For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. 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? 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!” — Romans 10: 13–15
The preaching of the gospel is to produce faith.
Where does the faith come from?
For Apostle Paul it was a certainty that the gospel is to open up salvation for all human beings because Jesus Christ, whom God had raised from the dead, is Lord and Saviour of all (Romans 10: 11–13). Paul was thus all the more occupied with the question of why the people of the old covenant did not believe in Jesus Christ. In our Bible text he thus comes back to the fundamental question, where does faith come from?
- In order to believe in Jesus Christ, it is necessary to have heard about Him in the first place.
- In order to hear about Christ, a preacher is required.
- However, only those who have been sent by God can be preachers.
Although salvation in Christ is preached throughout the entire church of Christ, the apostolate preaches the fullness of salvation as God grants it to mankind over past, present, and future. In the context of this preaching, it is of special importance that belief in the imminent return of Christ is kept alive (2 Corinthians 11: 2; Catechism 126.96.36.199).
All the prerequisites for this are provided: the word from which faith proceeds is preached by the Apostles, the authorised messengers of Christ. The Apostles, in turn, commission ministers to spread the gospel to others. Thus the old prophecy about messengers who bring good news and proclaim “glad tidings of good things” (Isaiah 52: 7) has been fulfilled.
The word is near you
In order to make clear what it means that God allows His word to be heard and that He calls on human beings to believe that He has sent the Apostles who proclaim it, Paul cites a statement which Moses once used, and applies it to his time: “‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach)” (Romans 10: 8; Deuteronomy 30: 14).
According to Romans 10: 6–8, it is not necessary to bring Christ down from heaven or call Him up from the realm of the dead! The word of God, this precious commodity from which faith and righteousness proceed, is very near to us human beings—also thanks to the ministry that preaches it.
Faith: A gift of God
The important thing is how we respond to the word of God. Faith is produced when we open up our hearts to the word of God. We can also go a step further: it must be the Lord Himself who opens up our heart, just as He did for Lydia, the seller of purple (Acts 16: 14). God himself must therefore awaken our willingness to believe. Thus faith is both a gift of God and a task assigned to human beings.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for service held on Sunday, 03 May 2015 at Midrand Congregation