Available Light: The work of the missionary

The work of the missionary remains urgent, for at least these reasons —

  • Those who never hear the gospel cannot be saved and so cannot live eternally with God. Imagine someone who never heard of God seeing a drowning man. If this someone is a good someone, and if he can, he’ll rescue the man. After all, common decency tells us that life is much better than death and that we owe it to our fellow man to rescue him from death — especially from a death that could be painful. Who would turn away from a dying man he could save? We don’t have to believe in perpetual conscious torment to be motivated to save the lost from death.
  • Bringing salvation to the lost pleases God. If we love God, surely we will want to do what pleases him!
  • When people are added to God’s Kingdom, there are more soldiers in God’s army. Not only does this give the Kingdom the ability to grow geometrically, it gives Jesus more hands and feet to care for those in need and to lift up the oppressed. You see, bringing the lost into the Kingdom helps realize the Lord’s Prayer —that God’s will be done on earth as it in heaven.

I’m sure there are more reasons, but these should be enough to make us understand the urgency of mission work.

On the other hand, if God were to save some based on available light, the problem we’ve been wrestling with wouldn’t really be solved. After all, if a missionary were to preach the gospel in a village that’s never heard of Jesus, there may be people there who would have been saved under the doctrine of available light but are lost because they aren’t persuaded by the missionary. Indeed, an ineffective missionary might manage to damn souls by the thousands.

I greatly sympathize with the motivations behind this doctrine, but I think, in the end, conditionalism is a better, more scriptural solution.

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6 Responses

  1. Some more reasons:

    * Christians have many spiritual blessings in Christ. Many of these pertain to the present life. Bringing someone into Christ gives them those blessings.

    * God is glorified when a person makes Jesus Lord.

    * Available Light is at best a theory. Forgiveness in Christ is a promise.

  2. well put Alan

  3. Excellent. Thanks.

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Alan, well said.
    I really dislike the bumbling missionary senario. One seeking truth and enlightenment would take a poor teacher over none. If Rm 2 available light works:
    1-make the law for themselves,
    2-seek God’s grace (prayer) for imperfections
    Wouldn’t that person want to know God rather than grope and find? Wouldn’t they learn more from a jacklegged missionary than groping?
    This is like the pearl of great price, the seeking soul will be delighted to find. Missionary will only be a plus.

  5. When I read this this is nothing that anyone would say is wrong. But I am left with the feeling that too much emphasis is placed on man, his supposed goodness and desire to do what is right and too little emphasis is placed on Providence and God’s ability to accomplish just what he wants. Do we really understand the meaning of Providence?

    This essay seems to presuppose that there are lots of goodpeople who would have common decency and want to save the drowning man. There were Christian Germans and Buddhist Cambodians etc. that were all too willing to torment their own countrymen. I sense that we view that as merely an aberration and not something we would have done had we found ourselves in a similar situation. The social psychology research does not support that naive view of human nature. Instead this posts suggests that men want to do what is right and that they want to please God. This simply does not seem consistent with what we watch on the evening news.

    I’m all in favor of people being added to the Lord’s army, (surely no one is opposed to that), but do we really think God’s ability to accomplish what he wants is dependent on the number of men in his army? and do we honestly think we are the ones that change the hearts of men? The OT demonstrates it is not the size of the army nor the strength of a man’s arm that accomplishes God’s plan. Just the opposite is taught in the bible but I don’t get that sense at all from here.

    So there is nothing wrong here. It is just that so much emphasis is placed on man with little recognition of his real nature and ability. And so little emphasis is placed on God with so little recognition of his nature and ability.

    I would hate to think that God was dependent of us or our ability and willingness to do his will.

    Then again, perhaps I misunderstood.
    Aaron

  6. Aaron, thank’s for calling us on this. Even Paul seemed man centered when he said “14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Rm 10 TNIV ibs.org)
    I tend to beleive God will make the connection. He may wisk away an evangelist like Phillip to meet the chariot, or give the Macedonian vision, or directly speak to the seeker. “Seek, and you will find”. God will find a way. He is more tnan available light, He is Light Eternal.

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