Romans 15:19: “From Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ.”
If you look at a map, Illyricum is right up near Albania — the Balkans. So Jerusalem up through Syria, around the corner through Turkey, over down the East coast of Greece, up the other coast, and there’s Illyricum. That’s a lot of people and a lot of territory. That’s unbelievable that he would say that. Romans 15:20–23:
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, but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”
This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain.
“There is such thing as a missionary. Don’t ever call everybody in your church a missionary.”
That’s crazy! “I have no room for work here”? I mean he left behind Titus and Timothy as pastors of churches plus all the other pastors he appointed in other churches. And he wrote and he said, “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). Why? There’s thousands of lost people in this region. Thousands, and thousands of lost people in Asia, Bithynia, and Cappadocia. There’s thousands and thousands of lost people, and he says, “I have no room here. I’m done.”
Now there’s a real simple explanation. There is such thing as a missionary. Don’t ever call everybody in your church a missionary. Or, if you have to, think of a new name for this like pioneer missionary or frontier missionary.
If you’re going to be faithful to the Bible like Paul saying, “I’ve got no room for work here. Spain, zero. Zero witness in Spain. That’s my calling.” What do you call that? I call it a missionary, or you can call it a frontier missionary or a pioneer missionary. Just raise up some of them. Teach the people about this because frankly I don’t know any way the Great Commission today can be finished without God continuing to do what he did here by burdening Paul-types.
There are Timothy-types who left his home town of Lystra and went over to Ephesus to spend the rest of his life probably. Call that a missionary if you want. But then there are Paul types who say, “Okay, I think Timothy can do this. He can evangelize these 50,000 people here. I’m gone. I’m going to Spain.”
Carry a burden for that. Carry a torch for that. Believe that in your church somebody is going to get that calling. Because if you believe that, pray that, exhort that, guess what? Your budget’s going to go up — in missions. Because they’re going to want to go, and they’re going to blame you for it. And they ask for money. That’s wonderful.
“I no longer have any room for work in these regions” is a calling that we must pray for and work for today because the unengaged peoples today will not be reached without Paul-type missionaries who feel this way. I’m just praying right now that, in this room, a handful — an armful — of you would feel that call.
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