William Carey was the father of modern missions.
Most AIM staff have stayed in his parsonage in Calcutta, India.
We have preached in his church building next door as well.
Carey, a British missionary, marked a milestone in the history of Christian missions.
He established the Serampore Mission near Calcutta on January 10, 1800—the first modern Protestant mission in the non-English-speaking world.
He labored from this base for 41 years to spread the gospel throughout Southeast Asia.
As a pastor in Britain at the end of the 1700s, Carey stepped into a situation like ours.
He became a missionary when there was conventional indifference toward missions in the West.
There were no missionary societies or missionary interest in the Western church during his time.
At a pastors’ meeting, when Carey challenged his fellow pastors to launch missions to the world, his older friend Dr. Ryland shouted, "Young man, sit down!
You are an enthusiast.
When God pleases to convert the heathen, He’ll do it without consulting you or me."
Carey’s achievements were enormous.
His accomplishments were almost impossible to summarize succinctly.
This English pastor singlehandedly changed a negative attitude toward reaching the lost and became “the father of modern missions.”
Carey’s epoch message, “Expect Great Things from God, Attempt Great Things for God,” preached May 30, 1792, launched the Baptist Missionary Society and modern missions.
That is the title for my message tonight.
May God grant that this message have an impact on the cause of missions.
I. LOSS OF EXPECTATION
There is much discussion among mission leaders about the state of missions in the West.
Evangelicalism has lost much of its momentum in reaching the world for Christ.
Christianity has declined in the Western world: in the 20th century, 80% of North America and Europe were Christian.
Now it is 40%.
Dr. Albert Mohler said, “The total missionary force is now a fraction of that during the 1950s, and many of those that remain on the fields have been assigned duties far removed from the conversionist witness.”
This statement has two implications: (1) we ought to highly value missionaries currently on the field and encourage any young person willing to commit to missions, and (2) if the West is no longer committed to sending missionaries, then our primary strategy should focus on indigenous missions.
Over recent decades evangelicals have altered their attitude toward missions.
Believers now suffer from lack of belief that they can reach the world for Christ.
There is a loss of expectation of what God can do.
This enormous change goes to loss of confidence in the Bible—the loss of truth.
Vacuum of truth means a deficit of conviction toward dispersing the gospel to the world.
Loss of truth comes from diminished confidence in certainty toward the Word of God.
Christians today do not expect great things from God in general and missions in particular.
Do we await great things from God? Everything great in life, every significant accomplishment and every worthwhile endeavor, is the result of someone with an undeniable, unstoppable passion.
If we are to reach the world, we must bear vital passion for the true objectives of the Word of God.
This is not easy to do in our culture.
We live in an age that dulls passion.
This culture blunts expectation by a plethora of options that fill up our time and seize our minds and our energy.
These things cast cold water on hearts fiery to reach the world.
Christians today focus more on limited, time-oriented factors in society than on the urgency of eternal heaven and hell.
Life is too short and eternity too long to misplace our priorities.
Adopting a Culture of Doubt
Christians generally are not passionately occupied with the cause of Christ.
They have allowed themselves to submit to the varied values of our culture.
We are in a place of aping cultural concerns.
Today pluralistic ideologies bombard all walks of life.
There is a dramatic increase of new belief systems.
The average Canadian Christian believes that it really doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are “sincere.”
The impact of this thinking isolates the gospel message into one of many options.
Ideologue pluralism has captured center stage of our values in Canada.
The Christian faith has become distinctly marginalized.
Culture has swallowed convictions.
Believers buy into this culture of doubt without hesitation today.
The reason for this is the dramatic rise of new belief systems.
By embracing lack of confidence in the message, faith becomes enfeebled.
Skepticism takes precedence over confident faith.
With diminishing influence of Christianity on society, many evangelicals have lost trust in their message.
They still believe in the gospel but they are not quite as sure about it.
The gospel is not the only option for them.
They have lost burning conviction that the gospel is mutually exclusive and that it must be dispersed to the world.
Skepticism about the indubitable truth of Christianity undermines both faith and mission.
All of this is an echo of old skepticism or unbelief of the early 20th century.
Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of theological liberalism, bought into German rationalism.
His teaching penetrated many churches and eviscerated biblical truth.
By the middle of the 20th century, handfuls of liberal congregants huddled in vast caverns of empty, large church buildings.
Historical evangelical institutions—such as Oxford, Dartmouth, Columbia, Rutgers, Brown, Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, and Princeton—now stand as citadels of liberalism.
Yale was founded to fight liberalism!
Harvard was established to train evangelical preachers!
Today we are in another down cycle of evangelicalism.
No wonder the mission enterprise is not important to today’s evangelical.
During one of his polar expeditions, Rear Admiral Robert Peary headed north with his dog team.
At the end of the day when he stopped to take a bearing on his latitude, he was surprised to discover that he was farther south than when he began.
He resolved the question when he discovered that he had been traveling on a gigantic ice flow.
Ocean currents pulled it south faster than the dog teams could go north.
Today Christians are on a gigantic flow of culture away from biblical Christianity, and most do not realize it.
We are experiencing a revisionism of Christianity before our very eyes.
Infiltration of skepticism in the church is happening without notice by most evangelicals.
Unfortunately, precious few Christians seem willing to take the threat seriously.
Many church leaders are becoming grossly apathetic about truth and sound doctrine.
This has had great effect on the cause of missions.
Declining Biblical Conviction
Diminishing conviction to opinion or personal perspective carries unintended consequence toward missions.
Loss of biblical truth leads to reduced conviction about eternal outcomes.
In these days a majority of Americans claim to believe in the God of the Bible, yet they are comfortably uncertain about what is true.
A suffocating apathy about the whole concept of truth dominates much of the evangelical movement.
Christians today live in a foreign culture; this world is not our home.
It is a culture of prevailing doubt about truth and certainty.
Believers are blown about with every wind of doctrine.
Christians adopt the skepticism rampant in culture.
They are becoming certain about their doubts!
To know that one does not know has become universally accepted among believers.
To them doubt is a universal fact; however, one has to know (not doubt) that he or she does not know in order to doubt.
It becomes a circular argument.
Unfortunately many evangelicals have bought into unending doubt at the core of their way of believing.
They will not assert some things as true and other things as false.
If there is no absolute truth, then there is no basis for Christian convictions.
If we consider every point of truth as an open question, we will be carried about by every wind of doctrine:
Ephesians 4:14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”