Can We Preach to the Whole World?

With our lips I suppose most of us would say it is possible, but by our actions we deny it. This need not surprise us for when Jesus told His followers to make disciples of all nations 'some doubted' (Matt. 28:17-20). The very people who saw Him after He arose from the dead doubted their very eyes.

"Afterward He appeared to the eleven as they sat at table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen" (Mark 16:14).

Yet to these very people Jesus said: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

Thank God they changed. Faith came and the task was accomplished. When writing to the Colossians Paul could say that the gospel "was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister" (Colossians 1:23).

False teaching was what stopped world evangelism. Despite handicaps the gospel was preached to the Jews, to the Samaritans, and then to the Gentiles. Then false doctrine came. Some said the Gentiles had to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses in order to be saved (Acts 15:5).

The elders of the Jerusalem church gathered with the apostles to consider this matter for it had been carried far and wide.

"And certain men came down from Judea [to Antioch] and taught the brethren, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved'" (Acts 15:1).

We would have thought that these false teachers would have recognized the authority of the apostles chosen by Jesus, that they would have recognized the authority of the Holy Spirit sent by Christ. Sadly, this was not true. They carried their false doctrine wherever the gospel was preached. Such men led churches into apostacy.

In rebellion to Christ they exhalted themselves. One main cause of apostacy was the failure to preserve the universality of the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:5). "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

God never intended for there to be a clergy class in the church. "But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, 'You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:42-45).

Secular history reveals how quickly this concept was lost. But it was not lost without at least some protest as the years went by.

In time the light of New Testament Christianity grew dim indeed. The Bible was taken away from the common people. People were punished who even dared to read it. Sword and flame silenced many brave souls who saw a glimmer of light in the midst of a sinful and perverse generation.

Because of fierce opposition little evidence is found during many centuries of those who remained faithful to the Lord.

We cross the pages of history to a more recent time when again voices can be heard saying: We will follow Christ and Him alone, speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent. We will "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

It is sad, but many of our religious neighbours, though far astray in many ways, have recognized better than we that the gospel is universal, and have put us to shame in preaching their message to the whole world. While they have done much good, what they preach is a perverted gospel. The fact that in the plan of God there is only one church can not be taught by these people for they do not believe it (Isaiah 2:2,3). Do we believe it?

I remember the first radio sermon I ever heard and I remember one thing the speaker said. He said there is always a crisis. It may not be the crisis but there is always a crisis. More than 60 years have rolled by since then and there has not been a day that the church and the world have not been in crisis. Today is no exception.

On the other hand more people will obey the gospel now than ever in the history of the world. And there is no one to take them that gospel but us.

In all countries where the gospel is being preached precious souls are believing and being saved. In some countries, such as India, Nigeria and South America, thousands are looking for a better way.

Did the hope of world evangelism ever look so bright as it does now? Look at the transportation and communication means at our disposal!

When Moses sent twelve men to spy out Canaan, two said they could go up and possess the land, and ten said it could not be done. Which side are you on?

J. C. Bailey

Published in The Old Paths Archive (