World Evangelism (1): Recognizing Our Responsibilities

By Leslie Diestelkamp

All of us quote the great commission frequently. Perhaps many of us do so without really recognizing the grave responsibility imposed. The apostles were to preach the gospel in all the world and they were to teach the converts to do the same. The obligation to preach Christ is not done “once for all time,” but it is a continuing duty for every generation. The magnitude of this obligation is emphasized by the ceaselessness of the reproductive system and by the endless number of souls that daily become accountable to God for their guilt. Furthermore, the terribleness of sin and the very high evaluation that God puts upon each soul should make us aware of our constant duty to preach the Word.

It is, then, the duty of each child of God to sow the good seed of the kingdom here, there and everywhere. This cannot be done by proxy. God will see no fruit in my life just because I had an uncle who preached the gospel for 33 years, nor because my grandmother may have sent money to a preacher who went to Africa two generations ago. I must participate, personally! And I may do this by teaching the lost myself and/or by helping support those who do go into the faraway fields of the world (Gal. 6: 6; Philemon 13, 14).

Furthermore, the real and singular mission of the whole church is to be “the pillar and support of truth” (I Tim. 3:15). Indeed, the church has other obligations (in benevolence, edification and worship) but its dynamic reason for existence is evangelism. We are not an identifiable entity for the purpose of “keeping house for the Lord” but rather that we may “offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 2:5). We must serve God by serving others, especially the lost of all the earth.

In the last two decades there has been a real awakening to the responsibility for world evangelism. Congregations that had never spent a dollar in a distant place have learned to send thousands of dollars around the world. Consequently, preachers have been able to go into the fields far and near. Twenty years ago, if a preacher determined to go into a foreign field he usually had to spend many months, traveling all over the country to secure money to go. Today most good men can raise such support without making one speech. We thank God that his Word has enlightened the minds, stirred the hearts and loosened the purse strings of Christians who now gladly become partners in evangelism across the oceans and around the world.

Naturally not all of God’s people have yet learned this lesson in sharing. Some churches can still only think of local needs. A few still may say, “One doesn’t have to get sea-sick to be faithful” (to which I reply, “Somebody does”). But happily, most congregations are awakening. The results, though not phenomenal, are rewarding and gratifying. God is glorified among multitudes who had previously never heard. Precious souls are saved everywhere. And, slowly, sometimes without proper zeal and wisdom, we are relentlessly pressing forward toward the ideal of a completely unselfish and altogether generous use of manpower and money in pursuit of the real objectives for which we are created in Christ Jesus.

Watch for another article in some later issue of this paper under the general heading of “World Evangelism” in which I hope to spell out some of the specific challenges that are ours today.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 19, pp. 8-9
March 16, 1972