The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-20, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (NKJV).
Paul explains that God has revealed Himself, His “invisible attributes,” His “eternal power” and His divine nature through “the things that are made.” People are “without excuse” regarding knowledge of God because His existence and character “are clearly seen” through what He has created, what we often call “nature.”
Why do we need missionaries, then, if people can know about God through His creation? The answer is, God has made the truth about Himself plain; “His invisible attributes are clearly seen.” He has shown to everyone His “eternal power and Godhead,” His divine nature, through the created world. Even though the evidence is plain, many refuse to acknowledge it and instead, “suppress the truth” about God. They teach that the natural world is a product of evolution, not the work of the Creator God. They “suppress the truth” by declaring that there is no absolute truth (except that one!), by saying that people don’t need God or that there is no God. Therefore, people don’t need salvation because there is nothing beyond this life on earth.
Others conclude that if God or gods exist, people can do enough good, offer sacrifices or punish their bodies to make themselves acceptable to whatever god or gods there might be. People see in creation that God exists, but they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” When they stand before God for judgment, they will be “without excuse” because He has made His “eternal power and divine nature” evident. However, if they seek the God revealed in creation He will show them His salvation, as God says to Israel in Jeremiah 29:13, “‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’” The psalmist affirms, “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them (Psalm 145:18-19).
When a missionary told one woman who had never before heard about the one true God who had provided salvation in Jesus, she said, “I always knew there must be a God like that.” In her heart, she yearned for that God and He answered her need to find Him, by sending a missionary to tell her the truth. “‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Even though people can see the evidence of God in creation, we need missionaries because knowing about God is not the same as knowing Him. In order for people to be saved from the death penalty of sin, they must receive the Savior who died to pay for their sin.
Why do we need missionaries? We need missionaries to make clear that the one true God who has revealed Himself in Creation, has come personally in Jesus Christ, the One and Only Savior. We need missionaries to tell people that God has demonstrated His love in Jesus Christ through whom they can know God personally and have forgiveness of their sin and eternal life when they receive Him.