Students challenged to risk all for gospelby C. Walter Overman
Scripture makes it clear that faithful followers of Jesus Christ will encounter risks and experience trials. Some may experience rejection from family and friends, while others physical persecution for taking a stand for the gospel.
Despite social and physical risks, a greater risk to Christ-followers is the risk of doing nothing.
George Robinson, assistant professor for missions and evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, led a break out session during the recent 20/20 “The Scriptures Come to Life” Collegiate Conference in which he challenged students to take great risks for the sake of the gospel.
“The way you go through this life without wasting it, whether you die of old age or as a martyr, is when you have risked it all for the sake of the gospel,” he said. “What stands between that reality right now is all the unengaged people groups of the world.”
During his presentation, Robinson said that the more than 6,000 unreached people groups worldwide are evidence that many risks stand between followers of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
A people group is considered unreached when evangelical Christians comprise less than two percent of the population. However, Robinson said that more than 3,000 of the unreached people groups are also unengaged, meaning there is no gospel witness among them (visit www.imb.org to learn more about unengaged, unreached people groups and how churches can get involved).
Many unreached and unengaged people groups live in countries where cultural, religious and government obstacles pose significant challenges to Kingdom work.
According to Robinson, these unreached and unengaged people groups are the last frontier of missions. “The last frontier in missions is marked with tremendous obstacles and tremendous challenges,” he said.
Scripture speaks of a time when people from every tribe and nation will assemble at the feet of Jesus and worship Him. Yet, that will not become a reality until more Christians engage in frontier missions.
Foreign missions: A priority
One common objection to international missions is the great number of lost people in North America. Robinson said there is indeed a tremendous need to reach the lost in North America, and not everyone is called to foreign missions.
However, he reminded the students that the majority of North Americans have access to the gospel, and that is not the case for the 2.8 billion people worldwide who have no one to tell them about Jesus. Robinson said believers should follow the example of the apostle Paul who, despite being among untold numbers of unsaved people, spoke of having no more room to work in the regions where he had already planted churches.
“It’s not like Paul couldn’t have walked down the street and shared the gospel with somebody,” Robinson said. “When Paul is saying there is no more room for him to work in those regions he was referring to the fact that there was already a church established in that location.”
Robinson said Paul’s desire was for churches to multiply and reach people in their local areas with the understanding that they would prioritize the equipping and sending of frontier missionaries from their congregations. Likewise, he said churches today should make the equipping and sending of international missionaries a priority.
Resting in Christ’s authority
An important aspect of the Great Commission that is sometimes overlooked is the sovereign authority ascribed to Jesus in the beginning verses of Matthew’s account of the Great Commission. The fact that Jesus has been given all authority in Heaven and on earth alleviates any fear Christians should have in regards to taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.
“There is no place where you can go where Jesus is not in control,” Robinson said. “That brings comfort when our lives are at risk because we are never out from under His watchful eye. We can go because of who Jesus is.”
Robinson said the Great Commission is an unfolding of God’s original purpose and plan for humanity to fill the earth with authentic worshippers of Jesus. He challenged students to place their trust in Christ’s authority in pursuit of their high calling to reach the world with the gospel.
“You were made to risk it all and rest in the security that Jesus Christ alone can provide you,” Robinson said. “The real risk is that you go through life living for yourself and get to the end only to find out that you’ve wasted it on what wasn’t eternal.”