Read This Week: Romans 10
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. – Romans 10:14-17 NIV
We all learn in different ways. We collect, process, and apply information in a manner that is unique to our personalities and cognitive abilities. But one thing is the same across the board, our access to an abundance of information through multiple avenues.
We live in an unprecedented age where we can receive messages in an instant that teach us and contribute to our intellectual, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. Not many people, even in the most remote places, lack the ability to send and receive messages that inform. Knowing this, Christians have an opportunity to use all available resources to share the good news of Jesus Christ like never before.
Although it was different in the ancient world, Paul makes a similar point in Romans 10 that the Israelites didn’t have an excuse for rejecting the message of Christ because they had heard it and had access to the messengers that delivered it including himself. He frames this with several questions about faith and belief coming through first hearing the gospel. He says in verse 14:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Paul’s intent in these questions is to counter the implication that Israel was not at fault in their failure to believe in God’s word because it lacked preachers and exposure to it. He quotes Isaiah 52:7 in verse 15 and Isaiah 53:1 in verse 16 to assert that God had been faithful in sending his messengers, but the message had not been received or embraced. Verse 16 says:
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Paul was applying this truth from the Old Testament to the preaching of the gospel in the present day. He wanted to reiterate the sequence of events that leads to faith in Jesus. It starts with the good news being shared so that people can hear, receive, and believe. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the messenger to deliver the gospel and the responsibility of the person receiving the message to respond.
The focus of this passage is ultimately the message; the gospel of Jesus. It must be shared for people to have the opportunity to believe. Once it is shared, people then have the choice to reject or accept it. The good news is so important and so eternal that the messenger has no excuse not to tell it. And because of its power and vitality, when it is heard, there is no excuse not to do something with it.
Paul writes in verse 15 that beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! This essentially means that in the Christian life, nothing is of greater value, more fulfilling, more worthy, or more impactful than sharing the gospel with our loved ones, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the world. It is a beautiful message that changes everything.