Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 16, 1950
NUMBER 40, PAGE 2,5b

A Word From Africa

Waymon D. Miller, Bulawayo, South Rhodesia, So. Africa

To the church of the Lord has been committed the tremendous responsibility of conveying the saving message of the gospel to a sin-cursed, recreant, doomed humanity. This is most certainly no easy endeavor. Christians who are faithfully laboring in the word can attest the difficulty of reaching many today with the gospel. But the ease or difficulty in inducing the world to respond to the gospel has never been a vital issue, and it is not today. The real matter of concern is our preaching the gospel to the world. Whether the world receives or rejects the gospel is not our responsibility. Our obligation is to sow the seed of the kingdom, whether it chances to fall upon the good ground, the stony, the thorny or the wayside soil.

Brethren today are perhaps more actively engaged in efforts to preach the gospel into all the world than they have been at any period since apostolic times. We fervently thank God for such an awakened interest, rekindled zeal, and distended vision in the salvation of lost souls—our primary mission as members of the Lord's church. As Christians we cannot possibly sit complacently by while countless millions of the world march to their eternal doom. We must most certainly be active, aggressive and militant in our efforts to glean a great harvest of lost souls, and we must oppose error, sin, and wickedness with animated fervor. We are truly thankful that the banner of our Savior is now being planted in the virgin soil of many nations of the earth, and we earnestly pray that this is but a small preview of much greater efforts in the coming generation.

"Growing Pains"

Since brethren have greatly expanded their efforts in the proclamation of the message of eternal life, we have begun to suffer the discomforts of "growing-pains". Since we are doing manifestly more in most every way than in the immediate past, we seem to be confronted by the baffling question of proper methods. We have placed our machinery in a faster gear, but we seem confounded by the means of producing the quota in our minds for either the present or future. Many industries start with very humble and inauspicious beginnings, but as they grow, develop and expand, this requires a complicated mass of promotional and managerial organization. Efficiency experts are employed to iron out the wrinkles of production. The simple methods and procedures used at the beginning of that small organization are not now suitable.

But the church of the Lord is not like human institutions. Contrary to the opinions of some, it does not need to take similar steps in the evangelizing of the world. Yet we hear much today about means, methods, approaches, organizations, sponsorships, supervisions, and countless other issues. Some feel it imperative that we devise new stratagems, and formulate new means of reaching the lost on a mass production scale. I feel convinced that these are self-imposed and superficial issues. They have never been matters of genuine concern to the church. But we have become so "approach", "sponsor" and "supervision" conscious that a simple gospel meeting on the fringes of town cannot be conducted, it seems, without raising such extraneous issues. And I suppose the day is gone when a gospel preacher will conduct a meeting in a cross roads school house without the meeting being "sponsored" and "organized" to death! Such attitudes have swept the brotherhood in epidemic proportions, and have left it with a very unhealthy complex. It seems that we cannot think of a simple gospel service or endeavor without thinking of placing some institutional arrangement into operation. It seems that we have come to think that our every effort has to be either institutionalized or sponsored for it to be scriptural!

God's Plan

God knew how desperately a depraved world needed salvation. He also knew the most effective means of reaching the lost soul with the gospel. In these matters he did not stand in need of human wisdom or organizations to promote his eternal purposes with man. God knew the most effective means of reaching the world with the gospel, and he gave it to the world—the church. (Eph. 3:10.) Brethren who are at all familiar with the word of God should surely understand that the church is God's only agency for the promotion of the gospel. And it seems the height of spiritual ignorance, (or is it arrogance?), to assert that the church is inadequate to accomplish this end, but that we must append to her all sorts of human devices, machinery, organizations, and programs. So long as the power of God remains in his word, the proclamation of that word by the church is sufficient means to reach every lost soul in the world, who will respond to the gospel! What we need today is not new approaches or avenues through which to work, but rather to recognize the God-given agency for that work—the church. And there is no work to be performed by servants of God for his glory, and the extension of his kingdom, that should not be done by and through the church. It is not meet, therefore, to create human agencies, for they cannot perform the work of the church, and the work performed by them is not the work of the church. The only divine tasks before servants of God is the preaching of the gospel and the formation of holy lives; and the only divine institution through which to accomplish these tasks is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Had other agencies, institutions, or auxiliary organizations been essential to the dissemination of the gospel, then most certainly God in his wisdom would have made provisions for such. But the fact remains that God made no other such arrangements for the preaching of the gospel, and this is proof positive that none else is necessary.

By-Product Or Primary Aim?

But it seems that we have lost sight of these incontestable, scriptural principles, and have come to feel that the church alone is not sufficient in reaching the world with the gospel. We feel it necessary to open instead of the spiritual. We are verily looking through the wrong end of the telescope! Let us turn it around, and focus it again upon the divine work assigned the church alone.

It is my conviction that Jesus serves as our example in many ways. (1 Pet. 2:21.) It is also my belief that he adopted the most effective means possible in reaching people if his generation with the will of God during the short span of his public ministry. And it is significant to observe that Jesus organized no school, established no orphan home, created no missionary agency, established no grocery commissary, formed no clothing lines or soup kitchens, nor did he authorize his apostles to do so after his ascension into heaven. It is certain that Jesus advocated these works of charity, but never did he fashion a maze of organizational machinery through which to accomplish them, nor did he create the impression that these were avenues and means of preaching the gospel. His works of benevolence were expressly secondary to his chief purpose with men. His first concern was the alleviation of the spiritual, and not the material, afflictions of the world. And such should be true with us. Being charged with such responsibility from the Lord, the apostles went into every nation under heaven with the gospel. And they featured no "added attractions". Nothing but the simple gospel of the Son of God was offered to the world. This, I firmly believe, is the divine precedent for us to follow today. Let us divest our minds of imaginary or superficial needs, agencies and institutions in the proclamation of the gospel. Let us rather arise, as did the early saints, and go everywhere preaching the word. This is our soul charge, and to it alone must we be faithful.