“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 awhile.”
Now you might think, why pick these verses? Out of all the good stuff in Romans 15 and 16, why these verses about Paul saying, “I no longer have any room for work in these regions. So I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain”? Well, here’s why. Because these verses, when you think about what Paul just said, are astounding and eye opening. So they’re astounding in this sense. Paul just said he’s been from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum proclaiming the gospel. He’s basically summarizing all the places where he shared the gospel and planted churches. And then he says, “There’s no more room for me to work in these regions.”
Just as Paul wrote to the church at Rome, even now God is calling people to take the gospel where Christ has not yet been praised. Let’s pray for this: that God will send laborers into the harvest.
Are you kidding, Paul? There’s no more room for work? Did that mean everybody was a follower of Christ in those regions? Does that mean that there weren’t lost people in those regions? Does that mean that there weren’t all kinds of needs to be met, like physical needs to be met in those regions? Of course there were all those things. There were still many people who didn’t know Christ. There were still all kinds of physical needs that needed to be met. So why would Paul say there’s no more work for me to do in those regions?
Well, because Paul had proclaimed the gospel in those regions. People had come to Christ. They had gathered together into churches. And so there were churches in those regions that were now proclaiming the gospel and meeting physical needs, making disciples, multiplying into other churches. So the work was happening. Paul, though, says, “I don’t need to be working there anymore because I am headed to Spain.” Why to Spain? Because there were people in Spain who had not yet heard the gospel. And Paul said right before this, “My ambition to preach his name where his name is not known.”
So in the world today, there are places where the gospel, by God’s grace, has gone. People have become followers of Jesus. They have gathered together in churches. Many places in North America are like this, places where the gospel has been proclaimed and churches have been started. And that doesn’t mean that there’s no more work to do in those regions. There’s tons of work to do in those regions, for Christians and pastors in those regions.
At the same time … So this is what’s eyeopening. God calls out people like Paul to take the gospel to where it has not yet gone. We pray all the time on this podcast for unreached people, people like the Kanuri in Niger, 644,000 Muslims. No known followers of Jesus among the Kanuri in Niger. It’s like Spain in Romans 15. They’ve not heard the name of Jesus. It’s not that they’ve heard the gospel and rejected it. They haven’t even been reached with the gospel yet. So somebody God is calling out to go for a place where the church is or disciples have been made to leave a place like that and take the gospel where it’s not yet gone. This is why every single church that has been planted, every church that is gathering together believers needs to be praying that God would send out some from your midst to take the gospel where it’s not yet gone.
Are you in your church praying for this? That God will send out some people from your church who say, “No more work for me to do here.” That doesn’t mean there’s not still lost people right there in that community, that city where you live. That doesn’t mean that there’s not more needs to be met. Absolutely there are, and by God’s grace, your church is there doing that. At the same time, some, God is calling out to leave where the church is to go where the church isn’t. And we as the church need to pray for that to happen. And as we pray for that to happen, to open up our lives to the fact that God may lead us to be the answer to that prayer.
So God, I pray right now for the church you’ve called me to pastor, you’ve made me a part of here in greater Washington DC, McLean Bible Church. And then God, I pray for every other church that is represented and those who are praying with me right now. We pray that you would send out people from every one of our churches to take the gospel where it has not yet gone. To people like the Kanuri in Niger. Thousands of other people groups like them. Please, Oh God, raise up multitudes of people from our churches, not just here or there. Multitudes, we pray, whose ambition will be to see Christ preach where he’s not been named. And help us and our churches to send them out with joy and with all the support they need to get the job done, to make the gospel known there.
God, even as we pray that, we pray that you would make it clear to each of us if you’re calling us to go. Lord, we lay our lives down before you. We are living sacrifices. Our lives are yours to spend. We’ve seen this in your word. So we say to you now, spend our lives for your glory. And if that’s leaving us where the church is, help us to lead people to Christ, make disciples right where we live. God, if that’s leaving where we live right now to take the gospel where it’s not yet gone, we will gladly go. Help us to gladly go wherever you lead us.
We pray for the perspective of Paul in the church for all of us that we would all be thinking, praying, working, giving, going however you lead so that the gospel is proclaimed where it’s not yet known. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
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