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What IF They Knew?

To the woman who came to Jacob's well at Sychar Jesus said, "If thou knewest" (John 4:10). Later on He lamented and wept over the city of Jerusalem, saying, "If thou hadst known" (Luke 19:42). "If" is a small word with much significance. It introduces an element of conjecture and provides the springboard for thought-provoking comments. Even the most primitive pagans are aware of certain spiritual facts. They know that God exists, that they have sinned, that their sins must be punished and that there is a life after death. God has written these things on men's hearts and consciences, and all people know them, even though they have never seen or heard of the Bible. But use your imagination for a moment and suppose that the heathen also know some other things.

What if the heathen knew that we have a gospel of hope and salvation? What if they knew that we have in our possession a gospel of power that could deliver them from their sins, that could bring them the assurance of forgiveness and that could dispel all their fear and overcome their deep despair?

What if they knew that we know a God who loves men with the compassion of a father, who sent His own Son to die for their sins and to reconcile them to Him and restore them into His family? If they knew that we have such a gospel and such wonderful knowledge, would they not wonder and ask why we do not share it with them, and why we are keeping it to ourselves?

What if the heathen also knew that this Saviour had actually commanded us to tell the rest of the world about His power to save and deliver? Suppose they knew that He had clearly commanded His followers to go into all the world and preach His gospel to every creature and that He repeated this commandment more than once. (See Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8.)

Suppose they knew it was Jesus' great concern and last command before His ascension that His salvation be proclaimed to all mankind. Suppose they knew that He had promised and sent the Holy Spirit into the world for the specific purpose of enabling us ( John 16) to fulfill His last command ( Acts 1:8). Would they not think it very strange, even incomprehensible, that we read His command over and over again, profess to be led by His Spirit and yet never try to take the gospel to their countries?

What if they knew that many Christian young people are more concerned about their personal careers and desires than they are about obedience to the Saviour's command and about mankind's spiritual welfare and destiny? What would these heathen people think if they knew that a life of worldly fame means more to many Christian young people than surrender to Christ for missionary service? Suppose they knew that many Christians seek wealth and luxury more than the salvation of men's souls, souls whom God loves and for whom Christ died.

Suppose they knew that fulfilling selfish desires is the goal of many Christian lives, even taking precedence over the will of their wonderful Saviour and His desire for the evangelization of all mankind. What would they think if they knew that literally hundreds of young people who testify that they belong to Christ have never seriously considered the Lord's command or the condition of souls in total spiritual darkness? What if they knew? What would they think about our profession of devotion to the Saviour? What would they think about our testimony meetings or our religious gatherings where we meet to have fun but have no concern about foreign missions? What would they think about the love which we profess for Christ or our pretended zeal for soul winning? What if they knew? What would the heathen think if they knew that many of our churches have no program and no concern for sending the gospel to those in the bondage of total darkness? But instead have plenty of other programs. What would they think about our erecting beautiful and expensive buildings with all the costly, modern luxuries while doing almost nothing to reach unbelievers? What if they knew that professing Christians in the United States have spent as much as $85 million in a single month and $1 billion annually for beautiful church buildings? What would they think? What would they think about the fact that in many churches the majority of men who call themselves followers of Christ consider the work of missions to be a task only for women?

Suppose they knew that thousands of Christian ministers seldom, if ever, preach a sermon on the last command of Jesus Christ and on the Christian obligation to evangelize the world. Suppose they knew that in many seminaries, where hundreds of young men spend several years of their lives preparing for the Christian ministry, there is almost no teaching on God's great plan for worldwide evangelization. What would the heathen think if they knew that the evangelization of the world, though a vital part of God's great plan of salvation, is often ignored or treated superficially?

What if the heathen knew that Christians in North America have been blessed by God with more wealth and human ability to serve Him than any group of Christians that has ever lived? Suppose they also knew that we give only five percent of all our religious donations to reach the more than 90 percent of the world's population that lives outside the English-speaking areas of the world. And suppose they knew that we send only a small minority of all of our ordained ministers to that 90 percent of the world's people. What if they knew these things? Suppose the heathen knew that North American young people are waiting to go to the mission fields but are detained because of a lack of money. Suppose they knew the actual proportion of money the average Christian spends on himself and on useless luxuries in comparison to what he gives to the cause of world evangelization.

Just suppose they knew.

They will know someday!
Ez. 3:18 "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand."

When they stand before God it will be too late for them and too late for us to do anything about their need. I believe they will know. Will they not then rightfully point their fingers at us with the awful indictment:

"No one cared for my soul"
"Why did you not tell me christian?"