Coming to the 20th chapter in Evangelism, “International Missions: The Selection, Sending, and Shepherding of Missionaries,” Kevin Edwards gives a blueprint for how a long-term missionary should be sent out onto the mission field when Scripture is consulted. There is a careful selection involved, as well as training, sending, and support…from the local church. This cannot be done apart from a Bible-believing local church, since, as seen in times past with the Student Volunteer Movement, to avoid doing so not only ignores the pattern of Scripture, but can lead to a dilution and ultimately a denigration of the gospel. There must be a greater involvement in the local church than there normally is, and that must include prayer, affirmation, and confirmation of the missionary candidate. God must be sought in guiding the church to find someone to send out and continue the work of the Great Commission. Who they choose must be elder-qualified (Titus 1:5-9 & 1 Timothy 3:1-7), since they would be leading the missionary endeavor, wherever it may lead. Their character must be observed in the corporate life of the local church that they are a part of, and excel in the work of ministry and pattern of holiness. They then must be confirmed, or ordained, for the work at hand, and with the approval of the church leaders.
How this looks once the missionary is sent out is one of partnership between him and his missions-sending church. He must be trained to be able to handle the Word accurately, preferably in the original languages, he must be prayed for, shepherded by the church, and finally financially supported by them. Edwards then lays out a model that Grace Community Church practices, which is more involved than the norm. It’s always insightful to see how churches have been going about fulfilling the work of the Great Commission, especially if they have had a longer Gospel witness in their area, and how that leads to full-time missionaries being sent out in full support of the sending church. We have just begun, and are hoping to do it again, and am looking forward to the day, if God wills, to send me wherever He decides to place me. I hope and pray that I am willing to go out wherever He calls me to, if He does, and that I would willingly go for the sake of His name.
Going over chapter 4 of Chantry’s book, “Preaching Faith Towards God’s Son,” repentance is not all that Jesus calls us to. He also calls us to faith in Himself as the One who saves. We must follow Christ, and not just acknowledge Him. This goes against what is standard in gospel tracts, where the idea of believing is boiled down to acknowledging Jesus as God and Savior; however, the implications of such truths do not sink down to the heart of the sinner and call for radical change in thought and deed. As the author writes, many evangelicals would probably be upset with how Jesus approached the rich young ruler in calling him to take up his cross and follow Him. The implications of false fruit can be disheartening and dangerous to the ones who are there to follow-up to those who ‘made a decision,’ as it can lead to a lot of self-deception, as well as conflicts of what determines true, saving faith.
“Preaching Assurance of Acceptance” is the next chapter which deals with how a Christian should understand assurance in an evangelistic context. We cannot provide assurance to anyone who immediately expresses interest in the things of God since we cannot see the heart of who we speak with. In short: we are not the Holy Spirit. It is His role in the work of redemption to assure the believer that he/she possesses true faith in the true God. This is not the standard view of the evangelical today. We are pressured or feel the strong burden of easing the conscience of someone who says they want to believe in Christ at that moment, as if that is our responsibility to do so.
The Westminster Confession of Faith is consulted, giving a great summary of how one can be assured of their faith in Christ:
This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God: which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.
As he writes in correlation: “Faith and repentance are the inward movement of mind, emotion and will. They cannot be measured by simple outward tests” (p. 62). It is more an inward heart response to the call that is made to the sinner that they can have a surer understanding of whether they have genuinely believed in Christ. The person outside of them can only observe fruits in accordance with repentance, yet always cautious to declare one way or the other for a new convert. This is why we must not be so adamant that we proclaim one saved until we see a new life emerging in the heart of a former rebel sinner against God.
“Preaching with Dependence Upon God” continues the discussion, but Jesus is no longer speaking with the rich, young ruler since he left, but now He is speaking with His disciples. He reveals to them that it is impossible for man to enter the kingdom of God out of their own power. Without God, nothing is possible; with God, all things are possible. We need to remember that it is not a limit on God’s power that man is not saved; it is the fault of the sinner who continually chooses to reject God’s truth and embraces their distorted version of it. God calls all to turn and follow; many mock, reject, or ignore His message. This is why we must not think ourselves to be the one who changes the person’s mind. We are messengers with a message not of our own choosing. We are to call all to come to Christ for salvation, and trust that God will display His power in changing sinners from the inside out with His designated message that Paul calls “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16). Once people are made aware and can see the real state of their position before God, God will use that to draw them to Himself. We have the means, which God gave us, and we cannot live or think or act as if it’s any different than that in order to be used effectively by God.
Chantry concludes his work by reminding us that we cannot ignore preaching the character of God, the law, repentance, faith, the cost of following Christ as Lord, and the real tests of assurance in order to be considered a faithful evangelist. This is the one thing we must never compromise on: the gospel. Faithfulness to Christ hinges on this; souls hinge on this; your own life hinges on this. We must be faithful witnesses of the truth to those who are dying in Argentina. I pray to God that, as a team, we can be true to His Word and give honor to our God for all that He has done for us already.