The Church of those first years thoroughly understood what its great mission was to be. The first chapters of the Book of Acts vividly describe the ideal Church as planned by the Master, and as understood by those who felt His own personal touch upon themselves. Everybody went. They went to everybody. They went everywhere. There is pretty clear evidence that they actually went everywhere that men could go. They held their lives, and even their property, subject to the one great gripping purpose.
The greatest leader of the first century of the Church, Paul, who contributed most to its literature and exerted the greatest influence upon its life, was above all else a missionary leader. He went practically everywhere. He didn't go hastily, but by carefully thought-out plans. He won men to Christ, organized them into church societies, taught them, and sent them out to win others.
He worked in and out of the world's great city centres of his time. Ephesus, the Asiatic centre, Corinth, the centre of Greek influence, and, Rome, the centre of the world's governing power, were the scenes of his longest and most thorough campaigns. His choice of the centres was a master's strategic choice. For these centres sent their influence out to the ends of the earth. Paul's body might be in Ephesus or Corinth or Rome, but his thought and heart were on the world these cities reached by constant streams of influence.
And to these churches which he had won out of the raw stuff of heathenism he taught the same world-wide message. They became filled with this same world-wide spirit. The Thessalonian and Corinth Churches made their winning power felt throughout Greece and wherever Greek culture had gone, that is to say, everywhere. The Church in Rome sent out the message of Jesus from its golden centre of all Roman roads, out to the farthest reaches of those far-reaching roads.
It is striking, though not surprising, that the days of the Church's missionary activity have been the days of its greatest purity and vigor. When the vision of the Master's face on Olivet, and the ringing sound of His |Go ye| have been lost, the Church has written pages that would gladly be blotted out.
The Church has been a winning force beyond any power of calculation or words of description. All that has been done has been done through its activity and leadership. It is to-day a tremendous winning force, reaching its warm hands out to the very ends of the earth, and drawing men to Jesus. With our earnest prayer it will exert a yet mightier influence in taking Jesus to all men and in winning men everywhere to Jesus.