God has appointed the preaching of the gospel as the principal means of bestowing His grace which comes through faith (Rom 10:17). One must believe with his heart in the Lord Jesus and confess Him with his mouth in order to be saved (Rom 10:9-10).
In Romans 10:13, Paul cites Joel 2:32 saying, “Everyone who calls in the name of the Lord will be saved.” He then begins to argue saying, “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!'” (Rom 10:14-15).
Here we can see the apostle’s train of thought. In order to be saved, someone has to hear the message of the gospel and believe in Jesus Christ. However, before someone could believe in Christ, ordinarily a messenger has to be sent to proclaim the good news of Christ. That commissioned preacher then proclaims Christ and His saving work.
Of course, not everyone will listen to the preacher and believe in his message, but those who will believe in the One whom he preaches will be saved. That’s the reason why Paul argues for the necessity of preaching the gospel for someone to have faith, through which salvation is received. He says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). This is how God ordinarily works in the salvation of men and women, young and old.
Not all are saved in the work of Christ. “Only those are saved who by true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his blessings,” as the Heidelberg Catechism phrases it.
Since only by true faith are we saved, what is true faith according to the teaching of the Scripture? “True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in his Word is true; it is also a deep-rooted assurance, created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel (Rom 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor 1:21), that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ (Rom 3:21-26; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-10), not only others, but I too (Gal 2:20), have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation (Rom 1:17; Heb 10:10).” That’s how the Heidelberg Catechism summarizes the Scripture’s teaching on true faith.
The preaching of the gospel, of course, centers on the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ in saving sinners from the wrath of God and in reconciling them back to God. One Christian preacher and author has said it rightly about the core message of the gospel and its continuing need in the life of the believer.
“The heart of the gospel,” says John Piper, “is that Jesus Christ, the righteous one, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation, but everlasting joy, for those who trust him. You never, never, never outgrow your need for this gospel. You don’t begin the Christian life with this and then leave it behind and get stronger with something else. God strengthens us with the gospel to the day we die” (From his sermon, “God Strengthens Us by the Gospel”).
While the preaching of Christ and Him crucified is foolishness for the wise of this world and a stumbling block to unbelievers, it is the wisdom and power of God in saving unworthy sinners from eternal punishment (1 Cor 1:18). The preaching of the gospel is also necessary in the renewal and continuing transformation of the believers.
We all need to hear the constant proclamation of the whole counsel of God in order to grow toward maturity in the faith and to become humble, faithful, and obedient children of God conforming to the image of God’s Son. The faithful preaching of the gospel is all about God and what He has done in Christ and what He is doing by the Spirit, thus giving Him the glory.
The preaching of this gospel may not be popular or acceptable in our materialistic, narcissistic, hedonistic, pragmatic, and pluralistic age. Many churches are tempted to sell it out or water it down to gain worldly and material success or influence. However, faithful preachers and churches must believe in its power to save and transform sinners from the terrible power and effects of sin.
As believers of Christ we must not yield to the temptation to imitate the godless culture around us, even the pragmatic culture that subtly and sadly infiltrates many churches. Let us believe that God is preparing better treasures for us than what the world offers. We don’t have our best life now. That is yet to come.
However, we may enjoy the things God has given us in this life now, thanking Him even if our churches don’t own a lot of things or are not popular in society. We must be even willing to let go of some, if not all, of our earthly goods and relationships for the sake of the gospel and the kingdom of Christ for God’s greater glory. I understand this is easier said than done, but this is the right thing to do and this is part of God’s call to us as His children.