“Sit down young man. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid or mine.”
These are the infamous words of John Ryland to William Carey after Carey’s appeal for the Baptists in England to embrace the Great Commission as their marching orders. I have often felt sorry for poor ole’ Ryland. William Carey became the hero, the father of modern missions. Ryland is the heel. I am sure he never imagined that his words would go down in history.
One the other hand, his words reflect a heart that is not of the Lord. He mistakenly assumed that God’s sovereignty provides a pass for human responsibility, especially as it relates to sharing the gospel.
We do better to remember the words of John Wesley. We have a duty to perform – anytime, anyplace, and with anyone God brings into our lives.
Lord, I am thankful that you sovereignly govern our world. We trust in your goodness and rest on your power. Forgive me for the times I allow these doctrines to lull me into silence rather than driving me to share with boldness…
Scott Hildreth is the director of the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies. He frequently speaks on issues of missions, spiritual formation, missiology, and theology. Scott also contributes to SEBTS faculty blog www.betweenthetimes.com