The apostle Paul declares in Romans 1:18-19, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”
The godless know about God, yet they “suppress the truth by their unrighteousness”. They are guilty of rejecting what they know! Should the church then continue to proclaim the gospel to these people?
Last week I spoke on why missions and evangelism should concern us. Jesus makes us His disciples and He commissions us to “Go, make other disciples.” In the discourse from Matthew 10:5-10, I also noted that Jesus instructed His first disciples to “shake off the dust from your feet” at those who will not “receive you or listen to your words.” (v. 14).
“Shaking off the dust” is a significant act in ancient Jewish times that depicts that the disciples will no longer have any dealings with those who reject receiving and listening to them. They are symbolically showing that they are no longer responsible for the guilt of those who refused to receive them.
So, should the church continue to proclaim the gospel to such godless people?
Yes! is the short answer—we should. We need to remember we are not responsible for the outcome of our proclamation, God is. We just have to trust His mercy and grace.
When we proclaim the law and the gospel to unbelievers we do not preach it thinking they will want it, or believe it on their own. No, Paul says the purpose of the law is not to show their ability, but to reveal sin (Rom 3:19). But we do so always with an eye to God that the things we say will be used by God to convict them as He changes their heart of stone to a heart of flesh, so they will flee to Christ as their only hope. People are not saved in a void but through the gospel. The apostle James says that God ordains the new life through “the word of truth.” (James 1:18)
Consider this, though many miracles are recorded in the Bible, God has decreed that it is His Word that would be the means of calling men to Himself. We who follow Christ are called blessed for believing without seeing, by relying upon His Word.
Likewise, we win others in the same manner—by preaching the Word.
Pastor Robert Chew