Paul has been establishing the truth of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In his defense of the gospel he has shown that all men, including the Jews, are incapable of attaining to the righteousness of God because of men’s sin nature. Therefore, only those who have faith in Jesus Christ and His work of living a sinless life, dying a sacrificial death, and experiencing a supernatural resurrection, on their behalf, are saved.
In Romans 9-11 Paul was primarily answering the question of why the Jews who had the Word of God were mostly or as a whole rejecting the gospel of Christ and salvation by grace. Let me attempt to briefly summarize the problem of why most of the Jews rejected the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ:
(1) The Jews believed they were God’s elect and special people because they were better people than all other men in the world. This means that they believed in conditional election rather than unconditional election which would make salvation by merit and not by mercy; by works and not by grace.
(2) Since most of the Jews rejected the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, they also rejected the notion that God would save and include Gentiles in His family. By rejecting salvation by grace and attempting to exclude Gentiles from the promises and covenants of God, they excluded themselves. As a result, they did not pursue God’s righteousness by faith but as though it was by works.
(3) Since most of the Jews rejected the Gospel of grace, they were ignorant of God’s righteousness and sought to establish their own. This caused them to reject Christ and the promises of God that are yes in Him. Instead of believing in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead and confessing Jesus as Lord, they did not believe in Him and they did not call on His name. Through this they missed the wonderful promises of God: “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed,” and, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
That brings us to our text where we will see the parameters of salvation.
Anyone can be saved who believes (Romans 10:11-13). I want you to notice something very important in the particular order of the promises found in verses 11 and 13. In verse 11 the promise is that “whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” and in verse 13 the promise is that “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The order here gives you an idea of the parameters of salvation that Paul is talking about in these verses. The logical order is that you believe in Him before you call on Him. It is your belief in Christ that enables your calling on Christ. What is it that you believe? You believe in His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection on your behalf as the only way a holy God can pardon your sins. This enables and motivates you to call out, “Lord, save me.” These two must always go together; believing in the work of Christ and as a result of that belief calling on the name of Christ. Anyone can be saved who believes.
Anyone who believes must hear (Romans 10:14-15). Here we see the parameters of salvation in reverse order. To be saved you must call on Him and to call on Him you must believe in Him and to believe in Him you must hear about Him and to hear about Him someone must tell or preach about Him and to preach about Him you must be sent by God with God’s message about Him and not your own. What do these verses say about people who have never heard God’s message about His Son? Can men be saved without hearing? Must what they hear be the truth about Christ? Look at the description the Bible gives of those who are sent and preach the good news – they are considered to have beautiful feet because they are the vehicles by which the good news about Christ is told.
It is impossible to believe in someone of whom you have never heard. Anyone who believes must hear.
Anyone who hears must heed (Romans 10:16-17). The word “heed” means to obey. The KJV puts verse 16 this way, “But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Esaias saith, “Lord, who hath believed our report?” The ESV puts it like this, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” Notice how the Bible equates obeying or heeding with believing. Hearing the message and not heeding the message is because one doesn’t really believe the message.
In verse 16, many heard but did not heed. They heard but did not believe. They heard but did not obey. Had they believed what they heard they would have obeyed what they heard and would have called on the name of the Lord. Simply put, this means that they would have seen their works as filthy rags and His as beautiful and all sufficient.
Romans 10:16 has to be the most disappointing response to the gospel recorded in Scripture – “They did not all heed the good news.” Isaiah not only experienced this disappointing response from his countrymen, he prophesied about their future rejection of the Gospel – “Lord, who has believed our report?”
Isaiah wasn’t speaking to God as a co-author of the Gospel but was referring to himself and the other prophets as heralds of that message. Isaiah was sent with a message and didn’t manufacture one.
The conclusion is that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word about Christ (Romans 10:17). Men must hear the gospel to believe in Christ and call on His name for salvation. While hearing the gospel doesn’t guarantee faith because men must heed what they hear; not hearing the gospel guarantees no chance for faith in Christ and no chance for salvation.
Anyone can be saved who believes; anyone who believes must hear; anyone who hears must heed. These are the parameters of salvation.