Monday, December 7, 2009

Reading the Verbs Backward

For "whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved." 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? And how shall they preach unless they be sent? Romans 10:13-15

As a writer, I know that the last word in a sentence and the last thought in a paragraph are the ones which carry the most weight. I've rewritten many sentences carefully making sure that the idea I want the reader to remember comes last. Consequently, when I read Romans 10:13-15, I saw "preach" and "sent" but little else.

Perhaps that is why I was surprised when Jerry Bridges (Holiness Day by Day) suggested the reader select four key verbs and study them in reverse order. He said, Preach, hear, believe, and call form a path leading seekers to the entryway of a new life.

Preach: Our culture is permeated by Christian language, customs, messages and music. Admittedly not all of this "preaching" is either good or accurate but, just the same, most people have been exposed to the basics of Christian doctrine. Even a debate over whether or not a nativity scene can be displayed on the courthouse lawn exposes others to the basic claims of Christianity. However, if we want to be born again, our experience must go beyond this rudimentary level. Someone must not only preach at us, we must also hear, believe and call.

Hear: The word means to give attention to what is being said. When someone is exposed to preaching, they must understand the claims being made and pause to consider them. Jesus said He was God. He came to our planet with a mission, fulfilled it, and left to go back where He came from. That is amazing.

Believe: To believe something is to accept it as true. In order to become a Christian we accept both what Jesus claimed about Himself and what He claimed about us: He said He is God and that we are sinners. Because of this truth, a vast gulf separates us from Him.

Call: This is an act of faith. To "call" is to reach out from our inner being and trust that Someone on the other side can hear and respond to our plea. We ask God to forgive our sins and grant us the holiness of Jesus because we cannot be good enough to merit heaven on our own.

If you have been exposed to preaching, will you hear (give the claims of Christ your attention), believe (accept that what He said was true) and call (reach out asking Him to accept and make you pure)? If you will, He is loving and waiting to receive you.

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