We are currently in Romans class, and this is one of the topics we are discussing. I thought I’d share what I have been learning and how it ties in with my passion and desire for missions.
Are the heathen lost?
Who are the heathen? In the New Testament heathen is interchangeable with Gentiles (non-Jews) or “nations”. Today we refer to the heathen as “those who have never been given an adequate opportunity to hear the Gospel”. For example, a tribal people group hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest.
Though tribal people may not have God’s Word or the gospel in their language. God has made Himself evident to them through His Creation. Romans 1:19 says that “for what can be known about God (his eternal power and divine nature) is plain to them, because God has shown it to them“. But instead of receiving that witness, they “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creator rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:23). They placed their object of faith in creation – animism (belief in numerous spiritual beings, both human and non-human in origin, who possess power) and idolatry.
God also gave every man, a conscience (my own belief of what is right and wrong – not necessarily the biblical definition of right and wrong). Romans 2:14 says “For when Gentiles (or tribal people), who do not have the law, by nature (their conscience) does what the law requires (or does right), they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law“. So here we are shown that every man is condemned by his own conscience – by sinning against it/doing what they know is wrong.
We can now understand that though tribal people are without God’s Word, they are still without any excuse because by the product of their own choosing they have rejected God’s testimony and thus God’s wrath is against them.
Romans 3:9,10 tells us that “All, both Jews and Greeks (or Gentiles/heathen/tribal people), are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.‘ ” All men are under the authority and due condemnation of sin, and man is only saved through the preaching of God’s grace: Romans 3:23, 24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.“
Tribal people cannot be made righteous through the faith they place in creation (by believing that there is a creator), or by doing good works through following their conscience. They cannot seek God and have no desire to because Romans 3:11 says that “no one seeks for God“. Though they “appear” to be seeking God, they cannot. God is the initiator and people respond to Him (through the workings of the Holy Spirit). “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost“ (Luke 19:10). “I have been found by those who did not seek me” (Romans 10:20).
Unsaved tribal people are dying each day and are going to hell. They have never heard the name of Jesus and do not know that grace is their only hope!
“‘For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how are they to 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 some preaching?“
I’ve also been taking the Intro to New Tribes Missions class and have learned a lot about the organization through that.
Their class verse is Mark 16:15
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.“
Please be praying for Mark and I as we continue in our training with NTM with the goal of reaching the unreached with the gospel.