The Baptist Message in Teaching Missions
J. M. Frost, in Convention Teacher
The Baptist spirit is the spirit of Christ, the Baptist message is the message of Christ - at least ideally as a fundamental principle and as "the mark of the prize of the high calling of God," attainable and its attainment ever being sought. Missions as inaugurated by Christ, as projected in the New Testament, as conducted by his followers, are the most gigantic enterprise in the world. It may be considered in at least four phases, as follows: Mission principles, mission fields, mission operation, mission purpose. These all center in Christ, having their start and finish in him, and are subjects of study and teaching. Christ's word is the basis of missions, Christ's spirit is the spirit of missions, Christ's power and promise are the success of missions, Christ's glory is the purpose and aim of missions.
It is sometimes said that Christ made no distinction and set no territorial bounds. But this can hardly be true, or at least it does not adequately represent or quadrate with that word which he spoke to his disciples at
the first and which is still a living and commanding word: "Ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth." He particularizes and specifies locally that he may comprehend all, lest we in our eagerness of thinking and planning skip the nearby and leap to the far off, forgetting the common need at home and abroad, and the common fitness of the gospel for all alike. There is no difference in section or country, for the world is the mission field. Nothing short of this is at all commensurate with the thought of our Lord as expressed by him again and again, and as comprehended in the very purpose of redemption through his death. All nations, every creature, all the world, are universal terms, intended by him to emphasize the universal field, with a gospel universally preached. The earth is larger and the world greater with us than with those first disciples, but like them, we must still begin at Jerusalem, and go to the uttermost parts, skipping nothing between, if we shall have the thought and purpose of our Lord, and follow to its completion the mission to which he has called us. This as to mission fields corresponds with the geographical bounds which for convenience are now used to
designate city missions, state missions, home missions, foreign missions. The mission obligation and love skip none, but comprehend them all, separately and jointly, with one great purpose.
One gospel for all the fields is a fundamental principle of the New Testament. This is a commonplace saying, goes without controversy or question, and yet is often overlooked. It is finally illustrated by Paul when rehearsing before Agrippa, the account of the heavenly vision, his call to be a missionary and how he had fulfilled his commission. He was sent to the Gentiles to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sin and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Christ.
The great apostle recognized this as a common need with all people everywhere, and began at once his preaching at Damascus where he was at the time of his conversion, thence in Jerusalem, thence throughout the coasts of Judea, and thence to the Gentiles far and near, but always with the same gospel. The same fundamental principle holds to this day, a common need with men everywhere in their lost condition, and a common gospel as to its oneness of remedy to save, its oneness in
matchless power to rescue from sin and Satan, its oneness of blessing in turning to God, in bringing salvation and deliverance, forgiveness and sanctification.
This is the meaning of the great commission which is the basis for all mission enterprises. Paul tells how he received it, how he construed its meaning for himself, and how he put this great meaning into operation. The whole history of his life is but the unfolding and exemplification of the basal principles of the commission in its several parts, of going, of making disciples, of baptizing them and of teaching them the observance of the things which Christ commanded. Wherever he went, whoever his audience, he preached the one gospel to save men from sin and to establish the kingdom of God on earth. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever [throughout the wide, wide world] believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." This is the one gospel for men everywhere, then and now - a universal gospel for a universal need, and the only remedy for sin.
The Baptist message to men is all the gospel for all the world, in obedience to Christ and as embodied in the commission. It is simply the construction and emphasis which a great people place on the commission of their Lord.
That commission represents what we are commanded to do, is Christ's program for the extension of his kingdom, for saving and conquering the world. There must be no abridgement in the commission, no cutting out of any of its parts. The going to all nations, the making disciples, the baptizing them into the name of the Holy Trinity, teaching them to observe the things which Christ commanded - these several items all enter into the mission message as essential parts and must be kept as one complete whole. The spirit which would eliminate any one part from the commission would just as readily eliminate any other part.
The spirit which would leave Africa out of the field of missions would just as readily leave out the making of disciples, or the baptizing, or the teaching. The spirit that would leave baptism out of the mission message would just as readily leave China or India out of the mission fields. Loyalty to Christ as Sovereign and to the New Testament as the expression of his sovereignty, is the thing to command our hearts in missionary endeavor and in all we undertake for building his kingdom. This means all the gospel for all the world, and represents what the Baptists are endeavoring to do in the fulfillment of the commission which their Lord has left.
Teaching missions is only carrying out the
commission, and is imperative as a thing commanded, and fundamentally essential to the successful operation of the mission enterprise. This may mean teaching the mission principle, or teaching about the mission fields, or teaching methods of mission operation, or teaching the purpose, aim and spirit of missions. Part of this is done in Mission Study classes, part in the regular Bible study of the Sunday school, part in the preaching of the gospel. These several phases of the mission enterprise overlap somewhat, part with part, one supplementing the other, and all working together to give all the gospel to all the world in both preaching and teaching. So there must be no abridgement either in message, or field, or outreach of purpose, or in the spirit of lofty endeavor.
This is the line of success for the mission enterprise, and its success means the final triumph of Christ's kingdom. It will be a victory through teaching, through dissemination of his doctrines - a doctrinal triumph. The final victory of the cross will be through preaching and teaching the doctrine of the cross and all those mighty doctrines inseperably interwoven with it. The first impulse of the heart when renewed by the Holy Spirit is a missionary impulse. The gospel is diffusive in its very essence like the fragrance
of the flower or the perfume of the alabaster box.
Those who are redeemed of the Lord have something to tell of his saving grace and power. The message of salvation must have a messenger. The great principles of missions need to be sent abroad to cover the earth everywhere. This is teaching missions, and should enlist all who desire to see God's kingdom come. In the end it will be the conquest of teaching and the coronation of teachers. "The teachers shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever."
[From The Baptist Message, SSB/SBC, 1911, pp. 24-30. This book was provided by Steve Lecrone, Burton, OH. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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