“How Are They to Hear?”
Passion for the Gospel
In Romans 10 Paul expresses his own passion for reaching his people, the Jews, with the gospel message for their salvation. He writes: “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1) This passion wasn’t just expressed in words or good intentions, he devoted his life to that end. Inevitably God would direct Paul to become the apostle to the Gentiles; focusing his ministry on missions into the West, reaching all the way to Rome. He was obedient to that call, and the book of Romans stands as a testimony to his faithfulness to establish the church in Rome. Clearly, Paul felt a passion for the whole world and worked tirelessly to spread the truth wherever God directed.
But passion isn’t enough. In the very next verse Paul addresses the misguided passions of the Jews. “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal (passion) for God, but not according to knowledge.” (Romans 10:2) They sought after God but missed Him by overlooking His Son; the exact representation of the Father. They were ignorant of the holiness of God. They refused to obey the commands of God. (Romans 10:3) And they killed the Christ who came manifesting righteousness and fulfilling the demands of the law. (Romans 10:4)
Those four verses shape the foundation of all missions; the commitment of the church to the Great Commission.
- A heart of compassion for the lost.
- A compassion that drives a passion.
- A passion that is fueled by prayer.
- A passion that is committed to the gospel.
- A passion that shapes a mission to spread Christ to the nations.
In this same chapter Paul takes his passion and allows it to speak in questions:
A Passion to reach the unreached: How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
A Passion for sound preaching: How are they to hear without someone preaching?
A Passion for engagement: How are they to preach unless they are sent?
The answers are obvious – THEY CANNOT BELIEVE IF THEY DO NOT HEAR – THEY CANNOT HEAR UNLESS SOMEONE PREACHES – AND THEY CANNOT PREACH UNLESS THEY ARE SENT.
This must be our passion. This must be our commitment. We were reminded this past Sunday that the spread of love depends on our obedience. The command to go into all the world demands our participation.
Sending Dube Belini
We have the great privilege to share in the spread of the gospel in Shimabala, Zambia, Africa. The man called to lead that endeavor is Dube Belini. He is already engaged in the new church plant there, fully committed and, like Paul, filled with passion and zeal: “I am unable to keep this to myself and withstand the longing and desire to minister to the lost Souls. Despite so many years having passed by, my passion, conviction, conscience, and the extension of this call … has humbled me so much and added a blazing zeal that has already been in motion.” He adds: “None is qualified for this task, I am not worthy for the assignment, and I am gripped with inadequacies.”
My prayer is that you will carefully consider your own participation in this sending opportunity. The need is one I’m convinced we can meet through your generous single gifts or monthly pledges. The Wooden Box that identifies needs for us will be available for your giving these next few weeks. Also, this week in the bulletin you’ll find a Pledge Card that you can use to help us budget this support in the coming months. No gift is too small – and none could be a large enough expression of the gratitude we feel for God’s grace in our own lives and in our church.
Monthly Need: $1,146 (details in last week’s letter)
In Romans 10, Paul expresses his heart for Israel. In Romans 11, Paul makes clear God’s heart and purpose for Israel. The final response of Israel to the gospel awaits the fullness of the Gentile church. We work toward that end anytime we spread the saving knowledge of Christ around the world. “In this way all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26)
I’ll close with this admonition:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
His life; a perfect righteousness for us.
His sacrifice; a boundless mercy for our sins.
Our lives; an expression of worship and praise.
Our sacrifice; a response of gratitude, a heart of obedience.
May God be pleased to use our giving for His glory!