By Jimmy Tuten
Our Lord entrusted the salvation of all mankind to human hands when He declared that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations” (Lk. 24:47). We have recorded for us in the annals of the book, of Acts a record of the far-flung efforts of the early disciples in carrying out this commission. So determined were they in their resolve that they were accused of turning “the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). They were bold and uncompromising (Acts 5:29). They went everywhere preaching the Word of God (Acts 8:4).
The church of the eighties needs this resolve. In many areas of our country, brethren have a great degree of concern for the lost. Yet we are allowing others to convert people to their soul-damning doctrines while we pride ourselves in having the truth, nice buildings as centers of learning, and well-trained preachers to expound the knowledge of God’s Word unto us. We have not awak ened to the fact that each of us has an urgent responsibility to save others. It is more than a collective responsibility (1 Tim. 3:15). Early disciples not only preached in public places and from house to house, they also engaged in some “one on one” type of teaching (Acts 20:20; 18:24-26). They knew that “into our hands the gospel is given, into our hands is given the light, haste, let us carry God’s precious message, guiding the erring back to the light.”, It seems that far too many think the sum total of evangelism is warming a pew three times a week. Sadly, they are encouraged by too many who find it easier to avoid the teaching of this responsibility, knowing that it is sheer hypocrisy for them to preach it and not practice it. In this regard, we are not a “people of the Book” because we have not been taught, what the Book teaches. The, generalization is somewhat harsh, but it must be said even at the risk of alienating some who have read this treatise up to this point. Brethren, let’s face it: the cause of Christ is growing, but not as it, should. We are not turning anything upside down. We could turn each community around if we could experience the truth of personal involvement in I ‘Personal evangelism.” If only the spirit of Martin Treptow could be instilled into the battle against the spiritual host of wickedness (Eph. 6:12). Just a few like him in the ranks of God’s soldiers would get the job done. “Who,” you ask, “is Martin Treptow?” It is he of whom President Reagan spoke in his Inaugural Address. Treptow was killed in battle during World War I while trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. On his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf, under the heading, “My Pledge,” Treptow had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore I work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will, right cheerfully and to my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”
Can elders, deacons, preachers and brethren of this decade have any stance less than that of Treptow when it comes to the Lord and His cause?’ We must rise up to the awesome challenge of reaching the lost with the saving message of Jesus Christ. Indeed, “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). It must be understood that the Lord never instituted a professional evangelist to specialize in certain fields, but in the truest sense of the word, each Christian is an evangelist (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:2). This is not to say that there are not other areas where the Christian in his dedication cannot serve God and advance the Kingdom. The Crossroads system is the other extreme in the opposite direction of failure to assume to the extent of one’s ability his responsibility to take the gospel to a lost people. Too, I am sympathetic toward those who, for reasons of health or problems beyond their control find it necessary to work in other areas of the Lord’s work.. These situations should not be drawn into the scope of the question posed except by way of clarification. But, again I raise the question, why is it that so few are involved in the work of personal evangelism except for a few brief spurts now and them? I don’t have all the answers and it is not the scope of this writing to examine those reasons as to why so many have failed in this regard. Rather the question is, “Why do brethren continue to do personal work?”
The Love Of God
Brethren keep on doing personal work because of A Love For, God which prompts them to love what God loves and hate what God hates. God’s love produced the proof in the form of the giving of His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for sin (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8). Hence, we love Him because He first loved us and knowing the terror of the Lord that one day shall come upon the ungodly brethren go from house to house warning the ungodly with tears and pleadings (2 Cor. 5:11).
The Only Power
Brethren keep on doing personal work because of the conviction that the gospel of Christ is the only power of God to save the lost (Rom. 1:16-17). No matter how good one may appear in the eyes of others, it is God’s Word that saves and not one’s personal goodness (Tim. 3:5). This power can only be communicated by the teaching of the Word of God (1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 10:14). Brethren are conscious of the beauty of the feet of them that teach the gospel (Rom. 10:15). With the awareness that this is the most noble work on God’s earth, brethren are reluctant to wither in the heat of the day or to slacken their efforts when the going gets rough.
To Enthrone Christ
Brethren keep on doing personal work in order to enthrone Christ in the heart of every individual through a knowledge of the Savior that comes only through the Word. Truly, the New Testament says, “and many other signs truly did Jesus . . . but these I are written, that Ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God . . .” (Jn. 20:30-31).
Love For People
Brethren keep on doing personal work because of an innate love for people This love for those lost in sin refuses to be soured regardless of unkind words or thoughtless acts that are sometimes scattered like chaff before the wind. They love though intimidated with rejection, body language shenanigans and charges of radicalism.
The Only Hope
Brethren keep on doing personal work because they realize that is the gospel which shall judge the world in the day of judgment (Rom. 2:16; Jn. 12:48). The fact that not all brethren will be pure of the blood of all men places the blood of men on the hands of those of us who know it (Acts 20:26). We must teach it to others!
We are living in a changing world where in every area of life changes have occurred with incredible swiftness. Science has forced outer space to yield its secrets and has made an entire new way of life for the housewife. IT has modernized industry and technology has introduced the computer age. In the meantime, sociologists have established standards of measurements for human conduct and have built new foundations under human relations to make this age truly unprecedented. But these scientific and social upheavals have not solved society’s problems. Instead, they have created new ones. Double and great insecurities abound more and more; thousands are driven to drugs as a way of escape, and the more religiously-inclined part of society has long ago turned to the charismatic and cult segment in the hope of finding a sense of well-being that would reach beyond the securities of God’s Word.
One cannot be ignorant of these rapid-fire changes in the world. There was once a proud owner of a race horse that was so fast that it defeated every horse it raced. The proud owner placed it in a large barn and painted a huge sign on the side which said “This is the fastest horse in the world.” But he failed to train and exercise the animal, so one day when he entered his horse in a race, it was decisively defeated. After he returned him to the barn, he painted another sign which read, “This is the fastest world this horse ever saw.” We all can identify with this observation.
It should be repeatedly affirmed that man’s spiritual needs remain constant in a changing world. Sin is still making havoc of people’s lives to the point that unspeakable orgies of the ancient world have become a way of life for some today. The Word of God is the only effective antidote for the deadly malady of sin. We must hold forth the word of life by teaching it in our assemblies and in the private places. To do this each child of God must stay in contact with heaven, keep himself spiritually and mentally fit, and find strength for responsibilities. Pessimism, self-pity and discouragement are moods that defeat many of us. When these are conquered, our brethren will march to the Lord’s drum beat and buy up every opportunity available to lead men to Christ. Thank God for these brethren who are willing to sacrifice time and effort to do personal work. May their tribe increase.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 10, pp. 304-305
May 16, 1985