By Bill Cavender
“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. . . . And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (Acts 8:4; 2 Tim. 2:2).
Herein lies the prescription for evangelizing the lost world, the saving of sinful souls, the spreading abroad “of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). By the means of personal contact and effort, by one person teaching another person, by the impact of one personality upon another personality, by each Christian teaching another fellow human being the gospel of our Lord Jesus, did “the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world… which ye have heard and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven,” permeate the first century world (Col. 1:5-6, 23; Rom. 10:18). This is still the only way, the only means and method by which the twentieth century world will hear the truth and some be brought to salvation in Jesus Christ and in His kingdom (John 3:1-8; Col. 1:13-14).
We live in a period of time in the world’s history and in the church of our Lord in the U.S.A. in which Madison Avenue advertising techniques, saturation mailings, promotional and begging campaigns, youth rallies and retreats, hamburgers and hotdogs and eating and drinking, high-powered and well-known brethren endorsements, large and powerful church(es) and eldership(s) planning and overseeing, are constantly and continually bombarding us with propaganda, telling us what great works and things are being done in the name of Christ and to the glory of God – and what greater and more marvelous works can be done if we will only supply the money and have faith in the projects, plans, talents and wisdom of men!
The world is going to hell around us, as the old south and the confederacy made its last stand and struggles around burning Atlanta. It is estimated in the next quarter to half century (if God lets the world continue), that there will be about eight billion souls – lost souls – on the planet called “earth,” almost double the present population. Yet God’s people diminish in numbers and in proportion. “Conservative,” “faithful” churches are not growing in numbers and in spirituality. “Liberal,” “digressive” churches are not growing in numbers and in spirituality. Many of them, with their elders and preachers, are holding meetings with and having affinity with denominational churches (so-called “Disciples of Christ,” or “Christian Churches” or “Churches of Christ” which use instrumental music).
The techniques and talents of brethren, their human wisdom and ways, their plans and promotions and projects, have not worked to the saving of lost souls in the world and the edifying of the churches toward eternal life. The results have been divided and alienated brethren, and churches spiritually weakened by worldliness and substitutions for God’s gospel, work and organization for His people. Our brethren are less knowledgeable in the Scriptures, with much less faith in God and in Christ and in the Scriptures, but they are far more knowledgeable in worldliness, sports, economics, the pleasures of sin, and have far more faith in men, money and machinations. Comparatively fewer brethren, individual Christians, are personally working and teaching the word of salvation to the lost. Fewer fathers read the Scriptures to their families, pray with their children, and take them to worship regularly. Fewer mothers are reading the sweet stories of the Bible to their little children and teaching them to pray. Fewer families emphasize spiritual matters in their daily lives, teaching God’s word and singing His praises “diligently unto the children, talking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:6-7). Fewer boys and girls are growing up among us, dedicated to Jesus and to the church, and desiring to be teachers and preachers of the word, and elders and deacons in the churches.
Only as individuals will we work out our own salvation in fear and in trembling (Phil. 2:12). Only as individuals will we be wise in winning souls to Christ (Prov. 11:30; Dan. 12:3). Only as individuals interested in serving our Father and going to heaven can we each develop our talents and make ourselves useful for the Master (Matt. 25:14-30). Only as individuals can we teach and make discernible inroads into a lost world in saving souls along the way. Only as individuals can we learn to pray, to think, to meditate, to study, to visit, to teach and to encourage others. Centralized projects, overseeing elderships, human institutions, vast sums of money, and all kinds of programs will not get the job done which each of us should hope and want to do – saving souls! Even local congregations, as such, will not get the work done. It is only when each of us quits being a spectator in the crowd in the congregation and gets down on the field of action, and goes to work for the Lord, will we begin to do what our first century brethren did when they “went every where preaching
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 23, p. 716
December 5, 1985