Who Hath Believed Our Report
Our Response

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 51c of 83


[In our previous two instalments of this article, we saw how the apostle Paul is actually alluding to Isaiah 53 as the Old Testament report of the gospel. In this concluding part, we must consider what our response should be to the gospel and to the fact that so few believe it. -JJL]

3. Our Response

Paul says:

“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” (Rom 10:16).

The report is essentially the gospel, as we saw. When we speak about the gospel we are speaking the good new of salvation for sinners by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the Gospel is not just a concept. It is not just some idea that the church has. It is essentially a historical record. This is why we talk about the four Gospels.

The four Gospels are good news because they contain the historical accounts, or reports of God’s plan of salvation for His people.

So Isaiah’s report is essentially the gospel. When then? What are we to do with the gospel, or the report?

Now, it is interesting to note how Paul speaks about obeying the gospel. How do you obey the gospel? We can understand what it means to obey the Law. But what is it to obey the gospel? Well, to obey the gospel is simply to repent of our sins and to believe in the content of the gospel and to live in accordance to the teaching of the gospel.

The whole problem with the Jews is that they did not believe the Gospel. This is remarkable because the gospel was so clearly prophesied by Isaiah, and so definitely fulfilled in time.

Many of the Jews either saw the Lord or heard about Him. If they would only compare what happened in Jerusalem with what the prophet Isaiah said, it would have been hard for them not to come to any conclusion, but that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah prophesied by Isaiah.

But sadly they would not believe. They were blinded by their sin so that they could not acknowledge their sin and their inability to obtain righteousness from the law.

This was a matter of great grief for the apostle Paul. Remember how he preached to the Jews at Rome when he was awaiting to be tried by Caesar. Paul would certainly have preached from Isaiah 53. But what was the response of the Jews? They refused to believe.

Was Paul surprised? No, he was grieved, but not surprised: for the prophecy of Isaiah has already indicated that the Jews would not believe. Thus Paul say (and this is recorded in Acts 28)—

25b Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” (Acts 28:25-28).

Now in our text, the apostle is again reminding us of how the Jews rejected the Gospel, and how it was prophesied by Isaiah. Look at verse 20-21—

20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Rom 10:20-21).

Today, the gospel is being preached to us Gentiles, in fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah. The Jews would not believe: so God has begun to raise up an Israel of God from amongst the Gentiles.

Today, we may worship the Lord in an exclusively Gentile church because God has, according to His plan, extended the Gospel to us. God is raising up His Israel again—with Gentiles such as ourselves.

But what is it that makes us different from the Jews so that we believed while they did not? Are we better than the Jews? Are we more intelligent than the Jews? Did we see something the Jews in Paul’s days did not see? Do we know anything that they did not know?

The fact is: we know what the Jews knew. In fact, many of the Jews had the privilege we do not have, namely, of seeing and hearing the Lord in person.

What then is the difference between us and the Jews?

The difference, we must realise, is grace. The Messiah, as Isaiah puts it, “bare the sin of many.” He did not bear the sin of all. He did not bear the sin of the Jews who were rejected. These remained in unbelief.

But if you are a child of God, you can have the assurance that Christ bore your sin to the Cross.

He suffered for you. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. He was slaughtered for you. Did He owe you anything that He should die for you? No, no, He owes no man anything. Yet He willingly suffered for us.

Conclusion

How shall we respond to these things?

·        Let us, first of all, answer the prophet Isaiah’s question. Isaiah ask: “Lord, who hath believed our report?” Are you able to answer with conviction: “Lord, I believe! Lord, I believe all that is recorded in the gospel record”?

If you are able to say that, you have crossed the major hurdle. But you still need the Lord’s continual nourishment. You need the Lord’s refreshment to keep you in the race.

For this reason he has given us the means of grace, of which the Lord’s Supper is a very important one. So as you make use of the means, will you not ask the Lord to strengthen your faith and your love for him?

Ask the Lord to nourish your soul so that your faith may grow and you may find strength to battle against the devices of the wicked one—who would daily cast arrows of doubt in your direction.

·        But secondly, will you not think of how greatly the Lord Jesus loves you in laying down His life for you that you may live? Will you not resolve to lay down your lives for Him, and for His church which He purchased with His body and His blood?

Will you not shod your feet with Gospel shoes and run the Christian race with your eyes of faith fix on Christ the author and finisher of your faith?

Do not allow yourself to be entangled by sin in your life. If you would obey the gospel, do not carry any weight of sin as you run the Christian race. Cast them upon the Lord by confessing and repenting of them.

And do not be distracted by the idols of the world which are craving for your attention. If you would obey the Gospel, do not allow any idol to live in your heart. Continue to look unto the Lord Jesus as you run. Anything that causes your eyes to turn away from Him so that it becomes more important to you than trust and obedience to Christ has become an idol to you. It may be your educational qualification; it may be your salary; it may be your insurance policy; it may be your latest camera or mobile phone. Whatever it is, if it takes your eyes away from the Lord, or makes you stop on your track: it has become an idol. Oh will you not repent of your idolatry, and again run with the Lord.

And again, as you have cross the major hurdle of believing the gospel, do not allow questions about peripheral issues delay you too long. When you are running in a race, and it is a long race, you may sometimes have to stop to tie your shoe lace. But you should do so only if you are in danger of tripping over. If you are not going to be affected by it, do not stop running. Leave the loose end dangling and run on. You can tie the shoe lace when you reach the end of your race.

·        Let us, thirdly, resolve to join the prophet Isaiah in spreading the Gospel Report. Let us pray that the Lord will raise up more preachers to preach the Gospel: for faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

If you are not prepared to say, “Lord sent me,” will you not resolve to pray for, and to support those who are called to preach?

And moreover, though you may not be called to preach, will you not resolve to gossip the Gospel wherever you are?

You do not know a lot of theology? Do not be discouraged from being a witness of the Lord. Talk about the Gospel Record! Talk about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ! That is all that is required. Talk about how He died for sinners. Talk about how His lived again for our justification.

Will you not resolve to talk to someone this week, if not this day? Talk to the person beside you in the bus or MRT. Talk to the man manning the petrol kiosk, or give him a tract.

A beloved brother in Christ was telling me of how almost every morning when he is taking the MRT to work, someone, a stranger, would intentionally bump into him. He does not know why, and never got to ask. But he was getting increasing irritated. One day he told me that the next time the man bump into him, he would confront him and bring him to the station manager. Well, one day, I received an SMS to inform me that the man had bumped into him again. So I asked him: “Did you bring him to the control station?”

The reply that came back was, and I quote: “I gave him a tract. For the Bible teaches us, ‘Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good’ (Rom 12:21).”

Dear reader, have you done good to anyone in the week past? Will you not do good to someone this week by giving him a tract or telling the Gospel Report? Amen.

—JJ Lim