I love history and I love biography. The more I read these genres, the more I realize how much we can (and should) learn from those that have gone before us. We live in a day and age in which we “worship at the feet of modernity.”
When asked to describe what is “the heresy of modernity,” J.I. Packer described it this way:
“The belief that…
the newer is the truer,
only what is recent is decent,
every shift of ground is a step forward,
and every latest word must be hailed as the last word on its subject.”
Reading biographies of great Christian leaders of the past has been one of the single greatest sources of encouragement for me personally in my walk with Christ. One of the things you learn is that even the “great saints” were “mere men” just like the rest of us. One of my favorite biographies over the past 30+ years has been the biography of William Carey.
William Carey (1761 – 1834), English Baptist Minister and Missionary, is considered by most to be the father of modern missions. He left England for India back in the late 18th century to bring the gospel to the people of this land that worships over 330 million Hindu gods. Carey wrote out what he called his “11 Commandments of Missions.”
Ray Ortlund published this list a few days ago on his Gospel Coalition Blog. Even though it is over 200 years since Carey went to India to bring the Good News of the Gospel to these dear people, the “11 Commandments of Missions” are as relevant today as when he wrote them a few centuries ago.
1. Set an infinite value on immortal souls.
2. Gain all the information you can about “the snares and delusions in which these heathens are held.”
3. Abstain from all English manners which might increase prejudice against the gospel.
4. Watch for all opportunities for doing good, even when you are tired and hot.
5. Make Christ crucified the great subject of your preaching.
6. Earn the people’s confidence by your friendship.
7. Build up the souls that are gathered.
8. Turn the work over to “the native brethren” as soon as possible.
9. Work with all your might to translate the Bible into their languages. Build schools to this end.
10. Stay alert in prayer, wrestling with God until he “famish these idols and cause the heathen to experience the blessedness that is in Christ.”
11. Give yourself totally to this glorious cause. Surrender your time, gifts, strength, families, the very clothes you wear.
(Listed in Christian History Magazine, Issue 36, page 34.)
If you are interested in reading a great, short biography of William Carey, I highlyrecommend the account written by Vishal & Rush Mangalwadi, The Legacy of William Carey: A Model for the Transformation of a Culture, put out by Crossway Books. It’s less than 150 pages, but it will give you a great overview of Carey’s life.
I leave you this week with this famous quote from Charles Spurgeon, from his book All of Grace…
“Meet me in heaven! Do not go down to hell. There is no coming back again from that abode of misery. Why do you wish to enter the way of death when heaven’s gate is open before you? Do not refuse the free pardon, the full salvation which Jesus grants to all who trust him. Do not hesitate and delay. You have had enough of resolving, come to action. Believe in Jesus now, with full and immediate decision. Take with you words and come unto your Lord this day, even this day. Remember, O soul, it may be now or never with you. Let it be now; it would be horrible that it should be never. Farewell. Again I charge you, meet me in heaven.” – C. H. Spurgeon, from his book All of Grace (London, 1897), page 128.