The Bible Basis of Mission - Robert Hall GloverThe title of the blog post is a quote from by Robert Hall Glover in his 1946 book, The Bible Basis of Missions.

He was not content to rely on proof-texts to justify or encourage an involvement in mission. Rather, he saw the whole Bible as a missionary book.

I include a long quote here but have highlighted particular interesting statements. Having noted Michael Goheen’s new Bible and mission book this week it is good to look back and draw on what previous generations have said about the subject.

The language is obviously of its time (as is ours), but there’s plenty to chew over here.

It is not sufficient to be able to say that we are “interested in missions,” nor even that we are taking some part in the promotion of missions. A good deal of missionary interest and effort falls short of being satisfactory, because it rests upon an altogether inadequate conception of what the missionary enterprise really is. Mere pity for the people of mission lands, called forth by some heart-moving tale of dire need or some instance of cruel suffering, is not enough, commendable though this may be. Something deeper and broader is needed to constitute a solid foundation for worthy and enduring missionary effort.

The missionary enterprise is no human conception or undertaking, no modern scheme or invention, no mere philanthropy even of the finest kind. It did not originate in the brain or heart of any man, not even William Carey, or the apostle Paul. Its source was in the heart of God Himself. And Jesus Christ, God’s great Missionary to a lost world, was the supreme revelation of His heart and expression of His love.

The one great fact in which all true thoughts of God must find their root is the fact of John 3:16, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This verse is commonly regarded as the central text of the New Testament, the very heart of the Gospel. For this reason it is also the central missionary text. Along with it several other texts naturally associate themselves: [John 3:17; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 John 2:2; John 1:29].

The texts just quoted, and many others like them, make clear the fact that the redemption of the whole world was God’s great purpose from the beginning. [Acts 17:26]. Nay, more, He came Himself, in the person of His Son, “to seek and save that which was lost.” The Gospel was intended for, and is adapted to, every race and clime and condition of mankind. The enterprise known as world-wide missions, then, is simply the carrying into effect of the divine purpose and project from the foundation of the world. Its accomplishment is the one sublime event toward which the whole creation moves forward, and which will constitute the consummation and crown of all God’s dealings with the human race.

If all this be true, we should expect to find much about it in the Holy Scriptures, and this is precisely the case. Throughout the Bible God’s thought and plan for the world’s evangelization are everywhere in evidence. From cover to cover the Bible is a missionary book, so much so that, as someone has expressed it, one cannot cut out its missionary significance without completely destroying the book. For, let it be understood, Scriptural authority for world-wide missions rests not merely upon a group of proof texts, but upon the entire design and spirit of the Bible as it reveals God in His relation to men and nations, and as it traces the unfolding of His purposes down through the ages.

One writer aptly sets forth the essential missionary character of the Bible by describing it as the story of God’s search for man, in contrast with all other sacred books, which are the story of man’s search for God. Then follow these words: “This divine search of the Creator for His child begins with the first chapter of Genesis, and does not end until the closing words of Revelation. God Himself is thus seen as the first and greatest Missionary, and the whole Bible as the revelation of His successive outreaches into the soul of man.”

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