Condition of people without Christ
There are blind or deceived dreamers who tell us again and again that the people are perfectly happy in their state and religion and that it is cruel and wrong to disturb and confuse them with another man’s religion. Peculiarly, they do not advance such arguments against the importation of Coca Cola, Singer sewing machines, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and other evils of the Western or Eastern world.
The Bible does not thus represent the man outside of the gospel. He is not a perfectly happy creature. The lostness of man apart from Christ is much more keenly felt than it is possible to describe. Man is born with eternity in his soul. He is created for God and cannot find contentment and peace until he finds it in God. He has neither meaning nor destiny of life, neither peace nor hope.
While he fears God, he yearns for Him and his heart cries out for Him. While he attempts to hide and escape from God, he seeks Him and longs for His presence, care and fellowship. He does not want God, yet he dreads to be without Him. He is man in Widerspruch (contradiction). The sense of loneliness, of being forsaken, of fear, guilt, dread, emptiness, lostness, insecurity and meaninglessness are all living realities in the heart and mind of the man apart from Christ.
Douglas Webster tells us, “There are two basic anxieties today: the search for security and the search for meaning.” Man considers himself not only in bondage of sin and superstition but also as being under the wrath of God and judgment to come. This is his natural existence.
Apart from Christ, the world is empty of spiritual reality and value, for Christ is the sum total of all spiritual reality. He is life—abundant and eternal life. In Him are life and immortality. He is our peace, our joy, our hope. In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
Apart from Him there are only disintegration, deterioration, destitution and death, eternal death.
The situation cannot be alleviated by offering man religion, plenty of religion. The world is filled with religion, but religion is impotent and cannot save man from his pathetic existence. It is the no to man in his sinful plight. Consciously or unconsciously, man cries out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The only answer provided is, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ro 7:24–25).
It may be possible that here and there men succeed in doping themselves into religious numbness by an overdose of religious beliefs and practices. They mistake this numbness for peace and a foretaste of Nirvana. However, these would be the exception.
With most people, religion is a wearisome search which never ends, never resulting in rest and peace with God. There is no such invitation in ethnic religions as we find on the lips of Christ who says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest [give as a free and gracious gift]” (Mt 11:28).
Consider the glorious message which sounded forth many hundreds of years before Christ uttered the invitation, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Is 55:1). This is glorious “music” in the midst of religions’ discordant works, merits and rewards.
The inadequacy of nonrevelational religions is an accepted fact in the Scriptures and is evident to Bible-believing and spiritually discerning people. It seems superfluous to argue the point. The facts of history and the testimonies of millons add their convincing language to the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
The spiritual plight of man creates an emergency which demands the speedy proclamation of the gospel among all nations and to every creature. Here is our call, our command, our rationale, our authority and our urgency. Together they constitute an overwhelming emergency.
George W. Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1972), 331–332.