[i] Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia[/i] Act 16:6
We have traversed this matter here in some detail I recall, a search of the site would find it. The passage in Ezekiel has been unfortunately wretched out of it's context to support an ideal that more than a few would like to use as a buttress to incline or 'guilt' the unsuspecting into. The problems with it would be manifold if it were so.
Some food for thought;
[i]He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.[/i] Joh 3:18
[b]Joh 3:18 -
He that believeth[/b] - He that has confidence in him; that relies on him; that trusts to his merits and promises for salvation. To believe on him is to feel and act according to truth that is, to go as lost sinners, and act toward him as a Saviour from sins; relying on him, and looking to him only for salvation. See the notes at Mar_16:16.
[b]Is not condemned[/b] - God pardons sin, and delivers us from deserved punishment, because we believe on him. Jesus died in our stead; he suffered for us, and by his sufferings our sins are expiated, and it is consistent for God to forgive. When a stoner, therefore, believes on Jesus, he trusts in him as having died in his place, and God having accepted the offering which Christ made in our stead, as being an equivalent for our sufferings in hell, there is now no further condemnation, Rom_8:1.
[b]He that believeth not[/b] - All who do not believe, whether the gospel has come to them or not. All people by nature.
[b]Is condemned already[/b] - By conscience, by law, and in the judgment of God. God disapproves of their character, and this feeling of disapprobation, and the expression of it, is the condemnation. There is no condemnation so terrible as this - that God disapproves our conduct, and that he will express his disapprobation. He will judge according to truth, and woe to that man whose conduct God cannot approve.
[b]Because[/b] - This word does not imply that the ground or reason of their condemnation is that they have not believed, or that they are condemned because they do not believe on him, for there are millions of sinners who have never heard of him; but the meaning is this: There is but one way by which men can be freed from condemnation. All people without the gospel are condemned. They who do not believe are still under this condemnation, not having embraced the only way by which they can be delivered from it. The verse may be thus paraphrased: All people are by nature condemned. There is but one way of being delivered from this state by believing on the Son of God. They who do not believe or remain in that state are still condemned, for they have not embraced the only way in which they can be freed from it. Nevertheless, those to whom the gospel comes greatly heighten their guilt and condemnation by rejecting the offers of mercy, and trampling under foot the blood of the Son of God, Luk_12:47; Mat_11:23; Heb_10:29; Pro_1:24-30. And there are thousands going to eternity under this double condemnation:
1. for positive, open sin; and,
2. for rejecting Gods mercy, and despising the gospel of his Son. This it is which will make the doom of sinners in Christian lands so terrible.
[i]How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?[/i] Rom 10:14
[b]Rom 10:14 -
How then shall they call[/b]. ... - The apostle here adverts to an objection which might be urged to his argument. His doctrine was, that faith in Christ was essential to justification and salvation; and that this was needful for all; and that, without this, man must perish. The objection was, that they could not call on him in whom they had not believed; that they could not believe in him of whom they had not heard; and that this was arranged by God himself, so that a large part of the world was destitute of the gospel, and in fact did not believe; Rom_10:16-17. The objection had particular reference to the Jews; and the ground of injustice which a Jew would complain of, would be, that the plan made salvation dependent on faith, when a large part of the nation had not heard the gospel, and had had no opportunity to know it. This objection the apostle meets, so far as it was of importance to his argument, in Rom_10:18-21. The first part of the objection is, that they could not call on him in whom they had not believed. That is, how could they call on one in whose existence, ability, and willingness to help, they did not believe? The objection is, that in order to our calling on one for help, we must be satisfied that there is such a being, and that he is able to aid us. This remark is just, and every man feels it. But the point of the objection is, that sufficient evidence of the divine mission and claims of Jesus Christ had not been given to authorize the doctrine that eternal salvation depended on belief in him, or that it would be right to suspend the eternal happiness of few and Gentile on this.
[b]How shall they believe in him[/b] ... - This position is equally undeniable, that people could not believe in a being of whom they had not heard. And the implied objection was, that people could not be expected to believe in one of whose existence they knew nothing, and, of course, that they could not be blamed for not doing it. It was not right, therefore, to make eternal life depend, both among Jews and Gentiles, on faith in Christ.
[b]And how shall they hear[/b] ... - How can people hear, unless some one proclaim to them, or preach to them what is to be heard and believed? This is also true. The objection thence derived is, that it is not right to condemn people for not believing what has never been proclaimed to them; and, of course, that the doctrine that eternal life is suspended on faith cannot be just and right.
Taking a cross section of other commentaries, there is some important matters that I believe have been so greatly exaggerated as to cause even the very compulsion to "[i]fulfill the Great Commission[/i]" to work [i]against[/i] the very good news it is sought to bring.
[b]Rom 10:14 -
How then shall they call on him[/b] - As the apostle had laid so much stress on believing in order to salvation, and as this doctrine, without farther explanation, might be misunderstood, it was necessary to show how this faith was produced; and therefore he lays the whole doctrine down in a beautifully graduated order.
1. There can be no salvation without the Gospel: a dispensation of mercy and grace from God alone, here called, Rom_10:15, the Gospel of peace; glad tidings of good things.
2. This must be preached, proclaimed in the world for the obedience of faith.
3. None can effectually preach this unless he have a Divine mission; for how shall they preach except they be Sent, Rom_10:15. The matter must come from God; and the person who proclaims it must have both authority and unction from on high.
4. This Divinely-commissioned person must be heard: it is the duty of all, to whom this message of salvation is sent, to hear it with the deepest reverence and attention.
5. What is heard must be credited; for they who do not believe the Gospel as the record which God has given of his Son cannot be saved, Rom_10:14.
6. Those who believe must invoke God by Christ, which they cannot do unless they believe in him; and in this way alone they are to expect salvation. Professing to believe in Christ, without earnest, importunate prayer for salvation, can save no man. All these things the apostle lays down as essentially necessary; and they all follow from his grand proposition, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But, says the apostle, How shall they Call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they Believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they Hear without a preacher? And how shall they Preach except they be sent? And with what message which can bring salvation can they be sent, but with the Gospel of Peace, the Glad Tidings Of Good Things. When, therefore, there is:
1st, a proper Message;
2ndly, a proper Messenger;
3rdly, the message Preached, proclaimed, or properly delivered by him;
4thly, the proclamation properly Heard and attentively considered by the people;
5thly, the message which they have heard, conscientiously Believed;
6thly, the name of the Lord Jesus, by whom alone this salvation is provided, most fervently Invoked; then,
7thly, salvation, or redemption from sin and misery, and the enjoyment of peace and happiness, will be the result of such calling, believing, hearing, preaching, sending, and message sent: - and thus the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is guarded from abuse.
[i]And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things![/i] Rom 10:15
[b]Rom 10:15 -
And how shall they preach[/b] - In what way shall there be preachers, unless they are commissioned by God? The word how does not refer to the manner of preaching, but to the fact that there would be no preachers at all unless they were sent forth. To preach means to proclaim in a public manner, as a crier does. In the Scriptures it means to proclaim the gospel to people.
[b]Except they be sent[/b] - That is, except they are divinely commissioned, and sent forth by God. This was an admitted doctrine among the Jews, that a proclamation of a divine message must be made by one who was commissioned by God for that purpose; Jer_23:21; Jer_1:7; Jer_14:14-15; Jer_7:25. He who sends a message to people can alone designate the proper persons to bear it. The point of the objection, therefore, was this: People could not believe unless the message was sent to them; yet God had not actually sent it to all people: it could not, therefore, be just to make eternal life depend on so impracticable a thing as faith, since people had not the means of believing.
[b]As it is written[/b] - In Isa_52:7.
How beautiful ... - The reason why this passage is introduced here is, that it confirms what had just been advanced in the objection - the importance and necessity of there being messengers of salvation. That importance is seen in the high encomium which is passed on them in the Sacred Scriptures. They are regarded as objects especially attractive; their necessity is fully recognised; and a distinguished rank is given to them in the oracles of God - How beautiful. How attractive, how lovely. This is taken from the Hebrew, with a slight variation. In the Hebrew, the words upon the mountains occur, which makes the passage more picturesque, though the sense is retained by Paul. The image in Isaiah is that of a herald seen at first leaping or running on a distant hill, when he first comes in sight, with tidings of joy from a field of battle, or from a distant land. Thus, the appearance of such a man to those who were in captivity, would be an image full of gladness and joy.
[b]Are the feet[/b] - Many have supposed that the meaning of this expression is this: The feet of a herald, naked and dusty from traveling, would be naturally objects of disgust. But what would be naturally disagreeable is thus made pleasant by the joy of the message. But this explanation is far fetched, and wants parallel instances. Besides, it is a violation of the image which the apostle had used. That was a distant object - a herald running on the distant hills; and it supposes a picture too remote to observe distinctly the feet, whether attractive or not. The meaning of it is clearly this: how beautiful is the coming or the running of such a herald. The feet are emblematic of his coming. Their rapid motion would be seen; and their rapidity would be beautiful from the desire to hear the message which he brought. The whole meaning of the passage, then, as applied to ministers of the gospel, is, that their coming is an attractive object, regarded with deep interest, and productive of joy - an honored and a delightful employment.
[b]That preach[/b] ... - Literally, that evangelize peace. That proclaim the good news of peace; or bring the glad message of peace.
And bring glad tidings ... - Literally, and evangelize good things; or that bring the glad message of good things. Peace here is put for good of any kind; and as the apostle uses it, for the news of reconciliation with God by the gospel. Peace, at the end of the conflicts, distresses, and woes of war, is an image of all blessings. Thus, it is put to denote the blessings when a sinner ceases to be the enemy of God, obtains pardon, and is admitted to the joys of those who are his children and friends. The coming of those messengers who proclaim it is joyful to the world. It fills the bosom of the anxious sinner with peace; and they and their message will be regarded with deep interest, as sent by God, and producing joy in an agitated bosom, and peace to the world. This is an illustration of the proper feeling with which we should regard the ministers of religion. This passage in Isaiah is referred by the Jews themselves to the times of the gospel (Rosenmuller).
[b]Rom 10:15 - And how shall they preach, except they be sent[/b],.... There is no proper, rightful, regular, and lawful preaching of the word without a mission, which is either extraordinary, or ordinary; extraordinary mission was such as the apostles themselves had; who, as they were called to extraordinary service, had extraordinary qualifications, and were sent forth in an extraordinary manner, with a power of doing miracles, and immediately by Christ himself. Ordinary mission is of men to be pastors and teachers, which includes qualifications for the ministerial work; for whom Christ sends forth into such service, he bestows gifts on them, fitting them for it, some more, some less, but all have some; and it also includes a call unto it, which is either internal, and by the Spirit of God, and lies partly in the furniture he gives, and the inclination of the heart to this good work which he forms; and which arises not from a vanity of mind, and a desire of popular applause, and worldly views, and sinister ends; but from a real concern for the good of souls, and the glory of Christ, being willing to deny themselves, and forsake all for Christ, to suitor reproach for his name's sake, and to forego all worldly interest, and secular views: or is external, which is given by the churches of Christ, after due trial and examination of gifts, and a serious consideration of the matter, and that in the most solemn manner; and this is what may be properly called a preacher's mission, and none but such who are in this way sent out ought to preach the Gospel: and to such well agrees, and may be applied, that passage in Isa_52:7, where
[b]it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things[/b]; which words are not to be understood of the messengers that brought the tidings of deliverance from the Babylonish captivity, but of the ministers of the Gospel. In Isa_52:7 it is expressed in the singular number, "how beautiful are the feet of him", &c. and is by some understood of Christ, as it is also by many Jewish writers: thus interpreting the "turtle's voice" in Son_2:12;
"this (say they (a)) is the voice of the King Messiah, proclaiming and saying, "how beautiful on the mountains", &c.''
And elsewhere (b) it is observed, that the
"Rabbins say, great is peace, for when the King Messiah comes, he does not open but with peace, as it is said, "how beautiful upon the mountains", &c.''
And says (c) another,
"one verse says, "how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings", פירש המלך המשיח, "the explanation", or meaning is, the King Messiah:''
and some of the more, modern ones (d) of them, own these words are, מענין הגאולה וביאת המשיח, "concerning the redemption, and the coming of the Messiah": and so the worlds, however they may principally regard the Messiah and his ministry, are property applied to the apostles of Christ; and may be rightly understood of any minister of the Gospel, whose business it is to "preach the Gospel of peace": which is so called from the subject matter of it, peace made by the blood of Christ, which it proclaims; from the effect of it, producing, peace and tranquillity in distressed minds, and making men of peaceable dispositions; and from the use of it, which is to direct men to the way of peace, to guide their feet in it, lead them to eternal peace: their work is also to "bring glad tidings of good things"; such as reconciliation, righteousness, pardon, life, and eternal salvation, by a crucified Christ; and the preaching of such a Gospel, and bringing such news, make their "feet beautiful": one should have thought rather their lips than their feet would be took notice of; the reason of this is, partly because of the agreeableness of their walk and conversation to the doctrine they preach; and partly because of their readiness to preach it everywhere, though they run the utmost risk in so doing; and also because of their swiftness, particularly of the apostles, in going through the cities of Israel, and running over the Gentile world with the Gospel of peace, in so short a time as they did; and more especially because of the acceptableness of their message, with which they were sent and ran; see 2Sa_18:27. And so this passage is pertinently alleged to prove, that mission is necessary to preaching; since these words declare the character of Gospel ministers, as publishers of peace, and messengers of good tidings; and express the message itself, and the nature of it; both which suppose them to be sent by another, even the Lord, under whose authority, and by whose warrant they act; just as ambassadors, heralds, and messengers do, by virtue of a commission they receive from their prince.
(a) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4. (b) Vajikra Rabba Parash, c. 9. fol. 153. 2. Perek Shalom, fol. 20. 1. (c) Raziel, fol. 23. 2. (d) Menasseh ben Israel Nishmath Chayim, fol. 41. 2.
I apologize, this must be quite long and the tedium would be to stress the point; [i][b]Called - Sent[/b][/i].
In this day we have far too many fulfilling a "calling" that is of their own making and have set off without any instruction and have done their own "sending" all in the [i]name of[/i] 'The Great Commission'. Just as surely the generalization would include the sincere as the insincere, the learned as the unlearned and a whole swath of motivations in-between.
But what I think is highly overlooked in this whole matter is the companion to the Great Commission that is the continuation of the statement and the completing of the context, strange that it is has been largely ignored and approbated;
[i]Go ye therefore, and [u]make disciples[/u] of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: [b]teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you[/b]: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.[/i] Mat 28:19,20
One of the great throwbacks is Pauls;
1Co 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for [b]necessity is laid upon me[/b]; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
[i]"woe is unto me"[/i]
Because of the necessity laid upon [i]him[/i].
[i] And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.[/i] Act 6:1-8
"Preach" or wait on tables? Or both as in the case of Stephen? There is the whole list of;
[i]And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?[/i] 1Co 12:28,29
[i]I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, [b]not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly[/b], according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members [u]have not the same office[/u]: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then [u]gifts differing[/u] according to the grace that is given to us,
let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
let us wait on our ministering:
or he that teacheth,
Or he that exhorteth,
he that giveth,
let him do it with simplicity;
he that ruleth,
he that sheweth mercy,
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; [b]in honour preferring one another[/b];
Not slothful in business;
fervent in spirit;
[b]serving the Lord[/b];
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. [u]Be of the same mind one toward another[/u]. [b]Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.[/b] Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him;
if he thirst, give him drink:
for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.[/i] Rom 12:1-21
Felt it necessary to include all these exhortations, the additional areas of being made disciples, and the highlighting of what our positioning ought to be, ultimately;
[i][b]Serving the Lord[/b][/i]
[i]But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me: and ye also bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.[/i] Joh 15:26,27
[i]For Christ sent [b]me[/b] not to baptize, but [b]to preach[/b] the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God [b]by the foolishness of preaching[/b] to save them that believe.
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: [b]That no flesh should glory in his presence.[/b] But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.[/i] 1Co 1:17-31
Lives preach. Preachers preach (those who have been called to such a grand undertaking). Words preach. Character preaches. Creation preaches. But it is a false construct to derive a passage from Ezekiel and use it as a cattle prod and insinuation.
[i]Go 'witnessing[/i] or [b][i]be[/i][/b] witness's? How much preaching and witnessing is done without the indwelling [i]being[/i], without the conversion of the Spirit? How much false witnessing and false testimony and false preaching is there due to this single solitary fact? Intention differs from motivation, compulsion from manipulation, guilt heaped upon the newly born by way of accusation of acsesory to murder of the condemned ... What really sent me reeling from a great deal of modern methods was in some particular training based on "Becoming a Contagious Christian" and "how to" witness. It was along the line of drawing on a napkin a divide with the bridge across the cross, you are here, your sin is there ... Even as a fairly young convert the whole thing had the unfortunate taste of salesmanship and whatever the intentions, found it just ... very shallow, and that I would have to fake my way through it if I was to emulate the same style manner of 'presentation'. That is not to dismiss it outright but the peculiar thing is that, and I believe it is rampant enough, is the little to no understanding or seemingly lack of concern over whether any of us were even discipled enough to know what we were talking about, let alone had a bunch of facts stored in our heads that had yet reached our hearts, our lives, our experience. Basically we would would be just aping what we were told.
To hear these great sweeping generalities of huge gatherings with 100,000 people being 'saved' is absurd as it is grevious. Free tickets to salvation upon an emotional encounter and a few tortured words manipulated out of people is the blight of this age of Christendom in great measure. The very paradoxical possibility may be the opposite of "whose hand the blood is required of" ... All the false converts made by [i]men[/i]. Men not sent, not equipped, not caring for the flock. Glib presentations and easy believisim. Converts to notions and constructs and marketed "Christianity".
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
[i]Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, [b]for my sake[/b]. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.[/i]