Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Gospel, Missions, and Portland's Martyred Son

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
- Paul, The Epistle to the Romans

“When we take the gospel to the world, we proclaim “the grandest of all his works,” the single message God desires all nations to hear. Without the gospel as heart, goal, and message, there is no biblical missiology.”
- Dave Harvey, Missiology

“Evangelism has its roots in eternity.”
- R.B. Kuiper, God-Centred Evangelism

“In the Gospel of Luke and its sequel, the book of Acts, the theme of mission is of profound importance. So significant is this motif that Luke’s two-volume work ‘may be the clearest presentation of the church’s universal mission in all of the New Testament’”
- Kostenberger/O’Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
– Jim Elliot

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church"
–Tertullian, Apologeticus

He was born in Portland, Oregon and attended Benson Polytechnic High School, majoring in architectural drafting. He played football, helped with the school newspaper, and was known as an excellent orator. He went on to Wheaton College and eventually married Elisabeth Howard. Together they would have only one daughter, Valerie. He devoted his short life to missions. At 28 years old, and 52 years ago this week, he and 4 other missionaries died at the hands of Huaorani tribesman in an Ecuadorian riverbed. Jim Elliot was Portland’s martyred son.

What makes a man (or woman) give up ease, comfort, and ultimately life itself for the cause of the gospel? What must the Christian think about the spread of the gospel and the planting of churches? As we’ve been working our way through the Gospel of Luke I’ve been struck by the ever-broadening reach of the gospel and the themes of Gentile inclusion into the covenantal promise. The comprehensive work of the Son’s redemption will make the nations glad (Psalm 67). I suspect that Jim Elliot had an incomparable view of the Savior, and everything else paled in comparison. Recently Art Azurdia gave a message at Christ Our Redeemer and said, "... young people are not leaving [the church] today because the music isn't contemporary enough, because the youth group isn't cool enough, because the technology isn't sophisticated enough. They're leaving in unprecedented proportions because our portrait of Jesus Christ is not compelling enough - because we have failed to set him before people in all his glory and majesty." Here’s the rub - We have failed in our mission as a church if our portrait of the Savior is not compelling to the point that we’re willing to leave all to pursue Him. We have failed in our mission if our portrait of the Savior is less than glorious in our desire to make the gospel known to the nations. We have failed in our mission if the gospel we preach is powerless to forgive real sinners and change real lives. We have failed in our mission if the gospel of free grace leaves us unmoved in our affections and commitments to Christ’s church.

As I think through these things I’m convicted by Jim Elliot’s example of love for the Savior and his love for the lost. And as I think about the future of COR my prayer is that we become Christ-saturated to the point that our proclamation of the glorious Savior permeates everything we do.

Christ is our hope and the hope of the nations.

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