Archive for » October, 2007 «

Saturday, October 06th, 2007 | Author:

“We talk of the second coming; half the world has never heard of the first.”

-Oswald J. Smith

I have had the awesome privilege of traveling around the world on mission trips. I have twice been in Uganda, Africa, once to the Philippines, once to the islands of Columbia and once to Macau, China. This morning I sat and reminisced over that trip to China as I read from the pages of one of my all time favorite books, The Spiritual Secret of Hudson Taylor published in 1949. J. Hudson Taylor was one of the truly successful missionaries of all time. (I avoided calling him a ‘great’ or ‘awesome’ missionary as no man is great or awesome, only God. We use these terms far too loosely in dealing with our fellow man.) At seventeen years old, he gave his life to Christ while browsing through one of his father’s books. Not long after this he felt the strong call to go to China to take the ‘Glad Tidings’ to those who had never heard. One of the greatest quotes in the book comes from a conversation he had with a Chinese man. The man had asked him how long his people had had this good news. Taylor hesitatingly answered that his people had had the good news for many centuries. At this the man replied that his old father had died not long ago longing for something that he never found. The man asked Taylor, “What took you so long?”

That question has haunted my mind ever since my first reading of this great book. (I urgently ask that you get the oldest copy of this book and read it for yourself. I say the oldest as I have found so many of the old classics rewritten in modern terms and have in my opinion been ruined.)

What took you so long?” is the question being asked in India, Sri Lanka, the Middle Eastern countries and a multitude of nations around this world. Places where so many millions have never heard the Good News. I remember a quote I read many years ago. “No one should hear the Gospel twice until everyone has heard it once.” (Author unknown) It has weighed so heavily on my mind lately as pastors preach to congregations week after week the message of salvation to people who have heard it possibly thousands of times. It is tragic how many times we have heard the story and yet remain unmoved by it to even take it next door. Rev. Charles Finney of the Second Great Awakening in America has labeled those who hear the good news over and over and yet not receive the gift of salvation or take its message to those around us as “Gospel Hardened.” For thirty-one years I poured out my soul preaching this Good News to see but a hand full take that flaming message to others. The sad statistics are that between one and three percent of professing Christians ever win another person to Christ in their lifetime. If the Good News is as great as we say we believe it is, (and it certainly is) then why do we keep it to ourselves? The singer Keith Green sang one of the most powerful songs ever written about this issue. It is called Asleep In The Light and is still available in Bible book stores under the CD’s containing his music. One of the lines is haunting. He says, “Jesus rose from the dead, and you – you can’t even get out of the bed.” Selfishness manifests itself with the words, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Again, words like these and those spoken by the Chinese man haunt my mind and remind me of the urgency of world evangelization. The Great Commission appears five times in the Gospels and Acts. Anything that is repeated in Scripture speaks of the

effect on the people. They too have become with urgency from the heart of God. It is ultimately important to God and it is not a suggestion but a command to all His followers, you and me. Evangelization of the world is in fact the only reason Jesus died on the cross. He did not die to make us financially prosperous, give us a life of comfort and convenience or set a plan in motion to meet all of our wants. In the end, the only thing that will matter is how many of the earth‘s population will spend eternity in heaven because of our lives on earth. (What if Christians cleaned out their storage lockers and sold all the stuff (that they can’t live without) how much money could be given to mission work? What if Christians paid off their credit cards and gave the money they paid in interest to missions how many millions/billions would be available to spread the Good News?) Far too much of Christian television is missing a huge opportunity to do just that but all often it wastes air time with people just sitting around talking about some vision they had or how to get rid of our bunions and sag lines. The ‘Name It and Claim It’ gospel has spread to every mission land that I have ever visited with a disastrous obsessed getting more money and becoming famous like their TV role models.

“… who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.” (translated: for the sake of making a buck) Titus 1:11

Why do Christians just ignore it when one of these ‘preachers’ is exposes and forced out of circulation. It seems to me that Christian television producers would do a better job of screening those they allow to be on their channels.

In the jungle of Africa I heard a preacher casting demons out of Christians, which is an impossibility! God help the people who turn the Gospel into a money making scheme to fleece the people who sit on their blessed assurances and waste the day watching TV rather than telling others about what they have found themselves. Someone has appropriately called this “Consumer Christianity.” The ME generation has tragically affected the Christian church today with a devastating effect on evangelism. As a for instance, how many people found Christ in your church this past year? How many spent hours watching Christian TV or any TV? I once heard a black preacher say, “Get off your seat, on your feet and out in the street!” I love it! I have heard Pastor Rick Warren say, “Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Let’s never forget that His command is to take the Gospel to the Jew first and then to the rest of the world. This is one people group almost forgotten by mainline Christianity today. I strongly disagree with five point Calvinism which teaches that God has selected certain ones to be saved and the others cannot ever be saved. I find the words “all the world” and “every person” and “whosoever will” too often to believe this.

Note His powerful call to lead the world to know Him.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe (Literally ‘obey’) all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ ” Matthew 28:18-20

Beyond Hudson Taylor is a missionary not well known by many even in Christian circles. While I was in Macau, China I had the opportunity to see first hand the tombs of Robert and Mary Morrison. This man was the FIRST foreign missionary to China. He went to China in 1804. If you care to read his life’s story you can find in on www.babelstone.co.uk/morrison and click on Morrison Collection. As I stood in the Protestant cemetery there in Macau,

China I did not realize at the time just what I was looking at. I knew bits and pieces of the story as told to me by my friend who guided me to the location. It was an extremely hot day that day and it required a long walk across the city to see the cemetery. I came so close to missing this piece of missionary history because of the effort it would take to get there. (forgetting the effort it took Mr. Morrison to get there) I am so thankful that the Lord urged me to make the trip. That cemetery is etched permanently in my memory now. I looked all around the yard and read the gravestones of many buried there. The profound thing about the stones was that the oldest person in the cemetery, that I found, was forty-three years old. Many were in their twenties and thirties. I was awe struck at how taking the Good News to that distant land meant a one way trip for everyone buried there. Talk about ultimate sacrifice! When Hudson Taylor left his home in England he said ‘goodbye’ to his loved ones not knowing if he would see their faces this side of heaven.

I say all this to remind us of our soft, comfortable life we live in these United States of America. The vast majority of us will not even inconvenience ourselves to speak to our neighbors about Christ much less travel five months by ship just to get to his mission station. We have grown so soft in this day, too soft to be made uncomfortable in order to tell the untold about this so great salvation. I leave you with this sobering question. “How long have your people had this good news? What took you so long to bring it to us?” How will you and I answer this question is God asks it of us? Since the Great Commission is a command to ALL of His children, he probably will ask it of each one of us. It is not to late to begin forming our answer now by “getting off our seat, on our feet and out in the street” and taking the Gospel to every person who has yet to hear this “Good News.”

“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (There is that Jewish thing again … to Zion) Isaiah 52:7

“How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!’ ” Romans 10:15

We have all ‘been sent.’ The question is, ‘will we go?’ Pastor Ike

(emphasis added: All references from NASB updated)

Category: Host  | Leave a Comment