Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 1st, 2018.
Let us begin this morning with our new July memory verse, Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” It is my hope that this verse will be, not just the Apostle Paul’s view of God, but your view of God once we reach the end of chapter 11.
Today, we are going to continue our study on Romans 10:14-21. Today is, in a way, part two of last week’s sermon, and it actually is three sermons squished into one, for those are some deep truths in our text today that I will only be skimming over. So with that said, let us read out text for this morning. Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s inspired and inerrant Word.
This leads to the question, why would someone call on Jesus? The first half of verse 14 tells us, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?” The reason someone would call on Jesus to save them is because they believe. Believe in what? Two things: 1) believe that you are a sinner under the wrath of God, and 2) that Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection is the complete and sufficient payment for your sin and possesses the righteousness you need to enter into God’s presence.
Which leads to the next question, how would someone come to this belief? The second half of verse 14 answers that question, “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” The way you believe is through gospel proclamation. People have to hear the message of their sin and the message of Jesus Christ. Just as it says in last month’s memory verse, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.”
Which leads to the next question, how would someone hear the Word of Christ, the gospel? The last part of verse 14 says, “And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” We must preach it. As it says in Romans 10:8, this is the “word of faith that we proclaim” We must proclaim the gospel. No one becomes a Christian by your good example, people become Christians through sharing the gospel. This is why we just completed our third evangelism class over a six year period hear at Cornerstones.
Which leads us to the last question in the series, why would anyone go and preach the gospel? What is their motivation? Verse 16 answers that question, “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” The motivation to preach the gospel is that our Lord Jesus Christ sends his followers to proclaim. And when we proclaim, Jesus finds this specific act of obedience a thing of beauty.
Which leads us into our second half of our Scripture for today, verses 18-21? And this morning I have decided to provide a little bit of alliteration to assist in your understanding of the text this morning. We will be examining three aspects of proclaiming the gospel: Gospel Prominence, Gospel Purpose, and Gospel Patience…Gospel Prominence, Gospel Purpose, and Gospel Patience.
So let us begin by look at the Gospel’s Prominence. Look with me at verse 18, “But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
If you recall, Romans, chapters 9-11 is dealing with two primary issues: 1) Israel’s unbelief, and 2) Whether the Word of God has failed. As we saw, most biological Jews do not accept Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. Which leads to the questions, how can Jesus be the Messiah if the “experts” (Israel) rejects him.
In dealing with those issues, as we have seen, the Apostle Paul lays out an immense amount of theological depth such as election and reprobation; as well as breaking down the basics of evangelism, specifically faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone. However, we can’t lose sight of the original issue the Apostle Paul is addressing in Chapters 9-11, Israel’s unbelief and the trustworthiness of the Word of God.
So when Paul says in verse 18, “have they not heard”, he is speaking about Israel; “has [Israel] not heard.” What is Paul talking about? Heard what? Verse 17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. “ So Paul is saying, if faith comes from hearing, has Israel not heard the Word of Christ, since they don’t believe. If faith springs from gospel proclamation, are we to assume that no one has shared the gospel with Israel?
To that question Paul says in verse 18, “Indeed they have.” Paul says that Israel, has heard the gospel. They have heard the Word of Christ. And the foundation that Paul uses to support this statement is “for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
What is interesting about this, is that this foundation is a quote from Psalm 19. Many of you are familiar with Psalm 19. Let me read to you verses 1-4, which includes Paul’s quotation: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
These verses are in reference to what is called general revelation. General revelation means the revelation of God to all humanity through Creation. Paul touched on this in Romans 1:20 when he said, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
However, when Paul quotes Psalm 19 in Romans 10, he is not using it for the purpose of general revelation; he is speaking about specific revelation. He is speaking about the preaching of the Gospel. Paul is using Psalm 19 as an analogy, or an example of the global prominence of the gospel.
I don’t want to take this too far, but what I find interesting is if we keep reading Psalm 19:4-6 it says, “Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” The focus in these verses in Psalm 19 is the sun (S-U-N), the sun is compared to a Bridegroom, and not just any Bridegroom, but a strong Bridegroom, one that willfully leaves his chamber, and sets upon a God ordained course that he joyfully embraces.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like another strong man I know, the Son of Man (S-O-N), aka the Son of God. John 8:12 refers to Jesus as the Light of the World. John 3:29 refers to Jesus as the Bridegroom. John 17 and Philippians 2 speak of leaving the Chamber of His Father's presence. John Hebrews 1:2 says, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” Hebrews 12:2 says, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,”
Ultimately, the full and complete revelation of who God is, is found in his Son, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,”
But where is Christ now? Christ is at the right hand of the father. So is the light of Christ no longer running its course in this world? Indeed it is, the light of Christ is now in all followers of Christ.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:3, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
We, as followers of Christ, the the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the the word of god in our mouth and in our heart, are sent out into the world to shine the light of Christ for all the world to see, so that no one can hide from its heat.
And this global gospel did not stop there. It spread like wildfire throughout the nations. Paul himself says in Colossians 1:5-6, “Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing” And this truth still rings true today. The Word of faith, the gospel of our salvation can be found in all corners of this world. This is gospel prominence, and you cannot deny its global dominance in the world. God's Word will not return void, it will accomplish what it set out to do.
But what does this Gospel prominence have to do with Israel’s salvation? Interestingly, it has a lot to do with Israel. Let us know think about Gospel Purpose as it relates to Israel. Look at verse 19, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
This verse is a quote from Deuteronomy 32:21. It is a verse that is a part of what is called the Song of Moses. It is a song that Moses sang at the end of his life that was from the Lord and prophetic over the nation of Israel. Let me read some of the context around the verse that was quoted by Paul. Deuteronomy 32:19-21, “The LORD saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. 20And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness. 21 They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.”
God in his omnipotence, looked upon Israel, past, present and future, and new they would be a perverse people. God knew that Israel would be unfaithful to him for thousands of years. God knew that they would turn to others gods, who are no gods. And in response to this, he would turn his grace towards another people, who are no people. This phrase “who are no people” is just another way to say gentiles.
Therefore, one of the reasons, not the only reason, but one of the reasons the Gospel has gone out to the nations is in response to Israel's spiritual adultery. And this turning to the Gentiles with the gospel was for the purpose of making Israel jealous. It was for provoking Israel to anger. Paul will speak about this again in Romans 11:11-12 , “Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! 13Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.”
Once again, don’t forget what the issue is in Romans 9-11. Israel’s salvation and whether the Word of God has failed. Paul points out over and over again that, no, the Word of God has not failed one single bit. Everything that God said would happen is happening. The Word of God is proving true. Israel does not believe because God has turned to a foolish nation, because of their spiritual adultery. This is then reinforced by Paul in Romans 10:20 with the quote from Isaiah which says, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
So let us ask the question, is this true? Has God’s plan worked? Are the Jews jealous because gentiles claim Jesus as Messiah? Absolutely. Remember, the Jews have been waiting for the Messiah ever since they began with Abraham. However, for the last two thousand years the gentiles have been proclaiming that we have their Messiah. That we possess him. He is ours. The Jews want the Messiah, but don't have him, because they have rejected him. They are jealous of what we have.
And as the gospel continues to spread, as the ministry of the Great Commission is magnified, more and more and more, the Jews become more and more and more jealous, as the gentiles nations all claim their Messiah as their own. And this will continue until the age of the Gentiles has come to an end. This is a gospel purpose as it relates to Israel.
Having said all this, we see something very interesting in verse 21, Gospel Patience. Look at verse 21, “But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” And with this statement we see the complexity of a Sovereign and Loving God.
We just got done unpacking Romans 9, whereby it says that salvation depends upon God's election, and that God is the potter, and that God has mercy on whom he wills and hardens whom he wills. We just finished unpacking that God has chosen to turn to the gentiles for the purpose of making Israel jealous, and now we read that God stands with arms wide open saying come? This seems mutually exclusive, but it is not. This is exactly what Scripture teaches. And it is commonly described as the two wills of God. And by two wills of God I am not claiming that God is schizophrenic, I am merely saying that God plays both sides of the fence in dealing with rebellious people and displaying his glorious grace.
In understanding God's two wills, we must remember that God has a sovereign will whereby only those whom he has chosen will be saved, and simultaneously He has a will that all would be saved. This sounds contradictory, but it is not, it is Biblical. In fact we see the two wills of God all over the Scriptures. One easy example is God's will of murder, Thou Shall not Murder. Yet simultaneously God ordained the murder of his own son. This is not a paradox, it is merely the reality when you are sovereign and you desire to display your grace to a rebellious people, two wills must be utilized to achieve this end.
We do not have time to unpack the two wills of God this morning, I merely want create a doctrinal category for this text to put your thoughts into; but if you are curious just google it and read some articles by John Piper, watch the video by RC Sproul, or read some articles listed on monergism.com.
For today's purpose I want us to focus on the patience of God in keeping his hands open to Israel, a contrary and disobedient people for nearly 4000 years. God does not need Israel, and Israel does not deserve God, yet God stands at the door and knocks... and he knocks...and he knocks. And some day, as we will examine in the weeks to come, Israel will open the door to Jesus as their Lord and Savior and invite him in.
And when this happens, the glory of God in the grace of God will perhaps shine at its peak due to the unending steadfastness and faithfulness of God's love for his people.