Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A View of Evangelism from the 19th Century

Just what I needed to hear today:
Our divine Master called upon sinners to repent and believe the gospel. Some would have us to believe that it is a mistake to call upon persons dead in trespasses and sins to do anything. "How," it is argued, "can those who are dead repent? They are incapable of any spiritual movement. They must first get the power ere they can either repent or believe."

What is our reply to all this? A very simple one indeed—our Lord knows better than all the theologians in the world what ought to be preached. He knows all about man's condition—his guilt, his misery, his spiritual death, his utter helplessness, his total inability to think a single right thought, to utter a single right word, to do a single right act; and yet He called upon men to repent. This is quite enough for us. It is no part of our business to seek to reconcile seeming differences. It may seem to us difficult to reconcile man's utter powerlessness with his responsibility; but "God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain." It is our happy privilege, and our bounder duty, to believe what He says, and do what He tells us. This is true wisdom, and it yields solid peace. ... Our Lord preached repentance, and He commanded His apostles to preach it; and they did so constantly.
He addresses the topic again in another place.
We increasingly feel the immense importance of an earnest, fervent gospel testimony everywhere; and we dread exceedingly any falling off therein. We are imperatively called to "do the work of an evangelist," and not to be moved from that work by any arguments or considerations whatsoever ....We observe, with deep concern, some who were once known amongst us as earnest and eminently successful evangelists, now almost wholly abandoning their work and becoming teachers and lecturers.

This is most deplorable. We really want evangelists. A true evangelist is almost as great a rarity as a true pastor. Alas! alas! how rare are both! The two are closely connected ....We are perfectly aware of the fact that there is in some quarters a strong tendency to throw cold water upon the work of evangelization. There is a sad lack of sympathy with the preacher of the gospel; and, as a necessary consequence, of active co-operation with him in his work ....We have invariably found that those who think and speak slightingly of the work of the evangelist are persons of very little spirituality; and on the other hand, the most devoted, the most true-hearted, the best taught saints of God, are always sure to take a profound interest in that work ....But I find in the Gospels, and in the Acts of the Apostles, that a quantity of most blessed evangelistic work was done by persons who were not specially gifted at all, but who had an earnest love for souls, and a deep sense of the preciousness of Christ and His salvation."

Quoted in a short biography of "Charles Henry Mackintosh," at
http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/Biographies/chmackintosh.html, as viewed on January 9, 2008.

No comments: