Romans 10:14: What about the unevangelised? Part One
Where do those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ go when they die? This is the question that is forced upon us this morning as we continue with Romans 10:14. Paul is talking about Jewish unbelief in 9-11. He has spoken about Gentiles being included in the people of God by faith but the large part of the Jews not being saved because they were trying to manufacture a righteousness by law keeping instead of accepting the free gift of Christ’s righteousness by faith. Paul has spent some time proving that the universal way of salvation for all is by faith and concluded with a quote from the OT, ‘For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved,’ v13. The rest of chapter 10, in v14-21 Paul proves the culpability of Jewish unbelief showing how they have had opportunity to believe and have not. In the argument Paul uses general teaching about how one gets saved to prove his point. Paul points out a 6 step causal chain that leads to salvation. John Stott reading it in reverse order to the way Paul states it writes, ‘Christ sends heralds; heralds preach; people hear; hearers believe; believers call; and those who call are saved.’ Or to follow the thought flow of the text, there is no calling without believing; there is no believing without hearing; there is no hearing without preaching and there is preaching without sending. It is self-evident that Paul argues from the general truth of the way a person is saved to the point that the Jews are very guilty for rejecting the gospel. Christ has sent, the heralds have preached, the Jews have heard but they have refused to believe because they cling to their own righteousness instead of Christ.
When I was in Bible College this was a hot topic. I remember arguing with my lecturers about this issue, and I remember asking the systematic theology lecturer what he thought would happen to those who do not hear. His answer was very powerful because he quoted scripture, ‘And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?’ We have just had a message on the mission of the church where we emphasised the importance of reaching the unreached. Think of this message as a part two to that sermon. I hope that what you hear from these verses will encourage you who do not normally come in the evening to come to the evening services where we will be showing mission related DVDs. Today we are going to take a short look at the hard questions and it is my goal that we come away with the same life shaping conviction that Paul speaks of in 2 Cor. 5:10-11b, ‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear/terror of the Lord, we persuade others.’ And so we will look at what the bible has to say about the unevangelised. We will look firstly at the question of what happens to babies and the mentally disabled and then we will look at the case of those who have not yet heard.