The churches of Christ in the first century were evangelistic. In that, they are worthy of our admiration and imitation. The strength and life of the church are maintained when truth is propagated and error is prosecuted. The weakness and death of the church result when sin is condoned rather than condemned and when compromise blunts the sword of the Spirit.
Into All the World
The New Testament is a mold or pattern (2 Tim. 1:13). The binding Bible blueprint reveals the scope and scale of the evangelism of the churches of Christ.
First, "the church which was in Jerusalem":
1) LOCALLY--The apostles did not leave the word of God and serve tables (Acts 6:4). They were engaged in preaching and presenting Jesus Christ "in the temple and in every house" (Acts 5: 42). Meanwhile, Stephen debated in certain synagogues, "And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake" (Acts 6:10).
2) REGIONALLY -- After Philip's success in Samaria, the apostles sent Peter and John. "And theypreached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans." (Acts 8:14, 25)
3) INTERNATIONALLY-Upon hearing of the conversion of "a great number" of the Gentiles, "the church which was in Jerusalemsent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch." (Acts 11:21-24)
Secondly, "the church of the Thessalonians":
1) LOCALLY--"For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia" (locally).
2) REGIONALLY--"and Achaia" (regionally)
3) INTERNATIONALLY "but also in every place (internationally) your faith to God-ward is spread abroad" (I Thess. 1:8)
Thirdly, "the saints . . . at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons":
1) LOCALLY--While Paul was in Philippi, there were "those women which labored (with him) in the gospel, withother (of his) fellow labourers" (Phil. 4:3)
2) REGIONALLY--In Thessalonica, the Philippians had sent more than once unto Paul's necessity. It was a token of their fellowship in the gospel. Fruit gleaned and garnered abounded unto their account. (Phil. 4:15-17)
3) INTERNATIONALLY - Epaphroditus, the messenger of the Philippian church, had been sent to Rome to serve as a "companion in labor" to Paul in prison. (Phil. 2: 25-30; 4:18)
Comment and Conclusion
Churches today must strive to emulate the above examples. We find some churches, in their zeal to support preachers around the globe, allowing their neighbors across the street and across town to die and go to hell. However, we find others which function locally and build a big bank balance while precious souls are dying of salvation starvation in Africa and elsewhere. Let churches seek to spread their interest and enthusiasm for evangelism at home and around the world. New Testament churches did.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 46, p. 2
October 1, 1970