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The Great Commission

October 2014

In the wake of Scotland’s decision on independence, we bring an edited version of an address from Donald J. Morrison, home mission worker for the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), to the FCC General Assembly.

Christ’s timeless command is summed up in the often neglected words of the Great Commission: ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’; ‘go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in’.

Notice how our Lord speaks without limitation or restriction. He speaks of going to all humanity, including the depraved, foulest, vilest and very worst of sinners.

Whatever sin sinners are guilty of, God does not delude any of them when he says, ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’. God never plays mind-tricks over the truths of his Word. The Lord means what he says and says what he means.

The unchanging truth of the Great Commission is written for us, and we are to believe its promises too. It encompasses a great gospel and a Christ ‘who is able to save them to the uttermost all that come unto God by him’.

Aucas

History records five young Protestant missionaries who didn’t question any of these promises, but wholeheartedly believed them and responded to God’s call, when they took the gospel to the unreached Aucas — a primitive tribe in the jungles of Ecuador.

These were a most dangerous tribe. Time magazine called them ‘the worst people on earth’ and said, ‘They are a pure Stone Age people and hate all strangers. They live only to hunt, fight and kill. Their most notable products are needle-sharp 9-foot, hardwood spears for use against human foes’.

The five missionaries were Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian and Nate Saint. These five and their devoted wives had only one thing on their mission agenda: to share the message of God’s love in Christ with those who had never heard it.

In the strange providence of God, these missionaries were to witness to the Auca Indians for only a few months, before they were all brutally speared to death on the banks of the Curaray River, on 8 January 1956. They were killed by the very people they had gone to win for Christ.

There was an outcry that they had wasted their lives, but it was not so. As Tertullian said many centuries ago, ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’.

Heroic love

The effort to reach the Auca Indians was not abandoned. Spurred on by the death of their husband and brother, Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint established a home among the Auca Indians in 1958, after they were invited to live with them.

They were both passionate about taking the gospel to this unreached tribe and translating the Scriptures into their language. They got to know the murderers and everything about them. They taught them of the Saviour for whom the martyred men had died.

Nine years later, the first copies of the Gospel of Mark in the Waodani language were dedicated at ‘God’s speaking house’. Something else quite extraordinary happened. In an unbelievable expression of reconciliation, Steve Saint, Nate’s son, was baptised by two of the men who murdered his father, in the very river where his father died.

At the request of the Waodani elders, he returned to the Amazon in 1995, along with his wife and children, to live among the tribe for several months. While working with them to build an airstrip in the jungle, Steve Saint spoke with Gikita, the leader of the attack.

The 80-year-old man, with tears in his eyes, said to him, ‘I wish to go to heaven and live peacefully with the five men who came to tell him about Wangongi (creator God) and the way of salvation in Jesus Christ’.

Needy Scotland

But primitive tribes in Ecuador are not the only ones notoriously lost. So are unreached numbers in the ‘jungles’ of Scotland. Like the Aucas, they too have to be reached with the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

To hear about the ‘good news’, they must be told. ‘How can they hear without a preacher?’ How can they hear about the lostness of hell, glory of heaven, grace of God, forgiveness of sin, power of the blood, gift of salvation and loveliness of Christ, unless we tell them!

The extent of our compassion for souls will, I believe, determine to what lengths we will go to tell them that ‘God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved’.

My home base in the Highland capital has, over the past 11 years, brought me into contact with people from all around the world; representatives from so many countries have had the message of salvation shared with them. The gospel has to been shared across Scotland through various outreaches in busy urban settings and isolated rural communities.

One effective witnessing tool has been through the distribution of gospel tracts and literature. With God’s help, during 2013 much good evangelistic and Reformed literature was distributed across Scotland, including Shettleston and Knightswood (districts of Glasgow), Edinburgh, Stornoway, Ardelve, Broadford, Ayr, Dores, Farr and Inverness.

Mission outreach was engaged in at the Hebridean Celtic Festival, Rockness, and at the large army base in Fort George.

Bibles and tracts

Along with the large quantity of literature given out through the year in foreign languages, especially Polish, a combined total of around 17,000 gospel tracts were distributed, along with 9,507 booklets and magazines, 67 Bibles and 5,000 TBS calendars.

Our prayer is that the eyes of many Jews and Gentiles will be opened and God’s Word will make many ‘wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 3:15).

Some time ago, a large quantity of secondhand Bibles ended up in our mission house in Inverness. Such a valuable cargo, however, is never discarded. Someone, somewhere always values the truth, regardless of age.

You can imagine my joy on hearing that the Sailors’ Society in Invergordon was interested in the whole consignment!

Shortly after delivering them, the Bibles were distributed amongst the Filipino crew of a luxury cruise ship docked in the busy Easter Ross seaport. Members of that Society regularly meet up with these men and women when their ship is in port and have Bible study with them.

I was assured that the Bibles were eagerly received and deeply appreciated. Our hope is that every recipient will yet come to serve on the ‘gospel ship’, rejoicing that Christ is the captain of their salvation.

Challenge

A solemn word of rebuke comes from Chrysostom that must be applied to us all if we are not labouring to win the lost for Christ. ‘Nothing’, he says, ‘is more useless than a Christian who does not try to save others … I cannot believe in the salvation of anyone who does not work for his neighbour’s salvation’.

We are told that soul-winners will shine for eternity: ‘They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever’ (Daniel 12:3).

O that the Lord would give us all the soul-winning heart-cry of John Knox, when he said, ‘Give me Scotland for Christ!’