A. What exactly is our responsibility to the lost?
B. Should we have the attitude of “I’ve got mine. You worry about yours?”
C. Do we ever think about how our life might be different had someone not told us about God’s love and provision in Christ? We see those living in the depths of sin, and we recognize that could have been us had God not intervened.
D. There have been various periods in church history and among denominations where missions and evangelism were emphasized a great deal and very little.
E. Is all our attention to be on evangelism and missions, or are there other aspects of the Christian life we must attend to also?
F. Whose power do we carry out our Missional efforts in?
G. These and other questions come into play as we consider what Paul teaches in the remainder of this chapter about mission work.
H. Paul was a zealous missionary. Since he had met Christ on the Damascus Road and received his commission to take the message of salvation to the Gentiles, he had been hardily at work trying to obey that command.
I. The Universal Assurance (v. 13)
A. Verse 13 is another verse familiar to those who have memorized the Roman Road plan of salvation. Paul quotes from Joel 2:32.
1. We have already examined the matter of election and hopefully come to our own conclusion concerning an interpretation.
2. Out of that interpretation, our philosophy is formed and we can then interpret what Paul means when he says that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
3. For those who believe salvation is open to all who ask, this verse fits neatly into that philosophy.
4. For those who believe in actual election of individuals and that all are not elect, the verse is still valid. They simply maintain only the elect will call, and since they are elect, God will accept them and grant them salvation.
5. Either way we interpret this matter, the end result is identical. Those who call will be received and saved.
B. What does it mean to call?
1. Does simply calling on the name of the Lord result in salvation?
2. Paul seems to imply this, but we also know Jesus said not all who call him Lord will be saved. (Matthew 7:21)
3. How many have used the Lord’s name in vain or simply used it in a statement such as, “Lord have mercy?”
4. Surely using the Lord’s name in these ways has nothing to do with salvation-and it doesn’t.
5. Paul is referring to a call involving repentance and a plea for help. It is not simply a call to get one out of trouble-such as in a foxhole scenario. Rather it is a sincere call of desperation for deliverance from the sin binding the individual.
6. They have recognized their sinfulness and desire forgiveness. So they call out for help.
7. It also involves a desire and intention to be different after that. They are not seeking forgiveness simply to go out and live the same way they did before. They are not after sinning more so God’s grace can be made more real to them and evident to others.
8. It is similar to the call made by the leper to Jesus-“If you want to, you can heal me.” (Luke 5:12)
II. The Universal Challenge (vv. 14-15)
A. Paul proposes a domino scenario.
1. How can they call unless they believe?
2. How can they believe if they have not heard?
3. How can they hear without someone telling them?
4. How can someone tell them if they don’t go?
B. People will not call on something or someone if they don’t believe.
1. If I don’t believe a God exists, I will not call on him for help.
2. It would be ludicrous to ask for help from someone I didn’t believe existed.
3. This is similar to asking someone to give their time or money to a cause they don’t believe in. Why would someone raise money for cancer research if they didn’t believe in the possibility that a cure could actually be discovered?
4. Therefore, all who call on God believe he exists and have at least rudimentary belief in him.
C. People cannot believe in a God they have not heard about.
1. Paul has talked about natural revelation. Some fashioned gods as a result of what they saw or imagined about God in nature or they worshipped the things they believed this god made.
2. Whether they heard or saw, they responded.
3. Paul is particularly concerned with the hearing element, for he was going and he wanted others to go. After all, this was the commission Christ had given to the early church and to Paul personally.
4. Paul had been sent by Christ himself and commissioned by the church. He was an apostle-one sent with good news.
5. He then quotes Isaiah 52:7 to speak of the beauty involved when others take good news to the lost.
6. Who is supposed to take the good news? All Christians. Not just paid ministerial personnel or career missionaries.
7. In context, the good news was the approaching end of the Babylonian Exile which was wonderful news to the captives who had spent seventy years in a foreign land.
III. The Partial Rejection (vv. 16-21)
A. Not everyone welcomes the good news of salvation. (v. 16)
1. It is not always welcomed because many don’t believe they need saving.
2. A person must believe something about themselves in order to see their need for help.
3. If I don’t think I’m a sinner, I will not be interested in forgiveness for what I don’t perceive as reality.
4. How many of you have shared your faith with people like this? They may not have been openly hostile to your presentation but at the same time they were not interested.
5. It doesn’t necessarily mean God’s Spirit was not working. It may not have been the right time or more probably they were simply not listening.
6. And obviously, there are more people who reject than accept. Jesus said many would choose the broad path and only a few the narrow road. Many are being saved, but many more are refusing to listen.
7. But we cannot change the message though we may experiment with various methods to transport it.
8. Paul again quotes from Isaiah.
B. Faith comes from listening to the message (v. 17)
1. We are not saved by merely existing in a world where the message is distributed.
2. We must acknowledge and accept the presentation.
C. Paul’s attention now returns to the Jews as it concerns hearing and responding to the gospel and he uses a series of O. T. quotations to reinforce his conclusions.
1. The Jews had heard God’s message numerous times. God called Abraham and promised to make a great nation from him. Jews and Gentiles came from his loins-the Jews being God’s chosen people.
2. God delivered them from Egyptian slavery, gave them the commandments and Law, and led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. He would eventually rescue them on at least two more occasions-from the Assyrians and Babylonians.
3. He sent them prophets, judges and kings. His warnings of disobedience came in many forms and from many people. They had heard. Here Paul quotes from Psalm 19:4
4. They had heard, but did they really understand? Quoting from Deuteronomy and Isaiah, Paul maintains they did.
5. The sad conclusion is why we must keep going: “All day long I opened my arms to them, but they kept disobeying me and arguing with me.”
A. There will always be a need for the gospel proclamation.
B. Not all will accept, but we must continue to go with the assurance of God’s presence and power and the knowledge that those who respond will be accepted.