How Shall They Hear the Gospel? -- By: M. David Sills

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 09:4 (Winter 2005)
Article: How Shall They Hear the Gospel?
Author: M. David Sills

How Shall They Hear the Gospel?

M. David Sills

M. David Sills is Associate Professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Previously, he was a missionary in Ecuador, where he served as church planter and general evangelist among the Highland Quichua people in the Andes and as a seminary professor at the Ecuadorian Baptist Theological Seminary. He also served as Rector and professor of the Baptist seminary as a missionary with Global Outreach International. Dr. Sills is the author of two books on the Highland Quichua indigenous people published in Spanish.


Voices all around me are shouting in several languages. Some are explaining why the current US president is a great leader; others are telling me that he has failed the American people. Some are telling me what the weather will be like, others want me to know which roads have traffic snarls, and yet others are trying to convince me to buy my groceries at their store. Music of every style is blaring all round the room: hard rock, rap, hip-hop, jazz, classical, easy listening, country, and bluegrass. Fortunately, I cannot hear the cacophony; it is in the form of radio frequencies that my ears cannot detect. I would have to turn on a radio receiver and tune it to a desired station to hear any of the intended messages. The greatest programming from the most creative minds is lost on me. Such is also the case with much preaching of the gospel. It goes out in culturally inappropriate ways that make sense only to the preacher.

This miscommunication, however, is of crucial significance because there is no salvation apart from the gospel message. The glory of God and the eternal destinies of billions of souls are in the balance. In Rom 1:16–17 Paul states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”1 This passage, a favorite of many people, speaks of the great blessing of our salvation, but with such great privilege comes great responsibility. The Bible also charges us to fulfill the Great Commission to reach and teach all people groups.

Jesus taught us through His encounter with Nicodemus that we must be born again (John 3:1–16). Paul implored the church in Corinth to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:17–6:2). He stressed that we must respond with a positive profession of faith in C...

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