All Articles For The Lord Gave the Word

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From all that we have gleaned out of Scripture and our Reformed Confessions it ought to be obvious that the sole foundation of Missions has to be God’s eternal good pleasure in Christ. It pleases God to save His elect Church in Jesus Christ. It pleases God to manifest His immeasurable glory in that Church in Christ in the New Creation. It pleases God to gather these elect out of every nation into that multitude which no man can number (Rev. 7:9ff.).

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Crucial to the methodology of Dr. John L. Nevius are a number of factors: 1) There are to be as few paid native preachers (helpers) as possible. 2) The converts ought to build and maintain their own places of worship. 3) Leaders of individual mission stations ought to remain in their station and calling in life. 4) Ideally every convert ought to be the pupil of one more advanced in the faith than he and the teacher of one less advanced than he. By following these methods, Nevius argued, truly indigenous churches can be planted and developed.

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If the life of the Apostle Paul indicates anything at all it indicates that the work of a faithful missionary of the Gospel of sovereign grace is incredibly difficult. Acts 17records the history of the Apostle’s work in Thessalonica and Berea while on his second missionary journey. In both places there was much positive fruit upon the preaching of Paul. Many believed and churches were established. In both places, however, the Apostle encountered fierce opposition and persecution.

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To accomplish the work of the ministry of the Word in China Dr. John L. Nevius made extensive use of native leaders. These men were unordained and unpaid by the mission. They remained in their station and calling in life while leading the worship and teaching classes in their mission stations. For various reasons, some of them practical, Nevius used as few paid native preachers as possible. (Cf. The Planting And Development of Missionary Churches, pp. 35 ff.). In our previous article [Missionary Methods (12)] we criticized Nevius at this point.

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It is our contention in this series that if the church is to be correct in its missionary methods these methods will have to be gleaned from the Bible. Scripture not only lays down the principles which must govern the church in its mission work, but Scripture also teaches the proper methods by which this work must be done. This applies to all ages and all cultures, for Scripture is not bound either by time or by culture. In previous issues we have been busy analyzing the Apostle Paul’s preaching in Athens.

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While there are many commendable features of the missionary methods proposed by Nevius which can and ought to be implemented by our own missionaries both at home and abroad there is one very serious weakness, namely, the lack of preachers and preaching. Whatever the details of methodology employed by the missionary, preaching must be at the heart of it. This will become even more apparent as we continue our study of the book, Planting And Development of Missionary Churches, by John L. Nevius. 

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Last spring, April 22 to be exact, the Protestant Reformed Church of Kalamazoo, Michigan sponsored a Mission Emphasis Day. Speakers at the Conference were: Rev. Steven Houck, Rev. Lau Chin Kwee of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore, Rev. John A. Heys, Rev. Ronald Van Overloop, and the undersigned. The day proved extremely profitable for the goodly number able to attend. For this reason we decided to publish the speeches in this column for the benefit of a larger audience. The undersigned gave the introductory speech in the morning on the subject: The Protestant Reformed Churches and Their Mission Calling....

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