12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 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? 15 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!” (Romans 10:12-15)
There are 4 implications for evangelism that jump out at me here:
1. The gospel is simple. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. In the Bible, a person’s name represented who that person was, his characteristics and his accomplishments. To call on the name of the Lord is to pray for salvation, to rely on who Jesus is and what he has done, instead of our own efforts or works, for salvation. There is no complicated formula or secret knowledge or body of works required for salvation. Christ has already done everything that was necessary. All we need to do is call on his name, trusting him to save us.
2. The gospel is equalizing. The phrase “For there is no distinction” is an important one in Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Earlier, Paul had written,
“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:22-25).
Here he reiterates that “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” Paul had dealt with racial and ethnic discrimination probably more so than any other apostle. His mission to the Gentiles was not always well received by Jewish believers, and several times he was forced to confront Jewish leaders in the Church (including Peter, cf. Gal. 2:11ff) about their attempts to force the Law of Moses on their Gentile brethren. But Paul apparently also had to deal with prejudice on the part of the Gentiles, as seen in the fact that Paul repeatedly defends the Jews in his epistles to Gentile churches. That’s why he reminds the church at Rome (which would have had large numbers of both Jewish and Gentile believers) that “there is no distinction.” Things like race, ethnicity, previous religious background, etc. have no bearing on one’s status before God, and, therefore, should have no bearing on one’s status before believers. All of us are sinners deserving of hell. All of us are saved by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who made propitiation for our sins by his blood. Paul told the Galatians that there “is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Gal. 3:28) and the Ephesians that Christ himself tore down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile and reconciled them both to God and to each other (Eph. 2:11-22). In Revelation, John makes it clear that every tribe, every language, and every people group will be represented in the multitudes of worshippers around God’s throne. When it comes to the spread of the gospel, we need to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of only being concerned with those who are like us racially, ethnically, religiously, or nationally. As we see in Acts 1:8, we need to be involved in the spread of the gospel to those most like us (Jerusalem), those who might be a little different than us (Judea and Samaria), and those who are a world apart, literally or figuratively (to the end of the earth).
3. The gospel is urgent. A common objection to the exclusive claims of Christ and his Church is, “What about the people who have never heard?” I’ve even heard Christians ask that question and then use it to begin questioning the exclusivity of the gospel. But that should never be the case. The question, “What about the people who have never heard?” shouldn’t make us question the gospel; it should make us share the gospel. After reasserting that all men are sinners and need to call on the name of the Lord, Paul immediately asks, “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?” These are rhetorical questions. The implication is that Paul’s readers should take it upon themselves to preach the gospel. The fact that there are people (even in our own country) who have never heard the true gospel should drive our missions and evangelism efforts.
4. The gospel is indeed good news. Paul’s quote in verse 15 (“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”) is the beginning of Isaiah 52:7. It was not uncommon in the 1st century for a Rabbi to quote only part of a verse in his teaching, expecting their audience to know the rest of it from memory. The rest of Isaiah 52:7 and the succeeding verses tells us what that good news entails:
7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.
The gospel is not just about what we avoid (hell). When we share the gospel, we are preaching a message of salvation, peace, restoration, and comfort. We are declaring that Messiah has come to reconcile us to God and that he will come again to set all things right. We are calling all nations to come and worship the God of Israel. The gospel is good news! And we should share it joyfully, not begrudgingly.
Things to Reflect on in Light of this Passage:
1. Do I understand the simplicity of the gospel? Or do I try and add good works and my own efforts to what Christ has already accomplished?
2. Do I have any prejudices that hinder my sharing of the gospel? Do I erect walls that Christ has already torn down?
3. Does the thought that people could perish in hell without ever hearing the gospel drive me to participate in evangelism and missions? Or does the fact that I have been saved make me content enough to not get involved?
4. Do I see the gospel as good news to be shared with all men, whether Jew or Greek, black or white, rich or poor, male or female? Do I see it as God reconciling all things to himself and restoring creation? Or do I see it simply as the spiritual equivalent of a “get out of jail free” card?