The Release of the Lord # 4
The Starting Place of the Testimony in Every Nation - continued
Let us again state the all-inclusive basis and background of all true, victorious life and service. It is the revelation of the Person of Christ crucified, in the Godhead, and in the throne of absolute sovereignty, and this objective fact becoming by the Holy Spirit a power in the life and a passion in the heart.
It is the effect of this that lies behind all the great record of conquests in many regions, through many instruments. This goes behind, and makes unnecessary, all advocacy of 'foreign' or other missions. Not that such advocacy has been fruitless, for God has come through it; but its strenuousness and its costliness are the marks of spiritual decline, and are the characteristics of a system which speaks of a bondage in which the Lord's honor is involved. We shall best explain what we mean if we illustrate from history.
Some Notable Examples of Modern Times
We have before us the records of movements and men that have been really effectual and fruitful in the world-testimony of the Lord Jesus.
Here is the amazing story of the great days of the Moravian mission. In the first twenty years they actually sent out more missionaries than the whole Protestant Church had done in two hundred years. Of the closed lands entered, the range covered, the sufferings gladly endured, the lives lived and laid down, the grace of God manifested, it stirs wonder and shame to read. Someone has said that 'if members of the Protestant churches went out as missionaries in corresponding numbers there would be a force of 400,000 foreign workers, which is vastly more than the number estimated as necessary to achieve the evangelization of the world.'
Only for want of space do we reluctantly refrain from giving pages from this tremendous story; but what lay behind it?
In the first place the Cross had been deeply wrought into the very being of this people. Their country was made a field of blood by massacre. They were driven from their homes. From a population of three million they were reduced by persecution to one million. Indeed it sometimes appeared as if they would be entirely extinguished. Out of these fires of afflictions there arose a company purified by the fire, and with another fire burning in their bones. It was the fire of a passionate love for the Lord Jesus. The meetings of these brethren, when they later became possible, breathed the atmosphere of "the upper room." Covenants were made that self in all its forms should be entirely banished - self-will, self-love, self-interest, self-seeking. To be poor in spirit would be their quest, and everyone would give himself to be taught by the Holy Spirit. A prayer-watch was set up which should burn day and night, and by means of relays the entire twenty-four hours were occupied in seeking the Lord. 'To win for the Lamb that was slain the reward of His sufferings,' was their adopted motto.
All this is its own argument. Here a deeply inwrought work of the Cross issued in a mighty, personal love for the Lord Jesus. Personal considerations were lost, and no persuasion was necessary. Shall we not say the truth when we say that souls languish by the millions in darkness and death for want of a deep baptism of the Church - the company of saved ones - into the passion and love of God in Christ?
If the China Inland Mission has been a monument to anything as to God's methods, it is supremely so to the living reality of union with Christ. With all his vision and passion for inland China, it is well known that Mr. Hudson Taylor, as he went from place to place addressing gatherings of Christians in this and other countries, said very little about China, often nothing at all. He just poured out his spiritual message to bring the Lord's people into a fuller knowledge of the meaning of their union with Christ. The central and supreme thing in this fellowship with the Lord was the universal efficacy of prayer.
Listen to him: 'In the study of that Divine Word I learned that to obtain successful workers, not elaborate appeals for help, but earnest prayer to God ... and the deepening of the spiritual life of the Church, so that men should be unable to stay at home, were what was needed.'
Were we to put the inner history of this work - the original spiritual background - into a few words, we should say that it was NOT a matter of organization, advocacy, propaganda, appeals, or advertisement. It centered in a man with a deep knowledge of God, born of a deeply inwrought work of the Cross, bringing to the Lord's people a living, spiritual message as to their fullest life in Him, and as to the practical outworking of such a life through prayer.
Mr. Hudson Taylor was no 'teacher' in the sense of presenting truth in a systematized form. He was not one of the great 'Bible teachers,' in the generally accepted sense of that term. His was a message which immediately led to two issues: firstly, the relationship of the believer to the Lord;and then the practical outworking of that, in prayer and other forms of service, to bring the Gospel to those whose only chance of receiving it was by means of such special endeavors. Mr. Hudson Taylor's life (and therefore, we must think, the history of the mission) turned at a given point upon a deeper realization of what oneness with the Lord really means. This is revealed in a letter to his sister which is printed in the second volume of his life.
Not only in Africa, through the South African General Mission, but in all parts of the world, the ministry of Dr. Andrew Murray has been wondrously rich in its fruits. It was not, again, by advocacy of propaganda, but purely by spiritual teaching, through a ministry almost exclusively to the Lord's people, a message concerning practical holiness, the ministry of intercession, and the power of the Holy Spirit, that this fruit was born. Out of this ministry sprang the above 'Mission,' and the consecration of many lives to the Lord's service. The ministry, not the 'Mission,' was the dynamic.
We could add at great length the evidence, pointing to the influence of such lives, and to the power of the movement for the 'deepening of spiritual life.' The pages of the missionary issues of Christian periodicals; the messages of 'Keswick's' great men in those early days; and the pages of that monumental History of the C.M.S. by Dr. Eugene Stock, all bear testimony to this.
(continued with # 5)