Israel’s Inexcusable Unbelief

Romans 10:14-21

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the Apostle Paul's "five links in the chain of evangelism."

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[Message] Romans chapter 10, verse 14 through verse 21 is the Scripture reading for this morning. Romans chapter 10, verse 14 through verse 21. Paul the Apostle writes,

“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 Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Probably that last word “God” should be “Christ.” The more ancient manuscripts do have the word Christous rather than Theoo, and so we probably should read it, “By the word of Christ.”) But I say, Have they not heard? (Or literally, “Is it that they have not heard?”) Yeah verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? (Or is it that Israel has not known?) First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Isaiah is very bold, and saith, I was found by them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”

May God bless this reading of his word.

[Prayer removed from audio]

[Message] Our subject for this morning as we conclude the 10th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans is “Israel’s inexcusable unbelief.” The apostle has set forth most ably and most clearly the freeness of the salvation of God. He’s laid stress upon “Whosoever believeth in him shall not be ashamed.” And “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” has been the theme of the apostle, so that one has no excuse so far as the universality and freeness of the salvation of God. He’s gone out of his way to stress that it is free to all kinds of people, Jews and Gentiles. There is difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich until all that call upon him. “Rich until all,” that lets us know what the Bible means by all. All kinds of people, Jews or Gentiles, in other words, the gospel of the grace of the grace of God is universally available to men, to Jew or to Greek. “Whosoever believeth,” “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

What about election? It is very easy to discover who the elect are, when “whosoever believe,” that is exactly what he discovers. He discovers the identity of the elect. That is so far as he’s concerned. It is possible to discover the identity of others except in so far as we see the inevitable evidences of faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, whosoever, the apostle has stressed. Someone might say at this point, Paul, what is this faith of which you speak? How can I obtain it? The apostle is our contemporary in so many ways. He anticipates most of our questions, most of our objections. He seems to know exactly what he think, even though he’s not here with us.

Some years ago I clipped out a little story of a Bible seller in the land of Syria about twenty-five years ago or so. He was dragged into a local police court for selling what appeared to be highly inflammatory political propaganda. The judge examined the strange books very carefully and then asked, “Where is that man Paul who wrote this book to the Romans? Bring him into this court.” Well, the Bible seller did his best to explain to the judge that Apostle Paul died almost two thousand years ago. The judge was very slow in being convinced of that, but finally, he said to the Bible seller. “Here, you sign a statement declaring that you will be personally responsible for everything written in this book to the Romans. This document is too contemporary, and it’s significance too timely not to have someone personally responsible for its content.” This morning, after I made that statement in our 8:30 service to the sleepy crowd that was gathered there [laughter], including the preacher. [Laughter] Someone came to me afterwards and said, “Did you read in the paper that a Bible seller was arrested in Syria this past week. But he or she,” she didn’t say, “but he was thrown into jail.” So he may have to answer to the Epistle to the Romans also. Who knows? We do this, the apostle when he wrote this epistle was saying things that are very, very appropriate for us in 1981.

Now, the apostle is trying to explain how it is that Israel has failed in the light of the fact that there is an elect company of God in existence. And anyone who reads the revelation of God knows that God gave his revelation into the hands of the nation Israel. Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in fact almost all, if not all, of the writers of Scripture were Jewish people. Luke appears to have been a Gentile and perhaps Job, we don’t the exact identity of some others. But the Bible is a Bible of divine revelation committed into the hands of the Jews. But Israel now, in this company of believers is only a remnant and not the major body. So the apostle is trying to explain what happened, and in the 9th chapter he has said the explanation could to hand if you just read the history of Israel. You will discover that even when the Gentiles were not the majority in the elect of God. It was evident that God was making choice in the midst of Israel. “IN Isaac shall thy seed by called.” “Jacob have I loved. Esau have I hated.” And so there is a divine principle of selection that has been going on down through history; the Lord Jesus spoke of his followers as a little flock.

But now the apostle is, I say, fixing to explain this, but he wants to explain it now from the human standpoint. And he traces it to unbelief. Israel’s unbelief is the real cause of their failure to respond to the gospel of Christ, from the human side; from the divine side, divine election; from the human side, unbelief. Now, the apostle, in order to explain this, sets forth five links in the chain of evangelization. These five links are set forth for us in verse 14 and verse 15, as the text that we have read for the Scripture reading this morning. In verse 14 through verse 17 he developments the theme, “Israel and Believing” but in order to do that, he makes these five links in the chain of evangelization.

Now, if you read this passage carefully, these two verses, you will see that Paul moved from the effect to the cause. He says, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” Effect, cause. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” Effect, cause. “How shall they hear without a preacher?” Effect, cause. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” Effect, cause. So you can see the ultimate cause is being sent by God. The ultimate effect is to call upon the Lord. It’s a beautiful little expression, a beautiful little statement the apostle makes. It began with God, it ends with God.

Now, we want to look at it and so we will turn and look at the effects, and then we’ll look at the cause. But let me turn it around. We will look first at the cause, and we’ll look at the ultimate cause first. Notice the 15th verse, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” Well, I’m reading the first part, but “how shall they preach, except they be sent?” It’s true; it did affect the preacher also this morning. [Laughter] “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” That’s the first link in the chain of evangelization, one must be sent.

Jerome, one of the greatest of the Bible teachers of the earlier church said that there are four classes of ministry. First of all, there are individuals sent directly from God, such as the prophets, such as the Apostle Paul. Secondly, there are ones sent by God, but by men. That is, they are ultimately sent by God by they also have been commissioned for the task through men. I think that Barnabas would by an illustration of that, but particularly Timothy, who was called to his ministry through the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Then he said there are ones sent by men and not by God. That’s the professional, the man who serves, for example, a religious denomination, but does not have any personal call himself. He’s sent by them. He has all of the credentials. He’s a minister in a particular denomination or group or body that is supposed to be Christian, but so far as he is concerned, there is no work of saving grace in his heart. We have many such men today. Men who are sent by men, but not sent by God, and the evidence of their not being sent by God is that they do not preach the message that God gives to the men who are sent by him. And, finally, Jerome said that there are ones who are sent neither by God nor by man. That is, they are free-lancers, of whose call no one can see any evidence whatsoever of.

Now, it is possible for us to add a fifth class of ministry from the apostle’s writing. In 2 Corinthians the apostle writes, concerning false teachers, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.” So the Apostle Paul states that Satan has his ministers. And they are not ministers of evil in the sense that they preach a morality contrary to the Bible. They are preachers of righteousness, but nevertheless they are servants of the wicked on.

Now, what Paul means when he says, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” He means a man cannot truly preach the good news of Jesus Christ if he is not sent by God. So the first link in the chain of evangelization is to be sent by God. The second chain is evident in that verse 15 also, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” As he has just said, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” So the second link in the chain is to preach. What does it mean to preach? Now, we have strange ideas about what it means to preach. Many people think that to preach means to get up a very lovely discourse, in which we use remarkable metaphors and figures of speech, and say things in very beautiful ways, and cite poetry in a very lovely way and consequently people are attracted by the kind of message that you give. Fundamentally, preaching is the repetition of the message of God. The word that the apostle uses means “to proclaim.” It means to act as a herald. And so, a preacher is a person who takes the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and proclaims it. He proclaims its fundamental character, and he also proclaims the terms by which we may, in receiving that message, have the forgiveness of sin, become a member of the company of God, and begin our growth in grace, preparatory to our ultimately coming to the Lord Jesus Christ and the enjoyment of eternal life with him.

Now, it is possible, of course, to hold up this message and to preach the difference facets of it, like a person will take a diamond and speak of the different facets of the beauty of the qualities of the stone, and turn it as light is flashed upon it. And that is a proper work of a preacher, to take the word of God, and to hold it up in the sense that we look at all the facets of this magnificent message of God. But essentially what we do is to preach nothing but that the truth. That is, what we have found in holy Scripture.

Within the last two weeks we’ve had a visit from Jerry Cuthbert, a young graduate of the theological seminary here, the brother of Caroline Cutherbert who was in our office for several years. Most of you remember Caroline, played the organ for us on Sunday morning usually. She’s married now, and her husband is attending a seminary in Philadelphia. And Jerry is her brother and is the son of Dwight Cuthbert who has spoken here in the chapel. Jerry was here, and we had some interesting discussions about things that are happening in the Lord’s work out in the northwest. In the course of our discussion, he said that he heard a man say something about the doctrine of the grace of God that he though was rather clever. This man said, “The doctrine of the grace of God makes sinners sad, it makes saints glad, and it makes pretenders mad.” Well, there is a lot of truth in that. The gospel of the grace of God and the holding up of it does make sinners sad, because it reveals our sins. It makes saints glad because in having received the gospel we are assured again of the fact that we have eternal life, have been justified by the grace of God. And those who pretend to be among us will almost inevitably be offended by the doctrine of the grace of God, and being offended by the grace of God, they will reveal the fact they have not really come to understand what it is to be saved by the sovereign grace of God.

Now, I think it’s proper to stress one other thing. When Paul says, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” He means that there must be a communication of the message. And I often think that we fail here, and we fail entirely too often. One of the great soul winners of the last generation, by reputation and I think by fact, is Dr. Walter Wilson of Kansas City. Dr. Wilson was a medical doctor, and then he went into the ministry, carried on a very widely flung for the Lord Jesus Christ, in addition to being pastor of a very significant church in Kansas City. Many, many wonderful stories have been told of Dr. Wilson’s soul-winning. In fact, he has a little book out in which he, maybe more than one, in which he details some of his remarkable experiences. He never lost an opportunity to bring the gospel into the conversation. He said that once a well-dressed gentleman came to him to sell him some thread. Now, Dr. Wilson conducted a lot of tent meetings, and so this man came to sell him some thread, because he did have tent meetings. And Dr. Wilson said, “His appearance gave evidence of a prosperous, happy and successful businessman.” And he purchased a good quantity of thread for his tent projects.

But after the order was given, Dr. Wilson said to the salesman, “Is your heart as happy as your face would indicate? You seem to have not a care in the world.” The salesman put his sample case on the floor, he put down his hat and seriously and he said to Dr. Wilson, “Doctor, you are the first business man who ever asked me that question. You are looking at the most miserable man on the road. My heart is as heavy as lead. I must keep a happy appearance in order to make a good salesman, but my heart is in the dark. I wish I knew some way to get peace and some power that would conquer my sins.” Well, you can imagine how a soul winner felt after a comment like that.

Do you know that in Believers Chapel, the person sitting next you may be just that kind of person. We sometimes hear people say, “I came to Believers Chapel, and nobody spoke to me.” That’s a very frustrating kind of criticism to answer, because there is no way in which a person who hears that can do anything about it. But you can do a great deal about it. And it just might be that that person sitting next to you is a person just like that man. “How shall they hear the gospel if we do not preach the gospel to them? That’s the second, preach.

And the third, he says, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” Now, when the apostle says, “How shall they hear without a preacher? He’s talking about hearing and really understanding what you hear. In fact, the way he puts it in the preceding sentence is, “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” And what he means by that evidently is that when you give the gospel it is not simply that a person hears you, but ideally he hears Christ in your message. That seems to be what the apostle is saying. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” My text says, “How shall they believe in him?” That “in” is not here, but it is implied from the preceding statement. But it does have a whom, that verb takes the genitive case, in case you’re looking at a Greek text. “But how shall they believe him whom they have not heard?” So in the message that we give the Lord Jesus Christ speaks. And when a person responds, he responds to the great shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ. “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me,” the Lord Jesus says. “My sheep hear my voice.” They hear the voice of the shepherd, the true shepherd, in the voice of the under shepherd. Looking beyond my words, they hear Christ, and they hear his call.

So they must hear, and he is heard through his messenger. But not only must they hear, they must hear truly, for Paul that means belief. And so we read, “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” And how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed. Well, the final response after being brought to faith by hearing the voice of the great shepherd through the message is that they call on him. “Lord save me.” Now, on Sunday mornings we begin our services with an invitation. Mr. McCracken comes in, we play the doxology, you stand, after the singing of the doxology he will lead us in the invocation. The invocation is the calling upon God to be present in our meeting in a special way. Well, the great invocation is not that invocation. The great invocation is when a person calls upon the Lord Jesus Christ or upon the Lord in order to be saved.

How does he call upon him? Well, the call is given us in verses 9 and 10. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” And so we lift our voices to the Lord God and we say, “Oh Lord, I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I need salvation. Lord save me.” That’s the great invocation to call on him. That process is a process, incidentally, that begins with the Lord in the sending of the messenger, and it ends with the Lord and those who hear the message believe and call on the name of the Lord. That’s what we mean when we talk about the doctrine of the sovereign grace of God. That’s right, it makes sinners sad. It makes saints glad, and it makes pretenders mad, because we stress that salvation begins with God in the sending of the messenger. It ends with God when a man calls upon him in order to be saved.

Now, Israel’s failure is in the fourth link of that chain. And the apostle speaks of that in verse 16. He says, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” You see how the apostle argues from the Bible. He doesn’t say, now Lessing said this, and Hagel said that, and Barth said the other thing. And he doesn’t even say, “Johnson said this.” Praise the Lord. [Laughter] But he does appeal to Isaiah and Moses because his listeners accepted the authority off holy Scripture. And so he says, ” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” Isaiah describes the nation Israel in the last days as they think of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they see the heaven’s gates open, and they realize that they crucified the Messiah. And as they look upon him whom they seest, and as they mourn for him. They give out this remarkable lament in Isaiah chapter 53. And in the midst of it, “Oh Lord, who has believed the report that was made to us?” They reflect on their unbelief down through the centuries in the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul deduces that as reason for Israel’s failure to be the majority part of the elect of God today. “Who hath believed our report?” That’s evidence not all have believed the gospel.

Incidentally, we sometimes have people say, “It all right to have faith, but we have to obey.” And sometimes we say, “It all right to have faith, but we’ve got to obey the gospel.” You say, “What do you mean I’ve got obey?” Well, we mean believe, confess, repent, be baptized in order to be saved. That’s to obey. To obey is to be baptized. And if we don’t obey we’re not saved, even though we believe. How foolish! Look at the text, “They have not all obeyed the gospel.” Now, to explain what that means he says, “For Isaiah says, Lord, who hath believed our report?” It’s clear that as the apostle introduces the explanation of “they have not all obeyed.” He says people in unbelief, that is lack of obedience, not to believe. To believe is to obey, and to obey is to believe. We are called upon to believe the objective message concerning Jesus Christ.

And so when he says this, he says that faith and obedience are the same thing. He said that in two other places in the Epistle to the Romans. In the 5th verse of the 1st chapter, he said, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith. For the obedience of faith among all nations for his name.” And then later on in the last chapter of the book, he uses the expression the “obedience of faith.” Faith obeys, to obey is to believe. Israel’s failure is their failure to believe.

Now, the summary of what he is saying is given us in verse 17. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” From comes from the message, through the word about Christ. So faith is faith related to what Scripture says. Now some people have strange ideas about faith. Often you will hear people say, “Oh, I’ve been praying that God would give me faith.” Why don’t you get up off your knees and read the Bible? Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Now, I know you say, “Well, Dr. Johnson that you said that.” Well, let me deduce another well known man, Dwight L. Moody. Mr. Moody said, “I prayed for faith and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study the word of God, and faith has been growing ever since.”

If you want to know how to have faith, begin and grow, it’s through Scripture. The reasons the apostles had faith was because they had contact with Jesus Christ. The only way in which you can have contact with Jesus Christ is through the Scripture. But the Scriptures you may be with our Lord Jesus Christ. You may be with him when he preaches the word. You may be with in that boat on the Sea of Galilee when the storm comes. You may be with him in the synagogue when he casts out the money changers. You may be with him as he makes his way toward Calvary. You may even be with him around the cross of Calvary, and hear him cry out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” You may be with him in his resurrection. You may hear the lessons that he taught the apostles. You may really be there by the Holy Spirit. You see, faith comes through contact with Jesus Christ in the word of God. That’s the only place that you can find faith, but we go looking for every other place than the place. That’s because we still have the sin nature. It’s not because we’re dumb, we are, but that’s not the major reason. The major reason is we’re rebellious. We don’t want to; we don’t like that.

To read the Bible in the company of Jesus Christ, and to be in his company means often that we come under conviction, and we don’t like to come under conviction. There are many things in our lives that need the light of the word of God to fall upon them. It’s only through the Bible that faith comes. It doesn’t come through the prayer book. It doesn’t come through plaques that you put on the wall. It doesn’t even come through reading the Bible through or memorizing it. Now, reading is a very useful thing, in fact if you have a plaque on your wall, that’s all right too. Biblical text, it’s good to be reminded of that. Faith doesn’t come by that though.

Dr. Barnhouse has an interesting little illustration in his messages in the Epistle to the Romans. He said that many years ago he was invited for some meetings in Atlantic City. It was during the off season, so one of the great hotels there allowed him and his wife to live in one of the loveliest suites of the hotel during the week that he was there. And he had a beautiful picture window on which he looked out upon the Atlantic Ocean. And then he said,

“Let’s suppose that a young person from Iowa who had never had the privilege of journeying to the coast should have asked us to write him about the ocean. What would you think if we wrote as follows: ‘We have a beautiful room with a picture window that gives us a sweeping view of the ocean. The window is twelve feet two inches long and four feet eight inches high. It is divided into three sections. We have taken a scraping of the glass and have had it analyzed and can tell you the chemical formula of the glass. We have had an expert from one of the great glass companies tell us all about the glass and we are giving you herewith a history of the invention and development of glass. The glass is set in steel frames that are painted black. We have had the steel and the paint analyzed and you can read the analysis in our second and third studies affixed to this letter. We have discovered that the panes of glass are kept in the frames by a putty composition. We have scraped down some of this putty and are giving you a long addendum on its chemical composition. Finally, we have inquired of the hotel management and found out their method of keeping the windows clean. You will be delighted to know from the subjoined study the whole process of the window-cleaning and the formula of the special detergent needed to cope with the salt spray from the ocean. In closing, let us say that we hope you have enjoyed our study of the ocean.'”

Well, that’s the way that some people treat the Bible, believe it or not. This is just something that they read in order to memorize, or read in order to say, “I have read something from Scripture.” But they’ve never really sat down and pondered some things that are in the Bible. The danger of Bible reading and the danger of Bible memorization is not in reading and memorizing. Those are excellent things. That’s the place to begin. But the danger is in not reflecting on the significance of the things that we are reading. There are some people, who because they see that, “Let’s go read the Bible. Let’s go memorize the Bible. Let’s go study the Bible. But we don’t want the doctrine.” That’s foolish, that should go with the other three. What we want is the word of God. We want to memorize it, and we want to hide it. But we also want to ponder it, because it is through pondering it that we come to faith; the faith that saves and the faith also that sustains us.

Negatively, faith is not by the hereditary defense. You don’t have faith because your mother or father are believers. Those young children in the audience, you cannot, if I may say a word to you, you cannot expect to have faith because mother and daddy have faith. You must have faith yourself. You must ponder the things of the word of God. You must ponder the things that Jesus Christ has done, and there must come the time when you understand that you are a sinner and that you need salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, and you lift your heart to him and say, “Lord I am a sinner. I confess that you are the Lord. Save me.” It doesn’t come through the sacraments. It has never come through any aqueous substance like water. Mr. Spurgeon said that “Faith cannot be washed into us by immersion, nor sprinkled upon us in christening; it is not to be poured into us from a chalice, nor generated in us by a consecrated piece of bread. There is no magic about it; faith comes by hearing the word of God, and by that way only.” It comes through feeding on the word of God and hearing its message. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “He that hath ears let him hear.” Or “He that hath hears to hear, let him hear that the Spirit of God tends to the churches.

It doesn’t come by the sacraments. It doesn’t come through dreams or through the eloquence of the preacher, or even through some therapy. Mr. Spurgeon pointed out that men like Nebuchadnezzar had dreams, and Balaam had a visit from an angel, but he was a man who died saying, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my latter end be like him,” but he perished, fighting against the God of Israel. “Listen,” he said, though you could see all the angels in heaven, it would not prove that you would go to heaven any more than my having seen the Pope’s bodyguard is proof that I shall be made a Cardinal. Positively faith may come to us through the simple statement of the gospel text, which the Holy Spirit uses. It may come through the suitability of the gospel to a need that I have been brought to by the Holy Spirit, like the Ethiopian eunuch who went to Jerusalem in order to worship and found that he couldn’t find what he needed in the worship that was going on there. He heard a debate evidently between Stephen and the believers in the city of Jerusalem, went by down on one of the little streets there, number 9 Beersheba Street, where they had an Israelite Bible book store, and met the prophecy of Isaiah.

And riding home on his chariot, having come to the home of religion, and not having found faith, he was looking at the text, and God had one of his servants over hear that he had called to preach, and he said, “Philip, I want you to leave this meeting here, in which a lot of people are being saved, and I want you to go down into the dessert.” And he went down into the dessert, and he saw a chariot coming. He was a very important man; he had quite a nice chariot, something like a Lincoln Continental or a Cadillac. And he went up and he joined himself to this chariot, and you know what transpired. He asked, “What readest thou?” For the man was holding a scroll and reading it. He said, “I don’t know what I am really reading. How can I understand what I am reading unless somebody should show me? And so Paul got up into that chariot and he began at the very place that that fellow was reading. Do you know what he was reading? He was reading exactly what you think he would read if God is one who controls the affairs of history. Where in Isaiah would you expect him to be reading? What would be the place to be reading when an evangelist came by? Isaiah 53, that’s what he was reading. Furthermore, he asked the same questions that scholars today are still asking in theological seminaries. “Of whom speakest the prophet? Of himself or of some other man?” That’s still being debated. And Philip began at that very place, that very text, and preached unto him Jesus. You know what he said when he got up in the chariot? He said, “Thank you Lord, I was hoping he was reading this verse. It’s one I prepared a message on just last week.” [Laughter] He probably said something like that. He preached unto him Jesus. He was right there at the right time. And the need of the man was met.

The gospel may come through the experiences of others. Most of us have been brought to Christ through the experiences of some others who have come to Christ. There were a couple of disciples of John the Baptist, one of them was Andrew. He heard John the Baptist as he looked off to Jesus Christ, and said, “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And so, Andrew said, “If he’s the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, then I want my brother to hear about him.” And he went off and got Peter. And the text says he brought him to Jesus. That’s the greatest thing that one person can do for another, to bring him to Christ. And he did. Through that experience, Peter, think of what a magnificent preacher and instrument Peter became through the concern of Andrew.

Have you ever had any concern for anybody that they might come to Christ? Have you been so interested that at least you would speak to them concerning the Lord Jesus Christ? It could be that person next to you, you know. If we read the Bible often with inattention, we flit about like butterflies. We don’t give attention when the word of God is preached. We are sometimes like Eutychus. You know, if you fall asleep in a sermon, you can’t be saved even if Paul is sleeping. [Laughter] Eutychus could testify to that. He fell asleep while Paul was preaching. Now, the text does say, “While he was long preaching.” [Laughter] That’s very comforting incidentally, not simply because he was long preaching, but because even when Paul was preaching there could be people falling asleep. That’s never bothered my too much, because I’ve been in some audience and looked out and before I begin they’re sleeping. [Laughter] And I know I didn’t have anything to do with that. Just the contemplation that Dr. Johnson will be here is very soporific for some people, I know. [Laughter] All right.

Now, apostle says in the 18th verse, “But I say, is it that they have not heard?” Now, I think that what Paul means here is it that they have not heard that they would be rejected because of unbelief, because the texts that are cited that follow. They cannot be exonerated by their lack of hears. Why, the gospel has been preached universally and furthermore, it has been preached in such way that they should have known if they read the Scriptures that there would come a time when they would be rejected. But in the 18th verse he answers by saying, “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” In effect, he says the gospel preaching to Jewish people has been just about as wide as the influence of the heavenly bodies, appealing to a text in Psalm 19.

In other passages here he says, “I have fully preached the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem all the way around.” In the Epistle to the Colossians he says he has preached the gospel to the ends of the earth. It has been universally preached, so Israel does not have any excuse. They cannot say, “We have not heard.” But then they say that they have not known. No, no, the Scriptures have prophesied that there will come a time when Israel would be rejected, both from the Law and from the prophets. Listen he says in verse 19, “But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” You have been worshipping idols, they are no gods. I will find to the Gentiles who are no people, not having been elected by me as you have been elected, as I mentioned, and I will provoke you to jealousy by what I will do for these who are my people. That’s evidence that the Gentiles would be brought in and Israel would face a period of rejection. Later Paul cites that text again with the same force in the next chapter. You’ll see it there. And he says, “Isaiah is very bold.” Can you imagine now the apostle saying this, the people who believed that they were the chosen people and that divine revelation had been committed into their hands? That’s very much like a man should arrive in Moscow and be there, and then have an opportunity to speak to the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union, and if were to say to a Russian, “Well, I’d like to say to you that the American way of free enterprise and capitalism is the only thing that can possibly succeed.”

This past week I read an article in the Christian Century, a very influential, rather liberal paper. And in it, the editor of the magazine, having returned from his third trip to Cuba, writes a lengthy article in which he seeks to show that there is religious freedom in Cuba. And his illustration of the fact that there is religious freedom is that if you go there you can attend Roman Catholic churches where they carry on their ministry. Well, that’s interesting, and of course, it’s fairly generally known, I thought. But that’s not necessarily freedom. Freedom is when you are able to express some different opinions from the authorities in headquarters. Now, I would like to ask the editor, is there freedom in that land to stand up and say, “The Cuban revolution is a fiasco. It is a great error. It is responsible for a great deal of the trials and troubles of our people. We are against it, and we intend to preach against it.” Then we would see how much freedom there is in that land. That question was not addressed at all in the article.

So, the apostle having made reference to Deuteronomy chapter 32 concludes with two texts from Isaiah. The first of which is a reference to Gentile salvation in the future. And the second verse of Isaiah 65 is the reason why, listen. “Is it that Israel is not known? Moses said I will provoke you to jealousy by that which is not a nation. But Isaiah is very bold, and says, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.” Ah, the Gentiles shall be saved, too, Isaiah prophesied. “But to Israel he saith,” and this is why the gospel is gone after the Gentiles. But to Israel he saith, “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” There is the whole idea of the chapter summed up. The everlasting spread out in unyielding love for the nation Israel. “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” Have you ever tried to stretch forth your arms for five minutes? Try it some time if you haven’t. Just see how long you succeed. Stick out your arms too long. God says he stretched them out all day long. That an expression of unyielding incessant love for the nation Israel.

I always think of that incident in the Book of Exodus and Israel is Amalech and every time Moses raises his hand the battle goes in favor of Moses’ people, Israel. As his hand falls, the battle goes in favor of the Amalekites, and finally they decided on a little scheme. Aaron and Hur got together and said, “We’ve got to keep his hands up.” [Laughter] So they had, come over here and sit down, because it’s even hard to stand on your feet all day long. So they sat him on a little rock and Hur got on one side and Aaron got on the other side, and they held up his arms. And they held up his arm until Israel won. “But all day long I stretched forth my hand to a disobedient and gainsaying people.” Do you notice anything unusual about this position? All day long, well that’s the figure of the cross. “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” In the cross of Jesus Christ there is incessant expression of unyielding love for the nation Israel and also for us Gentiles.

Well, the apostle has stressed the universality of the gospel, the availability of this good news. The responsibility has been set forth. We are to believe the gospel. J.J. Jowett’s is one of the great preachers of another generation. Mr. Jowetts was preaching once in Spurgeon’s Tabernacle, and while he was there he made an unusual statement. He was talking about the woman with the issue of blood, and how she crept forward so that she just might touch the garment of the Lord Jesus and be made whole. And then as he finished the sermon, the audience he said, “Touch Him, touch Him, touch Him, and you shall be healed.” Then he anticipated someone saying, “But I do not know how to touch Him. And Mr. Jowett said, “But suppose you say him. He’s not here, I can’t see him. I don’t know how to teach him. He said, “Tell Him that you do not know how to touch Him, and that will touch him.”

Now, I’ll tell you a little story for a couple of minutes. I know I’m over time, but I like this story. [Laughter] P.T. Shields was one of the great preachers of Canada in the last generation. I used to read things that came from him. He was a man that had a wide influence. He told a very interesting story once, a true story. He came from northern Ontario, and he said, “In northern Ontario they used to build fences around the fields.” He said, “One day a group of kids were coming down the road, coming home from school, and in the midst of one of the kids was a crippled boy. And he was hobbling along with the rest of them with his crutches, and they were coming slowly down the road. And finally he said as he was watching from his farm, he suddenly saw them stop, and they began to beat on the little crippled boy, and finally, they took his crutches away from him, and they brought him over to one of the walls by the fields and they stood him up against it, took his crutches away, and then ran off fifteen or twenty feet and began to throw pebbles at him. And the little boy was hurting and crying, and suddenly he looked out into the fields, and there was a man over there hoeing. And the little recognized him, it was his father. And he shouted out, “Father and the man in the field looked up, saw what had happened, threw down his hoe, rushed over, leaped over the wall, went over and got the little boy, picked him up in his arms, kissed him, got his crutches, scattered the boys, and took him home.

That’s what the Bible means when it says, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Call on him. Come to him. Call on him and you shall be saved. Shall we stand for the benediction?

[Prayer] Father, we are so grateful the Thee for these wonderful words from the apostle, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How gracious Thou art.” Eternity is not long enough to express to Thee the gratitude of our hearts.


Posted in: Romans