A Review of P.R.Y.P. Convention Speech

The Rev. Emanuel began his sermon by pointing out that the words calling and obligation are synonymous and can be used interchangeably with respect to the topic. Thus, in discussing the subject, we could just as well speak of our calling as of our obligation.

With this in mind, he set forth these three divisions:

I. Whose Obligation is it?

II. What is the Basis of this Obligation?

III. The End or Purpose Thereof.

It is our calling to exalt the Lord. All men have a calling to exalt the Lord. This is evident from creation and this note is heard throughout Scripture. This command was given to Adam in the garden of Eden. This command was really a command for Adam to exalt the Lord. Also, there is no age of discretion when it comes time to exalt the Lord, yet our calling does become more pronounced as we become older. We become more conscious of that calling as we are sustained by God’s grace. Although all men exalt the Lord, for God works His Counsel so that He is exalted, only the people of God understand that they have the right to consciously exalt Him in faith. This means that the child of God shows in his life and walk that he belongs to the matchless God of grace.

This blessing is not without basis. This comes from the council of God as revealed through Jesus Christ on the cross. It is the blessing which flows from the cross. There is blood that has to be shed. There are sins that have to be covered. Christ had to die to cover the sins of His people, to merit for them alone the blessing, right, and privilege to exalt the Lord. All men without distinction are obligated to exalt the Lord. All men are commanded to walk in righteousness, truth and holiness. Because the law is declared to all men does not mean that all men may, will or can keep the law. The Holy Spirit sanctifies the obligation to exalt the Lord unto hearts of His chosen so that they behold the God of their salvation. This obligation is truly a savor of life unto life and death unto death. This also destroys any room for conditions, for it is a privilege to exalt the Lord which implies grace which is of God alone. The conclusion must of necessity be rooted in the cross of Christ; the obligation is a deep and abiding and a sanctified consciousness wrought in the heart of God’s people as a privilege merited by Christ on the cross. The obligation is founded upon the absolute certainty that God will be exalted and that you as a covenant child of God will exalt Him without question, for Christ hath already exalted Him perfectly and in Christ are His people found. The child of God alone has the right to do God’s will.

The end and purpose can be seen in the counsel of God. God determined to glorify Himself through Jesus Christ and in His Church who show forth His praises in their walk and life to the one God who works in His own for His own glory. Therefore, our obligation to exalt the Lord is one of right and belongs only to that small remnant according to the election of grace.

Since having become acquainted and affiliated with the Prot. Reformed Churches, the question of “Mission” has been a very pressing one to me. Hence, in choosing this subject: “WHAT FUTURE IS THERE IN OUR PRO­TESTANT REFORMED MISSIONARY WORK?”—the intention is to simply set before you my observations, evaluation, and my reaction, i.e., as I personally have considered this missionary question —especially in light of our missionary activity in the past.

I believe a proper starting point would be that of considering a Definition of Mission Work. However, to arrive at a Definition of Mission Work, the Purpose Of and What Constitutes Mission Work must also be considered. To me, these two elements are inseparably connected and can very well be subsumed under the Definition, so that the Definition would include the Purpose and a state­ment of What Constitutes Mission Work.

What is Mission Work?—It is that work to which we are called, and which consists in faithfully proclaiming the whole counsel of God in Christ Jesus, with an eye single to glorify God in Christ, as the Holy Spirit causes the Word to accomplish its two-fold purpose namely—“a savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.” Mission work differs from the regular preaching and pastoral work in that it is conducted without the pale or the sphere of the established church or churches doing the work, or under whose supervision the work is being conducted.

Of course, without any further com­ment on the matter, we will all agree that underlying the whole question of Mission Work, the motivating factor for conducting it is—a desire to fulfill the command of our Lord Jesus Christ as He has given it to us in the words:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all na­tions, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Mt. 28:19-20).

Then, again, in Mark 16:15-16, and also in Luke 24:45-47 where we read: “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scrip­tures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, be­ginning at Jerusalem.”

Hence, we are motivated by these words of our Lord and not by any one or more of the foolish notions that are so often used as a basis for doing Mis­sion Work, such as: “Evangelize the world, and do it in haste, lest Jesus should return and find the work is not yet completed.” This is essentially the position of the Arminian and the so-called Fundamentalist of today. On the other hand, there is the position of the Modernist, believing as he does, that the so-called “principles of Jesus” contain the solution for the ills of this present world—which are basically social and economic. Then, of course, there is the other motivating factor namely, the de­sire to increase numerically—or, as some others express it, the desire to do “Church Extension Work.”

This term “church extension” is also used in Protestant Reformed circles in speaking of Mission Work. However, my personal feeling is to discard its use when speaking of Mission Work. And, I was very much surprised when I read the following quotation from the pen of one who, in speaking of “Our Mission Work” writes: “We might in a sense properly call it church extension since its positive purpose is the establishment of Protestant Reformed Churches where ever there are or come to be, groups of believers that are of one heart and mind with us, and wish to confess with us the truth of God’s Sovereign Grace as we are committed to it”—“for the present it is our calling to limit our­selves to the work of church extension . . . among the brethren of the Christian Reformed Churches.”

I believe I can say, without any reser­vations, that the positive purpose of Mission Work is not the establishment of churches. This is exactly the mean­ing of the term “Mission Work” every­where else—where all church related activity is evaluated in terms of numbers and hence, motivated from the same point of view namely, “How can we grow? How can we become large?”

Now, I do not want to place a wrong construction on the use of the term “church extension” as it is used by this brother however, I cannot help but warn that it is certainly a most dangerous term—especially as it is used in our day.

As Protestant Reformed Churches, we must always find our basis for doing Mission Work in the sincere desire to proclaim the whole counsel of God in Christ Jesus, to the end that it may ac­complish its purpose. This, and only this, should be our motive for engaging in Mission Work. For only then, of course, “we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish” (II Cor. 2:15).

Of course, it stands to reason, that where there are those whom we contact and who can agree and confess with us the truth of God’s Word as we are com­mitted to it, of course, the result is going to be (in time) the establishment of a new church. But, this must not be con­strued as being the purpose for engag­ing in Mission Work. On the contrary, the establishment of a new church is the fruit of Mission Work, and not the pur­pose. If we do not maintain this em­phasis and distinction between the pur­pose and the fruit of Mission Work, then we can certainly expect to find ourselves in the same camp of the Fundamentalist and the Modernist—in the ring of com­petition for “new churches.” Then, too, this basis for doing Mission Work must be clearly understood if what I am about to say is going to have any meaning.

In the second place, I would call your attention to the fact that in the early years of its existence, the Prot. Reform­ed Churches did little Mission Work, that is, in the sense that it was or­ganized and carried on a Mission Pro­gram such as came later on, and is now in operation under the Mission Commit­tee—with missionaries in the field.

This is easily understood from the fact that the Common Grace controversy at­tracted the attention of many people who were of Reformed persuasion. The re­sult was, according to the history, that many requests were received and invita­tions to come and lecture and to discuss the Common Grace issue, so that there was no necessity for determining new areas in which to preach the truth. They were already “mapped out” (so to speak) for those designated for this pur­pose. In other words, the “Macedonian call” was being heard. Furthermore, ac­cording to the records, it would have been very difficult—yea, almost impos­sible to carry on much of a missionary endeavor because of the lack and short­age of ministers and hence, what Mission Work was done was limited to fulfilling these requests.

The time, however, when the work was concentrated on lecturing and organiza­tion has long since disappeared. Never­theless, all efforts have continued to be directed to that element that, at one time, manifested interest to at least some degree, though at present and for some time, there has been not only ap­parent but gross disinterest. I am speak­ing, of course, of the Christian Reformed Churches, in particular. These remarks, however, are not to be understood as though I am advocating complete and total disregard for the Christian Re­formed Churches. This is not so. My emphasis is simply on the fact that, as a field of concentration, the Christian Re­formed circles are eliminated. Of course, if there is a desire to embrace the truth as set forth by our churches, we can do no other than respond to the inquiring group—whether that group be Christian Reformed or any other group. This is certainly our calling.

Now, there have been some who have recognized this fact and have even gone so far as to suggest other fields. How­ever, the suggestions have always, with the exception of perhaps one or two, been limited in some way or another. For instance, there are some who say: “We should look for the fields where there is interest—doctrinally and prac­tically, for the sound Reformed faith . . . A Reformed sense must be at least pres­ent.” This, to my mind, would involve an endless search for there are no churches, to the best of my knowledge (outside of the Protestant Reformed Churches), who reveal a doctrinal and practical interest in the sound Reformed faith. If some such fields should be made known to us, they will be made known unto us as a result of having- gone forth and simply proclaiming the truth of God’s Word—and NOT as a re­sult of diligent looking and searching.

Then, again, there are those who say: “That we look away from the field we’re laboring in and turn attention to the field of churches who are apostasizing from the truth.’’ This, we will readily admit, should not be too difficult because, think­ing as we do, namely, that we are the purest manifestation of the True Church, we must conclude that all other churches fall to some degree below our level and hence, in that degree, apostasize. How­ever, even this suggestion would some­what limit the Mission Work—for there is sure to be disagreement as to the in­terpretation or understanding of an apostasizing church.

On the other hand, there are some who suggest that: “We must propagate these principles beyond the sphere of our own churches. We must seek to share this glorious truth of God’s Sove­reign Grace with others and warn against those that would deny this truth . . . First of all it is our calling to do this over against the churches that have so cruelly cast us out.” With this, I can heartily agree but sincerely be­lieve, as was stated before, that the time has arrived when we, as Protestant Reformed Churches, have fulfilled our first calling in the matter of Mission Work to the Christian Reformed Churches.

Now, in the third place, in answer to the question: “What future is there in our Protestant Reformed Missionary Work?”—I can subscribe to the sugges­tion that “We go anywhere with the full and pure preaching.” However, this sug­gestion, as far as I can determine, has not as yet been followed. For the Mis­sion Work of our churches has always been limited by some restrictions— form­al or otherwise—intentional or uninten­tional. In the case of the Christian Re­formed Churches, it was our bounden duty to labor among them and bear ef­fective testimony because of the great sin which they had committed.

In the case of other fields of labor, it was because of the semblance of Re­formed persuasion—Reformed thinking that attracted missionary labours. In other instances, it was the question of National background. Missionary labours were exercised among groups not only because of the Reformed background, but also because of the strong Holland element. In other words, the language, in some instances, made it comparatively easy to engage in Mission Work.

Of course, I feel that all of these con­siderations should be weighed in the early period of organization and Mission Work. However, they should always be weighed as Secondary considerations—always sub-servient to the prime motive and hence, little time should be spent on such basis for doing Mission Work.

The command of our Lord was to go into all the world. When the disciples first began their missionary labours, they were instructed to concentrate on a particular people namely, the Jew. Later, it was evident from the fulfillment of prophecy that the Gentiles were to be included, and thus extending the scope of missionary labour beyond the borders of Palestine.

We begin at Jerusalem, that is, in the immediate and adjacent areas; this is where we start—without discrimination. The future in our Protestant Reformed Missionary Work is the brightest for which we can ever hope. I say this on the basis of the fact that we can look Eastward, Westward, Southward, North­ward and we can see nothing but clear fields of labour. I say the future is the brightest if we are motivated and called to do Mission Work simply on the basis of the desire to faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God in Christ Jesus— which is a savour of death unto death and life unto life.

Our calling is NOT to grow in size and in number, that is numerically. Our calling is NOT to establish churches nor is it on the other hand, to have a name and place in this so-called “religious” world of our day. Our calling is simply to guard, and to guard jealously this Truth entrusted unto us by our Sover­eign God. But at the same time, our calling is to proclaim this Truth to all the world. This, to my mind, is not only the way in which we fulfill our calling but also the way in which we maintain and develop the Truth of God’s Word, as well. For the development of the Truth is not the result of time spent in the study, or of the preaching of this Truth in restricted and limited circles. On the contrary, the Truth is developed as a sphere of those who have embraced it and who have been matured on it. In other words, the Truth of God’s Word is developed as a result of controversy —it is the fruit of controversy, and con­troversy results when the Truth is pro­claimed without distinction—to all the world.

Our calling in respect to mission work is simply to proclaim faithfully, the Word of God to His own praise and glory. If we have such a calling, then we will never bemoan the fact that we do not establish new churches. We will never be discouraged or despondent be­cause God does not show us the fruits of our labours, but we will always be con­tent in the knowledge that the Word of God never returns void, but always ac­complishes its two-fold purpose. On the other hand, if God is pleased to cause our labours to bear fruit before our eyes then, of course, we will still be content and rejoice in the knowledge that our God was pleased to use us as instru­ments in His hand to gather His Church through His Spirit and Word.

May this be our joy and comfort as we receive Grace to set our hands upon the work of Missions, and thus faithfully fulfill our great and high calling in Christ.

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