No one, who has seen the actual conditions, can question that they who are without God are also without hope. The Scriptures, as well as careful observations of earnest men the world over, agree that with respect to the need of salvation all nations are the same. The need of the world is indescribably great. Hundreds of millions are today living in ignorance and darkness, steeped in superstition, degradation and corruption. The Scriptures clearly teach that if men are to be saved they must be saved through Christ, "for there is none other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Christ alone can deliver man from the power of sin and its penalty. The Word of God sets forth the conditions of salvation. God has chosen to have these conditions made known through human agency; therefore, the duty of Christians is to preach Christ to every creature.
An understanding of our own hearts should be sufficient to make plain our duty to those who are not evangelized. We know our need of Christ. How unreasonable, therefore, for us to assume that the nations living in sin and bondage can do without Him. With this true knowledge of Jesus Christ, a responsibility toward every man is incurred. "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). We are bound to propagate what we believe to be the truth. "If ye love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Of certainty, we know that God "is not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
If Christ has commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, if all men need the Gospel and if we owe the Gospel to all men, it is unquestionably our duty to give all people in our generation an opportunity to hear the Gospel. To know our duty and to do it not is sin. Continuance in the sin of neglect and disobedience weakens the life of the Christian and arrests the growth of the church. The Christians of today need some object great enough to engage all the powers of their minds and hearts. We find just such an object in the work of evangelization.
There is a most intimate and vital connection between "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations," and "Lo, I am with you always" (Matthew 28:19 -20). The gift of the Holy Spirit is associated in the New Testament with spreading the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Moreover, the power of the Holy Spirit was bestowed for the express purpose of equipping Christians for the work of preaching the Gospel "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Too little emphasis has been placed on so important a task. Can this then be the cause of the lack of growth in our own congregations? "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18). The truth of this verse is not applicable only to the socalled foreign mission fields, but applies to all of us on the home base as well.
Far too many Christians look on the promotion of the missionary movement as something quite outside the ordinary Christian life. They assume that to help extend Christ's kingdom is an optional matter and not obligatory. Surely, God never intended that only a few earnest and devoted believers, here and there, should have a vision of the whole world and be possessed by an intense longing for the salvation of lost souls. It is absurd for us even to think that the command "Go" applied only to the Apostles who heard Jesus speak those words. That the command was not intended for the Apostles alone is seen from the promise with which it is linked, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). The practice of the church in the Apostolic Age and afterward shows that the command was regarded as binding not only upon the Apostles but also upon all Christians. It was addressed to all in every place and throughout every generation.
As our eyes become open to the responsibility thrust upon us, we must realize our indebtedness not only to one nationality of people but to all mankind. "I am under obligation both to Greeks, and to barbarians; both to the wise and to the foolish. Thus, for my part, I am eager to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome" (Romans 1:14-15). Yet, I do not think that we will have any greater love for a foreign group of people than that which exists for our own people. It is the light that shines brightest at home that will reach the farthest point. Let us pray that God might help us to be found faithful in the work among our people, that the scope and horizons of our work might be expanded to the reaching of others "also" for Christ (John 10:16). Yes, there is a task for each of us. Have you been faithful to the task God has given you?
Executive Director of Slavic Missionary Service