The Authority and Purpose of Foreign Missions

President Augustus H. Strong, D.D., LL. D. - here are three paragraphs that I have selected from his address at the Ecumenical Conference in New York (April 21-May 1,1900). I just had to share some of this. It encourages me.

"Pascal, the French philosopher and theologian, said once that "Jesus Christ is the center of everything, and the object of everything, and he that does not know him knows nothing of nature, and nothing of himself." In the spirit of Pascal's aphorism I make but one reply to the questions proposed to me to-day. What is the authority for foreign missions? I answer: Christ. What is the purpose of foreign missions. I answer: Christ. He is the source of all authority, and the object for which all authority is exercised. . . .

". . . There is a larger conception still of the authority for foreign missions. It is the authority of Christ as the inmost life of the church and of the universe. We learn that this love of Christ which constrains us is not simply our love to Christ, or his love to us, but rather his love in us--his love overflowing into our souls and manifesting itself in us who are joined to him and have become partakers of his life. When I hear the word "Go," I hear no arbitrary command. It is the echo of the word "Go" which the Father spoke to him, and he sends us only as he was sent by the Father. He imparts to us his own longing to redeem; he reveals to us the heart of God; he communicates to us the very life and movement of the Trinity; he takes our little boats in tow on the broad current that sets in the direction of that one far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves. . . ."

" . . . The authority for foreign missions is Christ. What is the purpose of foreign missions? Still I answer: Christ. For Christ is Christianity, and Christianity is Christ. We say that the purpose of foreign missions is to proclaim the truth, but Christ says: "I am the Truth." We say the purpose of foreign missions is to diffuse the spirit of love, but Paul says: "The Lord is the Spirit." We say that the purpose of foreign missions is to give new life to a dead humanity, but Christ says: "I am the Life." Truth and Love and Life are personal. Christianity is not merely the spirit of Christ--it is Christ himself. The Christian church is not only called the "body of Christ," the body of which is the soul, but it is said that "the body is Christ," and that the church is "the fulness of him that filleth all in all." The church is the expanded Christ, and the purpose of foreign missions is the purpose of the universe, to make all men the temples for his personal indwelling, that he may be the first-born among many brethren, and may fill the world with himself."

- The Standard, A Baptist Newspaper (Chicago, May 5, 1900)

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