Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

From the Editor

Written by George Bok
In the Gospel of John, we find the great missionary text, "I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice." This text is full of hope and power. It means that Christ has people besides those who are already converted. "I have other sheep that are not of this fold." This is a reference to the doctrine of election. God chooses who will belong to His sheep and they are already His before Jesus calls them. "All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out." These sovereign "wills" of the Lord Jesus guarantee His invincible engagement in world missions. There will always be people who argue that the doctrine of election makes missions unnecessary. But they are wrong. It does not make missions unnecessary, it makes missions hopeful. A former missionary states: " At the beginning of my missionary career I said that if predestination were true I could not be a missionary. Now, after twenty-some years struggling with the hardness of the human heart, I say I could never be a missionary unless I believed in the doctrine of predestination."

It gives hope that Christ most certainly has "other sheep" among the nations. When Jesus says," I must bring them also," He does not mean that he will do it without missionaries. That is plain from the fact that salvation comes through faith (John 1:12; 3:16; 6:35), and faith comes through the word of the disciples (John 17:20). Jesus brings his sheep into his fold through the preaching of those whom He sends, just as the Father sends Him (John 20:21). So it is just as true today as in that day," My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." In the Gospel it is Christ who calls. In missions Christ gathers His sheep. That is why there is complete assurance that they will come.

This confidence in the sovereignty of God and the triumph of His cause is essential in the prayers of God's people and the mission of the church. It has proven to be a powerful force in the history of missions. The first missionary endeavour of the Protestants in England burst forth from the soil of Puritan hope. They were deeply stirred by a passion for the coming of God's kingdom to all the nations. Their hearts really believed the promises that Christ would triumph. "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). ÒAll the nations thou hast made shall come and bow down before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name" (Psalm 86:9). "To him shall be the obedience of the people" (Genesis 49:10).

This tremendous confidence that Christ will conquer hearts in every nation and be glorified by every people on earth gave birth to the first Protestant missionary endeavour in the English-speaking world. It happened between 1627 and 1640 when 15,000 people emigrated from England to America, most of them Puritans, carrying this great confidence in the worldwide reign of Christ.

One of those hope-filled Puritans was John Eliot. He crossed the Atlantic in 1631 at the age of 27. He became the pastor of a church in Roxbury, Massachusetts. But something happened that made him more than a pastor. There were 20 Indian tribes in the vicinity. John Eliot could not avoid the practical implications of his theology: if the infallible Scriptures promise that all nations will one day bow down to Christ, and if Christ is sovereign and able by His Spirit, through prayer, to subdue all opposition to His promised reign, then there is good hope that a person who goes as an ambassador of Christ to one of these nations will be the chosen instrument of God to open the eyes of the blind and to set up an outpost of the kingdom of Christ.

And so, when he was already over forty years old, Eliot set himself to study Algonquin, and eventually translated the entire Bible, as well as other valued books. By the time he was eighty-four years old, there were numerous Indian churches, some with their own Indian pastors. It is an amazing story of a man who once said, "Prayers and pains through faith in Christ Jesus will do anything!" (Taken from the book, Let the Nations be Glad" by John Piper)

Let us nurture that which gripped the Puritan mind and be busy with the work of missions, through prayer and by giving, in Guatemala and worldwide, to the glory of God. May the following reports encourage you in this.

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