Posted tagged ‘William Carey’

Tears of the Saints

August 17, 2009

Today marks the 284th anniversary of the birth of William Carey–the father of the modern missions movement. What was true then is still true today.  The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few . . .

On Silence and Sinful Prudence

July 28, 2009

The easiest way to avoid persecution and suffering is to be silent for Christ and then come up with justifications to make such silence feel legitimate.

Jesus tells those who are entrusted with His mission in Matt. 10:17-20 two things they can count on: (1) they will be delivered up by men operating as “wolves” and (2) it will be given to them what they should say as those led by the Spirit of God.

Informed Christians might consider the call to “beware of such men” is to avoid them altogether. Don’t live among them or seek to reach them.  We think to ourselves, “After all, what does sheep have in common with wolves?  Aren’t they after us?  Just play it safe.”  This is the opposite of mission and living sent.  It is staying where you are because the comfort and safety you enjoy is of far greater value to you than the glory of Jesus Christ spread by means of suffering for His name.  At this point, one begins to look for the best alternative to mission, as though Jesus makes such a provision in his instructions.  J.C. Ryle, in his Expository Thoughts on Matthew, powerfully addresses this “so-called prudence” in the avoidance of mission:

“The extreme into which most men are liable to fall in the present day is that of silence, cowardice, and letting others alone.  Our so-called prudence is apt to degenerate into a compromising line of conduct, or downright unfaithfulness.  We are only too ready to suppose that it is of no use trying to do good to certain people: we excuse ourselves from efforts to benefit their souls by saying it would be indiscreet, or inexpedient, or would give needless offence, or would even do positive harm.  Let us all watch and be on our guard against this spirit; laziness and the devil are often the true explanation of it.  To give way to it is pleasant to flesh and blood, no doubt, and saves much trouble: but those who give way to it often throw away great opportunities of usefulness (100).”


The Christian Minister by William Carey

July 2, 2009

This coming Sunday, I will be preaching on a difficult passage from Matthew 10 dealing with being persecuted, hated, and some even killed because of Jesus.  This is hard for several reasons, not the least of which is that we are living in a country where real persecution, hatred, and martyrdom is seldom if ever found.  Additionally, it is tempting to read such passages of Scripture and not feel the weight of what Jesus is saying.  The “hard” passages are not hard because we have so easily dismissed them and made ourselves the exception to what Christ tells us all who follow Him are expected to experience.  Finally, I believe there is has been a wrongful separation of mission from discipleship so that one can be a listener or learner of Christ without be a laborer in the harvest fields or lead in the mission.

In any case, I think William Carey rightly understood the expectations all believers should have when on mission to make Christ known.  Consider these words, which I believe are consistent with the sending of Christ and rather inconsistent with the status-quo that both he faced then and we face today, and may our lives be wrecked by the realities of missional life in the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.

“A Christian minister is a person who in a peculiar sense is ‘not his own’ (1 Cor. 6:19); he is the ‘servant’ of God, and therefore ought to be wholly devoted to him.  By entering on that sacred office he solemnly undertakes to be always engaged, as much as possible, in the Lord’s work, and not to choose his own pleasure, or employment, or pursue the ministry as something that is to subserve his own ends, or interests, or as a kind of bye-work.

He engages to go where God pleases, and to do, or endure what he sees fit to command, or call him to, in the exercise of his function.  He virtually bids farewell to his friends, pleasures, and comforts, and stands in readiness to endure the greatest sufferings in the work of his Lord, and Master.

It is inconsistent for ministers to please themselves with thoughts of a numerous auditory, cordial friends, a civilized country, legal protection, affluence, splendour, or even a competency.  The slights, and hatred of men, and even pretended friends, gloomy prisons, and tortures, the society of barbarians of uncouth speech, miserable accommodations in wretched wildernesses, hunger, and thirst, nakedness, weariness, and painfulness, hard word, and but little worldly encouragement, should be the objects of their expectation.” (emphasis mine)

– William Carey, An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to Use the Means for the Conversion of the Heathens

Our Truest Interest, The Exaltation of the Messiah’s Kingdom

June 13, 2009

Over the past week, I have been reading over William Carey’s Enquiry as provided in Daniel Webber’s Wiliam Carey and the Missionary Vision. Carey’s short but very significant piece in church history is once again landing on me with conviction, especially as it relates to the mission of the church.  Toward the close of his argument for the duty of all Christians to promote the advance of Christ’s kingdom, he adds this illustration:

When a trading company have obtained their charter they usually go to its utmost limits; and their stocks, their ships, their officers, and men are so chosen, and regulated, as to be likely to answer their purpose; but they do not stop here, for encouraged by the prospect of success, they use every effort, cast their bread upon the waters, cultivate friendship with every one from whose information they expect the least advantage. They cross the widest and most tempestuous seas, and encounter the most unfavourable climates; they introduce themselves into the most barbarous nations, and sometimes undergo the most affecting hardships; their minds continue in a state of anxiety, and suspense, and a longer delay than usual in the arrival of their vessels agitates them with a thousand changeful thoughts, and foreboding apprehensions, which continue till the rich returns are safe arrived in port. But why these fears? Whence all these disquietudes, and this labour? Is it not because their souls enter into the spirit of the project, and their happiness in a manner depends on its success? Christians are a body whose truest interest lies in the exaltation of the Messiah’s kingdom. Their charter is very extensive, their encouragements exceeding great, and the returns promised infinitely superior to all the gains of the most lucrative fellowship. Let then every one in his station consider himself as bound to act with all his might, and in every possible way for God (emphasis mine).

It is tragic, is it not, that we have to use illustrations of secular organizations with exceedingly trivial enterprises as a standard that ought to be of those identified with the church of Jesus Christ.  We have a far greater mission–one that is guaranteed to be accomplished–that should cause us to risk all, go hard, and employ every lawful means in the spirit of being sent and spent for the advancement of the Church Jesus promised to build.

May the spirit of Carey that provoked such an Enquiry then be alive in the hearts of those who are entrusted with the same mission and message he was so faithful to live and proclaim.