Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Writing to a church filled with multiple ethnic groups, Paul has a broad goal in mind in writing the Roman epistle. Having dedicated himself to “world-wide” evangelism, as Acts and his letters show, his heart was on more than winning Jews in one small part of the world.
In Romans ten, Paul is reaching the crescendo of the doctrinal argument he makes in Romans 1:15-17 about salvation through faith in Christ. In the middle of the chapter, he states some principles that are worthy of our attention. Consider briefly Romans 10:5-17.
Here, we have the message expressed (5-10). It is the message Paul has been stressing throughout the letter, a message of “righteousness based on faith” (6). It is a word of faith (8), one emphasizing what the scriptures say (Paul quotes Deut. 30:12, 14, 21, Psa. 19:4, Isa. 28:16, 52:7, 53:1, 65:1-2, and Joel 2:32 just from Rom. 10:6-21), and a message meant to touch the heart (8) and lead one to eternal salvation (9-10). Thankfully, the same word that tells us to “make disciples” tells us to do that through the divine message of scripture.
We also have the men envisioned (11-13). Twice, Paul says that “whoever” (11,13) calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The Lord’s riches are for “all who call on Him” (12). He makes no distinction between Jew and Greek (12). That underscores the biblical idea that God wants all men everywhere to be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4).
We have the means executed (14-16). Paul exalts preaching and preachers. This is honorable work requiring honorable people. They are an indispensable part of God’s soul-winning plan (14). They are divinely sent (15). They are positively described (15b). They dispense good news (16). As Paul writes Corinth, preaching is God’s medium for saving men’s souls (1 Cor. 1:18).
Finally, we have the mission embodied (17). The word of Christ must be heard, and faith results by hearing that word. People do not teach themselves. Societies are not won accidentally or incidentally. There must be deliberate, often sacrificial, activity—preaching, planting seed, and perseverant persistence—to fulfill that mission.
We have mission work to do right here. We have it to do daily at our jobs and in our more immediate communities and neighborhoods. Whether you are going across the street or around the world, fulfill your mission!