Our Obligation to the Unreached

Well over one hundred years ago, a single missionary named Lottie Moon, serving in China, began writing letters challenging the church back here to send and support more workers to go there. After her death on the field, her challenge was heeded in the formalization of an offering in her name. Even if you’re not a Southern Baptist who has given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, her life is a reminder of why we must give to send and support missionaries serving among unreached peoples in unreached places.

But my aim is to show you not simply why we must give, but also why we must go . . . however, whenever, and wherever God leads. I use the word must in light of Romans 1:14, where Paul speaks of his eagerness to preach the gospel:

I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

Did you hear that? Paul said he is obligated to preach the gospel to all peoples. Literally, he owes the gospel to all peoples — to Greeks, to barbarians, and to the people of Rome. What a remarkable statement. Apparently, Paul’s ownership of the gospel creates an obligation with the gospel. Because he knows this good news of what God has done in Christ, he must spread this good news of what God has done in Christ.

This is what I’m praying might become a reality in our hearts: that you and I might realize that we must do everything we can to get the gospel to people who’ve never heard it. That we would realize that our ownership of the gospel creates an obligation with the gospel. That we would see that saved people this side of heaven owe the gospel to lost people (and peoples) this side of hell.

Saved people this side of heaven owe the gospel to lost people (and peoples) this side of hell.

So why does the Book of Romans tell us we must go to the unreached? Here, briefly stated, are four reasons:

1. Because their knowledge of God is only enough to damn them to hell forever.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)

2. Because the gospel of God is powerful enough to save them for heaven.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

3. Because the plan of God warrants the sacrifices of his people.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:13–14)

4. Because the Son of God deserves the praises of all peoples.

. . . to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations . . . (Romans 1:5)

We can’t keep this gospel to ourselves. It is the greatest news in all the world: People can be made right with God, forever, through faith in Jesus Christ. Everybody has got to hear this. They must hear this! After all, that’s why Paul is writing the book of Romans in the first place. In Romans 15:20 he says,

And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.

Paul wanted the church at Rome to help him get to Spain so he could preach the gospel to the unreached there (Romans 15:24). He’s saying (really shouting) in the Book of Romans, “I owe, we owe, Christ to the nations, so let’s go and make him known!” We must do this. This is not an option.

This is an obligation.