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OUR CALL TO BE MISSIONARIES!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,

Pastor Emeritus

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, March 8, 2020


Isaiah was, it seems to me, the greatest prophet of all. But how did Isaiah become such a man of God? In the sixth chapter of Isaiah, we have the answer.

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1; p. 718 Scofield).

Isaiah heard the seraphim crying out, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

The young Isaiah had loved King Uzziah, a good and honorable king. But now the good king was dead. What would happen to Isaiah now that the good king was dead? I think this young man felt like some of you. You feel depressed that our church has ended. But God was not through with Isaiah.

This vision of God gripped his soul. Isaiah did not fall into a hopeless depression. Instead, the vision of God gripped him in a different way. He said,

“Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

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This was a spiritual breakthrough for young Isaiah! This is a breakthrough you too may experience. But you must desire God more than anything else! Dr. A. W. Tozer said, “They did not walk away from the church because they did not want God – but because they found something they wanted more than God…when their old nature stirred they turned their backs on God and walked away from their church. They went into relationships with godless young women or men. They went into worldly friendships. They took jobs in which there was no chance to please and glorify God. They went back into the world. They were determined to have what they wanted most…I refuse to deceive and damn them by teaching that you can be a Christian and love this present world, because you cannot. Yes, you can be a hypocrite and love the world. You can be a deceived pastor and love the world. You can be a cheap modern evangelical and love the world. But you cannot be a real Bible Christian and love the world. It would grieve me to stand alone on this principle, but I will not lie to you about it” (The Tozer Pulpit).

Again, Dr. Tozer said, “In my opinion, the greatest single need today is that light-hearted, superficial evangelicals be struck down with a vision of God high and lifted up with his train filling the temple.” Without a vision of God like that “we are left to our own devices, and forced to bring in cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people…We are so afraid of being narrow that we have opened our doors to worldliness. This only leads to spiritual tragedy… Evangelicalism is falling short in its attitude toward God, its attitude toward the world and its attitude toward sin” (Leaning Into the Wind).

Notice verse 5,

“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

It was only then that young Isaiah was cleansed by the fire of God “and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Isaiah 6:7).

Now look at verse 8. “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

When the church split happened I felt sure that I would lose my zeal for evangelism. So I decided to spend every night with three men who gave up everything for Christ – Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, John Wesley, and the last pioneer missionary to China, Jonathan Goforth. It was a wise decision. I made the little bathroom, next to our bedroom, my place of prayer and fellowship with these great men of God. From Wurmbrand I learned steadfastness. From Wesley I learned to keep going through one trial after the other. But from Goforth and his wife Rosalind, I learned that we must go forward on our knees in prayer. Hudson Taylor wrote a letter that inspired Goforth and his wife. Hudson Taylor said, “We as a mission tried for two years to enter the [Chinese] province of Honan, and have only recently succeeded. Brother, if you would enter that province, you must go forward on your knees.” Those words from Hudson Taylor became the slogan of Goforth’s North Honan Mission.

Then their baby died. Goforth wrote, “Gertrude is dead. Ours is an awful loss. Less than two weeks ago she was well, but on July 24 she died, only six days after she became ill with dysentery. I had to take her body in a cart for fifty miles…There in the dusk of an evening we laid our darling baby to rest.” Two little Chinese girls came every morning to place fresh flowers on our precious baby’s grave.

Following Gertrude’s death, a beautiful wee boy was born to Mrs. Goforth. They called him “Wee Donald.” He fell and hit his little head. He gradually lost the use of his arms and legs. In the intense heat of summer, on July 25, when only nineteen months old, Wee Donald died. For the second time Goforth took his wee boy’s body in a cart for fifty miles. Wee Donald was buried in a grave beside the body of his little sister, Gertrude. Immediately on his return, Goforth and his dear wife prepared to leave for their new home inside North Honan. Their five-month-old baby Paul went with them.

Then Jonathan Goforth became deathly sick with typhoid fever. His life hung in the balance between life and death. On January 3, baby Florence was born. It was so hot that summer than little Paul nearly died from heatstroke, but managed to live when the heat died down.

Many horrible hardships and trials followed. Their first child died in the Spring. Other children of theirs later died of malaria and meningitis. Later Goforth and his wife had to flee from the Boxer Rebellion. They only escaped from being murdered by a miracle.

Mrs. Rosalind Goforth became deaf. He was her ears. When Goforth went totally blind, she was his eyes. He died in his sleep while his wife was in the bathroom. At his funeral, his son Paul said of him, “To me my father was a great man.” His daughter Ruth was a missionary in Vietnam. Ruth wrote to her mother, “I can only think of the glory part of Father’s going...God has simply promoted him to a higher service.”

The book, Goforth of China, was written by his wife Rosalind after his death. What a truly wonderful missionary Rosalind Goforth was!

She first met him after looking at his Bible, “I found his Bible worn almost to shreds, and marked from cover to cover.” Rosalind said, “That is the man I would like to marry.” That autumn he said to her, “Will you join your life with me for China?” Her answer was “yes.” A few days later he said to her, “Will you give me your promise that you will always allow me to put my Lord and His work first, even before you?” She answered him, “Yes, I will, always.” Little did she know what that promise would cost!

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me”
(Isaiah 6:8).

Our church has lost those who were not willing to be missionaries. It is my prayer that every person here this afternoon will become a missionary. We will have a harder time collecting enough money to keep our Internet mission going. You and I can be missionaries to the whole world by (1) Winning souls; (2) Praying for our world-wide mission; (3) Giving enough money each month to help our Internet mission send out our sermons, including this one, to help missionaries in the Third World preach the Gospel. One missionary pastor said of our opportunities today, “We must be global Christians with a global mission because our God is a global God.” Will you answer with Rosalind Goforth, “Yes, I will, always”?

Fill all my vision, Saviour, I pray, Let me see only Jesus today;
   Though through the valley Thou leadest me, Thy fadeless glory encompasseth me.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, every desire Keep for Thy glory; my soul inspire,
   With Thy perfection, Thy holy love, Flooding my pathway with light from above.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, let naught of sin Shadow the brightness shining within.
   Let me see only Thy blessed face, Feasting my soul on Thy infinite grace.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.
(“Fill All My Vision” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).