a few good words on mission

These are a few of my favorite quotes on missions… with short commentary.

I’m no Calvinist, nor am I a proponent of TULIP, but I do believe these guys are onto something when it comes to the overarching purpose for church and mission… and for life in general:

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” – John Piper

Yes, I do realize the irony in my posting the following quote by William Carey:

Shortly before his death, William Carey said to a friend: “You have been saying much about Dr. Carey and his work. When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey; speak about Dr. Carey’s savior.”

If only my last name were stud…  not sure if I’d prefer Mr. Stud, Dr. Stud, or just Brett Stud (not that “Dr.” is even an option, but I might go back to school if I liked the name enough):

“Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell.” – C.T. Studd

Toward a more holistic view of mission (and kingdom in general):

“An individual gospel without a social gospel is a soul without a body, and a social gospel without an individual gospel is a body without a soul. One is a ghost and the other is a corpse.” – Eli Stanley Jones

Just the truth, plain and simple.  It kind of stings, though (and I’m not saying such only towards those of us living in the US — I’m just as guilty here in rural Tanzania):

“Today Christians spend more money on dog food than missions.” – Leonard Ravenhill

I have a special affinity for Hudson Taylor, having lived and worked in China for three years.  I’m not 100% on board with this next quote, but Carey definitely gives us something to consider as to the default stance on missionary calling:

“It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.” – Hudson Taylor

Do any of these strike a cord?  Do you have a favorite quote on missions?



Filed under mission, quotes

29 responses to “a few good words on mission

  1. Calvinism and I go round and round. I can accept the idea of the sovereignty of God and predestination pretty readily – it even makes more sense to me than various alternative thoughts, but I get extremely frustrated with the prideful and uncaring manner that seems to characterize most strong Calvinists.

    I almost started calling myself a Calvinist, once, but I don’t believe that he had it all right, either.

    • i find i’ve slowly been leaning towards calvinism. i’m not far from total depravity (that could be understood correctly in more than one way) or irresistible grace. but i’m not a fan of limited atonement or unconditional election.

      • Confused rambling warning…

        I see Calvinism as creating a God who is made up of different “wills”. One part of Him wants everyone to be saved, because He loves everybody, but knows that not everyone will. Another part is given the “uncomfortable” job of deciding who will be saved and who will not. In a sense, a third part of Him is in total control (sovereign) and orchestrates everything to make sure that all those who are supposed to be saved do so and those who are not do not.

        I can see no way that Calvinism “works” without double predestination. Otherwise God is not sovereign, and this bothers me either way.

        This whole struggle is the thing that feeds my “doubts” more than anything else. Grace is a wonderful concept, but the very idea that God decreed before time began that a given individual would burn in hell forever is an extremely troubling concept to me. Calvinists tend to blow this off by claiming that they don’t believe in double predest, but I can’t resolve the theology of single predestination. Either God is in complete control or He is not.

        Somewhere along the way, man has to be left with a certain degree of free will, which I can only resolve to mean that God is not in complete control.

        So, those who say “God is in control of EVERYTHING” leave me puzzled, because “everything” really means, to me, “everything.”

        Which means that, not only did He decide that Bernard Shuford would be a Christian, He also decided that Joseph Stalin would be a murderer.

        That bothers me.

        Disclaimer – None of this is “argumentative”. Just sharing the things that go through my head. I’m neither pro- or anti-Calvinist. I just can’t find “right”, and these are some of the things that trip me up.

        • you’re welcome to ramble here, bernard.

          i will add only this short idea. i think i’d be more likely to go with the idea of predestination if there were no permanent hell — something i’ve actually been looking into a bit. if hell were reformative in nature, i might could do the predestination thing.

          • Predestination is Biblical enough that I get kinda ticked when people try to blow it off as “foreknowledge” instead of “intention”.

            I also get into various conundrums regarding hell. Such as “Was Christ merely using Gehenna as a comparison to eternal death, or will there really be demons torturing those who die without Christ?”, or “If someone only comes to Christ to keep from going to hell, have they really come to Christ?” Primarily, though, if hell is punishment for failing to trust Christ, I see the theory of God’s sovereignty being ripped to shreds since He is theoretically the one who decides who goes where. And, if He’s only doing it to “do justice”, why can’t the blood of Christ apply to everyone? Yeah, that’s Universalism heresy, I know, but He makes the rules, whatever they really are.

            Rambling. 🙂 Thanks for the welcome. I really will try to not destroy the whole thread.

            The more “I” think about stuff like this, the more it shakes me up, to be honest, because I don’t like things that can’t be reasonably resolved.

            Sorry to make this post about Calvinism. I know that’s a dangerous word in a lot of blogs because it attracts an argumentative type of comment. Not meaning to go there. I have a lot of things in my head that I really wish I could settle, and these kinds of discussions draw it out. Sorry! I want to be all about Christ but a lot of things seem to have conspired to shred a lot of certainties in my life. There are a lot of questions nowadays that I just answer with “I’m not sure!” rather than the hard nosed dogma that I would have slathered about ten or so years ago.

  2. Daniel

    Help me out. I’m not catching the irony of William Carey’s quote. From now on, I will call you Brett Studd…..or Brett…..Invincibllllllllllllllllllleeee.

    • i was just meaning that here i am quoting william carey when he asked us to talk about Jesus and not him.

      i love that movie. the one with owen wilson, not the william carey one. not sure there is a william carey movie. but if there is, owen wilson should play him; i’m confident of it.

  3. Regretfully, I do not know who said the following, but these words wear me out:

    “In order to reach the people no one else is reaching you have to do things no one else is doing.
    To do the things no one else is doing you have to stop doing what everyone else is doing.”

  4. I’ve always loved Jim Eliot’s famous quote:
    “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Powerful when you consider his martyrdom in Ecuador.

    And it’s too long to fit a group of quotes, but I love Samuel Shoemaker’s poem “So I Stay Near The Door: An Apologia For My Life” http://aa-history.com/samshoemaker3.html
    A similar sentiment to that expressed by Studd.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  5. Ike

    I believe in the sovereignty of God, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Solas of the Reformation, I believe that grace precedes faith in regeneration. Theologically, I am Reformed. Sociologically, I am simply a Christian – or at least I want to be. The tricky thing about our hearts is that they can turn even a good thing into an engine of oppression. It happens when our theological distinctives make us aloof from other Christians. That’s when, functionally, we relocate ourselves outside the gospel and inside Galatianism.

    The Judaizers in Galatia did not see their distinctive – the rite of circumcision – as problematic. They could claim biblical authority for it in Genesis 17 and the Abrahamic covenant. But their distinctive functioned as an addition to the all-sufficiency of Jesus himself. Today the flash point is not circumcision. It can be Reformed theology. But no matter how well argued our position is biblically, if it functions in our hearts as an addition to Jesus, it ends up as a form of legalistic divisiveness.

    Paul answered the theological aspects of the Galatian error with solid theology. But the “whiff test” that something was wrong in those Galatian churches was more subtle than theology alone. The problem was also sociological. “They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them” (Galatians 4:17). In other words, “The legalists want to ‘disciple’ you. But really, they’re manipulating you. By emphasizing their distinctive, they want you to feel excluded so that you will conform to them.” It’s like chapter two of Tom Sawyer. Remember how Tom got the other boys to whitewash the fence for him? Mark Twain explained: “In order to make a man or boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” Paul saw it happening in Galatia. But the gospel makes full inclusion in the church easy to attain. It re-sets everyone’s status in terms of God’s grace alone. God’s grace in Christ crucified, and nothing more. He alone makes us kosher. He himself.

    The Judaizers would probably have answered at this point, “We love Jesus too. But how can you be a first-rate believer, really set apart to God, without circumcision, so plainly commanded right here in the Bible? This isn’t an add-on. It’s the full-meal deal. God says so.”

    Their misuse of the Bible showed up in social dysfunction. “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised. . . . They desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh” (Galatians 6:12-13). In other words, “When Christians, whatever the label or badge or shibboleth, start pressuring you to come into line with their distinctive, you know something’s wrong. They want to enhance their own significance by your conformity to them: ‘See? We’re better. We’re superior. People are moving our way. They are becoming like us. We’re the buzz.’” What is this, but deep emotional emptiness medicating itself by relational manipulation? This is not about Christ. This is about Self. Even Peter fell into this hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). But no matter who is involved, this is not the ministry of the gospel. Even if a biblical argument can be made for a certain position, and we all want to be biblical, the proof of what’s really happening is not in the theological argumentation but in the sociological integration.

    Paul had thought it through. He made a decision that the bedrock of his emotional okayness would forever lie here: “Far be it from me to boast [establish my personal significance] except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:14-15). In other words, “Here is all I need for my deepest sense of myself: Jesus Christ crucified. His cross has deconstructed me and remade me, and I am happy. Everything else is at best secondary, possibly irrelevant, even counterproductive. Let Jesus alone stand forth in my theology, in my emotional well-being and in my relationships with other Christians!” This settledness in Paul’s heart made him a life-giving man for other people. He was a free man, setting others free (Galatians 5:1). This is the acid test of a truly Reformed ministry – that other believers need not be Reformed in order to be respected and included in our hearts.

    Whatever divides us emotionally from other Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Christians is a “plus” we’re adding to the gospel. It is the Galatian impulse of self-exaltation. It can even become a club with which we bash other Christians, at least in our thoughts, to punish, to exclude and to force into line with us.

    What unifies the church is the gospel. What defines the gospel is the Bible. What interprets the Bible correctly is a hermeneutic centered on Jesus Christ crucified, the all-sufficient Savior of sinners, who gives himself away on terms of radical grace to all alike. What proves that that gospel hermeneutic has captured our hearts is that we are not looking down on other believers but lifting them up, not seeing ourselves as better but grateful for their contribution to the cause, not standing aloof but embracing them freely, not wishing they would become like us but serving them in love (Galatians 5:13).

    My Reformed friend, can you move among other Christian groups and really enjoy them? Do you admire them? Even if you disagree with them in some ways, do you learn from them? What is the emotional tilt of your heart – toward them or away from them? If your Reformed theology has morphed functionally into Galatian sociology, the remedy is not to abandon your Reformed theology. The remedy is to take your Reformed theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around. The proof that we are Reformed will be all the wonderful Christians we discover around us who are not Reformed. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone.

  6. it just comes back to our priorities being completely messed up. I think another thing they have right is: The chief end of man is to serve God and enjoy him forever. If we were living our lives, truly, as loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, missions would not be needed, it would naturally be occurring.

    • “If we were living our lives, truly, as loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, missions would not be needed, it would naturally be occurring.”

      this is true… as long as we’re living those lives within sight and reach of the lost. but that’s a good chunk of the problem.

  7. Kim

    “Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell.” – C.T. Studd

    LOVE that one (and yeah the name is cool too). People too often are afraid to go into the dirty places like it will rub off on them. That’s where we need to go to really do good.

    Some really cool thoughts for today- thanks for sharing!

    • i met an owner of a subway restaurant once, in a pretty rough area of town. we were talking about faith and christianity, and i mentioned how i could see the difficulties in owning that subway in that location. his answer made me feel foolish:

      “light shines brightest in the darkest places.”

      • Kim

        ouch ouch ouch.

        those little nuggets just sting sometimes don’t they?

        • JMF

          I’m with Kim…the “Studd” comment was tight.

          It reminded me of a Francis Chan lesson I listened to…he preaches in one of the richest towns in Cali, and he mentioned that many have called him out on it, essentially implying that if his faith was real, he needed to be in China or the Middle East tempting martyrdom.

          He said he doesn’t believe anyone is in more danger than the rich. So in Kingdom-thinking, a rich area may indeed be the most Christ-less place one could position himself.

  8. mndunn26

    I particularly loved Piper’s quote. Isn’t it ironic how we, the church, so complicate and confuse what missions really is? It’s as if the simplicity of loving and serving people is too easy; it’s not a sexy idea because it doesn’t seem overly heroic or even hard. Instead of emulating Jesus and His strategy (i.e. walk everywhere and talk to anyone) we try and outdo Him and we miss the mark completely.

    • good thoughts, mndunn, and thanks for stopping by. i think a lot of our over-complication of things comes from a lack of trust in the work of the Holy Spirit. we don’t trust him to draw men to Christ or to mature believers, etc…. so we develop elaborate systems to do those things.

  9. Pingback: brett’s morning blend (06apr11) | aliens and strangers

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