How will they hear?
Jesus’s primary mission was, in His own words, “to seek and to save that which was lost”-wherever they are lost (Luke 19:10). That it is His intent for us to be just as concerned with this activity as He was is made clear by His parting words to the disciples. One weakness in my denomination in the past is that people have interpreted missions as requiring saltwater. A missionary does not have to be cross-cultural; a missionary can go even more effectively to his or her own home town or culture. When Jesus said to go in Matthew 28:19 it is a Greek word poreuō which can be interpreted in your going, go. In other words, wherever you travel you should be about the business of making disciples.
Romans 10:13-17 “For whosoever shall call upon 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, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. ”
The word whosoever (hos) is used to express an objective possibility. In other words, it implies a condition in which experience or results must determine. It does not mean that if someone names the name of Jesus they will be saved. It does not mean that if someone identifies Christ as their Savior, or if they identify as a follower of Christ, they are saved.
Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
What it does mean is that there is an objective marker that determines whether or not they are saved. The objective marker is the phrase epikaleo interpreted ʻcall uponʼ and means an action of turning to and appealing, crying out to Him. In the context of this passage, whoever turns (repents) and calls out to (appeals to) the name of the Lord, that is, the name He is known by, the proper name, the one true Lord Jesus Christ they shall be saved. They will be saved (sozo) in this context from death and judgment (as the consequences of sin). Not only that, but salvation brings in all positive blessing in the place of condemnation. Sozo, to be saved, means to save from the penalty of death and destruction and to bestow everlasting life as the result of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are brought into his family (we know Him) and we are changed, able to walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh. We are no longer enslaved to sin or to death, we now have new life in Christ. We are a new creation, Godʼs workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do.
That is the positive aspect; that whosoever calls out to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and belief can be saved. Who He is, that is, believing on the right Messiah is so important to the idea of this passage. In other words, having an incomplete understanding of who Jesus is will stand in the way of a person being saved. If a person does not believe that He or she needs salvation. In other words, if a person is convinced that they are saved by good works, practicing their religion, even in working together with Christ to achieve their own salvation, they are not believing or trusting in Him fully.
It is like my friends who came to visit me in Mankato this week. They knew that the flood had affected 169 between the cities and Mankato, yet they chose to drive on 169 anyway. They had a knowledge that did not change their actions, and until they experienced the real road closure first hand, they did not change their direction. They did not really believe.
In order to have a chance to believe, they must first have an opportunity to hear. People who do not know about Christ must be able to hear about Him. Today, we can hear about Him in many different ways, the source of information should always be the Bible. In the context to which Paul was writing, the ONLY way that people could hear about the Lord Jesus Christ was through the preaching of the Word. Not everyone could read, they did not have the printing press, the internet, or other more advanced forms of communication. In today’s world, this is the exception, rather than the rule. In most places today, you do not have to preach (kerusso) that is, be a herald, proclaim the Gospel on a street corner or out in a public forum. You can actually share through one to one encounters at work, school, when shopping, etc.
Imagine this: In your community you can be a missionary to Wal-mart, your high school, your neighbor, SMSU, the Jail, co-workers, at the Drive-thru window, your bank, and the list goes on. I believe that the primary way in which people hear and understand is through the spoken word from a trusted individual (like a friend). While sharing the Gospel verbally is ideal, if you simply cannot speak out, you can be a tract missionary. Tracts speak 24 hours a day, never having to sleep or rest. Tracts can be reused, passed on, and they do not require an education or training. They also do not need to have a permit or get permission to speak. Tracts can go places that you are not permitted to speak out, they can get into homes of people that you do not know or will ever meet. In this way, people can hear. What I want to emphasize is that we are all called to be missionaries, and there are many ways in which we can see the great commission completed. Can you think of places that you can go to that you can hand out or leave Gospel tracts?
How will they hear without a preacher? Unfortunately, today, many people have heard about Jesus, but only enough to be dangerous. When we bring the Gospel to people, we must be sure we are preaching the truth. There are many preachers out there who are presenting a false or incomplete picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. On my travels, I have heard of Jesus who saves and forgives everybody, the Jesus who approves of continued lifestyle sin, Jesus who is the brother of Satan, The Jesus who is not fully God. This is why it important that the preacher is sent. We ought to give sacrificially financially as a church to see to it that trained missionaries are sent to the home front and abroad. We ought to give of our time and reputation sacrificially to see to it that people around us have heard the true Gospel. And the beauty is in the feet, that is, in the going out and sending out to preach the Good News. The Gospel is the best news ever, that sinful men and women who have offended God and have sinned against His holiness can be saved by trusting in Jesus. It is a fragrant offering to God when we give of ourselves and of our finances until it hurts to see this good news spread. When we do it with joy, God is honored and He is pleased with this sacrifice.
Our responsibility as Christians is not with the result, it is with the obedience to proclaim the Gospel, to bring the good tidings. Just because people hear, that is, just because they have been given the good news, does not mean that they will respond. Now those with different theological leanings will take this truth differently. Essentially, If God does not give you ears to hear, if the god of this world (Satan) has blinded your eyes from seeing the truth, then I believe the scripture teaches that you will not respond. The responsibility is placed squarely on the individual, however. If they will not obey the Gospel, if they will not repent and call out to God for their salvation, then they cannot be saved. The indication that they have believed our report, that they have believed God, is that they would obey the Gospel.
So, true Biblical faith comes when the hearer of the Word of Christ, that is, the Gospel, responds and obeys the Gospel. There is no other prescribed way in the scripture that God has given that people can be saved. Good works cannot save, religion cannot save, Jesus Christ plus ___________ can not save. No, faith comes from hearing the word of Christ. Faith means that the hearer must respond. It is not our response that saves us; it is the work of God alone. We are justified, sanctified, glorified all by the work of God. It is not our belief that saves us; it is the shed blood of Christ that pays for our sin that saves us. But we must obey the Gospel, we must call on the name of Christ. We cannot do that if we do not believe, we cannot believe if we do not hear, and people cannot hear if we will not share. It is Godʼs grace that has saved you, and the reality of that salvation is demonstrated by the fruit that your life bears. If you truly believe that mankind is lost and that if they die in their sins that they will go to a place called Hell, that the shed blood of Jesus Christ is the only way that sin can be atoned for, then you will share the Gospel with them so that they can have a chance to respond and be saved. Jesus Christ came to seek and to save the lost. His parting words to his disciples are His words to us, that we ought to go, that we ought to make disciples, that we ought to preach the gospel to every creature by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that we ought to teach them all that Christ has commanded us. With the command comes the promise of his presence, never leaving nor forsaking us.
Will you go in His power and with his presence to a lost and dying world?