Updated: May 11, 2020
We continue with Part 3 of Paul’s missionary ambition to preach the gospel where Christ is not yet known and worshipped for who He really is.
How can we catch the apostle Paul’s vision and ambition to preach the gospel in unreached people groups?
By owning Paul’s four motivations:
Let’s look at the first motivation.
1. The Lost Condition of man without Christ. Romans 15:20 – “Where Christ is not named”. Acts 4:12 says, “there is no other name” other than Jesus Christ, who is the one person who can save us from out sins. John 3:18 says that they are already condemned because they have not believed in the name of the only unique Son of God.” Romans 10:13-15 says, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The lost condition of mankind, that all people are dead in their sins and under the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:1-3; John 3:36) should be one of your motivations for sharing your faith and gaining Paul’s godly ambition of missions to unreached people groups.
In recent years, there have been many new liberal theologies and “wider hope” theories that propose that God will save people from their sins even if they never hear of Christ or never believe in Christ or don’t know about Him. John Piper mentions several of these contemporary theories of abandoning the principle of the universal necessity of hearing the gospel for salvation. Robertson McQuilkin, in his book, The Great Omission, in chapter 3, entitled “Lost”, also explains several of these liberal theological wider hope theories. (We recommend McQuilkin’s book) Chapter 3, “Lost” has also been reprinted for years in the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement text book. If you never taken the “Perspectives Course” and you want to learn more about missions, you should, whether you want to be a missionary or a sender for missions. Entertaining this idea that “well, maybe God will find a find a way to save them or have mercy on them, even if they never heard of Christ or never believed in Christ” – just being open to that kind of an idea “cuts a nerve” of missionary motivation and commitment. If that is true, why go? If that is true, why spend so much time in raising up missionaries and sending them?
John Piper explains:
“So I affirm the contemporary abandonment of the universal necessity of hearing the gospel for salvation does indeed cut a nerve in missionary motivation. I say a nerve rather than the nerve because I agree that the universal lostness of man is not the only focus of missionary motivation. Arching over that is the great goal of bring glory to Christ.” (John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, page 165)
Jesus spoke of hell being a place “. . . hell; where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:47-48, quoting from Isaiah 66:24
When the Bible talks about the “name of Jesus Christ”, it is not primarily talking about “phonetic sounds”, but about embracing and trusting and treasuring the person who Jesus Christ really is and all that His name represents. Some people think they have witnessed or preached the gospel just because they said the phonetic sounds, “J-e-s-u-s”. This is not true. We must explain the character of His person, the content of His gospel truth, and the doctrines of who Christ is.
Some pagan cultures have no idea who Jesus Christ is; and have never heard His name mentioned. But some others have some idea of who He is, and some have a distorted view of who Jesus is. “where Christ is not named” certainly includes nations and areas where they don’t even know who Jesus Christ is. But the emphasis is not that they have not heard nor don’t say the phonic sounds, “Jesus Christ”. Many unreached areas and peoples have some ideas of who Jesus Christ is. Muslims can say in their languages the phonetic sounds “Isa El Messih” (Jesus the Messiah), but they don’t name Him with the fullness of embracing all that He is, Lord, Savior, God in the flesh, crucified, risen again, ascended. Muslims don’t accept the prophesies of the Messiah in the OT as about the Messiah and atonement for sins. (Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:24-27)
What this means by “where Christ is not named”, are places and cultures where Christ is not named or known, believed in, or worshiped in the Scriptural fullness of all of who He is. The truths of the contents from the Bible of His character, attributes, life, actions, suffering, death, resurrection, and doctrines of who He is; these are crucial in communicating the “name” of Jesus Christ. We don’t preach the gospel until we talk about those truths.
Can you discover what Paul’s other motivations are in 2. The rest of verse 20 ? 3. Verse 21 ? 4. Romans 15:8-12 and 15:16; and 16:25-27 ?
In a future post, we will look at the other motivations in Romans 15.