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The Great Commission And Mass Evangelism

"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (consummation of the age) " (Matthew 28.19, 20).

Here are incorporated the principles of the kingdom of God of New Testament times, which were to continue to the end of the age, that is, until the Lord Jesus returns from heaven to take away the Church, which is His Body.

The great commission here given by the Lord to His disciples, prior to His ascension to "the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Hebrews 8.1), is enlarged upon in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles; the former recording the history of the planting of churches of God, which were thus included one by one in the kingdom of God, and the latter giving the record of the Operating of these churches, with behaviour therein, and the order, rule, and discipline necessary to their continuance. Those who were found therein had avowed their love for, and subjection to Him, who died for them and rose again, and thus allegiance to Him who had all authority in heaven and on earth. In the religious movements of our day, and especially in so-called "mass evangelism" men find no room for the great commission. There are many earnest children of God who are sincerely puzzled by the fervour of those who take part in "mass evangelism " movements, and by the fact that therein "decisions for Christ" are made while those who seek to adhere to, and contend for, the carrying out of the great commission have but comparatively little success-as measured by the number of "decisions for Christ" being made. We do not for a moment doubt the earnestness of many of those who conduct and support "evangelistic campaigns." Neither do we doubt that God in His sovereignty uses those means to bring blessing to sinful men and glory to His own Name. As the apostle stated, when writing to the church of God in Philippi," Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice" (Philippians 1.18), 50 do we rejoice. To come to the conclusion, however, that because God honours His word, by whomsoever proclaimed, therefore those who so proclaim it must be doing the revealed will of God, is false reasoning.

Writers in these pages, from time to time, have drawn attention to the wrong act of Moses recorded in Numbers 20.1-18, which in the sovereignty of the God of Israel brought blessing and life to a multitude of human beings. Yet as the result of that act Moses was banned from entering the land of Canaan. In the light of this and all the plain teaching of the Holy Scriptures we must continually emphasize that if the would-be disciple of Christ is to make progress in the things of God, then he must seek light to order his ways aright, not by human reasoning or sentiment, but by divine revelation in God's written word.

We doubt not but that many are truly born from above during these campaigns, although in the case of some whom we have met, evidence of any real dealings with God and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit is not very marked. A consideration of the procedure adopted is instructive. Prior to the campaign, most of the Protestant "denominations" are invited to join hand in hand, and an assurance is given that no attempt will be made to draw away from their respective "churches" any who might attend the meetings. From many religious bodies, differing widely in teaching and practice, "counsellors" are enlisted to help and counsel those who make decisions. Such are under a binding obligation, whatever their own personal beliefs or convictions, to counsel the new converts to return to their own denomination, there to seek spiritual help, and take a place in " church work." This means that some will be instructed to return to spiritual leaders and systems where the need of the new birth is denied; others to where it is taught that by the sprinkling of water upon a babe it is made "a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven." Some would be directed to where the baptism of disciples of the Lord Jesus by immersion is looked upon as "controversial teaching," and others again to where modernism assails the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Where, in the Scriptures, is all this procedure to be found? Nowhere! Those who proclaimed the gospel in New Testament times did so in keeping with the "great commission. They made disciples and baptized them and taught them to keep the Lord's commands. This we find exemplified in Acts 2.41, 42.

The churches of God (1 Corinthians 1.2, etc.), the Fellowship of God's Son (1 Corinthians 1.9), the kingdom of God (Acts 1.8, etc.), and the house of God (Hebrews 3. 6; see also Ephesians 2.21, 22) were not in apostolic times brought into being by the methods of a confederacy of religious systems, whether evangelical or otherwise, and they cannot be thus brought into being in this day. Only by the individual acceptance of Christ as Saviour by sinful men and women, followed by heart-subjection to His Lordship, as taught in Acts 2 and elsewhere in Scripture, and by being added to others, who are builded together according to the divine pattern, can God's will be accomplished.

The Lord Jesus said, "Take heed what ye hear," and we do well to remember His words recorded in Matthew 7.24-27 concerning the "wise" and " foolish " men who builded their respective houses the wise one being likened to those who hear His word and obey it, whilst the foolish are likened to those who hear, but do not obey. When the testing time came, the difference was seen.

Beloved child of God, when we stand before the judgement-seat of Him who loved us and "gave Himself for us" (Titus 2.14) thus shall it be made manifest whether we have been "wise" or "foolish" builders. It will not affect our eternal security in Christ, but it will affect the decisions of our Lord and Saviour regarding our life of service for Him. Then our works will be seen as "gold, silver, costly stones," or "wood, hay, stubble" (1 Corinthians 3. 12).