“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’”Romans 10:14-15

One of the great moments for a Christian is to be present when a sinner trusts Christ. There is joy when you have a chance to witness the truth of the Gospel. There is also joy to be had when an unsaved person gains spiritual insight from your life and testimony. But to be on hand when the Holy Spirit places spiritual life in a person and in their tears of repentance, lights the flame in their eyes, is one of the great Christian joys on this side of eternity.

To bear witness to Gospel truth is the unique calling for every believer. While some find it easier than others to be outgoing and bold, every Christian is under the command to carry the good news to the lost (Matthew 18:19f). Sure, we are to pray to the Lord of Harvest to send laborers into His field (Luke 10:2), but we must also “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

Faith is essentially believing what God says. The Bible is the only source of the Word of God that we have. This is why Paul says in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Peter says “always be ready to give a defense,” a well-reasoned, articulate, and faithful explanation of your Gospel hope. Paul cherishes the exact same thought throughout the book of Romans. He explains the purpose of bearing witness in Romans 10.

In the context, Paul is teaching God’s redemptive plan as it has to do with the nation of Israel. Romans 9 explains God’s Old Testament choices regarding Israel. Romans 10 shows the effect of Israel’s current national unbelief and shows the open door this has produced for all nations, especially the Gentiles. Romans 11 explains that God will one day turn to Israel, fulfilling all His promises by bringing in the Kingdom and redeeming His chosen people. Right in the middle of these chapters are the precious verses that believers, the world over, rely upon to teach the evidences of saving faith (Romans 10:9–17).

Scriptural faith has three aspects: (1) believing faith, the body of belief we call “the faith”— factual knowledge of the salvific work accomplished by Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection—Gospel Truth; (2) saving faith which is the complete and constant reliance upon the personal application of this salvific work of Christ on your life; (3) living faith which is essentially conforming in obedience and submission to the Lordship of Christ in every aspect of your life.

Somewhere between a sinner’s hearing the truth of the Gospel (the faith) and a repentant sinner’s trusting in Christ (saving faith) God must act upon the unregenerate’s heart and quicken him. It is this miraculous moment of regeneration that is such a holy privilege to observe in someone as they trust Christ. How can you get motivated to witness?

Our verses contain four questions which Paul employs to draw every Christian into individual recognition and ownership of his personal mission on earth. This is the same “indebtedness” that Paul operates under in Romans 1:14f: “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you….” Now Paul desires you to consider your neighbor’s lostness, his poverty, his helplessness, and his dependence, as he has done.

“How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” Lostlessness is having no faith—none of the saving kind of faith which leads to the living kind of faith. The grace of God has not been activated in his life. Your neighbor is dead in trespasses and sins; darkness is within him and without. Your neighbor’s biggest problem is that he is spiritually lost.

“How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? His insurmountable poverty is the fact that he has not heard. If faith only comes by hearing (literally “obey under”) the Word of God, then he has no resource, in and of himself, to discover God’s truth and convert. Your neighbor has no resources to overcome this challenge.

How shall they hear without a preacher? Your neighbor is utterly helpless in spiritual matters. Romans 3:10ff explains, “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands…seeks after God…there is none who does good, no not one.” Your neighbor’s greatest need is Divine help.

“How shall they preach unless they be sent? The only answer your neighbor has to his lostness, poverty, and helplessness is the evangelistic efforts of a believer. It may be in the form of a Gospel tract, a living testimony, a shared word, a gift of a Bible. But somewhere along the line between unbelief and belief, every convert must receive benefit from the sacrifice, faithfulness, and work of a Gospel-obedient believer. Go out there and go fishing for souls! Your neighbor has no choice but to depend upon you! Trust and obey.