealed." The Gentiles did not seek God (Rom.9:30), but God sought and found them (cf. Luke 19:10). God is the Seeker and He is now seeking "those that asked not of Him" and He has been found by those who "sought Him not." They simply heard the good news and believed! May we praise His matchless grace!
Note verse 21. What yearning, what love, what pleading! "Gainsaying" means "in opposition to God, rebellious, refusing to have anything to do with God." What words could better express God's tender invitation to sinful men as He extends His arms wide (compare Prov.1:24; Isa.65:2). "The arms outstretched all the day long are the symbol of that incessant pleading love which Israel through all its history has consistently despised" (Expositorís Greek New Testament). See Matthew 23:37. God was so willing! Man was so rebellious! Those who are lost have only themselves to blame. To reject the remedy which God has so graciously provided and offered is to be without a cure. See our paper, God's Willingness and Man's Unwillingness.