Steve Wallace


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White Unto Harvest

Some Who Should Not
"Go Into All the World"


This article is being written as the build up for the assault on Iraq seems to be nearing its completion.  The U.S. and Great Britain have assembled many of their best troops to accomplish their mission.  While not much is said about it, there are vast numbers of people in both countries of acceptable age who are not taking part in this effort.  Among this number would be those unfit for military service due to some physical or mental condition.  Likewise, those with a crippling fear of war or those unable to conscientiously take part in military service would not be found among the ranks in the Gulf.  Suffice it to say that not everyone can go fight in war.  There is a spiritual application of this truth.

The Lord gave the greatest commission of all time (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16).  It is vitally important that the lost learn about the grace of God manifested in Christ’s blood that they may be saved from eternal damnation (Rom. 3:23-25; Eph. 2:8-9).  Much effort, in both the first century and since, has been put into carrying out this “Great Commission” (Acts 2-19; Col. 1:23).  In light of all this, it is sad to say that, just as in the case of important military service, there are those unfit for duty in carrying out the Great Commission.  Let us pause to reflect on the necessity of noting this fact.

The main purpose of this Watchman feature is to help in the spread of the Gospel.  A mere man, no matter how well he is intentioned, supported or educated, can not answer the crying needs of lost souls without preaching the saving gospel of Christ and living his life in harmony with it (Mk. 16:15; Rom. 1:16; 1 Tim. 4:16).  In spite of his desire to go and churches’ willingness to support him in his going, it can be worse than just an exercise in futility if he does not preach and live as he should.  Hence, it behooves us to give careful consideration before encouraging or supporting a given brother in foreign or, for that matter, any preaching effort.   Hopefully, this article will be a helpful contribution to this needed area of study.  Let us now note some brethren who are unfit for preaching the gospel.

  1. Those who teach error.  One would almost have to be a universalist to ignore the effects that the teaching of error has had on the church in this generation.  There are many brethren today who have no business teaching anyone their convictions with regards to the Bible (Rom. 16:17-18).  The missionary zeal of such a man in error, while commendable in and of itself, should no more commend him to us than should the zeal of the Jehovah Witnesses commend members of that cult.  Let us not be deceived by the current opinions of some brethren.  Rather, let both those who would go preach and those who would undertake their support read and heed the Bible’s warnings on those who teach error (Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Jn. 9-11).  Error, no matter how nicely it is packaged or how much temporal good it may do, will damn and not save (Matt. 15:14).  Those who teach error on divorce and remarriage, the days of creation, fellowship with error, the work of the church, etc., have no business masquerading as being involved in the Lord’s business – anywhere.  Our next point is related to this one.

  2. Those who fellowship brethren who teach error.  Much has been taught by men like Ed Harrell, Bob Owen, Harry Pickup, Jr., Steve Dewhirst, Ferrell Jenkins and others to make teachers of error seem acceptable.  The Bible’s teaching stands in opposition to this idea (Matt. 7:15; Rom. 16:17-18; Eph. 5:11; 2 Jn. 9-11).  Many brethren in foreign fields, while believing the truth themselves, have invited teachers of error to be a part of efforts to preach the gospel in different places.  Surely we can all see the problem with this by considering a prominent false doctrine among us, that of error on divorce and remarriage.   What will happen when a brother who teaches error on this subject meets someone who is living in violation of the Bible’s teaching on the matter (Matt. 19:9)? (We have met such people in our work in Lithuania.)  He will teach them that they are acceptable in that state rather than teaching them their need to repent and get out of their sinful state (Acts 17:30).  Brethren who go out to preach the gospel should have settled convictions about the state of such teachers of error before they enter the mission field (Titus. 1:10ff; Phil. 3:2).  Churches involved in the support of such men should pay attention to co-workers  invited to work in their man’s location.  If you do not know where a brother stands on a given issue there is nothing wrong with asking him (1 Jn. 4:1-3).

  3. Men who cannot control their fleshly desires.  The Bible counsels self control as something in which a Christian must grow (Gal. 5:23; 2 Pet. 1:6).  Much damage has already been done to the Lord’s cause, both at home and abroad, by men who have become too familiar with those of the opposite sex.  If one has shown a weakness for improper or unlawful relationships with women he will do better to spend some time working on himself before he goes off somewhere to work in preaching word of God (1 Tim. 4:16).

  4. Those who find it difficult to get along with others.  A brother who has a hard time getting along with those of his own nation is going to have a harder time with proper relationships when dealing with those of a different nation and language.  Misunderstandings due to translation and cultural differences will only multiply the basic difficulties which confront such men.  Again, it is better for these brethren and for the Lord’s cause if such men first work on overcoming their own shortcomings before they embark on efforts to reach people with the gospel (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

  5. Gossips and slanderers.   The Bible warns again slander, deception and false accusation (the words “whisperings,”  “backbitings,” and “prating” in 2 Cor. 12:20 and 3 Jn. 9 should be studied in connection with this point).  Paul’s work suffered untold harm because of gossips and slanderers who sought to undermine him (2 Cor. 10:10; 12:20).  Likewise today, a brother who has such problems with his tongue will often hurt the reputation of faithful preachers in eyes of those who heed his words.  Thus, the work of the Lord will be hindered in that people seeking to serve him will be led to think ill of faithful men who may help them in their relationship with God.  A man known for such sinful talk has no place in any pulpit – whether at home or abroad.  This is one reason that brethren should follow up on stories they hear about other brethren.  They can thereby learn if the source of these stories has problems with his mouth.

Conclusion

Just as there are men who need to go out preaching the gospel, there are others who should not.  May we all recognize what a serious matter preaching the truth is and make sure we do not encourage an unworthy or unprepared preacher to enter the mission field.  Further, may all who desire to do mission work soberly consider what we say herein.  If we will be fit for the master’s use there are things of which we must purge ourselves (2 Tim. 2:21-22).


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