Christian Missions: The Message

 In 1933 J. G. Machen gave a brief radio address called “The Christian View of Missions” (the manuscript is found in his Selected Shorter Writings).  In this address he mentioned the biblical truth of God’s wrath against sin.  As the Christian church continues to go forth and make disciples of all nations, this is a good note to take to heart.

“I know that people tell us it is an unworthy thing to appeal to the motive of fear.  In missionary endeavor particularly, they tell us, that motive is out of date.  But it is strange that those who tell us that should appeal to Jesus as their authority in religion.  For if there ever was a religious teacher who appealed to the motive of fear, it was Jesus.  ‘Be not afraid of them that kill the body,’ he said, ‘and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into Hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.’  These words are no mere excrescence in the teaching of Jesus.  No, they are at the very heart of it; they give to the ethical teaching of Jesus its stupendous earnestness.  And they are also the very heart of the missionary message of the earliest Christian church.”

 “One thing is perfectly clear – no missionary work that consists merely in presenting to the people in foreign lands a thing that has proved to be mildly valuable in the experience of the missionary himself, which he thinks may perhaps prove helpful in foreign lands in building up a better life upon this earth, can possibly be regarded as real Christian missions.  At the very heart of the real Christian missionary message is the conviction that every individual hearer to whom the missionary goes is in deadly peril, and that unless the message [of the gospel] is heeded he is without hope in this world and in the dreadful world that is to come.”

“…On the basis of those two great presuppositions – the awful holiness of God and a mankind lost under the guilt and power of sin – the first Christian missionaries preached Jesus Christ.”

For the full transcript, see pages 237-242 of Machen’s Selected Shorter Writings.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

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