Romans 10 begins with Paul’s heart desire and prayer to God for the salvation of his kinsmen Israel. As Israelites, they are members of the external, “ethnic covenant,” they are descendants of Abraham, and they have God’s law and even a knowledge of God in some sense… but they are lost in terms of salvation. So Paul is pleading for them in Romans 10.
At the beginning of Romans 9, in verse 3, Paul refers to them as his brothers “my kinsmen according to the flesh.” And the fact that Israel isn’t responding to the gospel in large numbers doesn’t mean God’s Word has failed to accomplish His design. Just the opposite.
In Romans 10:2, he says Israel has a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. They’re ignorant of God’s righteousness and they try in vain to establish their own righteousness through the Law.
Then, in Romans 10:6, he quotes from Deuteronomy 30:12-13 about ascending to heaven or descending into the depths of the sea (in Deut 30:13 “depths” refers to the sea; in Rom 10:7 “abyss” refers to the grave).
The point is, true faith doesn’t require an arduous quest to locate Christ; rather authentic belief confidently asserts the true Word of the true faith… and that brings us to verse 9.
This is where belief and faith and evangelism are all linked together.
Romans 10 beautifully describes the means God employs to reach His chosen people with the good news about His Son; means such as hearing, and preaching, and sending to make Christ and His gospel known.
Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:7 and employs this metaphor to say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the gospel of good news.” The message is what makes the messenger’s feet or cadence so beautiful to those who are impacted by it.
The gospel is decisive news of victory that Christ has given His people to tell the world. Making Christ known to all is the joyful privilege and responsibility of every believer in Jesus Christ.
I use the word responsibility for a reason: we need to understand that evangelism isn’t optional for us as believers. The church is, after all, an evangelistic enterprise – and evangelism is one of the few projects we can do better on earth than we can in heaven.
If worship for the glory of Jesus Christ is the ultimate mission of the church, then evangelism becomes the penultimate mission of the church because evangelism is the means God has ordained to fulfill the ultimate purpose… to bring in worshipers to glorify His name, beginning on the earth and culminating forever in heaven.
Our mission is not merely to make converts, but to make genuine disciples of Jesus Christ who are truly regenerated, growing in their faith, and able to make more disciples.
It may help to think of evangelism as the means God uses to make Christ known to those who don’t know Him. It can refer to everything that God uses to bring about true regeneration. We’re talking here about gospel encounters with people.
It can refer to witnessing, one-on-one conversations talking about the gospel; quoting Scripture; preaching Scripture; using Scripture-saturated tracts that cross the language barrier and so forth.
Evangelism encompasses every wise, legitimate, and biblical means of reaching the lost with the truth about Jesus Christ. Even grief and tragedy have been great evangelists in the cause of God throughout redemptive history. That’s what Romans 8:28 is all about.
And the reason evangelism is so important is that it’s the prerequisite for making disciples… and that’s the Great Commission. Making disciples begins with evangelism and leads to growing conformity to Christ for the remainder of life.
Evangelism is one of the ways God’s people are reminded of the need to continually sow gospel seeds, where in America, even many churches are like mission fields where the lost need to hear and believe the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
The scope of evangelism encompasses every human being. We don’t know whom God has chosen for salvation or not. Our charge is to obey our Master who gave a very clear commission.
In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus says,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [On that basis…] 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus told His followers to go into all the world… that’s the missionary enterprise of crossing into other cultures to make the saving gospel message known to every individual within every culture.
Evangelism aims at regeneration with a view toward making disciples. But it doesn’t require a positive outcome (in terms of having someone receive Christ with you on the spot) in order to be deemed effective or successful. One sows, another waters, but God must give the increase (1 Cor 3:6). Man sows, but only God saves.
In other words, when you present the gospel faithfully and accurately, even if people do not come to Christ and do not respond affirmatively to your faithful presentation of the gospel, that doesn’t mean you have failed as an evangelist. That’s the confidence of knowing your mission.
The evangelist is not responsible for the final outcome of the harvest; the evangelist is only responsible for the faithful sowing of the seed. Therefore, be faithful to the truth of Christ revealed in Scripture and you cannot fail as an evangelist.
All for His glory,