Early on in our study of Romans, we established “God’s righteous purposes” as one of the primary themes of the letter. Paul said in the 1:16-17 he is “not ashamed of the gospel, because within the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.” This righteousness that Paul speaks of is more than just God’s perfect character. It also speaks of what God is up to in the world, and what his ultimate plan is for creation. This is the underlying theme of Romans as Paul fleshes out for the Jews and Gentiles of the Roman church what God has been up to, what he continues to be up to, and what he will be up to until all his purposes are accomplished.
What is that purpose? It is nothing less than the redemption of the whole created order. That begins with us, who are the primary things that have gone wrong with creation, but it also extends to the whole cosmos which is cursed under our sin. God’s goal is to bring us back to our intended purpose through redemption in Jesus Christ, so that Christ as Lord might lead us in the life we were always intended to live. This process begins now, in life as we know it, but will not be completed until the resurrection. This is what God has been up to from the beginning. The Jews played an integral part of that story, which was always intended to bring a blessing to all the different ethnic groups of the earth.
But with all of that in mind, Paul now brings us to a crucial point in the latter half of chapter 10: The only way people are going to know about what God is up to is if someone tells them about it! For the Jews, the story of God’s redemption through Christ is the natural end to their several thousand years long epic. But for the Gentiles — that is, all the other nations — they are going to have to be informed about both how God originally worked through Israel, and has now completed that work in Jesus Christ. He is the one the people of the nations must call on if they want to be a part of God’s righteous plan.
So Paul makes a logical chain of remarks. How can they call on the one they have not heard about? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them the story (preaches)? And how can they preach unless they have been sent by God. Paul quotes Isaiah by reminding us, “How beautiful are the feet of one who brings good news!” There is no better news than the proclamation of what God is up to in the world, and how he wants us, and has made provision for us, to be a part of it. You see, that is the whole purpose of the Bible. It is to tell us what God is up to, how he has been up to it in the past through relationships with various people, and how he will continue to be up to it until every last enemy has been defeated.
Unfortunately, following the theme Paul has established already in Romans 9 and 10, many of the people of Israel have not accepted this good news. Why not? Because they thought their ethnic heritage or their dependence on the identifying factors of the law automatically made them a part of the story. Just as unfortunate, many Gentiles (non-Jews) have also rejected the good news for various reasons. How, then, does one become a part of God’s righteous purposes? Paul shows the way in 10:17: It comes by hearing the message of God’s purposes, and responding to it by putting your trust (faith) in God and what he is up to.
This will mean, among other things, taking Jesus up as your teacher, and making God and his kingdom the central aspect of your life. All this takes time, and effort, and loads of God’s grace; but whatever else you may do, it is the central calling on every person’s life. That process begins with a change in your mind. The Bible calls this repentance and faith. It continues with a solid decision to submit to Jesus’ Lordship and teaching by being baptized in water, washing away our old sins. From there, a life full of new adventures awaits as you join God’s redemptive purposes for whole cosmos!
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