“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.”
– Romans 15:20–21
This is Paul at the end of this book, in Romans 15:20–21, basically sharing with the church of Rome what drives him. His ambition is to see Christ preached where he’s not been named, where people don’t know him. Where people haven’t heard of him. He wants those who have never been told of him to see, those who have never heard to understand. So that was Paul in the first century, so what about 21st century? Are there people who have not seen? Are there people who have never heard? And yes.
Romans 15:20–21 Reminds Us of those Unreached
We talked about this at different points in different Pray the Word podcasts. There’s 2.8 billion people today who fall into that category. 2,000 years after Paul wrote this, there are that many people in the world right now who haven’t been told of Jesus. They’ve not heard him. People who have never even heard his name. I think about people I’ve met in Nepal, walking on trails in the mountains and saying, “Do you know about Jesus?” And they look back at you like, “Who are you talking about? Is this a guy in a village nearby?” They’ve never even heard his name.
We should pray that by God’s grace, we might have the ambition of Paul to get the gospel where it has not yet gone.
This Verse Encourages Us to Bring the Gospel to Those Who Have Never Heard
And so I want to encourage us, all of us. This is obviously Paul uniquely talking about his ambition and the role God had given him to play in getting the gospel to those who have never heard in a way that is unique for Paul and is unique for missionaries who go out from the church and cross geographic and linguistic and cultural barriers to get the gospel to those who have never heard it.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t all have a part to play in seeing Christ preached where he’s not been named. That’s why he’s writing this letter to the church at Rome. He’s saying, “We’ve all got a part to play, and our praying and our giving and our going and our sending some of you to go to Spain where they’ve not heard the gospel, others of us to work together in different ways to get the gospel to those in Spain who have never heard it.”
Romans 15:20–21 Leads Us to Pray for the Japanese
So when you hear that there’s 2.8 billion people in the world who have yet to hear the gospel, please don’t think, “Somebody needs to go and do something about that.” Please think, “We together need to do something about that. We need to pray. Lord, we need to give. We need to go. We need to send more people, multitudes more people.” I’m looking today at the Japanese people. There’s 120 plus million Japanese people. Most of them are unreached with the gospel. They have very little knowledge of the gospel. Very few relatively among that 120 million people, very few followers of Christ. And so I’m just compelled to pray.
God, use us. Use all of us in some way. God, use us. Even are praying right now, to be part of the spread of the gospel to the Japanese. God, we pray that people in Japan, men, women, children, would come to know your love, your grace. We’re praying for that right now. God, we’re pleading for that right now. We pray that you would help us in our churches to give like we want people in Japan to hear the gospel. God, help us to give, to send missionaries. Help us to give to support the spread of the gospel in places like Japan.
This Verse Leads Us to Go to the Unreached
God, we pray that you’d help us to go. We have more access to travel around the world than we’ve ever had. We have more technology that can be used to get the gospel around the world. Help us to use these gifts you’ve given us for the spread of the gospel to people all across Japan. Lord, help us to go. Help us to send more missionaries. God, we pray that you would raise up more and more and more people from our churches who are taking the gospel to those who have never heard it.
God, please, please cause a Paul-like Romans 15:20–21, like ambition to rise in individuals and in your church collectively, that we would be consumed to see Christ preached where he has not been named. That we would be driven to see the gospel go where it’s not yet gone. Please, oh God, please, use our lives, every one of our lives, in some way toward that end. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.