The Obligation of the Christians to Convert the Heathen 2

The following is the next section from William Carey’s work “The Obligation of Christians to Convert the Heathen.” Since posting the previous section, I read a short biography of Carey and learned that his book from which these section are shared was the best researched book on missions at the time. Carey’s book and example inspired generations of missionaries. May it continue to do so today.

FOURTHLY, As to the difficulty of procuring the necessaries of life, this would not be so great as may appear at first sight; for though we could not procure European food, yet we might procure such as the natives of those countries which we visit, subsist upon themselves. And this would only be passing through what we have virtually engaged in by entering on the ministerial office. A Christian minister is a person who in a peculiar sense is not his own; 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 chuse his own pleasure, or employment, or pursue the ministry as a 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 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 flights, 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 work, and but little worldly encouragement, should rather be the objects of their expectation. Thus the apostles acted, in the primitive times, and endured hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ; and though we living in a civilized country where Christianity is protected by law, are not called to suffer these things while we continue here, yet I question whether all are justified in staying here, while so many are perishing without means of grace in other lands. Sure I am that it is entirely contrary to the spirit of the gospel, for its ministers to enter upon it from interested motives, or with great worldly expectations. On the contrary the commission is a sufficient call to them to venture all, and, like the primitive Christians, go every where preaching the gospel. It might be necessary, however, for two, at least, to go together, and in general I should think it best that they should be married men, and to prevent their time from being employed in procuring necessaries, two, or more, other persons, with their wives and families, might also accompany them, who should be wholly employed in providing for them. In most countries it would be necessary for them to cultivate a little spot of ground just for their support, which would be a resource to them, whenever their supplies failed. Not to mention the advantages they would reap from each others company, it would take off the enormous expense which has always attended undertakings of this kind, the first expense being the whole; for though a large colony needs support for a considerable time, yet so small small a number would, upon receiving the first crop, maintain themselves. They would have the advantage of choosing their situation, their wants would be few; the women, and even the children, would be necessary for domestic purposes; and a few articles of stock, as a cow or two, and a bull, and a few other cattle of both sexes, a very few utensils of husbandry, and some corn to sow their land, would be sufficient. Those who attend the missionaries should understand husbandry, fishing, fowling, &C. and be provided with the necessary implements for these purposes. Indeed a variety of methods may be thought of, and when once the work is undertaken, many things will suggest themselves to us, of which we at present can form no idea.

FIFTHLY, As to learning their languages, the same means would be found necessary here as in trade between different nations. In some cases interpreters might be obtained, who might be employed for a time; and where these were not to be found, the missionaries must have patience, and mingle with the people, till they have learned so much of their language as to be able to communicate their ideas to them in it It is well known to require no very extraordinary talents to learn, in the space of a year, or two at most, the language of any people upon earth, so much of it at least, as to be able to convey any sentiments we wish to their understandings. The Missionaries must be of great piety, prudence, courage, and forbearance; of undoubted orthodoxy in their sentiments, and must enter with all their hearts into the spirit of their mission; they must be willing to leave all the comforts of life behind them, and to encounter all the hardships of a torrid, or a frigid climate, an uncomfortable manner of living, and every other inconvenience that can attend this undertaking. Clothing, a few knives, powder and shot, fishing-tackle, and the articles of husbandry above-mentioned, must be provided for them; and when arrived at the place of their destination, their first business must be to gain some acquaintance with the language of the natives, (for which purpose two would be better than one,) and by all lawful means to endeavour to cultivate a friendship with them, and as soon as possible let them know the errand for which they were sent. They must endeavour to convince them that it was their good alone, which induced them to forsake their friends, and all the comforts of their native country. They must be very careful not to resent injuries which may be offered to them, nor to think highly of themselves, so as to despise the poor heathens, and by those means lay a foundation for their resentment, or rejection of the gospel. They must take every opportunity of doing them good, and labouring, and travelling, night and day, they must instruct, exhort, and rebuke, with all long suffering, and anxious desire for them, and, above all, must be instant in prayer for the effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the people of their charge. Let but missionaries of the above description engage in the work, and we shall see that it is not impracticable. It might likewise be of importance, if God should bless their labours, for them to encourage any appearances of gifts amongst the people of their charge; if such should be raised up many advantages would be derived from their knowledge of the language, and customs of their countrymen; and their change of conduct would give great weight to their ministrations.

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The Obligation of the Christians to Convert the Heathen 1

The following is an excerpt from William Carey’s work “The Obligation of Christians to Convert the Heathen.” This section answers three objections concerning the practicallity of reaching the heathen with the gospel. The entire work is not lengthy and is worth taking the time to read. Although Cary lived in the 18th and 19th century, his work is still relevant. Cary was a Reformed or Particular Baptist; thus, his zeal for missions destroys the caricature that Reformed Theology destroys evangelistic zeal.

THE impediments in the way of carrying the gospel among the heathen must arise, I think, from one or other of the following things;—either their distance from us, their barbarious and savage manner of living, the danger of being killed by them, the difficulty of procuring the necessaries of life, or the unintelligibleness of their languages.

FIRST, As to their distance from us, whatever objections might have been made on that account before the invention of the mariner’s compass, nothing can be alleged for it, with any colour of plausibility in the present age. Men can now sail with as much certainty through the Great South Sea, as they can through the Mediterranean, or any lesser Sea. Yea, and providence seems in a manner to invite us to the trial, as there are to our knowledge trading companies, whose commerce lies in many of the places where these barbarians dwell.

At one time or other ships are sent to visit places of more recent discovery, and to explore parts the most unknown; and every fresh account of their ignorance, or cruelty, should call forth our pity, and excite us to concur with providence in seeking their eternal good. Scripture likewise seems to point out this method, Surely the Isles shall wait for me; the ships of Tarshish first, to bring my sons from far, their silver, and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord, thy God. Isai. lx. 9. This seems to imply that in the time of the glorious increase of the church, in the latter days, (of which the whole chapter is undoubtedly a prophecy,) commerce shall subserve the spread of the gospel. The ships of Tarshish were trading vessels, which made voyages for traffic to various parts; thus much therefore must be meant by it, that navigation, especially that which is commercial, shall be one great mean of carrying on the work of God; and perhaps it may imply that there shall be a very considerable propriation of wealth to that purpose.

SECONDLY, As to their uncivilized, and barbarous way of living, this can be no objection to any, except those whose love of ease renders them unwilling to expose themselves to inconveniences for the good of others. It was no objection to the apostles and their successors, who went among the barbarous Germans and Gauls, and still more barbarous Britons! They did not wait for the ancient inhabitants of these countries, to be civilized, before they could be christianized, but went simply with the doctrine of the cross; and TERTULLIAN could boast that “those parts of Britain which were proof against the Roman armies, were conquered by the gospel of Christ”—It was no objection to an ELLIOT, or a BRAINERD, in later times. They went forth, and encountered every difficulty of the kind, and found that a cordial reception of the gospel produced those happy effects which the longest intercourse with Europeans, without it could never accomplish. It is no objection to commercial men. It only requires that we should have as much love to the souls of our fellow-creatures, and fellow sinners, as they have for the profits arising from a few otter-skins, and all these difficulties would be easily surmounted. After all, the uncivilized state of the heathen, instead of affording an objection against preaching the gospel to them, ought to furnish an argument for it. Can we as men, or as christians, hear that a great part of our fellow creatures, whose souls are as immortal as ours, and who are as capable as ourselves, of adorning the gospel, and contributing by their preaching, writings, or practices to the glory of our Redeemer’s name, and the good of his church, are inveloped in ignorance and barbarism? Can we hear that they are without the gospel, without government, without laws, and without arts, and sciences; and not exert ourselves to introduce amongst them the sentiments of men, and of Christians? Would not the spread of the gospel be the most effectual mean of their civilization? Would not that make them useful members of society? We know that such effects did in a measure follow the afore-mentioned efforts of Elliot, Brainerd, and others amongst the American Indians; and if similar attempts were made in other parts of the world, and succeeded with a divine blessing (which we have every reason to think they would) might we not expect to see able Divines, or read well-conducted treatises in defence of the truth, even amongst those who at present seem to be scarcely human?

THIRDLY, In respect to the danger of being killed by them, it is true that whoever does go must put his life in his hand, and not consult with flesh and blood; but do not the goodness of the cause, the duties incumbent on us as the creatures of God, and Christians, and the perishing state of our fellow men, loudly call upon us to venture all and use every warrantable exertion for their benefit? PAUL and BARNABAS, who hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, were not blamed as being rash, but commended for so doing, while JOHN MARK who through timidity of mind deserted them in their perilous undertaking, was branded with censure. After all, as has been already observed, I greatly question whether most of the barbarities practiced by the savages upon those who have visited them, have not originated in some real or supposed affront, and were therefore, more properly, acts of self-defence, than proofs of ferocious dispositions. No wonder if the imprudence of sailors should prompt them to offend the simple savage, and the offence be resented; but Elliot, Brainerd, and the Moravian missionaries, have been very seldom molested. Nay, in general the heathen have shewed a willingness to hear the word; and have principally expressed their hatred of Christianity on account of the vices of nominal Christians.

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Book Review: The Happy Christian

The Happy Christian is a book that encourage Christians to have a positive faith and life. After an introductory chapter where Dr. Murray shares his hopes for his book and identifies some of the reasons for negativity and unhappiness in our culture, he helps his readers to understand ten “biblical and practical” ways to increase happiness.

First, he encourages us to watch our media diet by applying Philippians 4:8. In one of my favorite chapters of the book, Dr. Murray comforts his readers who are constantly bombarded with demands with the good news that regarding our relationship to God, “It is finished!” In chapter 4, he teaches us to think and talk more about Jesus than other Christians. He encourages believers to have a healthy view of the past and cultivate optimism for the future. Chapter 6 is another of my favorites in it Dr. Murray discusses how looking for God common grace in the world encourages Christian happiness. The chapter ‘Happy Praise’ was probably the one that was the most personally convicting part of the book because I am very good at criticizing but poor at praising. Dr. Murray shows that giving to charity, giving of thanks, giving in marriage, giving of forgiveness, and giving in leadership encourages happiness. In chapter 9, he looks at work through the lens of Romans 11:36 “to turn work into a big positive.” Finally, the last chapter discusses that diversity is greater than uniformity.

The Happy Christian is a practical, encouraging, and Christ-centered book. Since I am generally a morose person (At least one person from a previous church nicknamed me Eeyore.), this book was a great help for me. I plan to read it again and with God’s help to start implementing the biblical ideas in this book.

There are two issues that may be problematic to some. First, some may object to Dr. Murray’s citing of secular psychologists and other happiness experts. However, he makes clear his reason for citing them, “God is using them not only to confirm the Bible’s teaching…but also to work out practical details of how to increase gratitude in our lives for everyone’s benefit.” Secondly, I have a difficult time seeing how the final chapter about diversity fits in with the topic of the rest of the book.

Check out Dr. Murray’s blog Happy Christian blog.

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I am a Confessional Baptist

Theological  labels can be both beneficial and harmful. They are a shorthand way of stating what one believes; however, there is often a lot of baggage associated with certain terms. For example mention either Calvinism or Arminianism and an argument is not far off. When these terms are mentioned, ears are closed, assumptions are made, and communication no longer takes place. Worse labels become weapons by which brothers in Christ destroy one another. Consequently, there are only a few theological labels I will accept. Of course, I accept the label Christian. The only other labels I accept are Confessional and Baptist. I explain what I mean by both terms below.  

I choose to describe myself as confessional to point to my commitment to the early creeds of Christianity (Nicene, Athanasius, Chalcedon, and the Apostle’s Creed) and to Baptist Confessions of faith such as the London Baptist Confessions, Abstract of Principles, the New Hampshire Confession, and the Baptist Faith and Message. It is my way of saying that I am orthodox, conservative, traditional, and evangelical in one word.

In addition, being confessional describes my belief in the authority of Scripture alone, in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and that God’s glory alone is the end of all his works. I affirm as a Confessional Baptist God’s absolute sovereignty over all things including the salvation of sinners. God’s grace in salvation is necessary because man is incapable of preparing himself or doing anything to save himself. This inability is a result of man’s inherited sinful nature. Therefore, salvation from beginning, middle, and end is the work of God the Father, Son, and the Spirit, and sinners receive this salvation only by faith. I also emphasize as do the Scriptures all of God’s attributes including both his glorious justice and great mercy. Moreover, since the Bible insists that believers must increase in holiness, I stress the necessity of sanctification. Finally, I  believe that God has only one plan of salvation for all time.

Finally, I am a baptist because I believe the Bible teaches congregational church government and believers baptism. Specifically, the Bible teaches (along with historic baptist practice) that each church should be lead by a plurality of elders (or pastors). Decisions about doctrine, membership, leadership, etc are made not only by the elders but also with the approval of the members of the church. Baptism, which involves immersion in water, was ordained by Christ as a sign of the New Covenant and is only to be applied to those who profess repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. In addition to describing my views on church government and baptism, Baptist also explains who I want to cooperate with in the preaching of the gospel and fulfilling the great commission.

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My Testimony of Faith

It has been 9 months since I have blogged. I  intend to start writing more frequently but don’t hold me to it. Our family is in the process of joining Two Rivers Community Church. Part of the process involves writing out the story of our conversion. I decided that I would share my story on my blog. I hope that it is helpful, encouraging, and glorifying to God.

I trusted Christ when I was almost 17 on December 31, 1992. Shelley and I were dating at the time. She and her family shared the gospel with me and brought me to church where I was able to hear the gospel. At some point, we attended a revival where Ron Comfort was preaching. This was the first time in my life that I realized that I was not right with God and that I deserved hell for my sins. I was still unsure about the claims of Christ, his resurrection, and whether I wanted to give up my sins.

The night I trusted Christ we were at a New Years Eve service. We were watching a movie about the Spanish Inquisition. At some point, my mother in law convinced me that I need to talk to someone about the gospel. I first talked with my father in law who clearly explained the gospel from the Bible. I remember thinking that I am ready to give up all my doubts and even my life for Christ. I prayed to receive Christ with my father in law. Then, I also spoke with the pastor. He explained the same things as my father in law, and I also prayed with him. I was not sure yet if I had done what was necessary to be saved, but I fell asleep that night with great peace in my heart.

Shelley and her family moved to Mississippi shortly after this and I did not have a church to attend close to where I lived (They lived an hour away before they moved.); so, there was little to no spiritual growth. Eventually, Shelley and her family moved closer, but we were not living faithfully for Christ. It was at this time that we made the conscious decision to get away from bad influences and get our lives together spiritually. We started attending First Baptist Church in Bryan, OH. At FBC, Shelley and I repented/recommitted our lives to Christ, we were married, I was baptized, and we started serving in our church. It was also at FBC that I felt the call to ministry.

During our time at FBC, I went through a six month period of doubting my salvation. It was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, or sought counsel, I could not get assurance. Looking back, I realize that I was being too introspective and that I failed to look to Christ. God eventually blessed me with the assurance I craved with Jesus words, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Since then, God continues to work in my life daily to conform me to the image of his Son. I am thankful for God’s grace that has brought me this far. I am also thankful for all the people God providentially brought into my life to lead me to faith in Christ and encourage my faith: Shelley, Bob Adkins, Leta Combs, Pastors – Dave Kiper, Jack Bennett, John Macfarlane, Matt Harbour, Mac Williams, Sunday School Teachers – Tim Hoag, Mike Slagle, all of my professors at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Howard Miller, Tim Scott, John Botkin, Hone Phillips, Ken Clouse, Thom Burbridge, Shirley Andricks, Todd and Amy Davis, Matt Skinner, Connie Jaques, and many  more.   

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Thanks be to God…

This year has been an especially difficult year for my family and me. It began with wondering whether or  not our time at Twining Baptist was over after 7 years. Ultimately, I resigned. In addition, my mom was diagnosed with what turned out to be terminal cancer, we moved twice, endured job searches, struggled through family troubles, and mourned my mom’s death. Yet, through all of these afflictions, God our loving Heavenly Father cared for us. And, he cared for us through you.

One story especially illustrates God’s providential care for us. For about three months, I worked at Wal-Mart in Urbana, Ohio. While I was thankful for work, I was disappointed to get a job in Urbana because it was about 40 minutes away from where we lived and the opposite direction from my mom, which made Shelley’s care for her more difficult. I always wondered (often sinfully) why I got the job in Urbana when there were places close by that were desperate for help. Today, I realized that we likely would not have met our landlord who has been a great blessing to our family if I did not work in Urbana. Not only is he giving us a good deal on rent he is also a friend and has often encouraged me.  I did not understand it then, but sending me to Urbana was one of the ways God cared for us.

There have been others whose paths we have crossed that God has used to help us this year. Shepherd’s Care Ministries in Midland, MI, a friend we attended church with while living in Kentucky, our families, Pastors Matt Harbour and Brandon Walters and other friends from Cornerstone Baptist, our new church family, and innumerable friends who have prayed for and encouraged us. I am especially thankful for the phone calls, prayers, and wise advice from my friend, Tim Scott. I give thanks to the Lord and to you. I am looking forward to what God has in store for us in 2014.

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Bullied and Bully

Living and working in my hometown has given me the opportunity to see people from my childhood, both schoolmates and teachers. Generally, it is enjoyable experience as are the memories, but last week I saw someone who just by seeing in passing brought some bad memories.

As a child, I was often bullied in school. I was an easy target. I was scrawny and too klutzy to be athletic (I’ve outgrown the scrawny part, but still am a klutz. My wife to her delight has witnessed examples of this constantly). I do not harbor any ill will to the kids who bullied me, and I thought that I had dealt with any lingering issues years ago. Knowing my family loved me, faith, and growing up helped me work through these issues. However, when I saw this person, my emotional pain surfaced with a brief twinge of feeling like a scared little child. I do not even remember any specific mistreatment from this kid. Yet, that day his face became the face of the bullying I suffered.

I thought a lot  that day about what I had felt. Mostly, I came away from the experience surprised at the amount of buried emotions after 20 years of being away from being bullied. Being bullied hurts deeply, and the scars linger. After thinking about my own emotions and experience of being bullied, I realized that I too am guilty of bullying others. Most people are both bully and bullied. It breaks my heart to know that there are some people who if they recognized me or saw my picture on facebook would feel the pain that I felt. Maybe, they are not over it. Possibly, they still hold ill will. Could they recount every detail of my mistreatment?

My hope for this post is that everyone will see that there is healing for the bullied and forgiveness for bullies. Most of us like me will probably need both healing and forgiveness.

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