ArticleChurch Life & Ministry

Desire for the Lost to Be Saved

The blessings and comforts of Christian life and society make it far too easy for us to forget the reality of Hell.

Editor’s Note: This article is the third installment in seven-part SendOne devotional series. Learn more about SendOne.


God desires for the lost to be saved. Do you?

It’s easy for Christians to regard Christianity as a fish regards water. We take our faith for granted. The blessings of life and community in the local church unfortunately make it far too easy to lose contact with the lost. We become so removed in proximity from those who need Christ that we forget about the urgency of eternity.

Paul was immersed in the task of advancing the church, but he didn’t lose perspective; he was driven by his heart to bring the lost to Christ:

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:1-4)

Paul unfolds several important truths here that are fundamental to a church’s calling and mission as it relates to cross-cultural ministry.

Good intentions can’t save.

As Christians, we know this.

Being a “good,” “nice,” or “moral” person in terms of appearance or public persona doesn’t save anyone from the wrath of God. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Gospel ignorance is a global spiritual plague, and Christ is the cure. What does that mean for you and your church? It means that someone must bring the gospel to those who don’t know about Christ.

God’s intention is to teach the lost about Jesus Christ.

Ignorance always hides itself under the veil of false knowledge. This is never more true in matters of faith.

In our culture, to speak “my truth” is to trump any other objective truth claim. People pretend to be certain about all sorts of religious claims. Many religious people are zealous. Well-intentioned. Many of them even do fantastic humanitarian work. The Apostle Paul observes a similar problem within the Jewish community of his day: “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:2-3).

Zeal is amazing. Zeal motivates thousands of organizations to feed the hungry, help the orphan and widow, and care for the elderly.

But missionaries of Jesus Christ are the only ones doing everlasting work—digging in the ground of eternity.

Every full belly will someday be empty. Every rescued child will age and die. Every humanitarian effort—good and biblical as they are—will be undone.

But preaching Christ will never be undone. That’s what God is calling your church to do across the world. That’s what God is calling your church to do in sending a missionary.

The desire for God to save the lost through missions is holy.

We often wonder how a good God could allow such great suffering to happen in the world—much less allow billions of unbelievers to perish in Hell.

And yet, when those in our church desire to enter full-time missions work, we treat that desire as an oddity. How foolish of us.

But the Apostle Paul is desperate for his unsaved community to come to Christ: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”

Would you pray for that same desire to burn in your heart and the hearts of your church members?

Would you pray that God would raise up and convict one person from your community to burn with zeal for bringing Christ to a people who need him desperately?

About the Author

P.C. Maxwell is a writer and theologian. He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor’s in biblical languages from Moody Bible Institute. He resides in the Chicago area with his wife and contributes regularly to ABWE’s blog and communications strategy.

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