"For What Intent Ye Have Sent for Me?"

Woodrow Plyler
Cincinnati, Ohio

The above question was asked by Peter upon his arrival at the house of Cornelius. (Acts 10: 29). Peter was delegated the authority to preach the gospel to the Jews on Pentecost. Three thousand were added to the Lord's church on that occasion as a result of obedience to the terms of pardon set forth by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2: 36-47)

The Jews had been the c40sen people of God. However, the eternal purpose of God was to unite both Jew and Gentile, in the fullness of time, in the one body of Christ. (Eph. 2:11-16.) The gospel of salvation was to be proclaimed unto all people, through Christ (Isa. 49:9; Lk. 3:6). The last commission was unto 211 nations (Matt. 28:18-19; Lk. 24:46-48). The apostles, being Jews, did not grasp the full scope and import of the Commission, for several years after Pentecost the gospel was preached only to the Jews. Due to this narrow conception of the Commission, it took a special miracle to convince Peter that God could cleanse the Gentiles as well as the Jews, by the blood of Christ, and that the Commission was extended to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews (Acts 10:9-18).

We should be deeply impressed by the willingness of Peter to obey the Lord's instructions, notwithstanding, his previous conception of the last Commission. Perhaps, Peter knew that he would have some explaining to do to his Jewish brethren for his action (Acts 11: 1-18). However, being convinced that the gospel was for the Gentiles, he was willing to turn from his previous conceptions of the Commission. So many, today, are not willing to turn from false conceptions and convictions to serve the Will of God. Peter did not allow his Jewish brethren to stand in his way of what God had revealed to him. Therefore, contrary to the understanding of his brethren, Peter went into the house of a Gentile and preached the gospel of Christ.

It was not a matter of indecision that prompted Peter to ask the question which constitutes the title of this article (Acts 10: 22). There is no indication that Peter thought he was to instruct Cornelius how to build a bird house, play pingpong, serve donuts or how to be popular and loved by his fellowman. Peter was engaged in a different kind of business. He was telling his fellowman how to serve God and to save his soul. There is no indication that Peter was feeling the pulse of Cornelius to determine what to preach and what not to preach. It was his purpose to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).

This question, no doubt, arises in the mind of most every gospel preacher when he is called for a meeting or local work. Regardless of the purpose of his being called, he should go with the determination to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 COF. 2:2). There should never be the thought to feel the pulse of a congregation to see what it wants preached and what it does not want preached.

It is always the responsibility of the preacher to preach the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If he fails, he is calling condemnation down on himself (Gal. 1:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-3). We must assume that we have been sent for to preach the gospel in its entirety without reluctance and fear. It is sometimes, no easy thing to keep ourselves from falling victims of a socialized gospel which demands the pleasing of men rather than the pleasing of God. If we seek to please men we cannot be the servants of Christ (Gal. 1:10). We must please God and trust that man is pleased also. Those who do not have the courage, convictions, love and respect for truth to preach it in its fullness under all circumstances should never disgrace the pulpit by entering it. The pulpit is no place for those who lack courage, convictions and love of the truth to preach it as it is in Christ Jesus.

Peter was faced with a most delightful situation in that those present were there to hear "all things commanded thee of God" (Acts 10:33). It is always a wholesome situation to know that all assembled are present to hear all things commanded of God. Cornelius was seeking the truth. He wanted, above all other things, to please God. He knew that to please God he must hear all things commanded.

There are too many churches who call preachers, not to hear all things God commands, but that which will appeal to the itching ears. They have already reached the state that they will not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:1-3). Such churches should let this fact be known, when calling a preacher. It would prevent many sad experiences. I know preachers who were employed by congregations on the pretense that they wanted the whole truth preached. Soon the preacher was faced with a sad disappointment. The elders would begin to tell him that the congregation did not need certain subjects discussed. When he did not take the hint, the elders demanded that he not preach on them. Soon he was told that his services were no longer needed. Why? Because he preached the truth.

Too often churches are not willing for sin to be condemned. Elders are not willing for the ungodly to be rebuked and reproved. Elders have terminated the services of preachers for doing it. Sometimes preachers are unwilling to rebuke and reprove the ungodly. Elders have terminated their services for not doing it, which is commendable. They should have their work terminated for not doing so. First principles are always welcomed. Many times lessons on Christian living are resented, and when sin is rebuked a yell is heard as far as the influence of the ungodly extends. It will be known that "he does not preach with love." It is extremely strange that a preacher preaches first principles with love and condemns sin with hatred.

If the church is to be what God wants it to be, the gospel must be preached in its fullness. Until the church hears and obeys all that God commands, it cannot be what God wants it to be. We must want to hear all that God says. We must accept the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The responsibility of both those who send and those who are sent for indeed is tremendous. God said to Ezekiel, "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman over the house of Israel: therefore hear the words of my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at shine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turns not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul" (Ezek. 3:17-19). God has given to the preachers a similar charge. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2). "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16). James says to the hearers, "...Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your soul. Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your ownselves" (James 1:21-22). Jesus says, "...the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day" (Jno. 12:48). Again James says, "Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment" (James 3:1 ASV).

The teaching must be limited to what God says. "I have many things to say and judge of you; but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him" (Jno. 8:26). "Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that will he speak: and he shall show you things to come" (Jno. 16:13). Paul says, "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1: 1 1-12). To Timothy he said, "And the things thou hast heard of me among many witnesses commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2).

Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Paul and Timothy all were limited, in their teaching, to the things they heard and received from God. We, therefore, are limited, in our teaching to the things we have received from God through the written word. John sounds a warning, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God" (2 Jno. 9). He warns against adding to and taking away from that which is written (Rev. 22: 18-19). We must conclude from the foregoing statements that the "why" for sending and the "why'' for going is a tremendous determining factor in the salvation of the soul.

Truth Magazine VII: 11, pp. 5-6, 24
August 1963