Romans 10:16-17

Salvation Is Accessible 

Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall


Romans 10:16a But all did not…


Paul strongly advocated that the Gospel was intended for all people, but it was obvious not everyone was receiving it. The overwhelming majority of Jews were rejecting the Gospel, the same could be said of Gentles. In fact, to this very day, the largest part of both groups remains in unbelief.

            Some measure success solely by numbers. This is not the case with the Gospel. Its effectiveness is measured by its quality, not by the quantity of its adherents. People’s rejection of the Gospel is a poor reflection on themselves.


Romans 10:16b … obey…


Paul has repeatedly spoken of believing the Gospel; now he says it is to be obeyed. These are actually one and the same. Obedience is an inseparable effect of faith. Faith implies submission and surrender. Obedience is the child of faith.

            Since the Gospel is meant to be obeyed, it is presented to people as a command. It is not offered as an option to be pondered, but as a command to be obeyed. “God now commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:3).

            The fact the Gospel is presented as a command means there is good news and bad news for sinners. The good news: since all people are commanded to do it, all people can do it. It is possible for everyone to believe. Otherwise, God would not have made it the universal requirement for salvation.

            The bad news: to reject the Gospel is defiant rebellion. The message of salvation is not tendered as an idea by one equal to be evaluated by another equal. It is the requirement for pardon offered by Almighty God to a condemned sinner.


Romans 10:16c … the gospel.

Spurning the Gospel insults Divine grace. Slighting infinite love is dangerous and reckless. People reveal their foolishness by rejecting the thing they need most. Though God has intervened in human history, and has died in behalf of the ruined race, people seem determined to make the worst blunder that can be made; they refuse the gift of salvation offered in Jesus.

            This is unbelievable! Most sinners are refusing good news! This is strange behavior indeed. People usually long for good news, whether it be in business, health, politics, family life, sports, finances, etc. However, when it comes to Good News from God, people do not want it. This disobeying of God when He is speaking in love is one of the most obvious evidences of human depravity.

People would rather be lost than trust in God. Pride lurks at the bottom of this error. Sinners refuse to confess the desperate depravity of their nature. They have a foggy notion that something is wrong inside, but they will not admit the full extent of their need. Even the worst of people generally think fairly well of themselves. Our own sinfulness is a thought we abhor. It pains our ego.

We naturally recoil from having to rely on a salvation received entirely by grace. People want to believe they can produce their own merit. It disturbs us when Christ rips away the facade from our pretended virtue and exposes a grave full of “dead men’s bones” and rottenness. People want nothing of this. Finding this repulsive, they en masse reject the Gospel. As Jesus said, “How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:14).

Romans 10:16d For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?

People rejecting the Gospel causes great sadness among believers. Israel’s rejection of God’s message caused Paul to mourn along with a predecessor. The mighty Old Testament prophet Isaiah also lamented unbelief on the part of Israel.

Israel’s rejection of God’s servant should have surprised no one. Their rejecting God’s message meant they were simply remaining true to form. Their own history was repeating itself.

Rejection of God’s message continues today among the majority of Jews, and Gentiles as well. If you intend to speak for the Lord, be ready for rejection. It is a painful, but inescapable, part of being a proclaimer of God’s message.

The people derided Moses, “You have gone too far!” (NB 16:3). Ezekiel (20:49) cried in prayer, “Oh, Lord God, they are saying of me, ‘Isn’t he just posing riddles?’” Amos (7:12) was asked to leave Israel and flee “to the land of Judah.”

The leaders of Judah bluntly told Jeremiah (44:16), “We are not going to listen to you!” This poor weeping prophet lived with rejection his whole life. Once, with a broken heart, he cried before his people, “But if you will not listen, my innermost being will weep in secret because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, for the Lord’s flock has been taken captive” (Jer. 13:17).

People’s unbelief is one of the greatest burdens borne by individuals who try to speak for God. It is painful to have your message ignored. It grieves us to know that often our listeners are as deaf as the seats they sit on, and as coldhearted as the pillars supporting the building.

Sometimes this rejection makes us want to cease proclaiming the message. We must never do that. Paul and Isaiah remained faithful. So must we.

Occasionally we may need to lift our discouraged hearts to God and plead, “Lord, who hath believed our report?” But then we must return to the harvest field, resolved more than ever to stand firm and proclaim the Gospel message. We take solace in knowing that no matter how many people reject the message, there will always be some ready to receive it.

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes

through the message about Christ.

In this summary statement Paul emphasized salvation is not based on human speculation, but on the trustworthy Word of God. We are not allowed to devise our own methods of salvation. Instead, the Word of God must be faithfully conveyed.

The Bible is what people need to hear. It births faith. We expound God’s Word, neither adding nor subtracting from its substance. We speak only to explain what is already written.

God’s message is a “message of faith” (10:8). It is so constructed that faith can listen to the message, reflect on it, see the logic in it, and respond to it.

The Gospel makes sense. People can understand it. The only reason a sinner rejects it is willful rebellion. Anyone who wants to respond in faith can do so.

No secret magical enchantments are required for salvation. Faith simply comes through hearing the word of God and responding to it. Salvation is based on simple principles and plain matters of fact. There is no need for dreams, visions, or other “fantastic miracles.” A person believes without having “to see.”

Salvation does not hinge on feelings. We need something more substantial than that on which to hang our everlasting destiny. Our feelings are as fickle as Springfield, Missouri, weather. We need a sturdier base than that for our faith.

Salvation does not even depend on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Faith cannot be flooded over us by immersion, nor sprinkled on us at christening. Faith cannot be drunk from a Lord’s Supper cup, nor be digested from a piece of consecrated bread.

Salvation is not dependent upon hereditary descent. No matter how well nurtured a child may be in the things of God, he or she must hear as others have to, and respond on his or her own to the Gospel message.

God has made salvation as accessible as it can possibly be. “Faith comes from what it heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.”