Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: Romans 10:13-17

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Quite often, the most difficult questions to answer are the ones that begin with the word Why?  For instance, at some point we have probably asked ourselves or other people questions like, “Why is the sky blue?”  Or, “Why is it so cold today?”  Or, “Why do solar and lunar eclipses happen?”  You might know the answers to those questions, but you didn’t always know.  If you do know, it’s because you did some scientific research, and by reading a book or a website or asking an expert, you found out how the world works—that there are a whole lot of cause-and-effect relationships built into God’s creation.

But not every question is scientific in nature.  Not to mention, of course, there are far more serious questions that we long to answer.  Why do bad things happen?  Why do people have to die?  The more personal the question, the shorter the question might be….”Why this?”…”Why now?”…”Why me?”…Sometimes it’s just, “Why?”  And these are the kinds of questions that only one expert can answer, and he seldom satisfies our curiosity.  God doesn’t give us all the answers we are looking for.  At the same time, he does give us a book to read and search and study, and in his Word he reveals himself and his will and his plans for us, at least as much as he wants us to know and trust and apply to our lives. 

Today’s reading of God’s Word leads us to see how God works his plan in our world.   In a series of questions, God through St. Paul tells us how he works his plan to save sinners, so that we are able to see, appreciate, and then joyfully participate in the Cause and Effect of Salvation.  Before we get to the questions, let’s spend some time looking at the opening statement.  13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  There’s a whole lot of meaning packed into that sentence… “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Saved from what?, someone might ask.  And these verses don’t give us a lot of detail, but everything leading up to these words in the book of Romans does. 

Maybe the best place to look at is in Romans 5, where we have a summary of the need for salvation.  Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—(Romans 5:12).  Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they and every one of their descendants (including you and me) inherited their sin, their guilt, and their death.  God didn’t bring evil into the world; sin did.  And ever since, as we know, evil exists around us and inside of us.  As much as we might hope to advance as a culture, we can’t fix everything.  We can’t even fix ourselves.  We need to be saved, or all we can look forward to is death, here and for all eternity.

By God’s grace, his word doesn’t just reveal the cause and effect of sin, he also reveals the cause of our salvation, and it is found entirely in him and through his Son.  Instead of being given what we deserve, we are given what we could never deserve.  The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  We have the salvation we needed because Jesus entered our world, defeated sin, defeated every attack of the evil one, and conquered death as our perfect substitute.  Not only that, but God worked personally in our lives to bring his message of salvation to us in the work of the Holy Spirit.  God gave us faith, a trust that believes that Jesus’ death and resurrection forgives our sins and assures us of a joyful inheritance in heaven that nothing and no one can take away.  Paul sums all that up in our opening statement.  Everyone who believes in Jesus, everyone who confesses faith in him can be confident that salvation is ours, 100% free to us.  It is a gift.  God is the giver.  Jesus is the cause of our salvation.

Far too often, we are tempted to be content with that.  What I mean is, we don’t always think of the effect of our salvation.  Or maybe it’s just our natural selfishness to think that God’s plan for us is done when we’re ok.  What Paul doesn’t specifically say here, but what we ought to see here and take from that opening statement, is that God’s plan isn’t just about us.  Yes, to be sure, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  That’s true.  At the same time, the reverse is also just as true.  Everyone who does not call on the name of the Lord will not be saved.  They will be lost, and condemned, just like we were until God powerfully worked in our lives through the gospel.  In other words, they are going to hell.  I know that isn’t politically correct to say, but it is absolutely correct in God’s Word. 

That’s where our participation comes in.  In fact, that’s the whole point of this section.  After the opening statement, a series of questions: 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? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

One way to summarize those verses would be to say that they encourage us to remember how God works.  Remember how God worked in you, and go to work for him.  Souls will only be saved if they call on Jesus.  They’ll only call on Jesus if they believe in him.  They won’t believe without hearing about him….so…let’s tell them.  You might not consider yourself a preacher, but don’t overthink it.  Share Jesus with people.  Tell them about the Savior you love, the Savior who loves to save sinners.  Watch for the opportunities, and remember that everyone you meet is someone who needs Jesus: your family members, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers and fellow students, the people you know and the people you don’t know—they all need Jesus as much as you and I do!

What about those you might not get to meet in your life?  God says, “send them a preacher, too.”  Participate in mission work by supporting the work of the church and partnering in the work of the church.  God gave us all different gifts, different abilities, and different roles in the church, but we’re all in the same business of reaching souls for Jesus.  Our work together is the effect of our salvation, because we know the only cause—we have salvation through Jesus Christ alone.  Please don’t ever forget that. 

Think of someone you know who isn’t connected with the Christian church.  Isn’t their eternity worth your time?  Isn’t their eternity worth a generous portion of your money?  Isn’t their eternity worth your effort and energy?  We ought to know God’s answer, because he tells us here.  Jesus would say that their souls were worth dying for.  Their souls are worth your attention, just like yours was worth the time and energy and money of the people who handed the gospel down to you.   So preach—talk to people about Jesus—and keep sending additional preachers out. 

Will it work?  Good question.  And maybe you’ve tried enough times already to know the answer.  Maybe you’ve invited, or you’ve evangelized, or you’ve handed out fliers, or you have prayed and begged and pleaded for someone to know and believe in Jesus.  And maybe you don’t have any huge victories to show for it.  Maybe there are far more rejections than accepted invitations.  Paul knew what that was like.  Here’s the closing words.  16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Don’t let the rejection of some stand in the way.  The cause and effect of salvation hasn’t changed.  Jesus is still the Savior of the world, and those who hear his message are the only ones with a chance of coming to faith.  Keep at it. 

Isn’t that one of the lessons we can take away from today’s gospel?  What did Peter say when Jesus told him to put down the nets?  “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  A rational argument, right?  But what happened when he followed the Lord’s instructions?  When it works, it really works!  Like the disciples, we ought to consider ourselves fishers of people.  Faith comes from hearing the message.  That’s what our Lord tells us.  So let’s keep proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ, as a church and in our lives, trusting that if God saved us with the gospel, he can and will save others.  What a blessing to be a part of God’s plan.  May he give us the strength and the will to continue to carry it out, for the glory of his name and the salvation of his people.  Amen.