Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 19, 1955


P. J. Casebolt, Fairmont, West Virginia

The subject of "Mission Work" has been a prominent one for the past century. Human institutions have resorted to complicated, extravagant, and even unscriptural methods of accomplishing those missions which they have encountered. Of late, the church of the Lord, a divine institution, has once again been confronted with the method of doing certain work, even as it was affected in the last century. The church is the "pillar and ground of the truth," and is therefore the only religious institution we can depend upon to declare the "whole counsel of God" to all nations. Since the church is a New Testament institution, I believe we can find a working principle in the New Testament for all that the church is to do. Let us see if we can learn something from two divine missions which were carried out in a commendable and exemplary manner.

Christ To Earth

When God sent His Son into this world, there was reason or NEED for him to do so. "Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned," and sin entered into the world by Adam. (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21.) The world was ready to perish, but God saw the need of earth, and sent His Son that we might have everlasting life. (John 3:16.)

Another fact outstanding in this mission to earth is that it was not effected without ample preparation. We believe that God began to plan for our redemption contemporary with Adam's transgression, or at least made His intentions known to man. (Gen. 3:15.) God was preparing for our salvation, even while Israel was rejecting Him, and how thankful we are that God made ample preparation for our souls, in sending Christ to us.

When Christ had come to earth, and was ready to begin the performance of his mission, we can not help but notice the METHOD which he used. Though methods may vary, the simplicity of them need not vary. Christ never established a central office through which to accomplish his task. There was no red tape, or complicated organizational machinery to hinder him. He, along with the twelve and the seventy, went about the task at hand simply and efficiently.

Finally, we could not study this mission without noticing the great SACRIFICE made by both God and Christ that the mission might be completed. God gave His Son; His Son suffered and died, bearing our sins.

The Apostles And The World

The apostles were sent into all the world to preach the gospel to "every creature." Again, we see the NEED for such a mission. "Repentance and remission of sins" must needs be preached to every nation and the apostles were entrusted with the task.

These men did not commence without PREPARATION. They had been instructed by the Lord for nearly three years, and were given the Holy Spirit to guide them. (John 14:26.) They were endued with miraculous powers to confirm the word. (Mark 16:20.)

But how is this enormous task to be done ? Transportation and communication are nothing spectacular. These men are not well known throughout the world. From the time they begin at Jerusalem, they have only the one institution, the church, through which to work in preaching the gospel. But this is where they were fortunate, indeed! It is a liability, not an asset, when we must function through some organization other than the church in preaching the gospel. Let us look in on the establishment of a local church in a given community.

Paul, Timothy and Luke enter Macedonia for the purpose of helping that people. The gospel must be preached, the church must be established here, but how? Shall they first establish some kind of a "home" to influence the charitable minded people of Philippi? Will it be better to influence the youth of Macedonia by establishing a "youth camp" of some description? Should the brethren back at Jerusalem and other places send money to help Paul establish an educational institution that Philippi might be "impressed"? Evidently, these questions never troubled those inspired men. They went out of the city by a river side, preached the gospel, and had the church established in Philippi before many of us could get our "organization" functioning today!

Once the church was established, I believe Lydia could, as an individual, operate a school, if she chose, as long as she did not encumber the church with its support, and as long as she did not try to dictate the policy of the church through her school. The jailor could, no doubt, as he had probably done before, provide the proper recreation or social activity for his family. But he need not ask the church to support his children while they are about such activities.

We must not close this mission of the apostles without also noticing that they made a SACRIFICE. Families and loved ones were left behind often; they were persecuted often; many of them eventually gave their lives in behalf of the mission which they had so courageously undertaken.

The Church Today

We still have, as the church, and always will have, the obligation to preach, and contend for the gospel. There is a standing NEED for us to perform this mission. We must also, under certain conditions, care for the needy. But I and others are convinced that there is no actual NEED for many of the enterprises which are promulgated by some brethren. Just because someone offers the church a piece of real estate at a bargain or provides for such in a will, we think we are duty bound to accept. This may be well, but whether the donors intend it or not, too often such a movement becomes tied to the church and depends on the church for influence and support. Preachers will expend their time, influence, and the Lord's money in behalf of efforts for which there is often no NEED. Oh no! We mustn't question such efforts, or we are not "mission minded" or not "sympathetic" toward the unfortunate. But it is worthy of note, though it may not serve as a pattern, that some of those who foster and propagate such movements have renounced the church either partially or entirely, and are now affiliated with the Christian Church or some other denomination. I speak only of preachers, but others have done the same, who were influenced by these preachers.

Some are ready to contend that whenever or wherever we find unfortunate children or adults, it is the church's duty to care for them. I disagree. In some cases yes, but not always. It is first the duty of relatives to "care for their own," and I do not believe the church should encourage those who forsake their duty in this respect. (1 Tim. 5:8.) And just because some fail to obey a command of God, does not authorize us to substitute some new way of doing things. If a person refuses to be baptized, should we encourage disobedience by accepting that one by "faith only"? When we take a course that encourages anyone in their disobedience to God, that course is not justified. If we would expend our efforts teaching God's will concerning the needy, there would be no need for many of our methods regarding young people, old people, or the institutions which are resultant from such methods. Individually at times, maybe; but institutionally, the church needs not to be burdened with many of the things it now supports.

After determining that there is actually a NEED for the work to be done, we should be particular about PREPARATION for that work. The church has lost its influence many times because proper preparation was not made in certain efforts. People laugh because we did not first sit down and consider the cost of building, or employed the wrong person to see the mission through.

In preaching the gospel, our METHOD should be characterized by the same simplicity present in previous divine missions. This can always be accomplished by local churches sending direct aid to the field in need, and the same would be true in helping the needy. This would eliminate the need for anything larger than the local church. If a local church goes digressive, becomes corrupt, or fails in any respect, the damage is held to a minimum; but if our efforts are centralized, then widespread damage will result when the central power becomes unscriptural in doctrine or practice.

Finally, may we be willing to SACRIFICE in behalf of any worthy effort or mission. Preachers must be willing to sacrifice; congregations must sacrifice; each individual must be prepared to sacrifice in order that others may have the gospel, or that the widows and fatherless might be relieved, when the need arises.

Many have taken in hand to talk and to write on this subject, and I trust my observations will tend to clarify and not confuse. If we diligently follow the pattern of NEED, PREPARATION, METHOD, AND SACRIFICE our efforts will meet with approval before God and men.