Sunday, July 01, 2012

Johann Gerhardus Oncken and Evangelism in Denmark

The year 1839 marks the beginning of the Danish free church movement, when a clear biblical message of salvation was reintroduced to Denmark. While visiting in the country, Julius Köbner, himself a converted Danish Jew and co-worker of the German Baptist preacher Johann Gerhardus Oncken, met with several individuals of similar doctrinal convictions. Undoubtedly at Köbner’s request, Oncken came to evangelize in Denmark. That same year, 1839, Oncken baptized several people and planted a new church, the first non-state church in the country (Copenhagen’s still-existing Baptist Kristuskirken).

Oncken's theology and message has been described as conservative, Calvinistic (Reformed), and evangelistic. He was a zealous, fearless evangelist who through passionate preaching and evangelistic efforts laid the foundation for evangelism and the planting of free churches in Denmark. The following quote gives clear indication of the substance and evangelistic thrust of Oncken’s preaching:

“The two great truths which from the day of our conversion to the day we enter into heaven the Lord teaches those who shall be saved are in reference to ourselves that we are poor, lost, helpless sinners, who, if left to themselves, must perish for ever, and in reference to God, that out of boundless compassion He has sent His only begotten Son into the world to atone for the guilt of all who should believe in Him, and then in this glorious Savior more—infinitely more—has been brought back to all who believe in Him, than ever was lost by Adam's transgression and our own sin.”

Sound biblical doctrine and evangelistic passion go hand in hand, and the spread of the Gospel of Christ requires utter passion for the Good News. Yet there are too few today with Oncken’s fiery passion. And just as in America and the rest of Europe, Danish churches are susceptible to the kind of doctrinal fads which lack the sound biblical foundation that brought the free church movement to the country 173 years ago and transformed the lives of so many under Oncken’s Spirit-empowered preaching. If God did it once, He can do it again.
PRAY that passionate Bible-based evangelism will arise in Denmark to bring many to repentance and faith in Christ and thereby shake the very foundations of Danish life and culture.
PRAY that God will raise up an increasing number of gifted evangelists in Denmark with a biblically-based passion for the Gospel that was so evident in Oncken’s preaching.
PRAY that Danish believers increasingly will recognize their part in the spread of the Good News whenever they give testimony to others of their personal experience of God's saving grace and the hope they have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).

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