The inspired apostle Paul noted at the beginning and the end of the great epistle of Romans that God’s purpose for the gospel is for obedience to the faith among all nations (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). The word for “nations” in the Greek New Testament is the same word rendered “Gentiles” — it refers to all the nations/peoples of the world. The Jews are a people. All the other ethnic groups or nations are Gentiles.
God is not only the God of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles (Rom. 3:29). God wants to save both the Jews and the Gentiles. The nations of the world are guilty of sin. Romans 1:18-32 shows the guilt of the Gentiles before God for their multitude of sins. Romans 2 explains the guilt of the Jews before God. The evil that people do to one another throughout history screams out to the Holy God (Gen. 4:10; Rev. 6:10). When people commit sins worthy of death (Rom. 1:32), God’s justice demands punishment—tribulation and anguish on every soul that does evil, whether Jew or Gentile (Rom. 2:10). Sadly, all are guilty of sin and worth of death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). God cannot look on wickedness (Hab. 1:13). Justice is demanded, and a judgment must be rendered.
The only way of hope is the gospel, the power of God to salvation for all nations (Rom. 1:16). Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them and teaching them all He has commanded (Matt. 28:19). We are to go proclaim the gospel to all of creation (Mark 16:15). Jesus is the way that God can remain just while also justifying the sinner by the grace of the gospel (Rom. 3:26).
When Jesus was placed on the cross, the cruelty and injustice of humans was highlighted. Jesus endured the hostility of sinners (Heb. 12:3). In speaking of this shameful death, Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (Jn. 12:32). The unjust and inhumane treatment of the innocent at the hands of men is put on display at the cross. No matter what people group we identify with, there is something in the cross that all people of the world desperately need. With the blood of Christ, God redeems individuals from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Rev. 5:9).
People in the world are willing to risk their lives to kill others. Wars and terrorism are rampant in our day. We have not outgrown them with civilization. As long as sin is in the world, the story will be the same. In contrast, the redeemed people in the church must be willing to risk their lives so that others can be saved eternally. In His Word, God provides multiple examples of members of the New Testament church being willing to go to prison and even death to spread the gospel. After being arrested and beaten, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the Lord’s name and did not stop teaching and preaching Jesus Christ (Acts 5:40-42). If we are to restore the New Testament church, we must have the evangelistic zeal of the church we read of in the New Testament.