Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 24, 1951

Carrying Out The Great Commission

C. F. George, Brownwood, Texas

There were two methods used in the days of the early church in carrying out the Lord's injunction to preach the gospel to every creature.

The first is recorded in the eighth chapter of Acts. "They therefore that were scattered abroad went about preaching the word." (Acts 8:4). These people were not sponsored by anyone. They were not under the oversight of any church as far as the record goes.

This method is being neglected today. Many members of the church who are scattered for various reasons are not taking advantage of their opportunities to preach the word and plant the gospel in new places that do not have a true church of the Lord. Only two things are necessary in carrying out this plan. First the Christian who finds himself in a new place that does not have the pure and unadulterated gospel must have a thorough knowledge of God's word. A man cannot teach what he does not know. Too many in the church are failing to qualify themselves for any eventuality, and when they go into a new place they fall away instead of starting a new congregation. The second requirement in using this method is a desire on the part of the Christian who finds himself in this position to tell others of the Christ. This requirement leans upon the first one. A man ignorant of the teachings of Christ will not have any zeal in telling others of the cross.

The other method used in the beginning to evangelize the world was the sending out of men such as Paul, Barnabas, and Silas to preach the gospel to others. This is the method that the church is depending on mostly today. Much controversy exists over the proper way of using this method. A study of the methods used by Paul and others in the beginning should be profitable.

The first thing we shall notice is that a large audience was not necessary for them to start preaching. When Philip preached upon one occasion when only one person was present, the eunuch. But because of his place of residence and his position in life this was a means of spreading the gospel to another nation of people. Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard seed which germinated and made a plant which grew to great size. Too many ignore this principle now, and because they can not start off with something big they refuse to do anything, or just send a little money for someone else to spend as they see fit.

The next thing I wish to call to your attention is that a big fine building to meet in and impress the world was not necessary in the planting of the gospel. There is no record of the churches raising money and sending it to a new field and building nice church buildings before any preaching was done, or any converts were made. In fact there is no record of any of the apostles ever going among the churches to raise funds to build fine buildings anywhere. When Paul went to a new field he used places that were already in existence to obtain an audience. At Philippi he met with some women by the riverside where no building is mentioned. What we need to learn in this respect is that the church is built upon Christ and his teachings, and not upon material buildings and devices of man.

The next thing we shall notice is that the preaching of the gospel was the thing of first importance. There is no record of any of these early evangelists going into a new field and setting up a relief agency as a means of getting them interested and in a receptive mood for hearing the gospel. There is no record of their setting up an orphan's home or a secular school as an aid in preaching the gospel. Paul regarded the gospel as being the power of God unto Salvation. When Paul's method is used men are called out of darkness into the light of Christ and the church is started without blemish. The worldly are eliminated at the source, and many troubles avoided.

The congregations started were taught by Paul or some other man of God until they were old enough to have men qualified to be elders. The oversight was then turned over to the elders who lived among them. "The elders therefore among you I exhort, who am a fellow elder, and a witness of the suffering of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed; Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not by constraint but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, neither lording it over the charge allotted you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock, (1 Peter 5:1-3). In this passage Peter tells us whom elders may oversee, those "among" them. Now I want to ask a few questions. Is a man in Frankfurt, Germany "among" the elders in Lubbock, Texas? They claim to have the oversight of one. Is the Frascati orphan's home "among" the elders of the church in Brownfield, Texas, they claim to have the oversight of it. Is not the distribution of funds among the churches in Germany for the purpose of erecting buildings under the oversight of the elders in Lubbock, Texas? By what authority do they do these things? In spite of their being zealous, wealthy, and big churches, I am afraid some of the things they are doing are not according to knowledge, and those who think they can send their funds to some other church to administer for them fall in the same category. There is a difference in supporting a man and in overseeing him. A church may support a man any where in the world or help support him, but there is no scriptural authority for elders claiming to have oversight of any one that does not live "among" them.