Mobilizing the Army for God’s Great Comission

CROSS Student Missions Conference

Louisville, Kentucky

It was while the church at Antioch was worshipping and fasting and praying that the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). I’ve often wondered how that happened. Exactly how did the Holy Spirit say that?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that as a result of what the Holy Spirit said on that day, a missionary movement was born that led to the spread of the gospel throughout the known world in the first century. The contributors to this book have had a goal in these chapters: that God, in his grace and by his Spirit, might see fit to set apart men and women for the spread of his gospel to those who have never heard it. To that end, I want to urge you to consider what your role is in cross-cultural missions and to commit to follow the Lord of the Harvest however he leads. For those who are prepared to make this commitment, let me clarify what such a commitment means.

A Call to Commitment and a Clarification

I am not calling people to move tomorrow to the Middle East. I am not calling people to make a rash vow based upon manipulated emotion. And I am not calling people to make this decision alone — that’s why I want to emphasize that what you might resolve to do is to go to your church and say, “I want to be sent. I want to be sent as a missionary, as one who crosses a culture to spend my life for the spread of the gospel.” That’s the moment toward which of all of this is headed.

I want to call every follower of Christ to put a blank check on the table with your life before God, and to say, “Whatever you want me to do, I will do it. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. No strings attached.” Ask God with open hands, “Are you leading me to go? Are you redirecting my future (even my family’s future) toward life among the nations?”

I’m Moving On

Over and over again in this book, we have referenced Paul’s epistle to the Romans. In particular, we have highlighted Romans 15:18–21, when Paul summarizes his ministry and says,

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience — by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God — so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 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.”

Here Paul expresses his calling to be a missionary — to spend his life crossing cultures for the spread of the gospel among unreached people. In Romans 15, he says, “I want to go to regions where the gospel is not.” And because he has fully proclaimed the gospel from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum (nearly 1,500 miles away), he says in verse 23, “I no longer have any room for work in these regions.”

That’s a strange thing to say. Paul looks around him at Corinth and Ephesus and Crete and says, “There’s no more work for me to do here — I’m moving on.”

Did that mean that everyone in those cities had been saved? Did that even mean that everybody in those cities had heard the gospel? No. What it meant was that the church had been planted in those cities. The gospel had been proclaimed, disciples had been made, the church had been founded, and work was going on. So Paul says, “I’m moving on.”

No Second-Class Citizens

We know from the rest of the New Testament that there were other people that Paul himself told to stay in those places. Paul told Timothy to stay and pastor the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). He told Titus to stay in Crete (Titus 1:5). So the picture we see in the New Testament is of some Christians staying under the sovereignty of God in certain places that have already been reached with the gospel (remember, there were other leaders at the church at Antioch that the Holy Spirit didn’t set apart to go), and then we see other Christians, like Paul and some of his companions, who are moving to other cities and regions to plant new churches. And it’s not because Paul is being obedient and everyone else is being disobedient, but rather because God is calling his people to carry out this mission in different places among different peoples.

Here I want to be especially careful. In no way do I want to imply that those who don’t move to live as a missionary among unreached peoples are second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. The ultimate issue is not whether you stay or go; the ultimate issue is whether you obey. For some, obedience will mean staying. For others, obedience will mean going.

But for everyone, obedience will mean setting the trajectory of our lives, regardless of where we live, toward praying and giving and working and longing and laboring for the spread of the gospel to those who’ve never heard — whether we do that from Birmingham, Alabama, or Bihar, India, or anywhere in between. That’s the whole reason why Paul writes the letter to the Romans in the first place. Consider what he says in the verses that follow:

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, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. (Romands 15:22–25)

Some historical background around Paul’s missionary journeys will hopefully help you understand what’s going on here in Romans:

  • Paul’s First Missionary Journey: On Paul’s first missionary journey, he was sent out by Antioch, which is where the Lord said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). Then, after this journey, Barnabas and Saul came back to Antioch where they encouraged the saints again.

  • Paul’s Second Missionary Journey: The church at Antioch sent Paul out again on a second missionary journey, during which he went north to some of the same places he had gone before. It’s at this time that he received the Macedonian call, a vision with a man of Macedonia saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). So Paul went north into Macedonia into places like Thessalonica and Corinth, and then he came down to Ephesus and he made his way to Jerusalem. Then he went back to Antioch, his home base, and he encouraged the saints there at the end of his second missionary journey.

  • Paul’s Third Missionary Journey: On the third missionary journey, Paul went out again from Antioch and he retraced his steps and encouraged the churches where he had already preached. During this third missionary journey, Paul arrived in Corinth and wrote this letter to the church at Rome. He told them he was traveling to Jerusalem, yet he did not mention any plans of going back to Antioch. But why not? Because ultimately he wanted to go to Spain, and going back to Antioch was not the best way to get to Spain. So Paul wrote this letter from Corinth to Rome with Spain in his view. And he says to the church at Rome, “I want you to help me get the gospel to Spain.”

Paul’s letter to the Romans, then, is somewhat like a missionary support letter. He is writing to encourage the believers at Rome to take the gospel to the nations, and he wants the whole church involved. He’s not writing to the church at Rome, saying, “All of you are called to be missionaries with me, and the entire church at Rome needs to go with me to Spain.”

No, he’s writing to say, “I need you to help me on my journey there, to send me out, and maybe some of you should be sent with me, but regardless all of you should join with me in an effort to get the gospel to Spain.” Paul wants them to pray with him, just like he urges them to do in verse 30 regarding his trip to Jerusalem — to strive together with him in prayers to God. Paul also wants them to give to him. The clear implication of verse 24 is that Paul is hoping they will help him financially in getting the gospel to Spain.

Shifting Our Missions-Funding Paradigm

As a side note (but I believe an important one), it is important to realize that missions in the New Testament was funded in a variety of ways. Even with Paul, this is true. Sometimes he was fully providing for himself; other times he was leaning on help from other churches. I believe this must be a huge factor as we consider going on mission.

When many people think of a missionary, they think of a fully financially supported gospel worker, which is good. This is how many missionaries are serving around the world and will serve around the world in the days to come — giving themselves full-time to making disciples and multiplying churches, all while raising or receiving full financial support from senders. But there are other pictures of missionaries that are possible, including partially supported or even self-supported missionaries who have some sort of income stream wherever they’re serving as a missionary. If we want to blow the lid off the number of missionaries in the world, we must expand our paradigm here.

Ultimately, it’s not about whether you stay or go, it’s about whether you obey or not.

Think about how we see the gospel spreading throughout the book of Acts. In Acts 8, after Stephen was stoned, the Bible tells us that everyone in the church, except the apostles, scattered from Jerusalem, proclaiming the gospel wherever they went (Acts 8:1–4). And do you know who started the church at Antioch that sent out these missionaries? It wasn’t Paul, and it wasn’t any other apostle. It was unnamed, ordinary Christians who were scattered after the persecution of Stephen.

This is the same story we see in the pages that follow in Acts, as men and women hear the gospel from Paul in places like Ephesus as they’re traveling through on business. Then they take the gospel from Ephesus throughout all of Asia. Paul’s ministry in Ephesus is described this way: “This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). So you have workers with different vocations who are going into different locations. Without question, this is a significant way that the gospel is going to spread to more than six thousand unreached people groups today.

You don’t get into unreached people groups with a missionary visa. You don’t go to Saudi Arabia and say, “I’m called to be a missionary and convert Muslims to Christianity.” Missionaries, in that sense, can’t get into Saudi Arabia. But do you know who can? Followers of Christ in all sorts of business fields, who can travel periodically to Saudi Arabia, who can move there and work there, and in the process, bring the gospel there.

Do you realize there are about six million Americans living abroad right now, and estimates are that over one million of those are evangelical Christians? Do we realize what a missions force this can be in the world? Oh, this is why, even when we talk about missions, you don’t need to just think, “Okay, I need to quit school, leave my job, and throw it all away to reach the nations.” No, instead we must each ask, “Is there a way that my education, my job, or my skills can be used to make the gospel known in one of the neediest places in the world?”

If we really want to reach all the peoples of the world with the gospel, it’s going to happen in large part on the wings of workers — men and women with jobs — who stop assuming that they should teach or program computers or manage or do accounting or do sales or practice medicine among the reached. It’s going to happen when workers default to the fact that if there are this many people groups around the world who have never even heard the gospel, then maybe God has given us an education, job, and skills to reach them.

What if God has designed the globalization of today’s marketplace for the spread of his gospel through the sending of his people as workers around the world for the glory of his name?

Many Gifts — One Goal

So, coming back to Romans, Paul is writing to the church — the whole church — saying, “Let’s work together to get the gospel to Spain.” And he starts listing their names, all sorts of them. In Romans 16:3–15, Paul writes,

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

We have this list of twenty-six different people who are playing different roles and doing different things in the mission of the church. We see Prisca and Aquila, a couple who served with Paul in Ephesus and now lived in Rome. We see Epaenetus, the first to come to Christ in Asia, and then another couple, Andronicus and Junia, who were in prison for Christ alongside Paul. We see men and women, families and households, single and married, young and old, rich and poor. We see Rufus and his mom, who was like a mother to Paul.

All kinds of different people brought together by the person of Christ and united together on the mission of Christ. And Paul is saying to them all, “Together, we need to get the gospel to Spain.” That is going to involve us doing different things — praying, giving, going, and working to get the gospel to those who’ve never heard.

That is the picture I have in my mind when I think about mobilizing the church for missions today — different people with unique gifts, unique passions, unique skills, and unique opportunities altogether saying, “Let’s take the gospel to unreached people.” With more than six thousand unreached people groups, this mission is going to involve many of us going to make disciples of Christ as missionaries in another culture. It is going to involve others of us making disciples right where we live now and praying, giving, supporting, and standing with those whom God calls to go. In the end, it is going to involve an army of God’s people mobilized for the Great Commission.

So, the question I’ve been asking is, “How do you mobilize God’s people to give their lives to this Great Commission?” How do you mobilize people to go totally against the grain of the culture around them — even in many ways against the grain of the church culture around them — to willingly lay down their lives, to gladly put aside their possessions, and to sacrificially spend themselves for the sake of unreached peoples? How do you bring people to have that kind of resolve?

The Word of God as the Fuel for Missions

This is where Romans is so instructive. Paul wants to get the gospel to Spain, where they’ve never heard, but notice what he doesn’t do. Paul doesn’t write a letter in which he tells them about all the needs in Spain and about various stories of these people or that village. Instead, he writes a letter in which he gives them quite possibly the most logical and systematically reasoned presentation of the gospel that we have in all of the Bible.

Maybe Mack Stiles is right, and the missionary call, first and foremost, is informed by God’s Word and inspired by his gospel. And maybe, just maybe, if Jesus might bring us to a deeper reverence for this Word, and a deeper love for this gospel, then the inevitable result would be a death-defying resolve to go to unreached peoples, no matter how difficult or dangerous that might be.

You see, there was a day when the people of God greatly revered the Word of God. They would gather together in scenes like we see in Nehemiah 8, and all it would take was the opening of the Scriptures and immediately everyone would stand to their feet (Nehemiah 8:5). Not only would they stand, but as the Book was read, they would also raise their hands in worship. They would cry aloud, “Amen! Amen!” The people would bow down in worship with their faces to the ground. It was all-out worship in response to the written Word of God.

Now, twenty-five hundred years later, it seems things have changed. What do we equate those sorts of actions with in our worship — people standing, raising their hands, calling out, and maybe if they’re extreme, bowing down with their faces on the ground? We do these things when the music starts. All it takes in our day is the strum of a guitar, and we are on our feet, and we are lifting our hands, and we are shouting out. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. Nehemiah 12:27–47 is a glorious picture of musical worship.

But the question I want to ask is, What if we were a people, a generation, who responded to God’s Word like that? What if all it took was the proclamation of the pure and powerful Word of God to bring us to our feet, to send our arms and hands into the air, to cause us to cry out, “Amen! Amen!” and even to bow down unashamedly in the assembly with our faces to the ground, not thinking about what people might perceive, but provoked to lie prostrate before the God of this Book?

What if all it took was the Scriptures to inspire that kind of worship? What if God’s Word had that kind of authority among us and roused that kind of affection in us? What if we loved God’s words like that? What if we revered them and honored them and submitted our lives to them like that?

And what if we were truly inspired by God’s gospel — this good news that the just and gracious God of the universe looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin on the cross and to show his power over sin in the resurrection so that all who have faith in him will be reconciled to God forever? Romans even says that hypothetically this gospel is good enough to throw yourself into hell so that other people can have it. After eight chapters of rich gospel exposition, here is what Paul says in Romans 9:1–5:

I am speaking the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

I don’t know if there is a passage anywhere else in Scripture that more clearly links the beauty of the gospel with the burden of mission. Paul says with great sorrow and unceasing anguish, “Before God, I would go to hell if I could . . . I would throw myself into damnation. . . if that would mean the salvation of these people.” I don’t know how to comprehend that statement. To stand on the brink of everlasting darkness, eternal fire that will never end, and to say, “I would jump in — I would jump in right now — if that meant the Jewish people’s salvation.” These were Jewish people, mind you, who were persecuting Paul and waiting for him in Jerusalem to arrest him and have him killed. And Paul says to them, “I’d go to hell forever for you.” How do you say that?

Now it’s different in significant ways, but think for a moment about an unreached people group today. Think about an unreached people group that is producing terrorists who are intent on killing you. Think about an unreached people group that is waiting to arrest or murder you and your family when you come their way. How do you say, “I would throw myself into hell forever if that meant you might be saved. But, since I can’t, I’ll do whatever it takes for your salvation. I’ll lay down my life, my family, and my future, so that you might be saved” — how do you say that and mean it?

Saved by This Gospel

Here’s how. Whether you are going to live among unreached people groups or not, remember three things when you face obstacles, challenges, and loss, and when you don’t know if you can go on, particularly for the sake of people who oppose you at every level.

First, in those moments, remember how you’ve been saved by this gospel. Remember that you yourself were once under the wrath of God, deserving of eternal damnation — that hell is your rightful destination. Remember that God, the very God whom you rebelled against, came running after you to redeem you. And how did he do that? He did that by embracing the judgment you deserve.

He redeemed us by putting himself in our place on a cross, where he bore God’s wrath in our stead. Then, though we had absolutely nothing to do with where we were born, he put you and me in a place and he guided us on a path where we have heard the gospel. Though our eyes were blind to its beauty, his grace broke through our hard hearts, and he opened our eyes to believe. He saved us, not because of any merit in us, but solely because of mercy in him. He predestined, called, and justified us, and he has promised to glorify us with him forever (Romans 8:29–30).

So now it just makes sense, as sinners saved by this gospel, to go to the most rebellious, the hardest-to-reach, the most resistant people, and to lay down our lives in love for the sake of their salvation. We owe it to them. That’s what Paul says: “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish” (Rom. 1:14). I’m obligated! Paul says, “I owe the nations the gospel.” We owe the gospel to the world. Let that soak in. Saved people this side of heaven owe the gospel to lost peoples this side of hell.

Sent by This God

Second, as you reach out to the unreached, realize that you’ve been sent by this God. Paul is a servant, a slave, of Christ. He is “set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1) and sent out with the gospel by God. In Romans 10:15, Paul says we preach the gospel because we’ve been sent by God. Think of it: God is sending you! This is a breathtaking thought. In all this talk about senders, don’t forget who the real Sender is — with a capital “S.” And why has he sent us? There are three reasons, but they each make essentially the same point. You can’t disconnect one from another.

First, God has sent us for their salvation. When we’re talking about unreached peoples, we’re talking about individuals (boys and girls, men and women) who are born and live and die and never even hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. But understand this: they do hear about God. More precisely, they “see” God. That’s what Romans 1:19 says: God makes himself “plain to them.”

Every unreached person in the world has some knowledge of God. Whether it’s a man in the African desert, a woman in an Asian village, or a tribe in the Amazon rainforest — even if they haven’t heard the gospel of Christ, they’ve seen the glory of God in the world he has made. But they’ve also rejected him, just like we all have in our sin. Romans 1:21 says, “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.”

“Saved people this side of heaven owe the gospel to lost people this side of hell.”

College students ask me all the time, “What about the innocent guy in Africa who’s never heard the gospel — what happens to him when he dies?” I say, “He goes to heaven, without question.” The only problem is, he doesn’t exist! There is no innocent guy in Africa. If there was, he wouldn’t need the gospel, because he’s innocent. He’d go to heaven because he has no sin. The problem is: there are no innocent unreached people in the world. Every unreached person in the world is guilty before God. That’s why they need the gospel.

Once we put these truths together, we must realize what this means: there are over two billion people in the world today whose knowledge of God is only sufficient to damn them to hell forever. They have knowledge that God exists, and without exception they have rejected him. They deserve his wrath, and that’s the end of the story for them. They have never heard the name of Jesus, the One who can save them from their sins. The God who sends us is the God who has revealed himself in the majesty of mountains and hills and rivers and oceans and the mysteries of the universe. This God has sent you and me with an even greater revelation of himself — the revelation that this God has made a way for our salvation!

Second, God sends us for his exaltation. This is more than mere altruism for Paul in Romans 9. Why is Paul so anguished in those verses? Listen to the way he talks about the Jewish people: “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all!” (Romans 9:4–5).

This is the people of God, Paul says, the people that God bound his name and his glory and his honor to going all the way back to Genesis 12. The glory of God is at stake in this people, which is why, immediately after this in verse 6, he says, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed.” In the rest of Romans 9, 10, and 11, Paul is zealous to show that God is sovereign over the salvation of his people and God will be faithful to his promises.

Although it’s in a different context, Revelation 5 also tells us about a promise God will keep, for Jesus has purchased men and women from every people, tribe, tongue, and nation (Revelation 5:9). But when you look at the world with six thousand unreached people groups, it’s tempting to think, Is God really going to save people from all of them? Is God really sovereign over salvation? Is God really going to be faithful to his promise?

The Bible is beckoning us to great sorrow and unceasing anguish because we have brothers and sisters whom God has promised to adopt as sons and daughters, and our Father is sending us to bring them into the family that they might know the joy and the love and the hope and the wonder and the grace and the mercy and the grandeur and the glory of our God. There are around sixteen thousand people groups in the world, and six thousand of them are unreached. So why do we have great sorrow and unceasing anguish? Because our God is worthy to receive praise from 6,000 more people groups on the planet.

Finally, God not only sends us for the salvation of unreached people groups and for his exaltation, but, also for our satisfaction. That is, for our good. I know that putting a blank check on the table with your life and your family and your future is a scary proposition for many of us. After all, what if God says to go to Afghanistan to work among the Taliban — is that what I’m going to do with my life? What about a husband or a wife? What about kids? I could lose everything.

The thought of a blank check with your life may be frightening to you, but don’t forget who you’re giving the blank check to. If you can trust God to redeem you, then you can trust God to lead you. If you can trust God to save you for eternity, you can trust God to satisfy you on earth. What we really need to be afraid of are any conditions we might put upon our obedience to God.

Consider this: the God who is sending you to difficult, dangerous places to reach peoples is the God who is sovereign over every single one of those peoples and places. Do you realize what that means? That means nothing can happen to you on the field as a missionary that is outside of the gracious hands of a sovereign God. That doesn’t mean suffering won’t come, and it doesn’t mean death won’t come. But remember this truth in that moment ten years from now when you’re on the field and everything is falling apart: nothing is happening or can happen to you outside of the sovereign will of a good and gracious God who has promised to satisfy you for the next ten trillion years.

Secure in This Great Commission

All this leads to the last reason we can say, “I’ll do whatever it takes and give whatever it costs — I’d throw myself into hell if I could for the sake of a people group’s salvation.” That reason is because we can rest completely secure in this Great Commission. It is going to happen. Disciples are going to be made in every nation. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

People ask, “Do you really believe when all the nations have been reached with the gospel, the end is going to come?” My response is, “Well, Jesus said it.” Then people say, “Well, how do you know our definition of people groups is right? Or how do you know when they are officially reached? And are you saying that Jesus couldn’t come back today, because there are six thousand people groups still unreached?”

“There are two billion people in the world today whose knowledge of God is only sufficient to damn them.”

No, that’s not what I’m saying. Jesus could come back today. We don’t know for sure exactly what is meant by “people groups” or the idea of being “reached” — these are our best estimates when it comes to the ethne, or “peoples,” of the world. But I can’t improve at this point on the words of George Ladd, who called Matthew 24:14 “the single most important verse in the Word of God for the people of God today.” Ladd says,

God alone knows the definition of terms. I cannot precisely define who all the nations are, but I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore, the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms; our responsibility is to complete the task. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission. (Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God [Paternoster, 1959], 137)

Even if you debate exactly how Matthew 24:14 should be interpreted, then jump to the back of the Book where Jesus, in the end, is surrounded by a great multitude that no one can count from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, who are standing before him clothed in white robes crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10). Only a few verses later John says of these individuals,

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat, for the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:15–17)

We give our lives in anticipation of that day.

So Who Will Go?

Paul gave his life in anticipation of that last day, and the Lord of the Harvest used it in great ways for the spread of his gospel. Of course, Paul wasn’t the only one sharing the gospel, but it’s safe to say that he made a significant impact in his day. Yet, as far as we know, the gospel had not penetrated Spain by the time Paul died. Did that mean Paul failed? Was he not able to accomplish what God had told him to do — to get the gospel to Spain?

Before we come to that conclusion, we need to consider the situation in Spain within a mere two hundred years after Paul’s death. In that short time frame, Spain had many known Christians throughout the country, and the church had spread throughout the surrounding regions. Never underestimate what happens not only in our lives but beyond our lives when the church is sending and Christians are going to those who need the gospel.

In light of the way Jesus used Paul and those early Christians, and in light of the concentrations of unreached people groups in the world today, I want to ask the question — inspired by God’s Word, and informed by his gospel — is Jesus setting you apart to go?