The Work of Missions

Louis Berkhof

1. Missionary Motives.

The true missionary must first conquer sin in his own life before he can successfully combat it in the lives of others. The missionary motives are naturally derived from the Word of God and from the new life that is born within the hearts of the missionaries, in connection with the condition of those who are the objects of missionary efforts.

In the Word of God we find the great commission that Christ gave His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19). The missionary goes out first of all because it is the command of his King.

But the new life of the missionary operates in various ways also as a motive:

(1) The grace that fills his heart is of a communicative character.

(2) The holiness of his new life reacts strongly against sin in the world and naturally seeks to create a holy atmosphere in which it can flourish.

(3) This new life feels that it is responsible also for sin in the lives of others, and therefore impels one to conquer sin in the world of unbelief.

(4) That new life, as it exists in the lives of individuals, is conscious of the fact that it forms but an insignificant part of the body of Christ, and necessarily seeks to complete itself.

2. The Great Importance of Missionary Work.

This work is very important, first of all, for Christ, for in it He sees the good pleasure of Jehovah prosper in His hand. It is the ingathering of the fruits of His labors, the increase of His subjects and the completion of His body.

It is very significant too for the Church--it promotes her growth, leads her on to completeness and strengthens her by increasing the number of the soldiers of the cross.

It is of the utmost importance for the nations that are won for Christ. New life is born within them; new light kindled in their hearts. Schools are opened for the education of their children, their moral life is raised to a higher level and their religion is purified.

3. The Factors on Which Missionary Victory Depends.

Negatively we can say that spiritual victory does not depend on the sword or on persecution. Neither does it, in the last analysis, depend on any efforts of man, such as great oratory, educational activities or measures of social reform.

Positively it does depend, first of all, on the grace of God, operating in the hearts of the missionaries, of those that support the work of missions and of those that are the objects of missionary efforts. And in the second place on the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity. Some of the above named agencies may, of course, aid in the work.