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!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14-17 ESV)
As we saw yesterday, the church in North America needs to recapture the truth of the gospel before we can move out to make disciples of all nations. A message of moralistic therapeutic theism or any other message that is not truly the gospel cannot be put forward as the good news of the Creator and Savior of the world. If we or anyone else preaches anything other than the purity of Genesis to Revelation let him be accursed (Galatians 1:9).
Remember we carry a simple declaration from our King, “Christ and Him crucified.” That’s it! As Tullian Tchividjian puts it “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” While there is simplicity in the gospel, we should not mistake this simplicity for weakness or inadequacy. The gospel is dynamis—this is the Greek word from which we get our word “dynamite.” The preaching of God’s Word is able to transform the darkest hearts including the Pharisee’s, the prostitute’s, and the tax collector’s.
However, in our unbelief, we often think that there’s got to be more—more intellectual weight and a slicker way of packaging and presenting the Son of God and the free gift of salvation. We doubt the efficacy of the message. And that’s where we get into trouble. We begin to add baggage to the simple gospel to make it more credible or attractive or unmistakable. Imagine the stupidity and audacity of us thinking that the brilliant glory of Christ is not enough—that He could really use a promotional agent and we’re just the ones to help Him with His image problem! What’s up with that? In our foolishness we miss the point: the preaching of the Cross is foolishness. Paul put it this way: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.…to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God….so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:21ff).
The apostle Paul knew both cognitively and experientially that the gospel is powerful. He was arrested by God’s love while on the way to Damascus to persecute the church. He also saw firsthand how God used the preaching of His Word to open the blinded eyes of pagan Gentiles to faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul was so convinced of the power of the message that he was compelled to go where the gospel had not yet been preached. He wrote the Romans: “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand’” (Romans 15:20-21). Paul, confident of the gospel and God’s calling on his life, was always endeavoring as the pioneer to go into the darkest places with God’s light.
Paul also realized that people would only call on Jesus as they knew and understood the gospel. This understanding is a result of someone proclaiming the truth that Jesus saves. In order for all this to happen, someone has to go. So Paul went and as he went he took others with him that this church planting effort might expand beyond what he could do alone.
As we purpose in our hearts to only know Christ and Him crucified, let us go out in faith believing what God has told us—that He has ordained the silliness of preaching to build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Get over the stigma. God in His “foolishness” is still wiser than all of us put together. Lace up your Nikes and get running … for: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”