June 3, 2014

Who will go?

by Nathan Busenitz

A guest post on world missions from Charles Spurgeon:

I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who will do this?

Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen? Millions have never heard the Name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish?

Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim on us? We ought to put it on this footing – not, ‘Can I prove that I ought to go?’ but, ‘Can I prove that I ought not to go?’ When a man can honestly prove that he ought not to go, then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put it to you man by man.

I am not raising a question among you which I have not honestly put to myself. I have felt that, if some of our leading ministers would go forth, it would have a grand effect in stimulating the churches, and I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go. After balancing the whole thing, I feel bound to keep my place, and I think the judgment of most Christians would confirm my decision; but I hope that I would readily, and willingly, and cheerfully go abroad if I did not feel that I ought to remain at home.

Brethren, put yourselves through the same process. We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of His elect among them, we must go and search for them somehow or other. Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is almost annihilated. True, we have not the Pentecostal tongues; but languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full equivalent for the lost gift.

The dangers incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum. There are hundreds of places where the cross of Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk. Who will go?

… Surely there is some self-sacrifice among us yet, and some among us who are willing to be exiled for Jesus. The Mission languishes for want of men. If the men were forthcoming, the liberality of the Church has provided the supply, and yet there are not men to go. I shall never feel, brethren, that we, as a band of men, have done our duty until we see our comrades fighting for Jesus in every land in the van of the conflict. I believe that, if God moves you to go, you will be among the best of missionaries, because you will make the preaching of the gospel the great feature of your work, and that is God’s sure way of power.

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • Fibber MaGee

    I have two reasons.

    #1 Ephesians 4:11-13, while we are all called to evangelize, not all are called to the over-sea’s mission field.

    #2 Are you under the impression that the US is overflowing with Christians? I’m not.

  • Guest

    In response to your second reason: The point is not that the US or London is overflowing with Christians, but that the US, London, and many other places are overflowing with churches, pastors, Bibles, books, radio programs, and other resources that make the gospel readily accessible. However, there are many places in the world and many (7,000 or so) unreached people groups that have no opportunity to hear the gospel. And yet if anything, there is even less of an excuse now than during Spurgeon’s time. Language resources are much more available and helpful, traveling is as easy as getting to an airport, and many countries remain totally open to missionaries. But the reality is that there are still very few willing to go.

    The sentence that struck me the most was, “Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim on us?” How can we not be concerned with the tremendous blessings we have compared to the spiritual poverty and darkness in other places? How can we not all desire to go and take the only message of hope to the ends of the earth?

    • Fibber MaGee

      My point was
      that despite the fact that many homes have multiple bibles and there is a
      church on every other corner, my experience is that the majority of people who
      call themselves Christians couldn’t give you an accurate gospel presentation if
      their life depended on it…and it does! There could be seven thousand towns in
      the US that haven’t heard the gospel.
      I do agree that missionary work is
      important. My father was a pilot and had ties with Jim Elliot. I have family
      and friends in the mission field on many fronts and have always supported missions
      in every way I can. That being said, I am not going to be made to feel guilty
      by Spurgeon or anyone else for that matter. Now I don’t really know anything
      about Spurgeon so correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounded like that was his
      intent.
      That same sentence struck me also.
      “Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China,
      India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood?
      Have they no claim on us? We ought to put it on this
      footing – not, ‘Can I prove that I ought to go?’ but, ‘Can I prove that I ought
      not to go?’ When a man can honestly prove that he ought not to
      go, then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put
      it to you man by man”.
      We all go to bed and sleep while our
      neighbors are dead in their sins (Matt 7:13-14). How would Spurgeon back up his
      insinuation that we are guilty of their blood? That sounds very anti-Calvin to
      me. It also sounds like he’s questioning
      the sovereignty of God. He is certainly making an assumption when he says, “God has myriads of His elect among them”.

      So who do we need to prove it to, God, men or ourselves?
      Do you see the
      problem I have with this? Maybe I just took it the wrong way, you tell me.

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