We are nearing the end of this quarter of Sunday School.  In this quarter of lessons, we have seen the great need for the gospel of Christ.  Paul said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).”  Because of this fact, all people – Jew and Gentile – have a great need for Christ.  This week’s lesson is being taught from Romans 10:11-21.

To All Who Call

Our lesson this week will be continuing right from where we left off in last week’s lesson.  Let us remember, in our lesson last week, Paul desired that his brethren (Israel) repent and have faith in Christ (Rom. 10:1).  As I have been saying in recent weeks, many of the Jews (Israel) felt that they already had the promise of paradise through their birthright, but in actuality, many of them were living a life that would not lead them to paradise.

This week, in the opening verse of our lesson, we see Paul say that whoever believes in Christ will not be “put to shame” (v.11).  This is Paul reiterating a statement that we know very well from Jesus.  When Jesus was speaking with Nicodemus, He told him, “whosoever believes in Him [Christ] will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”

So, shame, in this sense, is talking about perishing — that is, spiritually perishing.  To perish spiritually is to be judged as a sinner, by God, and then cast away from His presence for all of eternity.  This was not something that Paul desired for his brethren.  At the very same time, Paul also did not desire this for the Gentile as well so he intentionally says, “whoever believes on Him [Christ].”

He’s a rich God  

He then says in the very next verse that God, who is Lord over all, is rich to all who call upon Him (v.12).  Again, notice that Paul says “all” here and even mentions both the Jew and Gentile to cover all nations of people.  When Paul says that the Lord is rich, it reminds me of something that James said in his letter.  James wrote that God gives liberally (or generously) without reproach – rebuke (Jas. 1:5).  We know this to be true from our own experiences, right?  When we ask the Lord to bless us, He doesn’t give us a tiny bit – He overloads us in His blessings.

Now, let us note that Paul is still speaking spiritually here, so let us not think that he meant God is rich according to obtained worldly wealth.  No, God is rich in the spiritual gifts that He provides to all who call on Him!  The Lord is rich in the care that He provides to all who call on Him.  God is rich in wisdom to all who call on Him.  He is rich in mercy and forgiveness to all who call on Him.  As Paul said, “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (v.13).”

Do You Truly Believe

In the next few verses, we see Paul begin to question whether one truly is a believer in God.  Let us remember that within this same chapter, Paul had just been talking about how Israel was zealous for God but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2).  So, in these next few verses, we see him circling back around to that point in which we discussed in last week’s lesson.  Again, there are many who are living in our world today who are zealous for God but their zeal is not according to knowledge.

Paul says, “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 (v.14)?”  Many of those who have great zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, aren’t truly believers.  Let us remember what Paul said in our lesson last week, we must not only confess our faith with our mouth but we must also believe in our hearts.

There are many people who profess to have faith, but their heart says otherwise.  What I mean by this is that they are not living for Christ because they are disobedient to His commandments.  So, how can you call on Him if you do not truly believe in Him? 

Question of preaching

The thing about those that have zeal for God but not according to knowledge is that they don’t mind telling people about what they “know”.  So, they minister but their ministering is not according to sound doctrine which, again, is incredibly dangerous.  Paul asks the question, “how shall they preach unless they are sent (v.15)?”

This should not be a controversial question but this particular verse is one that becomes much discussed.  Many believe that preachers should be called by the Lord.  I was called by the Lord, I believe, at a very early age — maybe even before I was born.  I always knew that I would preach and for a brief moment, I tried to run from it but my life got rocked in that moment and I couldn’t run.  My dad passed away and the Lord showed me it was not time to run, but time to step further into my calling.

Now, everyone’s calling is not the same.  My uncle talks about his calling now and then and how he tried to run as well!  I remember my dad talking about his calling and how he tried to run.  (Trying to run from the call seems to be very common among many called preachers).

The controversy with this scripture is that some people frown on those who go to school to become a preacher.  I can’t say I really have an opinion about this aside from saying the call is different from everybody.  Some may be like me and it happens early in life, while for others, the call can be more gradual.  

That said, the call to preach is one we must take with the utmost of seriousness.  When we preach, we should preach the gospel according to sound doctrine.  We should not preach according to what I would call “conspiracy theory”.  We must be obedient to the gospel and preach it so that we aren’t hypocrites like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

Israel’s rejection

Paul says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  However, Paul also points out that the gospel was not being obeyed (vss.16-17).  Why was the gospel not being obeyed?  Was it because it was not being preached?  Paul tells us that wasn’t the case when he quotes David (Ps. 19:4) and says, “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

So, the gospel was certainly being ministered throughout the known world in Paul’s day.  Paul ministered a great deal and went well into Rome with the gospel.  Paul was not the only one ministering at that time but you had the apostles and people like Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila that were ministering (Acts 18:24-28; 1 Cor. 3:6).  

So, a lack of preaching could not be blamed for Israel’s lack of obedience to the gospel.  Paul even points out that Israel has known of the Lord and His way for a very long time when he points to Moses and Isaiah (vss. 19-20).  Israel was simply being disobedient.  To describe Israel’s disobedience, Paul quotes Isaiah 65:2 where the Lord said, “All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

Consider all of the prophets that the Lord sent to Israel and how few of them were obedient to Him.  Faith certainly comes by hearing, but when people refuse to listen, faith will never come.  Because of their disobedience, Paul also quoted from Isaiah where the Lord said, “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me (Is. 65:1).”  The Lord was actually speaking of Gentile nations in that scripture.  Israel’s disobedience was by choice.

Again, this same thing is still happening in our world today.  There are many preachers that are faithfully preaching the gospel but the preaching of the gospel is falling on deaf ears.  Why is the preaching of the gospel falling on deaf ears?

Well, I believe part of the blame actually does fall on those who proclaim to be a preacher but do not preach the gospel.  In fact, we have seen many so-called preachers be revealed to be everything but a true person of God.  Because of the actions of some, there are many people who find themselves to be very skeptical of the church and of preachers as well which, to me, is truly a sad thought.  So, we who are of genuine faith and preach the gospel should certainly continue to do our best in ministering the good news.

I have seen the gospel also be rejected for the preaching of “prosperity” – what one can gain in the world.  As Jesus said, our concern should not be for the treasure that is of this world but for the heavenly treasure.  Yet, many people love the thought of what they can gain in this world, so quite a few preachers preach a “gospel” of prosperity.  There is also a preaching of “romantic love” that happens as well because that also gathers together a crowd.  Frankly, many preachers are preaching for the dollar bill nowadays as well.

Now, how does the preaching of these things get one into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom?  I certainly don’t know.  We have a gospel to preach that is of Christ and what Christ did for us and what can happen for us if we believe on Him.  Paul said that whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame — this is the gospel we should preach!  We should preach Christ, His mercy, His forgiveness, and the salvation that comes through Him.


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