Aug. 11, 2006

I Cor. 16:9  “For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”

Thumbnail Sketches – James
While there are several James’ mentioned in the New Testament, this author is the half-brother of our Lord. Mt. 13:55  At first he with the others did not believe. Jn. 7:3-9  After the ascension the brothers are in the church. Acts 1:14  This James is the leader in the church in Jerusalem. Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18, Gal. 1:19, 2:9,12
As you read through the epistle the wording and illustrations bear remarkable influence from Jesus’ teachings. So even though James did not believe at first, he made up for lost time. The letter is a pointed attack against hypocrisy, just as Jesus attacked it for instance in the sermon on the mount. The Jewish Christians were addressed (“to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion”) and in need of the simple truth to replace the insidious hypocrisy that so permeated Judaism from which they came. James reminds us that it is by a “living faith” that we are saved. To merely say the words and not believe them and seek to live by them is to have a dead faith which is no faith at all. His analogy is so simple and so convincing. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.” 2:26
I Salutation – 1:1
II True Religion – 1:2-27
III True Faith – 2:1-3:12
IV True Wisdom – 3:13-5:18
V Conclusion – 5:19-20

Noting a 300 year anniversary…
“India’s Coral Strand”

Fourth in a Series

First Protestant and Lutheran Missionaries

When finally after the Reformation and the successive wars and doctrinal controversies, the Lutherans did outreach, it was not though by theorthodox, but by the pietist Lutherans. Though they were Lutheran, they held
to a subjectivity of the gospel to ‘inner feelings’ and such. They were argued against by the orthodox Lutherans. The accusations would fly the other way also about ‘barren orthodoxy’ and ‘dead formalism’ of that segment
of the Lutheran church, which while possessing the truth did not venture forth to share it.  Instead they sat on it like a hen on eggs. In 1698 the University of Halle was founded and became the center of the strongest
missionary influence and the birthplace of organized foreign missionary effort.

One example of the orthodox Lutherans was Pastor Erdmann Neumeister of Hamburg.  He was a fine hymnist (“Jesus Sinners Doth Receive”, “I Know MyFaith is Founded”). He was also a bitter opponent of the pietist Lutheran outreach, too bitter. On Ascension Day 1722 he concluded his sermon saying,
“the so-called missionaries are not necessary today…’Go into all the world,’ the Lord of old did say; But now: ‘Where God has placed thee, there He would have thee stay.”  The eighteenth century would be an auspicious
century for mission work among the heathen, but rarely done by the orthodox.


The Danes in their commercial ventures were not too unlike the Portuguese. It was money that counted. Denmark secured a trading colony at Tranquebar in 1620 and at Serampore in 1676 (both in India). Chaplains were sent out to minister to the colonists as was the custom with all the Protestant colonial powers. And although there was supposed to be work done among the natives, it consisted mainly of slaving. For nearly one hundred years no work was done among the natives while the money sailed into Copenhagen. It was not until Frederick IV mounted the throne in 1699 that a change took place.

Frederick, when he was a prince was surprised that no efforts were being made to convert the heathen in Danish overseas territories. When Francis Luetkens became court chaplain in 1704 the king found an able assistant for
his outreach thrust. Volunteers from the Danish Lutheran Church could not be found. As a matter of fact the Danish state church critized this missionary venture that was proposed. Thank God for a king who operated under THE King. Volunteers were found in Germany, men trained at Halle, Bartholomew Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Pluetschau. And so it began, sadly so long in coming.

On the Field

The eventual arrival of Ziegenbalg and Pluetschau in India was in preparation long before 1706. When Bartholomew’s mother lay on her deathbed, she called her children to her bedside and informed them she had laid up a treasure for them, a very great treasure. You can imagine their excitement. When they asked where they might find it, the mother answered, “Dear children, search for it in my Bible.  There you will find it. There is not a page that I have not moistened with my tears.” Bartholomew found the treasure and in his twelve years in India shared his Master’s love. His mother’s treasure was passed on.

After seven months at sea the two men arrived July 9, 1706 at Tranquebar. Though Pluetschau had to return to Germany due to ill health after five years, he continued to support the work in India from Germany. Ziegenbalg
plunged into the work and amazes us with his organization and accomplishment. He had effectively learned Tamil in one year. He translated the catechism, sermons, tracts and school books. By the time of his death,
he had finished the New Testament in Tamil and was well into the Old Testament.

Through Many Tribulations

While one would expect trouble from the Hindus, greater troubles arose and persisted with the Danish commandant, Hassius. For instance in 1708 while trying to obtain justice for a widow, Ziegenbalg was arrested and kept in solitary confinement for four months. Had the good King Frederich not supported this venture, there would have been worse trouble.

We should not underestimate the force of Hindu opposition either. A convert, Kanabadi Vathiar, like many other converts had to endure bitter opposition from his people. These people threatened and cajoled and tried poison when all else failed. Sadly, untimately this man reverted to Hinduism. All told about 250 were baptized through these early years.

Ziegenbalg returned to Denmark and Germany to build support. He also had to defend himself against false charges, believe it or not. In this process though the Lord blessed him with a wife who came back to India with him in 1716. The last five years of his work also involved trouble with the secretary of the mission board in Copenhagen. There were arguments about restriction of funds and cutting of funds. Ziegenbalg reminded the secretary that they were dealing with people so poor that they could not afford a piece of white cloth to wrap the baby in for baptism. Therefore, he wrote that spiritual and material help could not always be so clearly delineated.
Funds were cut anyway. Much later when the king understood what was happening, he removed the secretary. Despite such, the work of laying a foundation went forward. What these first two men did was of benefit to all
future Protestant mission work in India.

In looking back over the exiting work begun in India, Prof. Peters (WELS) recognized, “Here we must not fail to give credit to whom credit is due. Francke, the Halle Pietist, did not only train and prepare most of these men
for the Tranquebar Mission, but also moved the hearts of many Christians in Germany by his letters and literary productions to become cheerful givers and thus to provide the missionaries with the necessary means of carrying on their work among their very poor converts, often bereft of all support.”

This July 9th is the three hundredth anniversary of the arrival of these two men at Tranquebar. We celebrate God’s abundant blessing in the gospel coming to India. And we remember how God uses us to accomplish His purposes; a mother on her deathbed, a king in his palace, a missionary in the field.

–Missionary David Koenig