Last time we discussed the missionary calling of the Church in general. Our calling as Protestant Reformed Churches is not different than, or distinct from, that calling, yet even as we have a specific place as Churches so do we have a specific calling within that general mandate. This follows from our specific calling as Protestant Reformed Churches. We believe that by God’s grace, we represent the purest manifestation of the Church of Christ in our present time. We believe, therefore, that Christ operates in and through us with His Spirit and Word revealing the will and counsel of God in all its beauty, truth and fullness. Thus, we maintain to stand in the very center of the historical line of the Church throughout the ages; back through history, to the Apostles, to Christ, to God Himself who instituted His Church. From this it follows that we, of all Churches, can only properly fulfill the missionary task of the Church, both within and without, as stipulated by Christ, the Head of His Church.
Water never rises higher than its source. This is also true of all missionary activity, which will always only be the expression of the Church executing the task. In the measure, therefore, that a Church deviates from the Word and pure preaching of it at home, it will also do so abroad. The result is that that Church does not fulfill the calling of Christ. As we believe we fulfill our calling to preach the Gospel: in all its fullness so we must necessarily fulfill our calling to spread it abroad, even in order to maintain and substantiate our claim.
Thus, it is evident that our specific position as Protestant Reformed Churches lays upon us a specific calling in the sphere of mission work. It demands that, in the extension of God’s Church, we must be busy proclaiming the full counsel of God as revealed to us. Further, that we must do so especially in opposition to, and in contrast with, the prevalent activity is concerned with “saving souls”, “winning the world for Christ”, etc. To accomplish this task it uses the methods of education and civilization. We maintain that the calling is to preach the Gospel, as set forth in our previous article, and the method must be the full proclamation of what God has revealed to us in His Word. For these reasons our obligations are special and specific also with respect to the missionary calling.
The command of Christ should lay upon us as an especially weighty obligation. If we believe to be the purest manifestation of His Church, certainly that must express itself in the desire and effort to proclaim that truth everywhere. We may not hide our light under a bushel but rather set it upon a candlestick that it may shine through all the house. That precious heritage which is ours, is the rightful possession of God’s people everywhere and ours is the obligation to reveal it to them.
It was also pointed out, that through the pure preaching of the Word Christ calls His own unto Himself. He has promised that He will and He does. Certainly, we need not therefore fear or hesitate to go, even to the heathen, with that full and pure preaching. It is often said that we have no evangel, no gospel to proclaim. In reality exactly the opposite is true. If salvation depends at all, in any measure, on man’s willingness to receive it, that salvation is without hope or promise. Only as the sovereign grace of God is proclaimed is the Gospel, the good news, brought. That message is the only one of hope and promise. God calls His own through that means. We must, therefore, fulfill our calling as the purest manifestation of the Church that Christ’s Church may be gathered and His name glorified. We hasten to add that this does not mean that Christ will not call His own except by us, that does not depend upon us. But we must see and recognize that fact as our subjective calling and obligation, in keeping with our specific calling as the Church of Christ.
How then shall we fulfill our calling? It stands to reason that we cannot be expected to establish missions, literally everywhere; nor is this necessary to the fulfillment of our specific calling. If this were our calling, then it is undoubtedly true that we would receive both the means and qualifications to accomplish that end; through the appearance among us of men and means for that task. As it is we are small and our means; are limited. This does not mean, however, that we may use this fact as an excuse or alibi to do nothing at all. For the past twenty years we have said the same thing and during that time we have grown considerably. But in the same period of time, we have made very little progress and effort to expand our missionary activity. We must certainly recognize that ideal as the end towards which we as Church must strive. With a true devotion, in full consciousness of our calling, with a great effort and true sacrifice, on the part of each member, we are able, even now, to go a long way towards that ideal; much further than our present efforts indicate. There must, be, within the hearts and minds of us all, a renewed consciousness of our calling expressing itself in definite activity.
The first line of defense and activity must be the “home front”. The truth, as we possess it, must be cherished, loved, guarded, and proclaimed among us unceasingly. This alone can awaken, and must awaken, desire and effort to the extension of that truth.
The burden of the responsibility for the extension of the truth lies with the Churches as they have united in an organization. For them the absolute present minimum in fulfillment of their calling would be a program of missionary activity along the following lines: 1. Each Classis should have at least one home missionary actively laboring within its boundaries. We believe that this is both possible and feasible at present. 2. The united denomination should sponsor and support a common Radio broadcast of a definite church extensional nature. 3. The denomination should support, or contribute to the support of, a foreign mission field. 4. The individual Churches should work locally at this task through the Radio, distribution of literature and all other means at their disposal.
If this is to be accomplished we as individual members must have this calling on our hearts. We too have a specific calling. First of all, there must be, among us, prayerful consideration this work before the Throne of Grace. Through our prayers we must be strengthened to our task. At the same time our individual and congregational prayers must ascend to the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth reapers. Missionaries and ministers: do not just arise. They are called by Christ in response to the prayers of His people that they desire and feel the need for His servants working in His vineyard. Consciousness of that need will result in prayer to God to raise up His servants. Secondly, the calling comes to each individual, to willing offer, sacrificially, to the support of a healthy missionary program. Perhaps, we must relearn what sacrificial offering means. Finally, each one of us must himself be a “missionary”, each in his own way and station. All together and individually we must let our light shine expressing that we are of the party of the Living God in the midst of a world that lies in darkness. Principally that means that we must live the truth that we profess in all that we do and in whatever position God has called us to assume in this world. Our lives must be a testimony to the Sovereign Grace of God, in thought, word and deed. This, it seems, is the absolute minimum for us as individuals.
Above all, at present, we must all be awakened, roused from our lethargy, to a true zeal and devotion for the cause of God’s Truth and Word, in this case if the spirit is willing the flesh cannot, and will not, be weak. The Lord of the harvest has promised: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end.”