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Sep 22, 2019

Attractive Feet

Passage: Romans 10:12-17

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Romans

Keywords: gospel, romans, missions, witness, support

Summary:

This message looks at WHO God taps to send with His live-changing Gospel and HOW that is to happen in the local church.

Detail:

Attractive Feet

Romans 10:14-17

September 22, 2019

Get acquainted question:  If you were able to leave one last message with the people you love, what would you want it to include?

INTRO:  Sandy & I are headed out on a week of R&R.  One of the primary ways my soul gets refreshed is by beauty.  So we’re going to what we both think is one of if not THE most beautiful spots in the world—the Canadian Rockies.  And I’m taking what I think is THE most beautiful woman in the world with me!  So I am looking forward to coming back refreshed! In fact, we would covet your prayers this week for just that if you think of us…as well as safety in travel.   

            With this reality in mind, as I sat down to write today’s message and studied this week these 2 verses we will look at today in Romans 10, the thought crossed my mind:  what these verses talk about would be one of two or three things I would want you as God’s people who mean most to me in this world to remember.  If God said, “John, you’ve got 3 more Sunday’s to share my truth with Mosaic and then I’m going to call you home,” the truth of this passage is one which I would want you all to embrace as fully as you possibly can.  In that sense, today’s message is one of the most important messages I will ever give. 

            If I’m honest, I’d have to say that these two verses before us today are, on the one hand, verses that may have shaped the direction of our lives more than just about any passage of Scripture. At the same time, I have to say that I sincerely wish that my life to date had been more radically changed by these verses and I continue to hope that my latter years of life will be utterly consumed with the truth of these verses. 

            So if you are just joining us today, we’ve jumped into what will be a new series in the book of Romans.  And we’ve jumped into the very middle of Romans to do so.  I’ve done that because I cannot escape the deep conviction that, as we have been talking the last two weeks, God wants me and you to live out the 2nd of thee greatest commandments.  He wants me and you to truly love our neighbors as ourselves…and He wants us to do that through praying for them—an activity that, if done faithfully and persistently will change us as much or more as those God is saving.  It will, as we have seen, give us such a heart of love and such a devotion to the Gospel of Christ that we may become, like Paul, so loving of our neighbors that we would be willing to go to hell in their place IF it were possible.  That’s a heart and a love that only Jesus Christ knows about and can build into us. 

            So turn to Romans 10 as we read some of the passage we studied last week and all of the passage we are studying today.

Romans 10:9-17

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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 anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

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 about Christ. 

The really good news of this passage is verses 12 and 13—“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  EVERYONE?  Yes, thank God, everyone! 

There is not a sinner in this world, no matter how terrible a person they are, no matter how much catastrophic damage they have done to others, no matter how many murders or wars they have perpetrated, who is beyond the deep love and grace of God such that IF they cry out for God’s mercy through faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for them, will not find very present and eternal salvation.  This salvation by faith in what Jesus has done for us is available to the smallest child with faith, the simplest adult with faith and the most intellectual and powerful person in the world by faith. 

But it is vss. 14-15 that are somewhat the “bad news” of this amazing Gospel.  The “bad news” is that neither Jews nor Gentiles, neither children not adults, neither simpletons nor intellectuals can or will encounter that great salvation unless God does a work in the hearts and minds of those of us who have embraced that salvation.  Why on earth would God make a message so absolutely vital to the temporal and eternal destinies of people on earth dependent on flawed and imperfect human beings like us? 

That is not the main focus of today’s text, but it is certainly a question that begs for an answer.  The best one I could come up with this week is that our salvation was completely dependent upon God the Son, Jesus Christ, doing exactly that for us.  As we will see, in being sent by the Father with a life-saving message and work… and actually coming into this world, veiled in human flesh and nature… and giving us the Gospel truth about salvation by faith only in Him, Jesus Christ,…Jesus has laid out a pattern and life-calling in which He wants every one of His followers to engage during our lifetimes on this earth.  This process of bringing the Good News to people is precisely what will conform us to the nature of Jesus.  It will give us His heart of love for lost people.  It will take us into suffering (and possibly death) for His name sake.  And it will build the very heart of God in us as we do the very things Christ did (but to a much lesser degree) in order to reconcile lost people to God. 

So in verse 14, Paul traces the PROCESS of salvation back from its end product—rescued people. 

CALLING on the “one they have…believed in,”—Jesus—is the last step in the series of events that leads up to people claiming Christ as their own Lord and Savior.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” according to Romans 10:13.  And here Paul is quoting Joel 2:32.  The salvation story has been consistent from O.T. times to today:  you must call on the Lord God to save you…and you must do so out of faith in His mercy and grace, not your ability to live a good or acceptable life (because before a perfectly holy God, none of us can earn or merit salvation). 

Prior to the faith-action of “calling” on the Lord, Paul says that “believing” in Jesus and the Gospel was the antecedent action.  And prior to a heart response of belief had to be a hearing reality of the Gospel.  People must hear about Jesus and what he has done to save them and how they must respond in faith IF they are to ever hope to have saving, believing faith in Jesus. 

But Paul backs it up yet further:  (vs. 14b) “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”  Now we are into the human component of divine salvation.  Notice it isn’t something the unsaved person does at all.  The only real human involvement in salvation other than “faith/belief/acceptance of Jesus” has nothing to do with anything the one being saved does.  But it does has everything to do with those of us who are already saved! 

“And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  15And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” 

This whole miraculous, divine and eternity-changing experience of putting our faith in Jesus is dependent upon somebody sending someone to share the actual truth and message of the Good News of Christ. 

            So the question naturally arises, “WHO should be doing the sending of those who are required to preach if anyone is to believe?”  And the parallel question is, “WHO are the ‘sent ones’ in this chain of Gospel preaching?”

WHO is doing the sending…and who is being sent?

You cannot read the Gospels and come to any other conclusion than that Jesus was sent from the Father to the world AND Jesus’ followers/disciples are sent by Him into the world as well.

  • The very term “Apostle” (apostolos) in the Greek is from the same root word for “sent” in the N.T. (apostello).  Jesus wanted the 12 and the whole world that would listen to them to know that they had been SENT.  Sending was not an afterthought; it was to be at the core of their identity and their job description.
  • Parables that clearly teach God is the one who sends His servants to other people to deliver His gracious invitation to join Him.
    • 22:2parable of the king who held a Marriage Feast for his son. The originally invited guests either all make excuses as to why they don’t want to come OR they actually beat up and murder the ones sent by the king.  So the king tells them to go out into the highways and gather both bad and good people.  Clearly the Father sends His servants of every generation to “find as many as you [can and] invite” them to His Son’s Wedding Banquet (the marriage supper of the Lamb, Rev. 19:9).
  • The Lord Jesus was sent by the Father to bring the Gospel to the world:
    • Luke 4:43
    • John 17:18
    • I John 4:9-10, 14-- This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 
  • Jesus has sent His followers/US to bring the Gospel to the world:
    • Luke 9:2—Jesus sent the 12 into Israel
    • 3:14—The 12 were chosen “so that they might be with Him and He might send them out to preach.”
    • Luke 10:1—Jesus sent the 72 into Israel
    • John 17:18—as God sent the Son, so He sent his disciples into the world.
    • 10:16—we are sent as “sheep among wolves.”
    • John 20:21—Jesus re-sends them just as the Father sent Him.
    • Great Commission: 28:18-20, Mk. 16:15
    • Acts 1:8—local and global witness (which is precisely what happened at and after Pentecost).
    • Romans 10:15—today’s text.
  • The Holy Spirit called and set apart missionaries and the church SENT them:
    • Acts 1:8

Acts 13:2-4-- While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.

  • The church/churches sent the best among them to take the Gospel to distant lands:
    • Acts 13:3-4

God in the person of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is the One who does all this sending (whether it is Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the disciples of Jesus or you and me).

This is the balance to the famous quote of St. Francis of Assisi when he said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.”  The reality is, we can be the most loving people in the world, we can be the best neighbors ever, we can be super-self-sacrificing…BUT if we do not share the truth of the Gospel—WHAT Jesus did for all of us by dying on the cross and WHY it is necessary for people to put their faith in Jesus Christ—people will not be saved.  No one has gotten saved by just watching a Christ-follower live life.  They also had to have someone who explained the simple truth of the Gospel.  They got saved because they believed that Gospel which a Christ-follower “preached”/ explained/spoke to them about.  The Gospel must have words! 

APP: 

  • If you haven’t put your faith in Jesus yet, you are presently an enemy of God and under His judgment and divine wrath because of how much He hates sin and your rejection of His Son’s sacrifice for your sin.
  • If you can’t share the simple truth of the good news of Jesus with someone in about 60-120 seconds, you really need to learn how to do that. Learn from those in our congregation who are gifted evangelists—Pastor Bob, Kelly B., ministry leaders like Tina or Coleen or Darla, Jesse, Andrew, me, etc.  Get a tract like Steps To Peach with God and share that over coffee with people. 

WE ALL who claim Jesus as Savior and Lord ARE the ones sent today to preach the Gospel. 

And WE are the ones charged with sending some among us to the far corners of the world so that everyone has the same opportunity to respond by faith to God’s gracious invitation or reconciliation to Him through Jesus. 

STORY:  Dr. Paul Billheimer in his book, Destined for the Throne, reminds us that “the fate of the world is in the hands of nameless saints.”  He was talking about the unseen and unknown millions of believers through the centuries who take their calling from God to “go and preach the Gospel to all peoples” seriously.  They are people just like us who refuse to miss out on this high and life-changing calling of speaking the Gospel to others AND helping send the Gospel to others they will not meet or know in this life who live in areas of the world needing the Gospel. 

            Paul is not merely appealing to those who have an interest and some sense of calling to bring the Gospel to unreached people in other cultures and countries.  That was his passion most of his born-again life: he always wanted to preach the Gospel to people who had never heard it before.  (Romans 15:10-- It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known….”).  But clearly, he is speaking to ALL of US!  We all have been “sent” by God to take the Gospel to others. 

            In addition, some of US will be sent by the Holy Spirit and this church to foreign countries and people of different cultures.  In order for that to happen, we ALL must decide whether or not we will obey God’s call to financially and prayerfully support them so that they, in fact, are “sent”. 

APP:  Here is another thing I love about Mosaic.  For a small church, we are rich in people who have said “yes” to the call of God to leave family, leave friends, leave their home church, Mosaic, and literally risk their lives taking the Gospel (and others who preach the Gospel in hostile and distant places) to people groups needing Christ.  We currently have…

  • 4 aviation couples in various stages of training and support-raising. (McKinnons, Flensburgs, Brumleys, Ottosons)
  • 2 aviation singles (one engaged) also preparing to do the same thing (Luke & Jason)
  • 4 couples (Bitners, Forrers, Sam & Krista, Wegners) who have been with us over the last 5-10 years who are either on their chosen field of service or raising support to go to do everything from flight to Bible translation to church planting (Ecuador, Austria, Russia, undecided).

Challenge:  Just as we are all to be sharing the Gospel as often and as consistently as possible with anyone without Christ, the pattern of the N.T. church would seem to indicate that we ALL should be sending those whom the Holy Spirit is indicating should go.  That “sending” means financial support.  That is the meaning of the term in the N.T. “sent on their way.”  It means they supported them to do what God had called them to do. 

            Here’s my CHALLENGE.  I’d like EVERY ONE of US to do one of the following options.  I guarantee you that when you stand before our Lord Jesus after this life is over, none of you who take up this challenge will have any regrets for doing so.  Conversely, I think that any of you who don’t grab onto at least one of these two options will probably face some regrets.  Here is the challenge:

Either…

Choose 1-3 of these amazing individuals/couples to financially support as long as God gives you breath on this earth. 

At least 95% of us here today receive money to live on every month.  It may only be SSI or EBT or minimum wage OR it may be a solid monthly salary or pension.  If God gives you $500/month, you can support one of these people for at least $10 or more/month.  Fast one meal a week and you’ll have your $10.  You’ll also have a deeper experience with Christ and an eternal connection with what God is doing to rescue sinners around the globe in our generation.  If you make $5,000/month, you won’t regret one iota in eternity giving $500/month to advance the kingdom around the world.  That’s “Option #1.”   

OR “Option #2”:

  • Decide to support ALL of them (and any others that God brings to Mosaic in the future) for SOME amount. Exercise some fresh faith every year by taking on another missionary for $20 or $50 or $100/month. 

Again, when we stand before the Lord we love in the final judgment AND we look around at the faces of people who you never met in this life but will be there because you invested in these dear missionary’s lives, I know you will only feel regret IF you didn’t commit to one of these two challenges.     

            In coming days, we will be hearing more and more from these God is sending out from Mosaic.  We’ll have their prayer cards available for you to take in the foyer, stick in your Bible or prayer journal and pray for regularly.  We’ll show you very concretely how to get on their support team.  But each of us must ask ourselves Paul’s question here in Romans 10—“How will unreached people in other parts of the world believe in Jesus Christ unless I/WE send these willing, eager, trained, tested and prepared people among us now?” 

STORY:  I’ve told you before about Dick Shanks who was the initial moving force behind helping us buy this building here in Spokane.  Because he used his own resources from a printing business he had here in Spokane, 5-6 million people in Africa have had the Gospel presented to them in person and over 1 million of them have made a profession of faith in Christ

STORY: F.C. Case in Look What God is Doing by Dick Eastman, pp. 183-185. 

F.C. Case, like Dick Shanks, was not a man of great means.  In fact, even when he was well past 70, he still read by the light of a kerosene lantern.  Only a few years before his death at age 86 did Frank finally bring electricity into his cabin. 

            This old man’s diet often consisted of little more than a ten-dollar bag of pinto beans, which he said might last him almost a month.  His sole income in his later years came from cutting and chopping wood in the Carolina hills and selling that firewood in nearby towns.  (He never owned a chainsaw!). 

            F.C. Case entered life, as he put it, “a full-blooded Baptist,” and he joined his church officially at age 16.  Shortly after becoming a Christian, Frank began giving to missions.  He tithed faithfully to his church and often doubled and tripled that amount to missions. 

            During the Great Depression, Frank earned as little as 50 cents a day working on bridge construction, even less when he made bricks or sold wood.  Because 15 people were eating from his table, he had to stretch a bag of pinto beans for up to two months—though he admitted that he was never quite sure how he did it.  But he never wavered from his commitment to give to missions.  By the end of the Depression, he was giving $10/month to missions—a remarkable sum when you consider that it was equivalent to the price of 2 months of food. 

            Early in the 1950s, at a church missions convention, the Lord spoke to F.C. about giving $1,000 to buy Christian gospel literature for India.  A few weeks later, Frank heard Jack McAlister over the radio talking about the ministry of Every Home Crusades throughout the world at that time.  (That’s the same organization that will be here at a luncheon this Tuesday to help Spokane mobilize God’s people to love every neighbor through prayer and witnessing over the next 3 years.)  Frank sent them an initial gift of $2.  He considered it a small down payment toward his overall goal of $1,000.  That year he gave $1,000 by faith…and had food on his table. 

            Through the years Frank’s gifts grew remarkably.  It often seemed he was giving everything he had except the few dollars he needed to eat off of.  Many months, Frank sent as much as $600, all earned from cutting wood in the North Carolina hills.  And he always sent his money covered with prayers. 

            As he kept hearing about how inexpensive and effective systematic literature evangelism is, he was inspired to do much more.  He calculated how many people he could reach with a dollar.  (At the time, $1 would provide a Christian tract for 100 families.)  Frank set a personal goal of reaching 10 million people with the Gospel in his lifetime.  When F.C. Case died in 1976, he was 2 million short of reaching his goal.  But he entered heaven knowing that 8 million people in scores of nations around the world had received a gospel message personally from some believer in those countries.  His faithfulness made it possible for national believers to reach 8 million people with the Gospel. 

[The following is taken from a message delivered by John Piper to a missions convention called “Cross 2019” in Louisville, KY in January 2019.  See https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/make-your-life-count

And what of those who risk their lives to take the Gospel to those around them and those distant from them?  Romans 10:15 tells us they…we…are people of beautiful feet in God’s sight. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  The world will not think so. But God does.

I’m guessing that most of us in this room think of ourselves as pretty average when it comes to our looks. We’re not very handsome. We’re not very pretty. We’re mostly just plain. That’s good. God probably doesn’t want us to be distracted by caring too much about our looks.

But I can tell you an infallible path to great beauty: risk your life, your reputation, your friendships, your family’s approval…risk something to tell others the good news of life in Jesus Christ!

The reason I say, “risk your life,” is because Romans is crystal clear: “We suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:17). And this suffering is both the daily groaning of all our normal sorrows (Romans 8:23), as well as the suffering from opposition to the gospel: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword. “As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered’” (Romans 8:35–36).

Most of the unreached peoples of the world are now embedded in cultures that are hostile to Christians. This dare not stop us. Jesus said he would build his church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). He said in Luke 21,

“You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Luke 21:16–19)

This mission will not be finished without martyrs! At the end of Romans, Paul sends greetings to Prisca and Aquila. And here is what he celebrates about them:  Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life. (Romans 16:3–4)  And so it will be. Until the mission is finished and the Lord returns.

I close with a story and a challenge I gleaned from an address Pastor John Piper gave in January of this year (2019) at a missions conference filled with young people just like the ones among us whom we are sending out from Mosaic these days.

The Call of Eagle Hill

John and Betty Stam graduated from Moody Bible Institute and went to China as missionaries with China Inland Mission. They served from September 1932 to December 1934, just 2 years.

On Thursday, December 6 of 1934, the Communists swept into their village and took them captive. They were 25 years old and had a 1-year-old daughter with them. Saturday, December 8, the Communists announced in the streets that the foreigners would be executed. The reason: “The foreigners have ruined China . . . ”

They stripped them of their outer clothing and led them to place called “Eagle Hill.” The baby was left behind. John Stam was ordered to kneel before his wife.

While speaking softly with his wife, a young soldier beheaded him with a huge sword. Betty did not scream. She trembled and lay down on John’s body. The same sword was lifted, and Betty joined her husband before the King of kings.

That story will probably be told of some of you in this church.

There is no way forward in Gospel ministry without sacrifice

There is no way forward in world missions without martyrs.

We don’t come to church to make our lives easier. We come to make our lives count!

Let’s not waste our lives on superficial things.

Let’s grow deep.

Let’s get ready to die well.

Let’s give ourselves unreservedly to what really matters. Take hold of life, which is life indeed.

Let’s turn off the television…at least occasionally.

Let’s shut down our video games…at least periodically.

Let’s go deep with God.

Let’s be much alone with Him and with the most radical Christians we can find.

Let’s memorize Romans 8, and make it the charter of our life. Preach this to yourself every day.

And when we come to die, let it be the last words on our lips:

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

   “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
   we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31–39)

This is our message for our neighbors and the nations. This is our hope in suffering. There is no greater message…and there is no greater hope.