How Christian Believers Are Made

Special Note: Join with me in sharing the gospel with someone this Thursday. If you have experienced God’s grace, I encourage you to be intentional and make a commitment to share Christ on October 15 along with our church family.

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15a)

Here we have a series of four questions in just two verses above that form a logical chain. The questions form a sequence. Only Paul gives this sequence in reverse order. So the result is given at the beginning while the first step is given last. So if you were to see this sequence fleshed out where a person comes to Christ as His Savior and Lord, it would work this way:

1.    A Christian is sent (verse 15a);
2.    This Christian is sent to tell the Gospel (verse 14c);
3.    People hear the Gospel because of this Gospel-telling Christian (verse 14b);
4.    People believe in the message they have heard (verse 14a);
5.    The people who believe will then call upon the name of the Lord (verse 13).

If we put the five steps together in these verses together in reverse order, we see the Bible’s logic for evangelism and missions:

Christ sends evangelists;
Evangelists preach;
People hear;
Hearers believe;
Believers call;
And those who call are saved.

In fact, verse seventeen sums up Paul’s argument: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

In these two verses, we are given five steps toward leading others to faith in this text. Each of these five steps outline the necessary progression that must happen before anyone can call upon the name of the Lord. Each step is described with a series of rhetorical questions. The culmination of the series of questions is expressed first in the list: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?” (Romans 10:14a). While the last question, located at the beginning of verse fifteen, is the foundation of all the questions: “And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15a).

Your job description is tied up in these five steps. It is impossible for anyone to call upon the name of the Lord until a Christian is sent. They can only call upon the name of Christ, if they have already believed in Him. They can only believe in Him, if they have heard of Him. And they can only hear of Him, if a person proclaims the message. And the message can only be proclaimed, if a Christian is sent. And it is these steps… this logical chain is so highly important if people are going to call upon the name of the Lord.

GreekRunnerPost Script: As you read this passage, do not confuse “preach” here with the modern Sunday morning sermon. Instead of thinking about a pulpit when you see this word “preach” here, I want you to think of the news media. The news media for the “Bible days” is town herald. In the fifth century BC when the Greeks were at war with the Persians, three great historic battles occurred. Among these three battles was the Battle of the Plain, so called because it occurred on the Marathon Plain, a man was commissioned as a runner. He took messages from the battlefield back to the city of Athens. He ran the entire distance, twenty-six miles, which is why we call races of that duration marathons. This runner ran all the way from the plain into the city of Athens to bring the gospel, Greek word that simply means good news, of the Greek victory at Marathon. So the herald would tell the townspeople of a military victory and then he would head to the next town to tell them as well. So preaching is much like journalism – only it’s telling good news.

Every Baby with a Digital Recorder

Imagine if every little baby that was born anywhere in the world had an invisible digital recorder hung about his neck. And this tape recorder only recorded the moral judgments which this child made against others. Every time this child starts to say, “You ought,” or “You should,” it starts to record. Eventually this baby grows up and dies and comes to that great moment when he stands before God as judge. Suppose, then, that God simply touched the playback button on the digital recorder and he heard all his words playing through the speaker. All those statements throughout the years said by his voice where even the tonal inflection in his voice was heard clearly. Each and every statement he had made against others in moral judgment. God says, “I’m going to be really fair. I’m not going to judge you by my standards (Ten Commandments, Sermon on the Mount, etc.) but by your standards.” He could hear it going on for years — thousands and thousands of judgments made against others.

Not a single person would pass this test.

Source: Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, 2d ed (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1985), 49-50.

Three Reasons for Christmas Joy

The older I am, the more I hear people pause and purse their lips in concern when Christmas is mentioned. Whether it is the slow economy or general fear of future earnings, I hear about people “cutting back” on the excess of celebration. Yes, every person must evaluate the amount of materialism that impacts their Christmas holiday. Nevertheless, I want to offer three ways God has worked to increase your joy through His work at Christmas.

1)   God is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). Christmas marks the entry of the Son of God into human affairs. He descended into the mess and the hurt of all that makes us human. Christmas tells us that God is not a neutral observer to our hurts. Instead, He made Himself vulnerable for our sake. The God who controls all things will wield all of His power on our behalf. He will work out every detail in life for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). This is tremendous news that brings us great joy.

2)   If God gave us His Son, what will He not give us (Romans 8:32)?  The Father has already sacrificed His Son for us. God’s Son means so much to God, the Father. The Son of God isn’t the black sheep of the family. Instead, the Son of God was perfect in every way.

And yet, God sacrificed His Son, the perfect Son that pleased Him in every way, for us. If He is willing to give us His Son, He will not withhold anything from us. This is cause for a celebration. This is music to our ears. That God will not withhold anything His children is cause for an explosion of joy throughout the planet.

3)   No one will separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:35). Once you are truly a child of God, there is absolutely, categorically nothing that can separate you from God’s love. Think about it. No one thing in your future will be able to separate you from the love of Jesus Christ. Your future is secure in Christ no matter what hurt or pain comes your way.

So, Christmas is time to celebrate. Have a feast. When Jesus returns, it is pictured as a lavish feast where His children enjoy the presence of God Himself around the banqueting table. Break out the fudge and the eggnog and laugh and smile in the days to come. Share Christ’s love with those around the table this holiday. Speak to one another of how miserable life would be – save the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Tell one another that God did not simply use a thimble to measure His grace toward His children, but instead He uses a shovel. Christmas is a time to celebrate because God dumped truckloads of His grace, mercy, and love upon His people.