For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
This is one of the mountain peaks of Holy Scripture. This significance of this text can hardly be overstated on a couple levels. For one, there is just the good these verses bring to us — we’re told how we can be saved. And then, overall, these verses encapusalte so much of the Bible, of Paul’s theology, of how it all comes together with the people of Israel and the Gentiles, the law and faith and righteousness and how Jesus is what it’s all about.
Jesus, the Better Word
Leading up to verse 13, Paul tells us how Israel has misread the Scriptures. He lays out in detail Israel’s failure to understand God’s righteousness, that is, their ignorance of Jesus (Romans 10:3–4). Paul then goes to the Torah in Romans 10:5 to draw a parallel between that word and Jesus.
Jesus has come down from heaven — we don’t go up to him. Jesus has been raised from the dead — we don’t go bring him up. The point here: it’s not human striving. It’s here. The word is here. Jesus has done it all already and this is what we’re proclaiming. Do you believe?
If you believe (Paul must be excited here!), if you believe, if you confess, you will be saved!
These two expressions, believing and confessing, describe the one reality of faith and lead up to the two Old Testament verses quoted in Romans 10:11 and Romans 10:13. Believe in your heart because everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame (Isaiah 28:16). Confess with your mouth because everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32).
This is good news. No more white-knuckled laboring to establish our own righteousness. No more vain endeavors to impress God by how good we think we can keep his law. No more more searching up or down for someone to come help us.
The Word Is Here
Jesus Christ has come to this earth, God became man. He walked in our shoes and persevered in every way imaginable. Where we can’t but fail, he was faithful and obedient and righteous and true. And then he went to the die for us. The King went to suffer for his people. He took upon himself all of our guilt and shame, all the wrath we heaped up for ourselves by our rebellion against God.
Jesus died for us, and was buried. Then on the third day, he was raised from the dead, and he appeared to Cephas, the twelve, and later to about 500 folks. He was resurrected to be received by faith. For us to turn from our sin and embrace him. He is now ascended and reigning. His kingdom is coming. His word is being proclaimed.
This very word, the one here. The word that declares God has acted. God has done it. The dead-end roads of our efforts are exposed. Now, here is the word, and everyone who believes will be saved. Here is the word — you have heard it — here is what Jesus has done, will you call on him?
1. What must we do to be saved?
2. What do these verses tell us about human effort?
3. How might we tell this good news to others?