How Shall They Hear
Denis Clapham, Birmingham
The apostle Paul was appointed by Christ Himself 'a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles', 2 Tim. 1. 11. He was commissioned and sent as one who was fully aware that a dispensation of the gospel had been entrusted to him. He had no alternative but to obey his calling, hence he wrote, 'For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if i preach not the gospel', 1 Cor. 9. 16. Is it any wonder, then, that we should find a 'text' for his life's work as a bond slave of Jesus Christ in Joel 10. 13? - 'For over whose shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved', Rom. 10. 13.
The apostle gave much thought, not only to his calling, but also to the message he preached and to the people he had to reach. 'For him it was not a case of going where others had gone before, but of always reaching out to break fresh ground. He was a true pioneer to the unevangelized, as he said to those who had been saved through his preaching to them: 'to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand', 2 Cor. 10. 16. He reasoned like this, if people must call upon the name of the Lord to be saved:
i. 'How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?'
ii. 'And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?' hi. 'And how shall they hear without a preacher?'
iv. 'And how shall they preach except they be sent?'
This is the balanced reasoning of the man who was appointed a preacher (i.e. 'sent') by Christ Himself. He is looking out on the unevangelized in cities and villages, knowing that 'the same Lord over all is rich unto all them that call upon him', Rom. 10. 12, and recognizing that the initiative rests with a sovereign Lord who sends the preachers who fall within the category of the evangelists of Eph. 4. 11.
Probably, very few so-called preachers fall into this category today. But, whether a man does, or does not, it is open to everyone who has a genuine heart's desire for the salvation of the perishing, 1 Cor. 1. 18, to pray to God for them, and that He will raise up and send men to 'preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things' to them, Rom. 10. 15. 'HOW SHALL THEY HEAR'? For the majority of us who are saved it will be 'Pray ye', Luke 10. 2. But, for the few, the answer must be 'Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel', 1 Cor. 9, 16.