Have we lost the idea that people without Christ are lost? Authors Win and Charles Arn think so: “The biblical concept of ‘lostness’ has disappeared from the conscience of most churches and most Christians … Little remains of the first-century Christian’s burning conviction that without Christ, every person is forever lost.” That idea of being lost without Christ comes from Christ himself, who says that is why he came: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Surely this is part of what animated the first apostles in their missions vision? As Peter said, “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name [than the name of Jesus Christ] under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
I find it a real battle to keep this at the front of my own thinking. Scripture warns us that we are in a spiritual battle, and that we have a spiritual enemy who wants to keep our minds on other things and engage our energies in other places. Here is how Jack Miller describes this battle: “What is the battle? To risk unpopularity by preaching the cross as a real cross on which a real Saviour shed real blood for real sinners headed for a real hell. The battle is giving up the pretence that we are all nice people. The battle is taking the gospel to the lost with radical devotion. The battle is to own nothing in order to own Christ. The battle is to have no righteousness except the righteousness of God through faith in Christ. The battle is to attack the dark places of the earth with all the energy of the Spirit and the conquering gospel of the substitutionary death of Christ.”