Spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ
The labours of our Home Mission Worker featured once again in this year’s Assembly report from the Home & Foreign Missions Committee, which stated in its introduction:
“Our Home Mission worker, Mr Donald John Morrison, continues to work tirelessly as he seeks to spread the Gospel through literature distribution as well as street and door-to-door evangelism. His work in the past year has taken him from Lewis to London and from Edinburgh to Ulster. The Committee commend Mr Morrison to the prayers of the Lord’s people as well as to their ongoing practical support for his work which he does in the name of our denomination and for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.”
Below is the address which Mr Morrison gave to this year’s General Assembly. It is a powerful reminder of the Church’s great calling, the worth of every soul and how we should be praying earnestly for the unconverted all around us.
One gospel missionary once said: “The real value of an object is that which one who knows it’s worth will give for it. He who made the soul knew its worth, and gave His life for it.” This soul-burdened missionary was deeply conscious of only one thing when he said this: that the infinite worth and value of the human soul could not be equated or compared with anything here on earth. Jesus Himself asked: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” The answer to that question is given in one lone solemn word: nothing. No, not even if he gained all the priceless treasures of a thousand worlds. The gain of all the world will not make up for one man’s precious never-dying soul, if it is lost forever. Can any of us in the Assembly building this evening imagine a fate so unspeakably fearful? The loss of a soul forever in hell is a dreadful and unimaginable loss. There is no other loss like it.
In one of his sermons Bishop J C Ryle poses the question: “Who shall describe the misery of eternal punishment?” In answering he continues, “It is something utterly indescribable and inconceivable. The eternal pain of body; the eternal sting of an accusing conscience; the eternal society of none but the wicked, the devils and his angels; the eternal remembrance of opportunities neglected and Christ despised; the eternal prospect of a weary, hopeless future – all this is misery indeed. It is enough to make our ears tingle, and our blood run cold. and yet this picture is nothing, compared to the reality.” This graphic and vivid picture is, we believe, one that most missionaries in every age have never lost sight off in their respective mission fields, at home or abroad, as they have spread the Word and urged men to ‘repent and believe the gospel’. All these things that Bishop Ryle describes, were loudly ringing and sounding, like drumbeats, in their ears.
Cry of the lost
Yes, the cry of the lost, “without God, without Christ, without hope”, made their ears tingle, and their blood run cold. Eternal issues, heaven, hell, the salvation of souls and man’s destiny, were continuously before their gaze as they pointed everyone to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. They all had but one ambition. Like the apostle Paul their greatest burden and deepest yearning was, along with God’s glory, to win perishing souls for Christ. “He that winneth souls is wise.” Listen to Paul’s own personal heart-moving and stirring sacrificial testimony: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews…To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake.” (1 Cor. 9:19-22) This reveals to us the consuming passion of his life and ministry. Paul lived, and was willing to die, for the salvation of souls.
There was a constant burden resting upon him that sinners might be saved. He longed for their salvation and was willing to go to any trouble or inconvenience in order that they might be saved. Like John Knox, who later cried, “O God, give me Scotland or I die!” the burden of Paul’s prayers was, “O God, give me souls or I die!” It was the same with George Whitefield: “Give me souls or take away my soul!” The eminent John Owen, the Puritan preacher, said: “Ministers and missionaries are seldom honoured with success unless they are continually aiming at the conversion of sinners.” A Scottish missionary had this same spirit and vision before him as well, when he spoke at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in May 1850. It was ‘missions night’, and the speaker was Dr Alexander Duff, an indefatigable missionary who had spent many years in India. As he appealed to the Assembly to send labourers to India with the gospel he apparently collapsed on the platform, after suffering a heart attack. In a back room, he was attended to by a doctor. “Where am I? Where am I?” he asked. The doctor responded: “Lie still, you’ve just had a heart attack.” “But”, said the missionary “I haven’t finished my appeal. Take me back. Take me back. I must finish my gospel appeal. It is urgent.”
Mission and vision
Helped on one side by the doctor he had ignored, and on the other by the Moderator of the Assembly, he mounted the platform and continued his appeal by urging the Assembly to send labourers with the gospel to India’s unreached and perishing millions. He paused as he waited for an answer, but none came. He resumed his appeal: “When Queen Victoria calls for volunteers for India, hundreds of young men respond, but when King Jesus calls, no one goes.” In response to the deafening silence in the Assembly Hall, he made a major decision: “Very well then, aged though I am, I’ll go back to India. I can lie down on the banks of the Ganges and I can die and thereby I can let the people of India know that there was at least one man in Scotland who loved them enough to give his life for them.” What a vision he had. “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Surely, friends, this is the same kind of heart, vision and missionary spirit we need and indeed should all seek as well.
We thank God that the gospel is the answer to man’s lostness, hopelessness and ruin. We also rejoice that this glorious gospel, of grace and mercy, is the gospel that saves souls, for “it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes”. The Bible reminds us, in Psalm 49:8, that “the redemption of the soul is precious”. I personally find it a great joy to share this salvation message with everyone I meet in the ‘highways and byways’ of our country and endeavour, with God’s grace and help, to compel them to repent and believe the gospel for their soul’s salvation, as Jesus exhorts us to do. We are reminded in Luke’s Gospel that the “Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:56) In calling us to be trumpeters and proclaimers of this soul-saving gospel, the Lord would “have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth”.
In my work of gospel outreach I constantly witness the masses placing an emphasis on the body, with its pleasures and its physical appetites. If someone goes missing in the perilous summits of the Scottish Highlands, a mountain rescue team is quickly deployed, along with a helicopter, to search for the person. Every effort is made to trace him. It is the same when a child suddenly disappears. Alarm is expressed, so everyone offers to help. Everything possible is done to quickly find the child. The newspapers print the story, and the television stations report the story. Nobody cares about the costs involved, even if they are enormous. The one and only concern of everyone is to find the lost child. Tragically, man is concerned about the safety of the human body more than the safety of the human soul. Everyone forgets, as John Flavel reminds us, that, “if the soul be lost, the man is lost”. How then can we dare be silent if souls haven’t heard about him? “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” Everyone needs Christ and everyone needs to be shown how and where they can find Him. When we consider the worth and value of the human soul, we can never speak to the wrong person about Christ.
Spreading good news
Throughout our country we see that ‘bad news’ abounds on every side, with many doing what is right in their own eyes. To counter all this bad news, it continues to be a deep joy to spread the good news and witness the gospel to countless numbers in many corners of Scotland, along with other parts of the UK. Over the past year I was engaged in mission outreach in many areas, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayr, Portavogie (Northern Ireland), the communities of Inverarnie, Dores and Farr (all located in the Strathnairn district of the Highlands), Galashiels, Stornoway, Richmond-upon-Thames (London), Invergordon and Lockerbie. Extensive witnessing was also engaged in at different intervals on the High Street in Inverness, where I am based.
Mountain of gold
A mountain of gospel tracts, various booklets and magazines were distributed, along with 139 Bibles and 6,000 Trinitarian Bible Society calendars – in addition to a large quantity of literature in foreign languages. The evangelistic Good News magazine, which is distributed in large quantities, is an extremely effective witnessing tool when challenging people with the ‘good news’ about Jesus Christ and salvation. Our hope and prayer is that all the materials given out will be richly blessed to the innumerable multitudes who receive them, and that many will yet come to personally see that a life without Christ is an empty and hopeless one. The importance of reaching out with the gospel cannot be overemphasised, as Charles H Spurgeon reminds us: “Ere the sun goes down think of some one action which may tend to the conversion of some one person: and do it with all your might. I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unpick all the mysteries of the divine Word.”
Donald J Morrison (Home Mission Worker)
85 Old Edinburgh Road
Telephone: 01463 241618