Main Point: A person must obey the gospel in order to be saved.
As a church family, we have had an eventful 2017 in the area of heart health. We have learned about heart attacks, stints, and bypass surgery. Some, with borderline blasphemy, have joked about vegetarian pot luck suppers. Seriously, every one of us should be concerned about our own and our neighbor’s heart health. We care for one another. Caring for one another’s physical health is a normal part of being family. We love one another by helping solve problems. Once we know there is a problem we figure out how to fix the problem and then we act. Figure out the fix and act. It is not enough just to know there is a problem; we must know how to fix it. And it’s not enough to know there is a problem and a fix; we must put the fix into operation. A person has hardening of the arteries because he eats French fries for every meal. The fix is to stop eating French fries and start eating green vegetables. But will he do it? If he wants any benefit from the knowledge he must act on it. Put the French fries down and pick up the sugar snap peas. See the problem, find a solution, put the solution into practice.
Okay, let’s say our fighter verse for this week, Romans 6:23. For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Work the pattern of problem, solution, act. Thinking about Romans 6:23, what is the problem? The problem is we are dead. We are slaves of sin who will get a slave’s wage. What is the solution? The solution is to get eternal life that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is crucial to put this solution into practice. Romans 10:14-17, our sermon text for today, explains how to put the solution of Jesus Christ into practice.
The question God wants to answer for us is this, what does it look like to call out to Jesus and be saved? How does it happen that a person confesses, believes, and is saved? To be specific, what must our evangelism look like so that our coworkers, neighbors, and family hear the gospel so that they can respond to the gospel? We’re talking today about evangelism. A person must obey the gospel in order to be saved.
Read Romans 10:9-17
I. A person must hear the gospel to be saved
We often think of salvation in over simplistic terms of heaven and hell but
- Salvation is reconciliation with God
Escaping hell and gaining heaven are only byproducts of the glorious end of salvation. The goal of the gospel is to get you back to God. What was lost in the Garden of Eden is restored through the word of Christ. We lost access to the loving, powerful, wise, and infinite God. We lost God when we sinned. Think back to Romans 5. What does Romans 5:10 say the death of God’s Son secures? We are reconciled to God by the death of his Son. What do Christians do? Romans 5:11, we rejoice in God. Reconciled to God; we celebrate God. Reconciled to God; we delight in and enjoy God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And our rejoicing depends on Jesus because through Jesus we receive reconciliation with God. God is the goal of the gospel. Jesus is the means.
Have you been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ? Are you depending on Jesus so that you are reconciled to Jesus Christ?
- Salvation is found only in Jesus
Romans 10:9 promises that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. Your good works and your good intentions and your religion cannot save you. You must reject all other attempts at salvation and submit to the righteousness of Christ. The entire argument of Romans 10:13-17 is if you don’t hear about and believe in Jesus then you can’t be saved. Acts 4:12, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Our sin separates us from God, and being in sin, we cannot please God. We need our sin removed and we need to be made righteous. Jesus is the only way to forgiveness and righteousness for reconciliation.
Go back and think over Romans 3-8. The apostle has been laboring page after page and word after word to prove your need for Christ and the sufficiency of Christ. Salvation is found in Jesus. Salvation is found only in Jesus.
Let’s get into the details.
- Salvation starts with God (15)
In order for a person to be saved, two important things have to happen. God must elect and God must send a preacher. Election is explained in chapter 9; God chose to be merciful. Now the emphasis falls on the requirement that God sends a preacher or herald. Look at verse 15. Preaching, biblical gospel preaching, is grounded in the authority of another. You must never believe the gospel because I say it. Children, you must never believe the gospel because your parents say it. The authority behind the gospel is not the authority of a preacher or parent. The authority behind the gospel is God himself.
Remember and rest in the Great Commission. Jesus, the resurrected Lord, has all authority in heaven and on earth. He sends us out to preach the gospel, makes disciples, baptize them, and teach them. It is the continuing presence of Jesus that gives authority to the gospel. With any preaching you must ask, is he preaching Jesus’ gospel? When people knock on your door you need to ask, are they preaching Jesus’ gospel? If it ain’t the apostolic gospel it ain’t gospel. Jesus didn’t send them. God starts salvation by sending his ambassadors out with the gospel of reconciliation. There is a Sender (God) and a preacher (you).
- Salvation requires preaching
Salvation does not require an elder or pastor. Salvation requires a herald, a speaker, or a preacher. Look at the end of verse 14. No one is going to hear the gospel without someone preaching. The message of Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection must be communicated. Share the gospel and if necessary use words, sounds nice but it’s not biblical. You cannot share the gospel without words. The gospel is a message; the word of Christ. You must speak up.
- Salvation requires hearing
It’s time for deep thoughts with Pastor Paul. If a person never hears about Jesus then that person cannot believe in Jesus. If a person never believes in Jesus then that person cannot cry out to Jesus and be saved. Salvation requires both preaching and hearing the gospel. The gospel must be preached and the gospel must be understood. Hearing is more than sounds waves entering your ear canal.
As a dad I regularly say to my sweet children, are you listening to me? Just because I’m saying something doesn’t mean they are listening. I also realize that I may have their attention but they don’t get it. Hearing requires understanding. When sharing the gospel we need to stop and make sure we are being heard. Ask your hearer to put the gospel in their own words. Ask your listener to say it back to you. Check for understanding because
- Salvation requires believing
There is something obvious here, but it’s easily missed. Hearing the gospel does not save anyone. Believing the message does not save. Hearing and believing so that you call on the name of the Lord saves. I hear that heart health requires putting down the fries and eating greens. I believe that to be true but I have to act on it for the message to do me good. So, what’s the difference between believing the message and calling on Jesus? Here it appears that the Holy Spirit is drawing a fine line between believing Jesus is able to save you and calling on Jesus to save you.
Think this way. I can tell you that I have a sure thing stock investment that will pay 100% returns. Let’s imagine you believe me. You believe I have a sure thing that will pay you 100% return. Now, does hearing and believing mean you’ll get the return? No. You have to make the investment. You have to act.
For a person to be saved he must believe Jesus is able to save. I think this is where many of us stop or get stuck. We hear the good news of Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection. We even believe the word of Christ is true but we don’t make the investment.
- Salvation requires calling on Him
To put it simply, you must believe the death and resurrection of Jesus reconciles you to God AND you must ask Jesus to save you. John Stott explains it, “To call on him is, more precisely, to call on the name of the Lord, that is, to appeal to him to save us in accordance with who he is and what he has done. Everyone who thus calls on him, we are assured, will be saved” (John Stott).
Calling on the Lord is submitting to his righteousness. Calling on the Lord is asking him to forgive your sins. Calling on the resurrected Lord is asking him to give you his righteousness. Calling on Jesus is depending on Jesus to reconcile you to God.
If your house is on fire you call the fire department because you believe they will come and put out the fire. I call upon the Lord because I believe Jesus will atone for my sin through his death, make me righteous through his law keeping, and reconcile me to God. The gospel must be heard and believed. Another way to say it is the gospel must be heard and obeyed.
II. A person must obey the gospel to be saved
In the very beginning of this letter, Romans 1:5, the apostle explained his mission as bringing about the obedience of faith. Paul preached the gospel for the obedience of faith. Listen to Acts 6:7, “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” To say the word of God increased is to say people became disciples. To say the word of God increased is to say people became obedient to the faith. Obedient to the faith is another way of saying saved. The Christian is a person who is growing in their obedience to the faith.
It is absolutely beautiful when the true gospel is preached, heard, believed, and leads to a person calling out to Jesus to be saved. Look now at Romans 10:16, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’”
Paul quotes Isaiah 53:1 to show how people hear the good news but do not believe the good news. People will hear the gospel and refuse to obey the gospel. For now, understand that when Romans 10:16 says they did not obey the gospel it is the same as saying they did not believe the gospel. Believe and obey are on parallel tracks.
- We must obey the gospel (16)
This word obey is an amazing word. It is used to announce that the wind, waves, and demons obey Jesus. When Jesus tells the demons to get out then they obey him. When Jesus tells the wind and waves to stop then they obey him. When Jesus commands you to call upon his name in order to be saved, what are you going to do?
Romans 6:16-17 really helps us understand what it means to obey the gospel (see also 2 Thess 1:8; Heb 5:9). Read 6:16-17
To become obedient from the heart is on parallel tracks with believing with the heart. Jesus asks in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ but do not do what I tell you?” Why do you confess with your mouth “Lord, Lord,” but do not believe in your heart that he is the resurrected Lord? You do what you want to do. You say what you want to say. You go where you want to go. What Jesus says doesn’t matter to you. You are your lord, not Jesus. Then you say, “Jesus is Lord,” like a magical incantation to get you out of hell. This isn’t salvation. Why do we say, “Lord, Lord,” but don’t believe he is Lord?
I think it’s because we want the benefits of Jesus without having to submit to Jesus. We don’t want to go to hell or we want to go to heaven so we say the words. We hear the gospel and answer the questions correctly but there is no conviction of sins which leads us to desperately cry out for the sufficient Savior. We hear the gospel and know the words to say to appease parents or pastors but we don’t want to obey the gospel. To obey the gospel means we do what the gospel says to do. Obeying the gospel starts with repentance and faith then continues into every sphere of life.
- We must concentrate on the gospel of Jesus Christ (17)
Church, why is it that some people hear the gospel but don’t believe the gospel? There are two answers as to why the gospel falls on deaf ears. One answer comes from God’s perspective and it is the answer of election. We see this in chapter 9. The Potter has rights over the clay to do what He deems best. The other answer comes from our perspective. Some people don’t believe the gospel because of their own hard and unrepentant heart. People don’t believe the gospel because they do not want to submit to the righteousness of another. So many people, maybe you, would rather have a lonely horrible hell on their own terms than have a glorious eternity with God through the gospel.
Verse 17 clarifies that thing which makes the difference. How are the elect called from darkness into light? How is the heart of stone transplanted with a heart of flesh? The gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, heard, and believed. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. People will be saved because people like you share the gospel.
Look at verse 17 and think carefully. Where does faith come from? Faith comes from hearing. Jay Collier did a great job in October preaching about faith. He showed us from Ephesians 2 that faith is a gift from God. Look again at verse 17. How does God give the gift of faith to men and women? God gives people the ability to repent and believe through hearing the gospel. We must concentrate on the gospel of Jesus Christ. No one will be saved if we are not preaching and explaining the gospel
Think about your neighbors and coworkers. The word of Christ, the gospel of Christ, must be preached and heard so that faith is created. This one who has faith believes the gospel. I am a sinner cut off from God and headed toward judgment, but Christ has come in my place. I believe he died to pay my penalty in my place. I believe he fulfilled the requirements of the law in my place. Jesus is my righteousness and atoning sacrifice so that I can enjoy God. This one who has heard, been given faith, and believes, then cries out to Jesus to save her. Jesus, the resurrected Lord, save me. There is no other way of salvation. This is biblical evangelism.
Here are some helpful questions to ask of yourself or to ask when trying to help a person determine if she has been born again. You should ask your children these questions around the table to help with evangelism and you should ask your family members these questions over pumpkin pie. These questions are meant to help you determine what to talk about next in evangelism and these questions are meant to help you determine if your child should be baptized. This is basic Christianity.
- Who is Jesus?
- What does it mean to be saved? What are we saved from and what are we saved to?
- What is the gospel?
- What does it look like to believe the gospel?
As your pastors, we want to concentrate on the gospel because faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. As parents, you need to be preaching, sharing, and explaining the gospel and the obedience of faith so your child can hear, believe, and call out to Jesus. Your neighbors and coworkers need to hear the gospel in clear and winsome ways. If we aren’t preaching then they aren’t hearing. If they aren’t hearing then they aren’t believing. If they aren’t believing then they are not being saved.
Look down at your feet; them some ugly feet. Look in your hands. You hold the powerful word of Christ, the gospel of Jesus Christ. When those ugly feet take that powerful gospel across the hall or across the street then those ugly feet become beautiful feet. Romans 10:15 is painted over the door so that every time you leave this room you remember the mission. Church, we have the gospel that saves. We have the gospel through which God gifts people with faith. Let’s go and share that gospel. Let’s believe the gospel. Let’s be a people who trust Jesus.