Romans 14

In our last lesson, we finished up chapter 9 and made it through the first 13 verses of chapter 10. In this lesson, we will begin with verses 14-17 in which Paul stresses the need for preaching.

Romans 10:14 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?15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Back in verses 12 and 13, Paul established that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile because the gospel is for all who will call upon the Lord. Starting in verse 14, he begins asking questions that all have the answer, ďthey canít.Ē

As we look at these questions in verses 14 and 15, which teach us Godís plan to put faith in the heart of man, we are going to look at them in chronological order. In fact, Truth for Today Commentary gives us the following outline.

1.      A divine commission

2.      The preaching of the gospel

3.      Hearing with understanding and acceptance

4.      Obedient faith

5.      Calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 8-16 p. 178)

Godís plan begins with a divine commission.

15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?

Some see this as teaching the idea that churches should be sending out preachers into the mission field to preach. While itís important that we have missionaries and that they go to places to proclaim the truth, this is not what Paul is speaking about specifically. Instead, what he is asking is how will they preach unless they are sent by God and His divine commission. These apostles and other evangelist who had been granted supernatural gifts would proclaim the lifesaving message that was given to them by God (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 2:13; Gal. 1:12).

However, we must also realize that all Christian have the divine command to preach Christ whether it be privately, publicly, or by example because the Great commission is for us all (Mt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:45-49). However, our preaching is different than what Paul and others were doing in the first century because they were preaching the Word of God for the first time and were being guided by the Holy Spirit directly, but when we preach, we are proclaiming the same truth, but we are preaching that which was already revealed without any direct supernatural guidance or abilities.

The second step, which I have already alluded to is preaching the gospel.

And how shall they hear without a preacher?

The word Ďpreacherí means herald, which is one who proclaims the message. In this context, it is referring to proclaiming the gospel (16). It is certainly important for the good news to be proclaimed as Paul states:

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

The message is the good news about Jesus, and it certainly includes what He taught. This wonderful message contains the words of life.

James 1:21Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Jesusí apostles understood the importance of this message and all that stands for. In fact, they refused to walk away from Jesus and His hard sayings even after many walked away from Him because of His Words. After many walked away from Him, Jesus turned His attention to His apostles in:

John 6:67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.69 "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Certainly, it is the job of an evangelist to proclaim the powerful message of God. However, letís never lose sight of the fact that the evangelist himself is not special, rather itís the message that is powerful and special (Rom. 1:16). While evangelists proclaim this message, it is not limited to them because The Great Commission shows that we can all proclaim the message of the cross. As Paul said:

Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

When you look at the Book of Acts, you will see the same basic message taught, Jesusí death, burial, and resurrection and what that means. In our last two verses, Paul was not saying that he only preached about Jesusí death, burial, and resurrection because we know he proclaimed the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). However, he always began with this fundamental truth when proclaiming the good news, and so should we.

Many times, we start out talking to the lost in the wrong order. Instead of talking about Jesus and the plan, we start out talking about things that causes contention. We put the cart before the horse. While we certainly need to talk about those other things, we should do our best to start with Jesus and what He did and work our way up from there. Yes, I know there are exceptions to every rule because sometimes a person wants to discuss that matter first, but if you can, put that off and start with Jesus and the plan.

The third step of Godís plan is for the lost to hear the gospel with understanding.

And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?

While we have a responsibility to proclaim the message, the person hearing the message must be willing to not just hear the message but to understand it and accept it. Jesus emphasized the importance of the listener in the parable of soils (Mt. 13:3-9; 18-23). If one is like the hard soil, then the good news is going to fall on deaf ears, but if one like the good soil, then they will not only hear the gospel, they will understand it and accept it, which will produce faith. As Paul said:

17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Letís not forget that in the first century the Word of God was being revealed. They didnít have a pretty Bible to carry around, so the only way most would hear the truth that would produce faith was by the Word being proclaimed. While the truth can still be proclaimed in the same way today, things are different because we have Godís completed Word. Today, people can hear the Word of God proclaimed, or they can read it and have the same faith produced.

We also need to realize that when we do proclaim the good news to others itís like Jesus is using us as a vessel for His message. We are being ambassadors for Christ. This thought should humble us and make us do our best to proclaim the message of God. Jesus points this thought out in:

Luke 10:16"He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."

The fourth step of Godís plan is for one to have an obedient faith.

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?

The message of Romans is the importance of having an obedient faith as opposed to perfect law keeping or being saved by it. Hearing the Word, understanding it, accepting it, and obeying it requires action on our part. Paul has talked about the necessity of obedience (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). He also talked about repentance (Rom. 2:4) and confessing Jesus (Rom. 10:9-10). He also gives one of the most detailed accounts about the necessity of baptism (Rom. 6). Additionally, he pointed out how we must walk after the Spirit instead of walking after the flesh (Rom. 8:4). One can never be acceptable to God by faith only, yet at the same time, when we obey those things that God has commanded us, we are simply accepting Godís saving grace and not in any way earning our salvation.

The fifth step of Godís plan is calling on the name of the Lord.

Romans 10:13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

This statement comes from Joel 2:32, and we have already discussed what this means and how itís not just a verbal plea. Instead, it includes Godís plan of salvation. For example, in context, Ďcalling on the name of the Lordí includes believing and confessing (10,11). Peter, who also quotes Joel 2:32 in Acts 2:21, shows that repentance and baptism is part of Ďcalling on the name of the Lordí (Acts 2:38). Of course, Paulís conversion further proves that baptism is part Ďof calling on the name of the Lordí as well (Acts 22:16). I want to emphasize that Paul in no way is teaching the false doctrine of belief alone or saying that we are saved by simply making a verbal plea through prayer because Ďcalling on the name of the Lordí includes the entirety of the gospel call.

Based on the original outline, by Truth for Today commentary, we can see that all five of the following are dependent on each other, which means you canít have one without the other.

1.      A divine commission

2.      The preaching of the gospel

3.      Hearing with understanding and acceptance

4.      Obedient faith

5.      Calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 8-16 p. 178)

Paul informs us that if we do preach the good news, then our feet are beautiful.

Romans 10:15 As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"

Paul is drawing a comparison to what Isaiah wrote in:

Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Isaiah was talking about those who proclaim the good news to the Jews who were captives of Babylon that their captivity would not last. As good as that news was, Paul was teaching that the good news taught to the lost could end their captivity to sin, which is far greater. While this should have been great news to the Jews, Paul writes:

Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"

Keep in mind that Paul is speaking to his fellow nation. So, the word Ďtheyí is referring to the Jews. Even though they should have been the first to believe the good news of Jesus, they did not. While some of the remnant of Jews did believe in Jesus, it was only a small percentage of them. Though they saw great miracles done by Jesus, they refused to accept who He was (Jn. 12:37-41). Though there were some Jews who did believe, they would not acknowledge Jesus because they loved the praise of men more than God (Jn. 12:42-43). Of course, none of this was a surprise to God because Isaiah prophesied about how the Jews would not believe the report. We know that they were looking for a Messiah that would come and rule the world and give the Jews back the land and the control they had under David and Solomon because they didnít understand the nature of the kingdom that was to come.

Next, Paul gives a quick summary of the verses we have been looking at.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Paul is talking about a faith that saves. The only way that you are going to learn about how to be saved and what God has said about the matter is by hearing the Word of God. The word Ďhearingí is not exclusive to being heard with the ear or that would exclude people who cannot hear. Rather it includes any method for the Word of God to be understood. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). So, the Holy Spirit Himself does not produce faith within man, but He does produce faith in man through the inspired Word.

We also know that without faith, you cannot be pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6). So, this means that only faith produced by the Word of God will be acceptable to Him, which limits our faith to what the Word teaches. Those who come up with their own ideas and try to say itís by faith are doing things outside of the source of our faith, which means their deeds will not be acceptable to God.

However, the Jews refused to accept the good news of Jesus as Paul writes.

Romans 10:18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world."19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation."20 But Isaiah is very bold and says: "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me."21 But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people."

In verse 18, Paul is quoting from Psalm 19:4. Paul is asking a rhetorical question. Could the Jews claim that they had not believed the good news because they had not heart it? The answer is, no. The Word of God had been proclaimed throughout the known world, which is confirmed in other Scriptures as well (Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:23). In fact, the Word of God had to be preached throughout the known world before the destruction of Jerusalem would happen in A.D. 70 (Mt. 24:14). So, the Jews could not use this excuse.

In verse 19, the question is, did Israel understand that Gentiles were to be part of Godís plan? If the Jews didnít understand, maybe that would give them an excuse, but Paul basically answers with no because even Moses alluded to the Gentiles being used to provoke them to jealousy (Deut. 32:21), which he talks about in Romans 11. If Paul wanted, he could have mentioned Abraham and the promise made to him that all nations (plural) would be blessed.

In verses 20-21, Paul shows the difference between the Jews and the Gentile. The Gentiles accepted the plan of God as opposed to the Jews. Paul quotes from Isaiah 65:1 to show how the Gentiles, who didnít seek after God, found Him by accepting Jesus and the plan. Then quoting from Isaiah 65:2, Paul points out how God stretched out His hands to the Jews all day long.

These Jews had the Law of Moses, and Jesus came through their lineage. Though God punished them for their disobedience, He was there for them and continued to protect them, yet they were disobedient, and most of them rejected what the Gentiles were accepting.

I have no doubt that Paul didnít enjoy telling his fellow nation all these things, but he had to because it was the truth. Itís so sad when you see people who should know better reject the simple truth of the gospel, yet many do it today though we have access to the truth more so than any generation before us.

As we begin chapter 11, Paul will answer the question, has God has given up on the Jews? Also, I want to point out something critical for us to understand as we enter into this chapter. There is a difference between physical Israel, who were the chosen people of God and spiritual Israel, who are the chosen people of God. Paul has pointed this out repeatedly in our previous two chapters. God doesnít show partiality, He is looking for the obedient, not the disobedient. Every person who obey the gospel and lives faithful to God is part of spiritual Israel. We are Godís people who will be saved. With this thought in minds letís begin chapter 11.

Romans 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Paul knew that some of the Jews would be thinking that if they canít be saved by who they are or through their rich heritage, then God has rejected all Jews. While itís true that God was not pleased with the nation of Israel and it can be said that He rejected the nation, itís not true that all Jews are rejected.

To answer the question, Paul said, ďCertain not!Ē Paul uses himself as an example. He is part of the Jewish nation. He has the same rich heritage as his fellow men and was of the tribe Benjamin. Yet, he not only became part of the new spiritual Israel, he was also serving as an apostle under the new covenant that was designed for Jew and Gentile (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:22-24).

Notice, how Paul compares his former life to the one he has now in Christ.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Paul understood what many of his fellow Jews didnít. His desire was to get them to understand that the only way they can be part of spiritual Israel, that will be saved, is through an obedient faith through Jesus. Again, notice what Paul wrote:

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Romans 2:28 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Romans 9:6 Ö For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham;

Paul gives a second reason that shows that God has not rejected all Jews.

Romans 11:2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying,3 "LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life "?

Paul declares that God has not cast all His people away. He reminds them about Elijah and how pleaded with God about Israel. The background behind this is after Elijahís great showdown with the followers of the false God Baal (1 Kings 18). On that day, Elijah proved who the real God was. Elijah may have thought this would have caused his people to rise up and live for God, but instead, Elijah found himself running for his life from Jezebel (1 Kings 19). Elijah begins to think that he was the only faithful Israelite left in their nation. However, this wasnít true as we continue to read:

Romans 11:4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."

Though most of Israel had become corrupt and was steeped into idolatry, Elijah was not the only faithful one left. God informs him there are 7000 men, which doesnít include their wives or their children. Though this was a small number, in comparison to rest of Israel, it shows that God will not reject those who are living for Him regardless of how corrupt the nation becomes. It reminds me of how Abraham bargained with God about not destroying Sodom if there were at least ten righteous people there, and God agreed no to destroy the city if there were ten righteous, but there was not (Gen. 18). The point is that just because God rejects a nationís rebellion, He does not reject each individual because some are living righteous lives.

Next Paul says:

Romans 11:5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

Many of these rebellious Jews believed that if they simply followed the works of the Law of Moses and were Jews, they would be acceptable to God, but as Paul has pointed out in his letter, this is not true. Perfect Law keeping is not going to save you, and no one, other than Jesus, was able to keep the Law of Moses perfectly.

However, just like during Elijahís day, there is a remnant of Jews that would be saved because they believed in Jesus and accepted the grace of God through an obedient faith. We know that around 3000 of them were saved at the birth of the church in Acts 2. As the gospel was proclaimed, we know that many thousands of Jews had become part of spiritual Israel (Acts 21:20). It shouldnít surprise that God has repeated this pattern of only saving a remnant of faithful people. For example, Noah and his family were the only ones saved from the flood (1 Pet. 3:20). Only Lot and his two daughters were allowed to live from Sodomís destruction (Gen. 19:15-26). Only a remnant of the Jews would return from their Babylonian captivity (Isa. 10:21). Jesus foretold that only a remnant of people under the new covenant will be saved (Mt. 7:13-14).

Paul is not any way saying that we are saved by grace alone. If that were true, then all would be saved no matter what we do in this life. This would completely destroy what Jesus said about there only being a few that will be saved. Jesus is the grace of God (Tit. 2:11). Itís through Him that we are saved, but it requires us to accept this wonderful grace through an obedient faith (Eph. 2:8-10; Heb. 5:8-9).

Paul will now answer the question of why only a remnant of Israel will be saved.

Romans 11:7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.8 Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day."9 And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always."

Paul already talked about how these Jews were seeking righteousness (Rom. 9:31,32) but they failed to find it because they had not sought it through faith. However, the elect had obtained righteousness because they had accepted Jesus and obeyed the gospel. The elect refers to all saved Christians.

These rebellious Jews were blind even though they had a zeal for God because they were seeking their own righteousness instead of the righteousness that come from the Word (Rom. 10:2-4). The Jews hardened their hearts toward Jesus and His message (Mt. 13:15; Acts 28:27). Paul quotes from Isaiah 29:10-13 and from Psalm 69 to show that God knew that His people would be like this. Though they had all the evidence they needed to believe that Jesus was the Messiah and how they needed to believe in Him and His message, they did not. Itís really sad that so many of these Jews rejected Jesus, which means they rejected God.

While Paul is talking about his fellow Jews, this same message applies to us today because there are many who remain blind to the truth from Godís Word. They embrace worldliness and eat up whatever man says. They are no better off than these rebellious Jews. All we can do, as being part of the remnant, is continue to share and teach people about Jesus. Itís on them if they continue to reject the truth.††