“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one in whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” – Romans 10:13–17
Having argued that salvation is the same for both Jew and Gentile, Paul quotes Joel 2:32 and insists that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). This brings him to the subject of the church’s mission. First, he asks how anyone can call on the Lord if he does not trust Him. I don’t ask my auto mechanic to save me from sin because I don’t believe he is able to do that job. In the same way, before I can call on Jesus to save me, I have to know about Him and trust in His ability to do what I am asking.
Second, Paul asks how anyone can trust Jesus if he has never heard of Him. Obviously, before someone can trust in Jesus, he must have heard of Him. Sadly, this message of Paul escapes a great many people in certain churches today. They complain every time there is a fund-raising drive for missions. They view missionaries as imperialists who are destroying perfectly worthwhile pagan cultures. “Just let them keep worshiping ‘God’ their own way.”
Not so, says biblical Christianity. Not so, says the apostle Paul. In order to be saved one must believe in Jesus. It is to save the pagan from the wrath to come that we must send out missionaries.
Third, Paul asks how anyone can hear without someone preaching to him. Preaching the Gospel to the unbelieving world is surely a critical task of the Christian church. There is no other way people can be saved.
Fourth, and finally, Paul asks, “And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (v. 15). It is our duty, yours and mine, to see to it that the preachers are sent out. You may not be called to teach or preach or be a missionary, but you are called to use your money, your tithes, to help send out the preachers into a lost world.