Evangelizing the Field Next Door
George Welsh Tyler
San Diego, California
Jehovah through the prophet Isaiah wrote: "For as the rain cometh and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it to bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it" (Isa. 55:10, 11).
Evangelism is the God-given task of the church. The gospel is to be proclaimed by men. Every instance in the book of Acts where sinners were brought into the kingdom, a man had something to do with getting the gospel to him. Angels, the Holy Spirit, and possibly other agencies had a part in bringing the preacher and the sinner together. The way of life was made known to him by the one who proclaimed the gospel, either in sermon or private conversation.
Of necessity churches must give some time and attention to many things that are only indirectly associated with evangelism. Places of worship must be obtained and paid for. Money must be secured to defray the expenses of the work. Forces must be organized and trained to do the work decently and in order. Worship services must be conducted to hold and keep the members in tune. But the church must never lose sight of the overshadowing task of the church and its, members to evangelize the world. Its work is both local and worldwide. See Matthew 28:19,20 and Mark 16:15.
All are endowed with certain talents and are expected by our Saviour to use them to the very best of our ability in "The Father's business." The significance of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25: 14-31 is not well understood by many. The man "going into another country" in verse fourteen of the above mentioned chapter is Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. The servants are His disciples-followers, whom He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The word "talent" is used here as meaning gift or ability. If we do not use the special gifts God has given us in His service, we are just as guilty of sin as wits the unfaithful servant who buried the one talent entrusted to him in the ground and will be consigned to eternal punishment on the Day of Judgment. Those who have good voices and refuse to sing sin, those who are good admonishers and refuse to do it sin, those who are capable of doing personal evangelistic work and do not do it sin. We could add many other items but those, mentioned illustrate the principle involved.
From the way some Christians talk and act, they seem to think leading a Christian life consists of a forty-five minute Bible study Lord's Day morning, being present at the worship service, listening to a twenty-five minute sermon, if they can sit still that long, eat the Lord's Supper and put a few pieces of money in the collection basket. They then feel that 6iey have served the Lord to the best of their ability. They are badly mistaken. Leading the Christian life is a full-time job. Remember ' the "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" has no place in His kingdom where He can use those who give Him lip service only. Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him" (Jno. 14:21).
Down on the farm we had some good steady plodding horses, we had some balky ones, some shirkers and some jerkers. We have the same types in the church today, as well as some lazy indifferent ones. The Lord loves the good steady plodders and has no place in His church for any other types.
The New Testament teaches that Christian living is a life of great activity. Jesus said, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19: 10). Christians are servants in one sense. Jesus said, "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his lord" (Matthew 10:24). Christ set the example of working industriously before us. At the age of twelve when Joseph and Mary found Jesus teaching in the temple at Jerusalem and rebuked Him, he said, "Know ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49 A.V.). He had work to do. Later He said, "We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4).
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth as follows: "For if I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:16). Paul felt like the household slave who is under obligation to care for his master's affairs. Christ was his Master. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul urged the brethren as follows: "Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ." To be imitators means to be followers; walking continually in his footsteps as lie walked in those of the Saviour of men. The apostle Peter writing to the "sojourners of the Dispersion" said, "Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21).
Jesus said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and accomplish his work" (John 4: 34). What was this work? Let Jesus give the answer. "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19: 10). The work Christ was sent to do was to seek and to save that which was lost. The apostles, Paul and Peter, commanded all Christians to imitate them as they also imitated Christ. Fellow Christians, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that are white already unto the harvest" (John 4:35). Work, watch and pray, as did Christ, His apostles and members of church of the first century.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 42, pp. 12-13