How shall they hear without a preacher?

In God’s plan, preachers are indispensable. They proclaim the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. To understand why preachers are necessary, we must understand the nature of the gospel. Paul explains this in Romans.

Because everyone sins (Romans 3:23) everyone needs God’s grace.
Paul said about certain Jews: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).

We must submit to God’s righteousness to be saved. This requires obedience. Paul says in verse 16: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel.”

Because of our sin, we can never establish our own righteousness, but we can be obedient. We must obey the gospel. Being obedient is not the same as being without sin. Someone who is obedient strives to do the will of God. Although no children are perfect, some are obedient.

“The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). God’s Son was sent as Savior for those who have an obedient faith: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’ But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘ Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”

Christ is the end of the law because He offers righteousness from God that depends on obedient faith rather than perfect law-keeping. In chapter 8 Paul explained: “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3, 4).

When Christ died on the cross He paid the price for sin. This enables God to forgive sinners without overlooking sin. Christ met the requirement of the law in our stead. Because of this grace, perfect law-keeping is no longer required. Those who have an obedient faith, who confess their faith and call on the name of the Lord can be saved.
This good news must be preached! “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). “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Before people can be saved, the good news of salvation by grace must be preached. The one who hears must believe with his heart and confess with his mouth that Jesus is the Christ.

After the resurrection, before ascending to the Father, Jesus commanded His followers to preach the good news to everyone in the whole world. “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem’ ” (Luke 24:45-47).

When Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at table, He told them: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16).

Before He ascended to the Father, He said to them: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Joel prophesied that after God poured out His Spirit, “Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Joel 2:32). On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was pour out (Acts 2:1-4) and Peter preached the good news “That whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

How were his hearers to call on the name of the Lord? They were told: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Later, after Saul of Tarsus believed and repented, he heard from the preacher sent to him: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

Thus “calling on the name of the Lord” requires that the gospel be preached, that the hearers believe it, repent, confess their faith and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.

Paul was so thankful for God’s grace that he preached the gospel the rest of his life.

We need grateful men today who will dedicate the rest of their lives to preaching the gospel.

As Paul explains: “ ‘Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 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?” (Romans 10:13, 14).

What is your task in the body of Christ?

Each member has an important job to do in the church (Romans 12:4-6).

Every Christian dedicates his whole life to God and use his abilities in God’s service. What you do for the Lord now is just as important as preaching, but we do urgently need more preachers, men who are willing to dedicate their lives to proclaiming the gospel.
All of us can pray that such men might arise. Jesus said: “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).
And we all can help to send.

What traits are needed to preach the gospel?

You must know the truth and you must have faith. Paul wrote: “I was appointed a preacher and an apostle -- I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying -- a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7).

When Paul preached, he spoke the truth. The world already has too many men who preach lies. So please do not preach unless you preach the truth.

To know the truth you must know the Scriptures. You must strive to be “mighty in the Scriptures” like Apollos (Acts 18:24). You must follow the example of Ezra: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

Preaching requires faith. You must depend on God, not man. Men will betray you. Your brethren will disappoint you. Many will oppose you. But you can always depend on God and to Him you must look for sustenance.

You must be humble to preach. This is associated with faith. Humble men trust in God, whereas arrogant men trust in themselves. A preacher’s goal must be to glorify God, not to glorify himself.

If you think you lack the ability to preach, God may want you to preach anyway, because then you will trust in Him and the power of His word, and not in your own ability.

When God called Moses, he objected: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). What did God reply? “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:12). Do you recall what Jesus said after giving the great commission? “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

When God called Jeremiah, he objected: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth” (Jeremiah 1:6). What did God reply? “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:7, 8). Jeremiah explains further: “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’ ” (Jeremiah 1:9).

Jeremiah was to place his confidence in the word of God, not in his own ability to speak. Jeremiah was an inspired prophet. God revealed to him directly what he was to say.

Preachers today are not inspired, but must study the Scriptures to know what to preach. But when, on the basis of that study, they preach the word, God’s word is in their mouth, and they can preach with confidence. As Paul says in our text: “ ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach)” (Romans 10:8).

You do not have to be an orator to preach the gospel. God’s word is powerful enough to accomplish God’s purpose. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10, 11).

Paul was not an impressive speaker. His detractors said of him: “For his letters ... are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10).

Paul placed his confidence, not in his own ability, but in the power of the gospel. He wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is God’s power unto salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 RD).

Someone who preaches, deserves support: “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). “And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15).
But a real preacher will preach whether he is supported or not. What preacher could be more dedicated than Paul? Yet he often lacked support (1 Corinthians 4:11; Philippians 4:11-15). Paul worked with his hands as a tentmaker to supplement his support (Acts 18:3; 1 Corinthians 4:12). Lack of support is no excuse for not preaching.

If you preach, you are a preacher, whether you are supported or not. Many preachers through the centuries have supported themselves.

To preach, you must be willing to sacrifice. Most gospel preachers could earn more doing something else. You must be willing to suffer. Paul wrote: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12). To Timothy he wrote: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

The world is lost in sin. The gospel is God’s power to save, but first people must hear the gospel, and how shall they hear without a preacher? Preachers are needed. Who will dedicate the rest of his life to preaching the gospel of Christ?

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive