Thought for the Week: ‘Witnessing is the whole work, of the whole church’

A short time before his untimely death, the pioneer Scottish Christian missionary to Uganda, the Rev Alexander Murdoch Mackay, sent home to Britain the first part of a treatise on the evangelisation of Africa. It was to be one of his most important compositions, to which he gave the title - ‘How is Africa to be Evangelised?’

Rev David McMillan of the Free Presbyterian Church
Rev David McMillan of the Free Presbyterian Church

He intended to develop further his thoughts in more detail on this very important subject, and so he closed the first part with words - ‘To be continued’. But the second part of the missionary’s treatise was never written, because he died suddenly after a short bout of malaria.

Although Alexander Mackay probably never realised it at the time, but the way that he ended the first part of that treatise, resulted in him leaving to the whole Church of Christ a very powerful message. Because it reminds us forcibly that the work of evangelisation is a work that is ‘to be continued’ by every generation of Christians.

Mackay was writing particularly about the Evangelisation of Africa. That was the continent that he knew and loved so deeply. But God intends the work of evangelisation ‘to be continued’ in every continent, and nation across the earth (St Mark 16:15).

In the very first verse of the New Testament book of Acts, St Luke stated: “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). There is a work that the Lord Jesus began when He was here on earth, but it is not yet completed, and that ministry is to be carried on by the church throughout every succeeding generation of time.

The work of preaching and soul-winning that the Saviour did in His physical body, He wants His spiritual body, the church to continue, until He comes again the second time. When we preach about the Cross work of Christ, we rightly speak of, the finished work of Christ. The great work that He did when He died for our sins, is sufficient and complete (St John 19:30). It never needs to be repeated or added to (Hebrews 10:12). At this Easter time we urge you to trust completely in the Saviour’s finished work for your salvation.

But there is such a thing as, the unfinished work of Christ, and that is the work of gathering in the lost. That work is not yet completed; nor will it be until the end of time. We are never to lose sight of that challenging truth. The 19th century missionary statesman - American Presbyterian Dr Arthur Tappan Pierson said: “Witnessing is the whole work of the whole church for the whole age”. In other words, it is our continual duty. Ponder the question carefully - are you personally continuing the Saviour’s soul-winning work?