Paul, in the first two chapters of Romans, makes it abundantly clear there is a revelation in every man that originates from God. This knowledge of God penetrates our consciousness so suitably that we possess an understanding of the existence of God. God has made himself, his works and his goodness abundantly evident to all mankind. However, the knowledge that God makes accessible to all men does not spell out the Trinity or the saving grace of Jesus. For this saving knowledge we need the gospel.
Longing to Reap
Paul knew there was an urgent need to bring the gospel to Gentiles, Greeks and barbarians (Rom 1:13-15). He expressed great urgency to share with the wise and foolish. Paul was ordained as the apostle to the Gentiles and felt a special obligation to those who did not know of God. God does not care for class or culture. He desires his message to save his elect, be they outcast or elite, wise or ignorant, Greek or Jew.
Paul was not sharing simple knowledge or trivial information with the lost. Paul’s message was bound for the lost and was backed by the power of the God of the Universe. Preaching and disciple making are how God has chosen to reach the world.
God’s wrath was righteously shown (Rom 1:18-32) because sinful man suppressed the truth about God. Man embraced an idolatry that led to a moral disintegration of human society.
There exists in the world a moral law of which all men are aware. We are left to the consequences of our freely chosen path and deserve our eternal punishment for knowingly turning away from the Lord. Paul’s purpose is to show the whole of humanity is completely and totally depraved and incapable of currying favor with God. Man knows of God, chooses sin and is in desperate need of the Lord’s mercy and pardon.
Paul opens chapter two of his letter to the Romans by saying man has no excuses and each one of us will be judged (v. 1-3). Of these first three verses Ronald Blue says God, “does not send people to hell; He lets them go. The judgment of course is for God to make, not other men, no matter how righteous they may seem.” It is our own hardened and impenitent hearts that brings upon us God’s wrath (v. 5). God shows no partiality toward man, the obedient will be redeemed and the wicked will be punished (v. 6-11). The heart and the conscience of sinners bares testament to the truth of God and our lack of acknowledgement of this calls judgment upon all humans in existence (v. 12-16). Of these five verses in Romans Lewis Johnson stated, “What has been said of the revelation of God in nature may also be said of the second source of the knowledge of God, the revelation of God in conscience.”
None Are Worthy
What about the Sentinelese people of Eastern India, or the Pintupi of Australia, or the Mayoruna of Brazil? What about those who are so remote they have never met a missionary or heard a preacher or read the Bible? Perhaps a remote people group deep the rainforest did the best they could. They worshiped a statue or the sun or the earth. Aren’t those things really God by another name? No, worshiping statues and celestial bodies is what we are at our core, idolaters. That is man worshiping the created instead of the Creator.
What happens to the innocent person in the middle of the African jungle who has never heard about Jesus Christ? The reality is the innocent person goes to heaven. Unfortunately, there are no innocent people in the world, and there has never been one, save Jesus. All man has rightfully earned an eternity in hell separated from the love of God. If there were innocent people in the jungles, they would have no need to hear the gospel. That, however, is why we must go to them, and share the good news.
Disciples of Christ must continue to be mobilized by local churches and ordained by the Lord to enter the frontiers that stand as barriers to complete gospel penetration into the entire world. God has so willed man’s active participation in spreading his merciful call to the lost.
Charles Spurgeon was posed the question regarding the unreached heathen. “Someone asked, ‘Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?’ Spurgeon responded, ‘It is more a question with me whether we who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not can be saved.” It is not possible to avoid an eternity in hell apart from embracing Jesus. This fact should stir us to action for the lost of the world.
Will those who have never heard the gospel be lost? Indeed, they will. Their separation from God throughout eternity will have been caused by the fact that they have sinned against God and they had not been taught of his grace. Because they were not taught they were unable to benefit from Christ’s plan for salvation. All mankind was offered the free gift of God to reconcile them in a covenant relationship with the Creator. For those of us who embrace the gospel, the burden falls on us to share the truth with those who do not know.