EXPECT GREAT THINGS FROM GOD
By Dr. Grant Richison
There is much discussion among mission
leaders about the state of missions in the West. Evangelicalism has lost much of its
momentum in reaching the world for Christ.
Dr. Albert Mohler said, “The total missionary force is now a fraction of that during the 1950s, and many of those that remain on the fields have been assigned
duties far removed from the conversionist witness.”
This statement has two implications: (1) we ought to
highly value missionaries currently on the field and encourage any young person willing to commit to
missions, and (2) if
the West is no longer
committed to sending
our primary strategy should focus on indigenous missions.
Over recent decades evangelicals have altered their attitude toward missions. Believers now suffer from
lack of belief that they can reach the world for Christ. There is a loss of expectation of what God can do.
This enormous change goes to loss of confidence in the
Bible--the loss of truth. Vacuum of truth means a deficit
of conviction toward dispersing the gospel to the world.
Loss of truth comes from diminished confidence in certainty toward the Word of God.
Christians today do not expect great things from God in
general and missions in particular.
Do we await great things from God? Everything great in life, every significant accomplishment
and every worthwhile endeavor, is
the result of someone with an undeniable, unstoppable
passion. If we are to reach the world, we must bear vital
passion for the true objectives of the Word of God.
Christians today focus
more on limited, time-
oriented factors in society than on the urgency of eternal heaven and hell. Life is too short and eternity too long to misplace our priorities.
ADOPTING A CULTURE OF DOUBT
The average Canadian Christian believes that it really doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are “sincere.” The impact of this thinking isolates the gospel
message into one of many options. Ideologue pluralism
has captured center stage of our values in Canada.
Skepticism about the indubitable truth of Christianity undermines both faith and mission. All of this is an echo
of old skepticism or unbelief of the early 20th century.
Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of theological
liberalism, bought into German rationalism. His teaching
penetrated many churches and eviscerated biblical truth.
By the middle of the 20th century, handfuls of liberal congregants huddled in vast caverns of empty, large
church buildings. Historical evangelical institutions--
such as Oxford, Dartmouth, Columbia, Rutgers, Brown,
Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, and Princeton---now stand
as citadels of liberalism. Yale was founded to fight liberalism!
Harvard was established to train evangelical preachers!
Today we are in another down cycle of evangelicalism. No
wonder the mission enterprise is not important to today’s
evangelical in the West.
Infiltration of skepticism in the church is happening without
notice by most evangelicals. Unfortunately, precious few
Christians seem willing to take the threat seriously. Many
church leaders are becoming grossly apathetic about truth
and sound doctrine. This has had great effect on the cause
In these days a majority of Americans claim to believe in the
God of the Bible, yet they are comfortably uncertain about
what is true. A suffocating apathy about the whole concept
of truth dominates much of the evangelical movement.
If we consider every point of truth as an open question,
we will be carried about by every wind of doctrine:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound
doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to
themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall
turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned
unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
AT THE MERCY OF CIRCUMSTANCES
Without burning conviction about the objectives of missions,
we are at the mercy of whims that drive our culture. If we
don’t determine what’s important and where to put our
priorities, other people will determine them for us.
“If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what
you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”
As the old cliché goes, “If you don’t stand for something,
you’ll fall for anything.” When we believe in nothing, we
open the doors to believing anything. This is true within the
precincts of Christianity. As the body of common belief
has shrunk and its importance has diminished within the
ranks of the evangelical world, advocates arise for almost
anything. It is ironic that people today have strong conviction
about weak issues (football, fashions, etc.) while holding
weak conviction about ultimate issues. We have displaced
the priority of missions with a plethora of alternatives.
This article is based on the address that
Dr. Grant Richison delivered at
the 2017 AIM Fall Leadership Seminar
Suppers in Manitoba. Dr. Richison
serves as Vice-President Theology with AIM.
posted on Dec 1, 2017