William Carey’s greatest contribution to the modern missions movement was his trust in the sovereignty of God in missions. This trust in God fueled his zeal to reach the heathen with the gospel. In his youth, he was told to sit down by an elder brother–a hyper-Calvinist–who told him that when God wanted to reach the heathen He would do it without him or Carey. Carey’s Calvinism however–his theological understanding of God’s sovereignty and the responsibility of man–would not allow him to either doubt God’s sovereignty or neglect his responsibility. Because he was thoroughly convinced that God wanted to reach the heathen–that the burden within himself for the heathen was placed there by God–he believed it was his responsibility to carry the gospel to them.
What we must ask ourselves is if this theology–this belief that God is 100% sovereign and man is 100% responsible–motivated Carey to reach India with the gospel then why does it not also compel us to reach the heathen as well? His theology was what motivated him, nothing else. Without this theology, without his Calvinistic emphasis, Carey would not have pursued the heathen.
Thus, Carey’s greatest contribution to the modern missions movement was his theology, and the natural outworking of his theology in his life as a result. Therefore, those who believe what Carey believed–that God should be glorified by the heathen and that He loves them, having created them in His image–should zealously seek their souls by all means that glorify God so that the nations may know Him. It’s amazing to know that Carey was a Calvinist, even though in today’s world, those who believe like him are often accused of lacking evangelistic fervor.
If we believe like Carey, are we as zealous for God being glorified in the salvation of the heathen as he was? If theology motivated him, and we believe Carey’s theology, then our zeal and passion should be in his likeness as well. True Calvinists–Carey’s Calvinists and even John Calvin’s Calvinists—will seek the world with the gospel while trusting that the salvation of souls is ultimately up to God alone. Christ will build His church (Matt. 16:18). We should have no interest in competing with Him. Instead, we should trust His commands (Matt. 28:18-20), His willingness to save (2 Pet. 3:9), and that His sheep will hear His voice as we take the gospel to the ends of the earth (John 10:27-28).