“China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women … The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.”
Hudson Taylor (via Christian History)
If you know anything about Hudson Taylor, you know he was a missionary to China. What you may not know is that while he was a baby Taylor’s parents were praying God would send him to China. This was at a time when hardly any missionaries were targeting the country. He was converted as a teen while in the midst of an extended time of prayer, and from that moment on he began preparing himself for mission work in China.
He arrived in Shanghai as a 21 year old. Twenty one. Because Taylor wasn’t interedted in relying on translators to preach the gospel, he committed himself to true cultural immersion, including dressing in Chinese clothes and growing a pony tail (as was the custom among Chinese men). This made sense to our missional brother, but brought criticism from other missionaries. Undeterred, Taylor followed God’s calling to take the gospel into China’s interior.
Hudson Taylor saw that for the gospel to take root in China’s and reach greater numbers God would need to raise up more men. So he began recruiting other Christians to go and make disciples where there was such a desperate need. In 1865 he wrote,China’s Spiritual Need and Claims, and organized a network of sorts, China Inland Mission. Taylor and CIM not only brought the Gospel to China’s interior, but it helped to build the strong and vibrant underground church that exists in China today.
Hudson Taylor was a bold, yet selfless man who sacrificed much in preaching the gospel, helping to translate the Bible in Chinese, starting churches, and creating a network, and the church today is blessed by what God has done through him. In all of this we see that Taylor was a most definitely a bearded gospel man.
“The gospel alone is sufficient to rule the lives of Christians everywhere…
any additional rules made to govern men’s conduct added nothing to the perfection already found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
John Wycliffe (1328-1384) was a gospel man who shined brightly in an age where the gospel was almost eclipsed by heresy and a corrupt church. Most people point to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 as the start of the Protestant Reformation, but well over 100 years earlier we see John Wycliffe preaching the same gospel, calling for the same reformation, and being mightily used of God. This is why Wycliffe is called “the morning star of the reformation.”
Wycliffe is best known for overseeing the the translation of the Latin Bible into English. Completed in the 1380′s this was the first full Bible available in the English language. As huge of an undertaking it was, our man wasn’t content to only see the word of God exist in the language of the people. He also trained and sent men into the world to preach the word of God to all who would listen.
Wycliffe is a beautiful example of all things missional, providing the word of God in the language of the people, and sending his “poor priests” into the cities who could identify with the people while preaching the gospel.
His zeal for Jesus, his love for the lost, and his denunciation of the corruption prevalent in the church resulted in Wycliffe being either hated or loved– even after his death! Decades after he died Wycliffe was condemned as a heretic, and in 1428 Pope Martin V ordered his body to be exhumed, burned, and the ashes thrown into the River Swift.
Let us learn from our man Wycliffe. Put down that razor, pick up the word, and take it to the world.
John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) was a masculine, godly minister of the gospel. Growing up he was an strong athlete, rowing and playing Cricket for Oxford. The son of a wealthy banker, it was assumed he would head into politics, but was converted in 1834 and ordained to the ministry 8 years later. He retired in 1900 when he was 83 years old and died later that year. He was a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon (yeah, you know he’s coming up in this BGM series), and like Spurgeon he was an earnest gospel preacher and teacher. He was a controversial leader taking a strong stand for the truth and against error. His writing, like his the rest of his ministry, was both robustly doctrinal and devotional. He labored to help people know the Truth, and live by it.
His classic, Holiness, had a major impact on me early in my Christian life. It’s one of those rare books I have read several times, and consider it a must-read for all Christians.
In all of his ministry as he labored to see reformation and revival he was always pointing others to Jesus.
Would you be holy? Would you become a new creature? Then begin with Christ! You will do nothing, until you feel your sin and weakness—and flee to Him! He is the beginning of all holiness. He is not only wisdom and righteousness to His people—but sanctification also. People sometimes try to make themselves holy first—and sad work they make of it! They toil, labor, and turn over many new leaves, and make many changes—and yet they feel nothing bettered, but rather worse. They run in vain and labor in vain! Little wonder, for they are beginning at the wrong end! They are building up a wall of sand; their work runs down as fast as they throw it up. They are baling water out of a leaky vessel. The leak gains on them, not they on the leak. Other foundation of holiness, can no person lay, than that which Paul laid, even Christ Jesus. Without Christ, we can do nothing.
– We Must Be Holy (via)
Ryle is a man you need to become familiar with. Read his work. Check out J.I. Packer’s biography on Ryle, Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle. And while you’re reading, stop shaving.
Below are some free Ryle Resources. I hope you find great encouragement in them.