The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission
It’s always a refreshing experience to read a book that takes thoughts you’ve had brewing in your own mind and elucidates them with clear and compelling words. You find yourself saying, “Yes! That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking, but I couldn’t have said it so well!”
Last week I finished such a book. It thrilled me with its loads of illuminating insight. Written by Australian John Dickson, the senior minister of St. Andrews Roseville on Sydney’s North Shore, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission eloquently sets forth a vision for how every Christian can be involved in activities that explicitly promote Christ to the world and draw others to him … and only a few of those activities involve speaking.
Make no mistake, John Dickson believes passionately in the importance of speaking the gospel. Dickson is not contending for the oft-quoted aphorism, “Preach the gospel at all times—if necessary, use words.” To fully and faithfully preach the gospel, Dickson believes we must use words. But there are a whole range of activities through which Christians can promote Christ, and they involve the whole of our lives, not just our lips.
Taking his cue from Psalm 96, Dickson says the Bible’s most basic doctrine is that there is only one God to whom all people belong and owe their allegiance: “He is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4). God’s people are called to promote this reality everywhere, in all that we do. In so doing, we are calling people to embrace the fundamental reality of human existence: “Promoting the gospel to the world is more than a rescue mission (though it is certainly that as well); it is a reality mission. It is our plea to all to acknowledge that they belong to one Lord.”
We follow the Friend of Sinners. Dickson shows us how to unselfconsciously promote Him to others with confidence, creativity, and commitment. And it all starts with prayer.
Sharing his own story of coming to faith in Christ, Dickson tells about Glenda, a woman who earnestly, regularly, and specifically prayed for Dickson and his classmates at school. Her prayers led her to open her home to these teenagers for a weekly time of state-mandated religious instruction. It was through the faithful care and outreach of Glenda that Dickson and at least five of his friends came to saving faith in Jesus Christ. “Prayer is the hidden part of our mission … It is also the most basic part of our mission. Observing this reminds us that ultimately the mission is not ours but God’s.”
With lucid application of the Scriptures, and story after story of different ways in which Christ’s people have promoted the Friend of Sinners, Dickson encourages us that God is committed to using us in His mission. By sharing our finances, doing good deeds, gathering for worship on Sundays, giving people apt replies to their questions and comments, and living beautiful lives, we can “in every way … make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10).
Through it all, Dickson is careful to define and expound the gospel message itself, in all its varied forms and expressions. He stirringly reminds us that the gospel message and the Gospel books cannot be separated: “Just as there can be no telling of the gospel that excludes the doctrines of salvation, there can be no telling of the gospel that overlooks the narrative of the Savior’s life.”
This book is drenched in the attractive beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ and driven by a passion to make Him known to the whole world. I pray the same would be true of New Covenant Bible Church. May we be drenched in Christ’s beauty and driven by a passion to make Him known to everyone in all the world.
That’s why I’m excited about a three-month course Pastor Dave DeHaan will be teaching, beginning April 1. “The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission” class will meet on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. in Room 300. Pastor DeHaan will use the content of the book as a launching pad for teaching and discussion.
I’m also full of hope about how God will use the Exploring Christianity course starting Thursday, April 12. We all have a role to play in promoting Jesus, the Friend of Sinners. And it starts with and is sustained all along the way by prayer. Let us plead with God to shape and mold our lives into the image of our Savior, so that we carry His aroma and adorn His gospel in all that we say and do. Let us pray especially for a breakthrough in gospel outreach as we launch Exploring Christianity.
All for Jesus,