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BULLETIN FORTY SEVEN
Motives for Missionaries
and Method with God
See also: Prospect, Retrospect and Reality Ch. 1
AS saved, one relishes
and recognises the wonder of it for any second of living. Hence one shares the
word of God, for it is wonderful, extinguishing doubt, configuring confusion in
clarity to reality,
answering ultimate questions and putting bewilderment into the waste basket.
Let us consider missionary motivation and the love of God. Why go if He knows His own anyway ? How have a loving God and many whose only response to to put (if it were possible) HIM into the waste basket and suffer the due result ? Consider then the love of God in this site of reference. Consider the abiding Christian.
As filled with the love of God, one is inherently and intrinsically, not from the flesh, but from His presence and fruit, fired with desire to despatch the remedy not only for the sake of the rest of the life of each to whom the Gospel may be given, now living in ignorance or confusion on this earth, but in terms of I Peter 3:19*1 for such time before the judgment as may otherwise be spent in ignorance of the relief to come, in that Christ preached to them in prison, in the circuit of His all pervasive love and expanding thrust of declaration, after the resurrection. Even without this, the burden is great.
It is not an enemy of truth, but neither is the truth allowed to be off-stage so that some are judged even if no Gospel ever reached their ears. Worthy of condemnation they certainly were, but not exempted from the domain of divine mercy which is as wide as in Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2:1ff., Ezekiel 33:11 and in all the lamentations of the Lord, even before judgmental events as in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 19:42, and for that matter, even in the case of Moab, as in Jeremiah 48.
If all are to receive the things in the body, as in II Corinthians 5:10, in terms of John 15:21ff., and some, in the terms of the latter verses, would have "had no sin", a rating relevant to the point, if HE had not come AND spoken and DONE what He had, then these would not be reckoned in final judgment in terms of sin. It was ONLY because He HAD come and so spoken and done, He emphasised, that their sin remained. The application is not finished. though the conditions for it were long finished and the result known BY GOD (Ephesians 1:4). It is not just that He KNEW His own, but that He did so in the light of ACTUAL pre-sin epoch for man (in fact, pre-creation epoch, which makes it yet more sure).
He states it clearly. It is BECAUSE He had come, they were no longer in that position, but they now having heard and seen, and still not believed, their sin remained. In their response to His presence in light, their sin was outlined as by a giant search-light, and ignorance was no more protection that tissue paper in a hurricane. Now they knew and yet threw back the opportunity in perhaps smug, or careless, or deviant desire; and hence sin's occlusive horror could not be removed from their situation, which now remained as if carved in granite.
It was no an implication merely; it is a statement on both sides, 1) if they had not heard and 2) since they had. It is made clear that in this latter case, sin remains in view, ready for action in judgment.
It is indeed perfectly pellucid that not hearing the Gospel, operating in ignorance is relevant to an open door yet. Having in the flesh ignorance of it, so that one of the things in the flesh was the absence of knowledge, of this mercy, of this option, and hence one of the total actions in the flesh was non-response to this, exempted them from peremptory judgment. IF I HAD NOT SAID ... DONE, no sin, but NOW, your sin remains. Hope remained in such a case, but this development, his coming, so acting, and yet not being received, left none. It is not that they gained a second chance; they had in the flesh had NONE. Nor is it that God had to wait to find out, for He statedly FOREKNEW. If we follow the word of God, it must be all of it. That is what it is, and what it is not.
Thus the things that
one has done did not include respond to mercy, a grace which Almighty God
statedly desires for all, so that where this is so, the case simply awaits the
clearing of those whom He foreknew, but who did not hear (if any, and Matthew 11:23
suggests there may be some who WOULD have repented if they had been fully
It is not necessary that the exposure prior to
final judgment occur in this or that way, however, for who will put limits on
the Almighty ? and certainly God in foreknowledge has
Himself known before all time who are His own, precluding all
circumstantial omissions, in fulfilment of His joint power and declared desire.
He knows, He foreknows,
He sees before creation, He discerns before sin, He perceives beyond sin, He
also looks through it, to the sinner who is to be as likewise to the
creation before sin, all being manifest to Him (Hebrews 4). He is
neithe rgulled nor limited, but carries out ALL of His will, EACH principle
Nor is there any
occlusion of His sight; He sees through sin far more than night goggles
can penetrate darkness. If He is not enthralled, yet His love for sinners is
beyond all disclaimer (Micah 7:19ff., John 3, Colossians 19ff., I John 4); and
it always remains in the end that the word of God not only states and implies
that He would wish ALL reconciled, but it actually STATES that the REASON for
some being still left out is this, that despite the light in Christ, they
preferred darkness. In the midst of His wonders, this fact remains. He KNOWS
every facet of preference in every and any state, and sin is not the
deterrent, from God, but the foreknown preference of man. God's love is
illimitable; man's folly without the stated sacrifice is inoperable. The
reception is voluntary, because God is free; and it is accurate because He is
holy: none deserves it, all need it; some take it, and He knows.
His love is
incorruptible and insubvertible.
Christ died to save sinners and these are the scope of His offering, be it taken or left; and He Himself is the propitiation presented for sin, and this (I John 2:2) "not for ours only but also for the whole world." There is nothing esoteric in the offer, nor any annulment of His words; as just as for ALL Israel the propitiation was offered, WHATEVER (Deuteronomy 29) they did with it, SO only those by faith adopting it profited (cf. Hebrews 4), so here. He pays for what He procures, and offers to pay for the whole world, amid His passion for reconciliation of ALL things EVEN in heaven as on earth. Those for whom He was delivered up have, we find for our information, as in Romans 8:32ff., all things. It is as in Isaiah 53, where those who are healed by His stripes, these are the ones whose iniquity is laid on Him (the first person pronoun 'we' making that inescapable). The gift is too precious to waste; His love to vast to contain; and so we neither can biblically truncate His love whether in predestination or anywhere else, precisely as it is defined in Matthew 23:37ff., and Luke 19:42ff., nor cast away the cost to the air. It lands where it belongs.
Let us revert to John 15 and those who HAD heard and HAD seen, and their THEREFORE remaining sin, not cancelled. GOD made it clear that knowledge matters in this case, that it was crucial whether or that these vast works and wonderful words of His had been cognised; and recognised the result for them accordingly.
We leave it at that; He makes it clear, He had this knowledge but would not let it rest at that in practice, as in the noted case in John 15, but remarking on the point, insisted it be put to the practical test. He even noted the result of this test right there! No pardon without repentance, without faith, without believing in Him, the only way, but had they not known, the attribution of sin would not have been yet final. That knowledge was relevant to the issue; in fact critical.
This in turn is in accord, as nothing less, with His most numerous, heartfelt, incisive lamentations both before judgments and after them, implies IN PRINCIPLE the necessity of not forcing, in dealing with man, made in the image of God, at the spiritual level. Love is sated if not satiated, when its mercy finally (as initially in this case) is angrily, or forlornly, or meditatively or in any other way, sent away. Moreover, in that Israel did not heed, as a nation in the day of Jesus Christ on earth, it was the highly specialised case of KNOWING and hence facing within a generation, national judgment (Matthew 24:1ff., 24:37). Even for Moab God lamented (Jeremiah 48).
It is SUCH love which drives missionaries*2 and testimony, and His honour whose love it is, and its very truth, the more so in consideration of the lives led by that those ignorant of the Gospel, in absence of Gospel light and wonder: deplorable, faded, deficient and often deluded. In view of I Peter 3:19, indeed, there may even be some waiting before final relief arrives from non-adoption, although one prefers to think that such release, if it is relevant, may occur at once on departure from this world which remains in some ways, still partly ignorant. Yet its tremolos of passion increasingly close in as many methods relay the Gospel vigorously and broadly. Certain is that God will find His own, and they will be safe, mercy moving to the uttermost, and justice no open maw, because of mercy, but yet inveterate when all is done, and the Gospel response is shown in whatever ways desired and needed, so that relief bypassed by the will of man as known and shown by the wisdom of God.
What then ? It is not just the thought, it is the nature of the love of God, so to act, and how are those who do not lack it, His own, to ignore its thrust, as Christ did not ignore it. He did not die only for some who heard; He died for all in view of His desire that ALL (emphasised in Colossians 1:19ff.) be reconciled to Himself, and the extent of the offering of atonement is in principle to all (I John 2:1-2). If some did not receive it, however, then to them it did not go and as in Romans 8:32ff.. This portion of the word of God with its "we" us dealing with believers. To them come, indeed, ALL THINGS. To these for whom Christ was "delivered up" in substitutionary atonement, do all things come. These are God's elect, and who will bring, asks Paul, a charge against them. To others, the Gospel is OFFERED, but not received, all things are in potential, but they do not come since the key is missing, and the missing is lack of belief in Him who IS IT!
These are not included in those for whom Christ was delivered up, that distinctive feat as in the Old Testament came with the laying on of hands on the sacrifice to come, or the sheep sent into the wilderness. Thus just as then, there were those on whose behalf, as in the day of atonement for Israel, the sacrifice was indeed offered up, yet who declined to take it seriously (Deuteronomy 29). Dying for all in this aspect, namely the extent of the relevance of the offering, He did not then fail to have it brought to some for whose benefit in terms of His action, it was intended as an open gift. Nor did He force its atoning action on those desiring to be without it, in His all-knowing sight.
God is far greater than this, far more powerful than that, in DNA a marvel, He is not failing in the dimensions of His own mercy.
It is not enough to talk of God having all power, of His being able to whatever He pleases in the heaven and on earth, it is not enough so to speak and then hearing of the scope, nature and profundity of His mercy, in the light of this power, make a doctrine that those who have never heard the Gospel may in ignorance go to hell. The depth of power, and the height of it, and the depth of concern, and the intensity of it, show a contradictory result, if despite all, it be affirmed that the ignorant AS SUCH go to hell... that if someone had told them in time, many would not inhabit the hell now affirmed as their destiny. The beginning and the end of the matter, of the resolution of human response amid sin, and man's inability, as in so much else, is no measure of God's power, but diffuses like mist before sunlight, as He knowing truth operates accordingly.
Were it otherwise, that would mean God either lacked the power or the principle, and His lamentations were disjointed, since He did not use these things, including in the construction of the entire nature of the universe, man, the Gospel and the outcomes in the first place. But in so many ways, not least John 15, Christ shows in the most personal and sustained manner that such is not the case. In His inimitable tenderness, He directly teaches the contrary. He is no respecter of persons and as the test goes, so the result comes, as the image in God, spoiled but not defunct, is known past pathology by Him, so the embrace of His love is as broad as His mercy, through Him lifted up on the cross, was high.
If you are not His, it
is not for any lack of love on His part, so repent, receive and believe.
*1 See After-Burner, After-Glow, Afterwards Ch. 3, and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, under the heading spirits in prison.
think himself clever, and he is marvellously made, but he cannot outsmart God.
Thus someone called to the mission field, or in normal manner, to testify of Christ might say to him/herself, Oh, I won't bother to go. You have it all covered anyway.
But this squirming merely shows in such a cse, the fraudulence involved. Certainly God has another way, is not stunted by another's failure, yet it is not through another Gospel (Galatians 1), but another situation. The love of God is not dispensable, like some possible Budget in political parlance; it is intrinsic. It WANTS to meet the case as a mother, seeing fire blazing, wants to do her part to meet it, to protect her children with her life if necessary, oblivious of the coming foremen.
Love hates judgment as destruction, but loves purity for love is like that, not a dynamic over robots, but a realisation amidst those whose heart if no mere busy agent of the kinks or quirks of the programmer, the casual desire but something made in the very image of God. Love avoids both scheming and force, is tender-hearted. If Christ came to earth to die, being internally constrained (Psalm 40), since God SO loved the world, will a man net walk to a given site, if so directed or constrained! Indeed is it failure here, disobedience much like any other ? If someone be sent, if the call be sustained and constraining, is this scope for a possible exhibition of unbelief, as if one had a chat with the commander-in-chief about changing regulations, and he thanked you for your wisdom ? Is God not free to exhibit HOW and WHEN He will the love which remains to be shown (as in Colossians 1:24).
Rather does such a thing lead to repentance as with Jonah, and with such a time did that prophet go, after his initial delay, that from his resulting ordeal, the very marks may well have been left on his body, as appears to have happened in a more recent case of such swallowing at sea. Indeed, it was well that Jonah was spat out, and this illustrates the principle that tribulations can be great friends at time.