These IFS invite us to an inquiry as to the causes of the terrible failure.
How comes it that the Church of Christ has been so utterly unfaithful? Does not our Protestant Christendom profess, and that honestly, to acknowledge Christ as its Lord, and God’s holy word as the law of its life?
Is it not our boast that we are in the true succession of the Pentecostal Church, the heir of all its promises and powers? Are we not the children of the Reformation, in possession of the great truths that every living man has a right to God’s word as taught him by God’s Spirit, and a free access, through Christ, to God’s pardoning grace?
And is it not the very sum and centre of our profession, that we acknowledge Jesus as Master and Lord, and have given ourselves to do what He says? And how comes it that, in the very thing on which Christ’s glory most depends, on which His heart of love is most set,
the Church should have failed to realise or fulfil its destiny?
It would be easy to mention many causes that co-operate in producing this unfaithfulness. But they may all be summed up in the one answer:
The low spiritual state of the Church as a whole.
The control of the Holy Spirit in power and fulness over the life of believers is essential to the health and strength of the Church. Scripture teaches us how easy it is for a Church and its members to have a sound creed, a faithful observance of religious services and duties, a zeal for the extension of the Church and for works of philanthropy which are within the range of human nature, while that which is definitely spiritual, supernatural, and Divine is to a large extent lacking.
The spirit of the world, the wisdom and the will of man in the teaching of the word and the guidance of the Church, make it very much like any human institution, with little of the power of the heavenly world and the endless life to be seen in it. In such a Church missions may have a place, though not the place nor the power which is needed for fulfilling the command of Christ.
The passion of love to Christ and to souls, the enthusiasm of sacrifice for men, and of faith in the omnipotent Power that can quicken the dead, is wanting.
Among the chief symptoms of this sickly state are worldliness and lack of prayer. If there is one thing that Christ and Scripture insist on, it is that His kingdom is not of this world, that the spirit of the world cannot understand the things of God, that separation from the world in fellowship and conduct, and surrender to the Spirit which is from heaven, is essential to the faithful following of the Lord Jesus.
The one universally admitted fact—that the majority of Christians care and give nothing for missions, that a large number give but little and not from the highest motives, is simply a proof of the worldliness in which most Christians live, and which the Church either does not seek, or is not able, to cast out.
It needed Christ to come from heaven to save men out of the world: it needs nothing less than the Spirit of heaven in Christ’s disciples to free them from the spirit of the world, to make them willing to sacrifice all to win the world for Christ. It needs the same Spirit, through which Christ gave His life for the world, to revive His Church to win the world for God.
Lack of prayer is another symptom of this sickly state. A worldly spirit in the Christian hinders his praying much. He looks at things in the light of the world. He is not at home in the heavenly places.
He does not realise the dark power of sin in those around him, or the urgent need of a direct Divine interposition. He has little faith in the efficacy of prayer, in the need of much and unceasing prayer, in the power there is in him to pray in Christ’s name and prevail. True beneficence, the giving from devotion to Christ and for Him, and true prayer, the asking and counting upon Him to bless the gift and bestow His Spirit in His work, are the proof that the worldly spirit is being overcome, and that the soul is being restored to spiritual health.
IF the Church is to be what she ought to be, and to do what her Lord asks her to do for the evangelisation of the world, this sickness and failure must be acknowledged, and deliverance sought.
Murray, Andrew. The Key to the Missionary Problem. London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1902.