“How are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?”
This rhetorical question by Paul, in Romans 10, comes after argument after argument, case after case of examples as to man’s non-excuse of not only knowing that God exists, but also after describing how man knows that God’s purpose has been violated PERSONALLY as well. It sits juxtaposed to the previous 9 chapters which reveal to the reader that even though man is clearly without excuse regarding general revelation, it is evident that man is ignorant regarding special revelation (who Jesus is and what He did). With this rhetorical question, Paul contrasts elements which appear to be contradictory, because he now informs the reader that man cannot trust in Jesus Christ (who is God) without being told about Him. Yet, in the previous 9 chapters, Paul explains that man is without excuse regarding God’s existence and that God’s purpose has been violated by everyone. Again, it seems like there may be a contradiction, but there isn’t one, because man both knows God and doesn’t know God. Man is not ignorant regarding God in a generic sense, but man is ignorant regarding God in a specific sense.
We all know that “God is there”, as Francis Schaeffer would put it, because God has made it plain to us (Romans 1:19). We just don’t know who He is, and what He did. Such can only be known through evangelism.
It’s why Jesus commanded, not suggested, the following to whom He founded the church upon:
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It’s why Paul then follows his juxtaposed, rhetorical question as follows:
“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? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!””
No one will ever call upon the God they reject unless such a person is, at the very least, evangelized. The Gospel is the means by which God converts or justifies His elect. However, some may argue that evangelism is a waste of time, if predestination is true (Ephesians 1:3-14), because if it was already settled “before the foundation of the world,” then what’s the point of evangelism?
I like the rhetorical question that Sye Ten Bruggencate offers when challenged with this skepticism:
“Does God know whether or not your stomach will be full tonight? Yes, you say? Then, why do you eat?”
We eat because eating is the means by which God fills stomachs. We evangelize because evangelizing is the means by which God fills hearts with the Holy Spirit.
Brothers and sisters:
“They Have Heard of God, But Not of Christ”
Share Him… with the world.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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