For this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles (1 Tim. 2:7, NIV).
Paul was “appointed a herald and an apostle… to the Gentiles.” “Gentiles” means all the nations of the world outside of Israel. It’s hard for us to grasp how astonishing this was in the early church. God made a covenant with Israel so, to many people, the God of the Bible was the God of Israel. When Paul says “I was appointed an apostle to the Gentiles”, he has to add “I am telling the truth, I am not lying.”
Paul’s Missionary Strategy
Paul had three roles throughout his life as a missionary:
a.) a herald—wherever he went, he proclaimed the gospel.
b.) an apostle—a pioneer sent to plant churches where they did not exist.
c.) a teacher of the true faith. He established the church by teaching truth and refuting error.
Today, there are millions of people who would say that Christianity is the religion not of the Jews, but of “the West.” But gospel churches take their stand with Paul and say, “The good news is for all nations.” Our calling is to herald the true faith to all nations. Why?
Preach the gospel to all people because Christ died for all people.
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time” (1 Tim. 2:3-6).
This is a marvelous statement of God’s redeeming purpose in Jesus Christ. And there is an important discussion about what Paul means when he says that “God wants all men to be saved” and that “Christ gave himself as a ransom for all men.” Does “all” mean “every single person”? Or does “all” mean “all kinds of people”?
People come to different conclusions on this, but I’m convinced that “all” means “all kinds of people.” And I believe that for three reasons:
1. That’s what “all” means in the beginning of 1 Timothy.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (1 Tim. 2:1).
God does not expect us to pray for every single person in the world, but to pray for all kinds of people in the world.
2. The Bible never suggests every single person will be saved.
On the Last Day, some will enter everlasting life while others go to their everlasting destruction (Matt. 25:46).
3. The word “ransom” in verse 6 means the payment of a price.
If Christ paid for the sins of “every single person,” hell would be filled with people whose sins had already been paid for.
That’s why I believe that when Paul says “all” he means “all kinds of people” and not “every single person.” That leads to this wonderful application: God wants “all kinds of people” to be saved. Christ gave his life to ransom all kinds of people. There will be people like you in heaven, so why not you?
“All People” Means You
In Heaven, there will be people with the highest degrees and the greatest minds, and there will be people who never learned to read or write. There will be people who earned millions of dollars, and people who lived all their lives in abject poverty. There will be people from stable families and people from dysfunctional families.
There will be people with your personality type in heaven—so why not you? There will be people from your race, people who speak your language, so why not you? There will be people who were once caught in every kind of vice known to mankind, but have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, so why not you?
“There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5), so that means that Christ is the mediator for you. God wants people like you to be saved. Christ gave His life as a ransom for people like you.
Why not come to Christ and trust Him as your Redeemer today? If you come to Christ, He will never turn you away.
The gospel fires missions because Christ died for all. If you believe that all roads lead to God, there is no reason for world mission. People can find their own way. But Paul says that there is one mediator between God and man. If there is one mediator, there must be one gospel. If there is one gospel, it must be for all people.
Therefore, let’s renew our commitment to a ministry of the Word and prayer on a global scale. That’s the passion of a gospel-centered church.