Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 14, 1967
NUMBER 19, PAGE 3b,5b-6a

The Salvation Of All Depends On The Labor Of All

George Walsh Tyler

It is a known fact that almost from the beginning of the church a progressively adulterated message has been presented to the world, and the use of altered methods in spreading the gospel have so devitalized the church that today, nineteen hundred years after Christ gave the Great Commission to preach the gospel to all nations, there are more people living who have never heard the way to everlasting life through obedience to the Lord Jesus than there are who have heard it.

Even if the situation were corrected it would not guarantee bringing the world to accept Christ because the victory depends also upon the full recognition and acceptance of full responsibility on the part of every avowed Christian to do his part in the advancement of Christ's kingdom.

Today there is a widely held belief that there is really no sharply defined or rigid plan of salvation and a Holy Spirit inspired method of proclaiming it if there were such a plan, and that God left it up to man and circumstances to evolve a plan and method by the uncertain process of trial-and-error system and the wisdom of fallible men.

It appears to me that taking such a position as this, its proponents offer an insult to God's wisdom. Through the prophets, hundreds of years before the events occurred, God revealed in the minutest detail His plans for the coming of His Son to this earth. The ministry of Christ, His death on the cross, burial and resurrection, ascension and resumption of divine glory; had all been planned and foretold. What was the purpose of this? "That whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jno. 3:16.)

In spite of these facts we are asked to believe that a God who could, and did, plan the beginning of the greatest of all events so perfectly, left the planning and execution of the great mission, of taking the gospel to lost men and women in the hands of fallible uninspired men.

If this is true, it would seem that we would be justified in placing the blame and responsibility for the tragic confusion that characterizes the church today upon God. If the blame is placed upon Him, what becomes of the apostle Paul's triumphant declaration "the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (I Cor. 1:25)?

A twin thought closely allied with this pernicious philosophy is that God's plan as revealed in the New Testament was for the first century only and may be improved on by addition, subtraction, or substitution to fit man's ideas of what this and future modernistic ages may find necessary to make religion appeal to each new generation. The assumption upon which this is based is that even God with all of His wisdom and power could not make a plan of salvation to meet more than one set of conditions at a time. I submit that the God who made the myriads of stars, the suns, the planets thousands of years before He placed man on this earth and planned their courses for today is fully able and capable of devising a master plan for the spreading of the gospel that will last till the end of time.

To doubt this is to doubt God's power; to doubt God's power is to doubt God's Word; to doubt God's Word is to make Him a liar, and this is blasphemy.

We can rest assured that God did prepare an infallible plan for man's guidance in the propagation of the gospel, and that He must have revealed it to man by the Holy Spirit through the apostles. The book of Acts is a blueprint as well as a set of specifications for doing evangelistic work. The big difficulty is that men just won't follow them. Instead, they want to substitute their "improved plans and methods." God's plan is perfect and will accomplish what He expects it to do if man will follow it and do his part.

Success in spreading the gospel depends entirely upon the full recognition and acceptance of individual responsibility, upon the part of every avowed Christian in Christ's church, to zealously work for the cause of Christ and His church.

In the first place, all must labor because Christ commanded it. In the Great Commission as given by Matthew, Jesus said, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" Matt. 28:19, 20.

What commandments were given to them? Go, make believers and followers of all the nations; baptize those who were willing to accept the terms and conditions of discipleship and to teach the baptized ones to go, make disciples, and baptize and teach the new converts.

"All nations" includes you, if you are a disciple of Christ. It means me. It means every one who ever did or ever will call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Christ's command is all inclusive. This is God's plan and since "the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but have eternal life" John 3:16. He must of necessity put into being that plan which, above all other plans would take the gospel of Christ to the world in the shortest space of time.

Studying the book of Acts we learn that the early church meticulously followed the instructions given by Christ in the Great Commission. The early Christians acting under the leadership of inspired apostles, who were guided by the Holy Spirit, accepted full responsibility of spreading the gospel as well as doing the work of the church. Acts 8:3 we read: "They therefore that were scattered abroad went about preaching the word." The apostles set the example. Luke writes, "And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus" (Acts 5:42.) Paul followed in the footsteps of the other apostles (See Acts 20:20.)

Who were the "scattered abroad"? (Acts 8:1) "They were all scattered abroad" throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." This makes it clear that the members of the Jerusalem church were those "scattered abroad" and they did the preaching. The members of the early church thoroughly understood the Great Commission and were very zealous in obeying the commandment of our Saviour. God intended that every individual member of the church should do his part in spreading the gospel. If the entire membership of every congregation in America suddenly transformed itself into a zealous consecrated group of workers like those in the Jerusalem church and their converts exhibited the same spirit the whole world could be reached with the gospel of Christ in one generation.

Judging from the reports in our papers the church is making barely enough converts to offset the losses from deaths and defections. Instead of marching irresistibly forward, the Lord's army is only "making time" lifting its feet up and putting them down without advancing one ten-thousandth of an inch. This is certainly not an inspiring sight just a waste of energy. All should read what the angel said to the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:15,16) "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So because thou art lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee' out of my mouth."

Other concepts of responsibility were put into practice and they resulted in ignoble failures. The present woefully weak condition of the church, is in fact, due to the substitution of organization for the individual Christian as the responsible agent for spreading of the gospel which is God's way.

Where is the fault? 1. Some of the preachers are to blame because they have permitted the congregations where they labor to push them into being messenger boys and business managers of the church as well as their preachers. 2. Many of the members feel that because they pay the preacher a good salary that "he should do something to earn it." They expect him not only to do the things mentioned but also do the work of the individual members too. They expect the preacher to round up enough new members to keep the church on an even keel, financially speaking, call on the sick, visit those in mourning or trouble, conduct the funerals and perform marriage ceremonies, teach a Bible class, lead the mid-week meetings and in some cases even do the janitor work. In his "spare time" he is expected to prepare two good sermons for Lord's day. The elders, deacons, and men's business meetings should not unload their duties on the preacher simply because he is being paid a salary. Brethren, each of you have individual responsibilities to meet and you cannot hire a substitute to relieve you of them.

Not until every avowed Christian fully recognizes and accepts his or her individual responsibility for taking the gospel to the unconverted and zealously and prayerfully enters upon and faithfully continues in this work will real progress in evangelization again be made. God's plans will work and produce the desired results if the Christians faithfully do their part.