“To every creature”

Here are two extensive quotes from a book titled Spiritual Secret of Hudson Taylor by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor to encourage and edify the Saints of Christ.

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Mr. Taylor came to America once again after leading the first North American group to China in 1888. His chief object in coming over being the settlement of the work upon a permanent basis, he gave much time to meetings with the new council. The number of the latter was increased, and Mr. Frost was invited to assume the sole responsibility as treasurer and secretary, making his home in Toronto. It was with concern that Mr. Frost saw the days and weeks slip by of Mr. Taylor’s visit, which was too short. Much helpful fellowship they had together as they travelled from place to place, Mr. Taylor addressing over forty meetings in eighteen different centres during the five weeks he was in America. Four days at Northfield completed the program and brought the mission again before many friends of the previous summer. Mr. Moody’s interest was so much deepened that he offered the beautiful and spacious “Northfield Hotel” during the winter, as a training home for the candidates of the mission, undertaking himself to give a course of one month’s Bible lessons.

Cheered and strengthened by many tokens for good, Mr. Taylor left America in August to carry out a full program of meetings, which included a visit to Sweden before the close of the year. So pressing and constant were his engagements that he found it difficult to obtain the time needed for remembering all his fellow workers daily before God. Well he knew that to relax prayer was to open the way for the Enemy to come in like a flood, and as he travelled from place to place, he literally had to buy up every opportunity for this unseen but important work.

The burden on Mr. Taylor’s heart all through this Swedish visit, if burden it could be called, was the deeper apprehension that had come to him of the meaning of the divine command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). For more than forty years that command had controlled his life, and he had responded to it with unquestioning obedience. What had he not done and suffered; how had he not helped and inspired others in seeking to carry it out! Surely if there were a man anywhere who might feel that he had discharged his responsibility in this matter, it was Hudson Taylor.

And yet, on a quiet Sunday by the sea, how new the conception that had dawned upon him of the Master’s meaning in those long-familiar words! It was Mrs. Taylor’s birthday (October 6, 1889), and they were spending it at her father’s home at Hastings. Did it recall that other memorable Sunday, on the sands at Brighton, when he had met the crisis of his life and had yielded himself to God for the evangelization of inland China?

What he saw now, in the light of the Holy Spirit’s teaching, was a meaning so great, so comprehensive, in those few simple words – among the last that fell from the ascending Saviour’s lips – that it seemed as if he heard them for the first time. He wrote a few months later:

I confess with shame that until that moment the question, What did our Lord really mean by His command, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”? had never been raised by me. I had laboured for many years, as have many others, to carry the Gospel further afield, had laid plans for reaching every unreached province and many smaller districts in China, without realizing the plain meaning of our Saviour’s words.

“To every creature”? And the total number of Protestant communicants in that great land was only forty thousand. Double the number, triple it, to include adherents, and suppose each one to be a messenger to eight of his fellow countrymen – even so, only one million would be reached. “To every creature”: the words burned into his very soul. But how far was the church, how far had he been himself from taking them literally, as intended to be acted upon! He saw it now, however, and with Hudson Taylor there was but one course – to obey. He wrote that very day:

How are we going to treat the Lord Jesus Christ with reference to this command? Shall we definitely drop the title Lord as applied to Him, and take the ground that we are quite willing to recognize Him as our Saviour, so far as the penalty of sin is concerned, but are not prepared to own ourselves “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20), or Him as having any claim to our unquestioning obedience? Shall we say that we are our own masters, willing to yield something as His due, who bought us with His blood, provided He does not ask too much? Our lives, our loved ones, our possessions are our own, not His; we will give Him what we think fit and obey any of His requirements that do not demand too great a sacrifice? To be taken to heaven by Jesus Christ we are more than willing, but we will not have this Man to reign over us?

The heart of every Christian will undoubtedly reject the proposition, so formulated, but have not countless lives in each generation been lived as though it were proper ground to take? How few of the Lord’s people have practically recognized the truth that Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all! If we can judge God’s Word instead of being judged by that Word, if we can give to God as much or as little as we like, then we are lords and He is the indebted one, to be grateful for our dole and obliged by our compliance with His wishes. If, on the other hand, He is Lord, let us treat Him as such. “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

So, all unexpectedly, he came to the widest outlook of his life, the purpose that was to dominate the closing decade of its active service. With hair fast turning grey and fifty-seven years of experience behind him, he met the new sense of responsibility with the old faith and confidence. Oh, the fresh appeal of the old incentives; the uprising of soul before the old ideals; the faithfulness to early vision, to the first calling; the undimmed power of the one, the ever-supreme Love! It is all there – all the purpose of youth without abatement, without compromise, despite the stern realities of twenty-four years of the grinding mill as leader of the Inland Mission. It was fine, fine flour now, but none of it was lost. “None other name” (Acts 4:12), none other sufficiency! Christ and Him crucified, the one, the only remedy for the sin and need of the world; God, changeless, inexhaustible, behind His commands and promises; divine, constraining love, the motive-power – it is all there, first as last and last as first. (End quote of pages 373-377)

Prayers Yet to Be Answered

Prayers yet to be answered – how rich the inheritance Hudson Taylor left to the land he loved, to the church of God in China for which his life was given! In one sense, the prayers of that lifetime had indeed been answered.

But in another sense, do not those prayers lie beyond us yet, marking out wide possessions upon which the foot of faith has trodden, possessions still to be possessed?

Nothing could have been more definite than Mr. Taylor’s own conviction as to the thoughts that had come to him in 1889. Once he had seen it, he could never doubt again the Master’s will and purpose that “every creature” in China should hear the glad tidings of salvation. Through all the years that followed, though hindered again and again, and postponed for a time by the Boxer [Rebellion] crisis, his original purpose never wavered. He said at the C.I.M. conference in 1890:

This work will not be done without crucifixion, without consecration that is prepared at any cost to carry out the Master’s command. But, given that, I believe in my inmost soul that it will be done. If ever in my life I was conscious of being led of God, it was in the writing and publishing of those papers, the first of which came out in November of last year.

“The sun has never risen upon China without finding me in prayer,” Mr. Taylor could say of long years of his labours in that land, and perhaps no part of those labours had more to do with the results we see today. But he not only prayed. The foregoing pages have revealed a little of what lay behind those prayers. “I do want to give up myself and you too, darling, for the life of the Chinese and of our fellow workers,” he wrote to Mrs. Taylor in one of their many separations, and, “Notice, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, the connection of the Cross with power. Do not many lives lack power because they do not love the Cross? May your life be full of the power of God, and mine.”

The need that moved him, the command that revealed the yearning of the heart of Christ who we, too, call Master and Lord – remain the same years after Hudson Taylor’s death. Great changes have come and are coming to China. New methods are need in missionary work to meet the new conditions, and they are being prayerfully developed and applied. But the great underlying facts remain the same. Idolatry has not lost its hold. Writing from the far northwest (June 1918), a member of the mission tells of guilds in one city numbering thousands of men and women sworn to regular worship at stated times. In one of these some fifteen hundred women are pledged to go to a certain temple on the second and sixth of every month, “where they kneel upright on the verandas and in the courtyard, each holding a stick of incense between the two hands raised to the level of the forehead. This position has to be maintained and prayers recited until the stick of incense has burned away – quite a long process.” And offerings of money must be made on every one of the stated worship days, which go to building and beautifying of temples and making fresh idols. And this is only one city out of hundreds that have as yet no resident missionary. Do the people need light in their darkness? Do they not care about the unknown future and what becomes of the soul? Is it for them too that the precious blood was shed which alone can cleanse from sin and bring us nigh to God? And what will be said of the responsibility that rests upon us if, knowing these things, we are not doing our utmost – whether by prayer or gifts or personal service – to bring to them, too, the knowledge which is life eternal?

Much is being done, but much more is needed if the present opportunity – perhaps the most glorious that has ever come to Christian men and women – is to be dealt with faithfully. “When China is moved,” Napoleon used to say, “it will change the face of the globe.” China is moved, is moving: will it not be home to the heart of God?

If the one whose steps we have followed through a life of toil and sacrifice, yet of radiant joy in fellowship with Christ, could speak to us today from the “exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17), would he not say again as he said in the midst of the fight:

There is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world – as He gave His flesh for the feeding of the lifeless and of living souls whose life can only be nourished by the same life-giving Bread. An easygoing, non-self-denying life will never be one of power.

Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone” (John 12:24). We know how the Lord Jesus became fruitful – not by bearing His Cross merely, but by dying on it. Do we know much fellowship with Him in this? There are not two Christs – an easygoing one for easygoing Christians, and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in Him, and thus to bear much fruit?

Would that God would make hell so real to us that we cannot rest; heaven so real that we must have men there; Christ so real that our supreme motive and aim shall be to make the Man of Sorrows the Man of Joy by the conversion to Him of many concerning whom He prayed, “Father, I [long] that [those]… whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24). (End quote of pages 393-396)

Rest in Christ

I am busy reading a book titled Spiritual Secret of Hudson Taylor by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor and would like to share an extensive quote (pages 259-265) from the text to encourage and edify the Saints of Christ.

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Six weeks after these experiences, when Mr. Taylor was rejoicing in the abiding fullness of this new life, a letter reached him from England that specifically touched his heart. It was from his sister, Mrs. Broomhall, the intimate friend and correspondent of his early years, who, now with a growing family round her, was sore pressed, as he had been himself, by outward responsibilities and inward conflict rather than at rest in spiritual things. With a great longing to help one so dear to him, Mr. Taylor took up his pen to reply. As he wrote, the whole story of his own extremity and deliverance was poured out in a letter that is so precious:

October 17, 1869: So many thanks for your long, dear letter …. I do not think you have written me such a letter since we have been in China. I know it is with you as with me – you cannot, not you will not. Mind and body will not bear more than a certain amount of work. As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been, perhaps, the happiest of my life; and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful – and yet, all is new! In a word, “Whereas [once] I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).

Perhaps I will make myself more clear if I go back a little. Well, dearie, my mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally, and for our mission, of more holiness, life, power in our souls. But personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God. I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for retirement and meditation – but all was without effect. Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me. I knew that if I could only abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not. I began the day with prayer, determined not to take my eye from Him for a moment, but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, often caused me to forget Him. Then one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts, and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control. Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power. To will was indeed present with me, but how to perform I found not.

Then came the question, “is there no rescue? Must it be thus to the end – constant conflict and, instead of victory, too often defeat?” How, too, could I preach with sincerity that to those who receive Jesus, “to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12) (i.e. godlike), when it was not so in my own experience? Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting very low. I hated myself; I hated my sin; and yet I gained no strength against it. I felt I was a child of God; His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all, “Abba, Father,” but to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless. I thought that holiness, practical holiness, was to be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of grace. I felt that there was nothing I so much desired in this world, nothing I so much needed. But so far from in any measure attaining it, the more I pursued and strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp, till hope itself almost died out, and I began to think that, perhaps to make heaven the sweeter, God would not give it down here. I do not think I was striving to attain it in my own strength. I knew I was powerless. I told the Lord so and asked Him to give me help and strength, and sometimes I almost believed He would keep and uphold me. But on looking back in the evening, alas! there was but sin and failure to confess and mourn before God ….

All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was how to get it out. He was rich, truly, but I was poor; He strong, but I weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question. As gradually the light was dawning on me, I saw that faith was the only prerequisite, was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it my own. But I had not this faith. I strove for it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our precious Saviour – my helplessness and guilt seemed to increase. Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which could not or would not take God at His Word, but rather made Him a liar! Unbelief was, I felt, the damning sin of the world – yet I indulged in it. I prayed for faith, but it came not. What was I to do?

When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory):

“But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”

As I read I saw it all! “If we believe not…he abideth faithful” (2 Tim. 2:13, italics added). I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, “I will never leave [you]” (Heb. 13:5). “Ah, there is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I will strive no more. For has He not promised to abide with me – never to leave me, never to fail me?” And, dearie, He never will!

Oh, my dear sister, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Saviour, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves. Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and the left poor? Or your head be well fed while your body starves? Again, think of its bearing on prayer. Could a bank clerk say to a customer, “It was only your hand wrote that check, not you,” or, “I cannot pay this sum to your hand, but only to yourself”? No more can your prayers, or mine, be discredited if offered in the name of Jesus (i.e. not in our own name, or for the sake of Jesus merely, but on the ground that we are His, His members) so long as we keep within the extent of Christ’s credit – a tolerably wide limit! If we ask anything unscriptural or not in accordance with the will of God, Christ Himself could not do that; but, “If we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and…we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases. So, if God place me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. All this springs from the believer’s oneness with Christ * [See Note below]. And since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been! I wish I could tell you, instead of writing about it.

I am no better than before (may I not say, in a sense, I do not wish to be, nor am I striving to be); but I am dead and buried with Christ – aye, and risen too and ascended; and now Christ lives in me, and “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). I now believe I am dead to sin. God reckons me so, and tells me to reckon myself so. He knows best. All my past experience may have shown that it was not so, but I dare not say it is not now, when He says it is. I feel and know that old things have passed away. I am as capable as sinning as ever, but Christ is realized as present as never before. He cannot sin, ** and He can keep me from sinning. I cannot say(I am sorry to have to confess it) that since I have seen this light I have not sinned, but I do feel there was no need to have done so. And further – walking more in the light, my conscience has been more tender; sin has been instantly seen, confessed, pardoned; and peace and joy (with humility) instantly restored: with one exception, when for several hours peace and joy did not return – from want, as I had to learn, of full confession, and from some attempt to justify self.

Faith, I now see, is “the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1, italics added) and not mere shadow. It is not less than sight, but more. Sight only shows the outward forms of things; faith gives the substance. You can rest on substance, feed on substance. Christ dwelling in the heart by faith (i.e. His Word of promise credited) is power indeed, is life indeed. And Christ and sin will not dwell together; nor can we have His presence with love of the world, or carefulness about many things.

And now I must close. I have not said half I would, nor as I would had I more time. May God give you to lay hold on these blessed truths. Do not let us continue to say, in effect, “Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above)” (Rom. 10:6). In other words, do not let us consider Him as afar off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body. Nor should we look upon this experience, these truths, as for the few. They are the birth-right of every child of God, and no one can dispense with them without dishonour to our Lord. The only power for deliverance from sin or for true service is Christ.

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* Note: This oneness with Christ is while believers are upon the earth to bring glory to the Son – the Lord pointed this out while typing, John 17:21-23 ~ 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

** 1 John 3:5, 6, 9 ~ 5And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Guidelines to Openair Preaching

To all us Evangelists who are looking for good teaching aids, here is a Guideline to Openair Preaching by Kevin Williams (pdf) that was a blessing to me – hope you will be blessed and encouraged too. Kevin is from Manchester, England who has a blog at Puritan Fellowship.com.

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