Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Great Commission and the Complacency of the Church

On May 12, 1792 William Carey published a little pamphlet entitled, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. By God’s grace, his words inspired the modern missionary movement, and by God’s grace, I’m praying that they will inspire a fresh passion for global missions at Glory of Christ.

Carey begins with the words of Jesus: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). While Jesus’ words are clear, the church in Carey’s day had by-and-large come to believe that they had done enough to create a gospel-momentum in the world that would cause the gospel to spread throughout the rest of the world. Therefore, many key leaders believed that their focus ought to be on reaching their own people, and that they ought to leave global evangelism to the Lord alone.

But this logic did not satisfy Carey and thus he argued, “As our blessed Lord has required us to pray that His kingdom may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, it becomes us not only to express our desires of that event by the word, but to use every lawful method to spread the knowledge of his name.” Accordingly, Carey argued that the church should strive to be acquainted with the state of the nations of the world so that we’ll be moved to action by the words of Jesus, and by the very heart of Jesus for the nations. The presence of this compassion in our hearts, he urged, is a proof that the character and heart of God are at work in the lives of his people.

With this, Carey rehearsed the gospel, beginning with Adam and Eve, then moving to the flood, Abraham, and the formation of Israel. He argued that from the beginning, God’s intention has been to undo the power and persuasiveness of the devil by sending Jesus Christ into the world to live a righteous life, die a heinous death, raise from the dead, and send his church into the world with the gospel on their lips.

But while the Lord had been sending his people into the world for many centuries by all possible and legal means, “a considerable part of mankind [were] still involved in all the darkness of heathenism” and the church of Carey’s day was not entering heartily into the command of the Lord so that this situation might change. “Some think little about it, others are unacquainted with the state of the world, and others love their wealth better than they should of their fellow creatures.” In light of the Lord’s command and the church’s complacency, Carey went on to argue that the Great Commission still applied to the modern church and that they should indeed go into all the world. 
But before we consider his plea, we would do well to pause and ponder the state of our own hearts before the Lord regarding his Great Commission. Do we understand his commission? Do we have more passion for our lives in the world or for the nations of the world?

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