I’m always amused at the preconceived ideas people have about taking the gospel or planting churches among the unreached peoples of the world. Many good evangelical churches have the idea that you just move into a location and ‘do church.’ That is, do what you do here on the home-front …with no consideration of the heart language of the people or their culture. “After all, we’re using an interpreter,” they say.
While God’s Word is relevant for all people in all places at all times, one must be very careful not to assume such unreached people have an understanding of who God is, or for that matter, any knowledge of the Bible. …And if they do, it is most likely understood from their cultural grid, not the historical, spiritual foundation from which it is expressed.
During international travels to a largely unreached region of the world I came to grips with the thought “Oh, here are civilized people living in rural out-of-the-way places. Yes, they have roads, however, treacherous …and modern conveniences such as electricity, TV, cell phone services, and internet. Surely they must have an awareness of Creator God, especially those living in the regions where magnificient scenery screams it took a creator to make this.”
But look closely into the mindset and world view of these people and you see a dark, animistic side of people prided by their heritage and steeped in the darkness of ancestral worship. Those are the things that shape their views about life and death, with no understanding of the simplicity of the gospel or the fact that there is a gospel or a Jesus who paid their ransom for sin. Yes there is a small fraction of a percentage of the people who know Jesus, but the majority of these people do not know such things.
That said, it is easy for carriers of the gospel, namely Western Christians, to locate among such ones and jump straight to the gospel story without first laying down solid foundations for the gospel. God’s Word says “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word.” Just as a house is built from the ground up after careful preparation in laying a solid foundation, even so we must give precise care to laying solid biblical foundations in our teaching.
The gospel, in its simplest form, is encased in three truths’ — that Jesus was crucified; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day. But the greater understanding of these truths comes from grasping the nature and character of God from which all truth springs forth. Grasp that and you have the blessed ability to see the thread of significance to the substitutionary principles woven throughout the story of God –principles necessary in appropriating the truth of the gospel.
I’m often asked the question “Why does it take New Tribes so long to plant churches?” to which I gladly reply, “Let me show you.” This is in part why I love traveling around the homeland unpacking the eternal truths of God’s Word… truths that are essential for faith and salvation. I find that a lot of people have foundational truths in place; they just don’t take the time to ‘connect the dots’ in their understanding and application thereof.
Let me give you an example. We probably all know John 3:16… “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If I were to ask you “Who is this speaking of?” you would say “Jesus!” …But where in that verse does it say ‘Jesus?’ It doesn’t.
Case in point: you had to read the preceding chapters of John in order to grasp that the book is talking about Jesus. –See, you have more foundational understanding of truth than you let on to know. For some reason we just don’t string it together in a manner that brings light for it to make sense to us. Perhaps we assume too much.
Its imperative that we grasp a deeper understanding of God’s Word in order to take the truths we know so well, and bring them to unsaved friends in a meaningful way. God’s Word is absolute and not really that hard to understand. He wants us to know what it takes to get His truth to all the world, AND He wants us to do it.
–Because Jesus said ‘Go!’