In my previous post I sought to show from John 10 that God has given Jesus a certain number of individuals who Jesus dies for. Jesus dies for them in order that the way to heaven might be provided for them and that their salvation might be secure. All those Christ died for will therefore be saved.
John 10 says the sheep are first the Father’s; then they are given to the Son; the Son lays down his life for his own sheep; they are kept in the hands of the Son and the Father; no sheep for whom Christ lays down his life ever perishes.
This is the unfailing purpose of God in Missions: all the sheep Jesus died for in all the world will hear and obey his voice. Here too we have grounds for confidence in missions: missions cannot fail. In John 10:16 Jesus says,
“I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.”
The question is how will Christ’s sheep hear his voice?
According to the Apostle Paul, Jesus’ sheep hear Jesus’ voice when the gospel is preached to them:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:14-15)
The logic of these verses is very clear:
(1) Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved.
(2) People will only call if they believe Jesus can save them.
(3) They will only believe Jesus can save them if they hear about Jesus.
(5) They can only hear about Jesus if someone tells them about Jesus.
(4) Someone can only tell them if they are sent by God and his church to tell them.
This is why Apostle Paul was so urgent about spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth: he believed that the only way for anyone to be saved is to for people to hear and believe the gospel.
God’s plan for missions is: Christ and his church send preachers; preachers preach; people hear; hearers believe; believers call on the Lord Jesus and are saved. This is the missionary endeavour and this is how God has ordained that sinners will be saved.
Paul was extremely confident because he knew that when the gospel is proclaimed in the nations, Christ’s sheep will hear and will obey his voice; all the sheep that are not yet in the sheepfold will repent and believe the gospel, not one will be lost.
William Carey agreed with this worldwide preaching of the gospel and wrote in his ground-breaking book, “An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens”:
“God has commanded the gospel to be preached to every creature; He has required us to proclaim to our fellow-men, of whatever character, and in all varieties of circumstances, the glad tidings of great joy,—to hold out to them, in His name, pardon and acceptance through the death of Christ —to invite them to come to Christ, and to receive Him,—and to accompany all this with the assurance that “whosoever cometh to Him, He will in no wise cast out.”
We could also think of Jesus’ parable of the wedding banquet. Just like the servants of the king, we are to “go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone we find”. Gospel proclamation is our responsibility and more than ever the need for Christians to take the gospel to peoples and nations who have never heard remains urgent.
The awesome truth is that God has chosen to irresistibly call his sheep by means of human messengers declaring the gospel. Therefore there can be no end to evangelism and missions while there are still human beings who have not heard about Jesus and the forgiveness of sins in his name.
In the gospel, we do not offer people the possibility of salvation, we offer Christ; and in Christ the infinite achievement that Christ accomplished for his people. We must constantly remind ourselves of these two great truths:
- The sheep Jesus died for will hear and obey his voice – guaranteed
- Jesus’ sheep hear Jesus’ voice when the gospel is preached to them – guaranteed
Who is responsible to save the lost?
God has done it all in Christ. It was an infinite achievement. And because God has done it all and we go as the means God uses to call his sheep. Just as the death of Christ cannot, did not and will not fail; so too the mission of God to save his people will not and cannot fail. The sheep will listen. If we are not faithful in speaking the gospel to them, God will raise up someone who is. But what a privilege and honour it is to be used by God as his instrument.
We thus have a Divine Mission with a Divine Confidence.
What will it mean for us?
Pray for missions. If God is the one who calls. Pray that he will call.
Go and declare the gospel wherever God leads you. God wants you to go across the street. He may want you to go across the world.
Give your money. If world evangelism is the unfailing purpose of God, giving towards that purpose is the best investment we can ever make.