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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : THE MINISTRY OF MISSIONS by Norman Grubb

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 THE MINISTRY OF MISSIONS by Norman Grubb


[b]THE MINISTRY OF MISSIONS[/b]
[i]by Norman Grubb[/i]

July 31, 1954

I am very, very sorry for my fast speech. I have apologized many times, but like unsatisfactory repentance, I haven’t changed. I am able to preach victory (I don’t say live it) in any other respect, but not a slow tongue. I can’t get that one! Also I am sorry to say that my voice has disappeared into my boots. It probably comes from your shoeless habits here for us tenderfeet. I think I caught a cold or something in Korea. So I hope you will somehow be able to hear. One of you very conveniently shouted out at a previous speaker and so please shout out again and I will do my best.

It’s certainly heart-stirring to hear this variety of ministries which we are being given day by day. I do thank God for all these different ways in which the Holy Spirit is busy in revealing the Lord Jesus Christ to those whom He has bought with His blood.

Now I want to continue for this morning hour where we left off yesterday, and I trust to complete what is on my heart and mind to say on this subject. Those of you who were here last night will remember we sought to speak first on the strategy of the Spirit, that Mighty Person who has come to fulfil, fulfil completely and perfectly, the plan of God in this era. We have sought to examine His strategy so far as worldwide evangelization is concerned, and we glanced at certain era of His activity up to the present. We found that this present era can largely be called the era of inter-denominational missions. That is not really a good term because it is not even true. Denominational means that you have a name. Well, we all have a name. So we are all denominations really. But it is I suppose the most convenient name we can use. Perhaps conservative missions or fundamental missions or something like that might be nearer the truth, but we understand I think what we mean when we speak of “the body of inter-denominational conservative missions.” And we were saying that this is peculiarly the era of the Spirit through the interdenominational activities worldwide.

And then we looked for a few minutes at the present day objective of the Spirit through His servants, and we saw that we are passing away from the days of great unevangelized fields to various unevangelized localities and areas which have to be sought out by us and occupied. In probably every land there are such localities, and perhaps even more so it is the era of infiltration, when we have recognized that a vast new challenge comes to us to go into those areas where the Gospel has not really been preached. Perhaps they are claimed by certain missions and yet there are tens of thousands who are not reached at all, or, at least, what may be still worse, those who are in them are not really giving them the saving Gospel. So we are faced with a vast task of infiltration, and that I suppose, is the characteristic of missionary work here in Japan; it is mainly infiltration work.

Now I want to pass on from that to consider for a little while the ministry of missions. It is pretty obvious, but we can touch on it for a moment or two.

I. EVANGELIZATION UNTO REGENERATION.

I would suggest that the ministry of missions is obviously threefold. The first, of course, is what we usually call evangelization. I don’t think there is a better verse I know of in Scripture than Acts 26:18 for giving us a full outline of the meaning of evangelization. It is that great exposition of the ministry of the Spirit by His servant Paul when he was sent to “open their eyes,2 and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” It is a wonderful analysis of the whole ministry of the Gospel. It is peculiarly apt I think to this country because, as many of you will know, one of the greatest and richest apostles of the Gospel who has ever lived in Japan wrote a famous book on it. That was beloved Paget Wilkes of the J.E.B. I hope that the vast majority of us here have read that stirring book, “The Dynamic of Service,” which is based on this text. It must be fully 25 years ago when I read that book but I remember how as a young missionary it stirred my soul as he expounded his message of bringing the Gospel and producing the fruits of the Gospel among the Japanese and I do recommend any of you who don’t know it to get it. “The Dynamic of Service” by Paget Wilkes.

I would stress first of all what is obvious, but it does need stressing; that our first objective is regeneration. It is evangelization unto regeneration. Now brothers and sisters, we must continue to hammer and hammer on that because we can have evangelization which doesn’t reach regeneration. It is all too easy. I don’t know Japan, so I can’t answer for this country, but I know other countries where it is extremely difficult to tell when a soul is regenerated. I don’t know whether you find that here or not. Certainly in Africa it is so. It is extremely difficult to be quite sure when a soul is really born of God. It may be because we are foreigners and can’t quite enter into their outlook and attitude, I don’t know, but that’s just a fact. But I am stressing that we have to labour on—and labour through until we have regenerated souls who are producing the fruits of regeneration. “He that is born of God does not commit sin.” “By this we know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.” “I write unto you little children because your sins are forgiven you for His Name’s sake and because ye have known the Father.” “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” “By their fruits ye shall know them,” and such verses are evidences of the regenerated spirit. We have to have an experiential presentation of the Gospel, have we not?

Now I say that with some urgency. I know I needn’t say it to you, but it is always good to remind ourselves of it because the mission field is terribly rotten with the other. That has been my shocking burden in this last year as I have spent 3 months in Indonesia. I went through 6 islands, peopled with nominal Christians. I am sorry to say they are practically nothing but nominal whether they are the pastor or the deacon of the Church. I told you yesterday of North India, peopled with nominal Christians. Yesterday I had a letter from England, giving the private report of the best known evangelical leader, an American in India—Everett Cattell, blessed man of God of the American Friends Mission. He has just been addressing the mission secretaries in India this last week and I was sent the report and was interested to see that he made that the priority number one—that something must be done in North India to bring regeneration to the nominal Christians. So although it may not affect us, in the sense that we are people who have come to bring that regeneration, yet we have to battle through to see that it happens.

And there can be subtle snags that arise. I have been fairly recently among a large company of very godly people on a mission field where they love prayer, love the Word, follow hard after God. I was amazed to find that a large proportion of them do not know the New Birth. Of course in that case it is probably because they are to some extent “birthright Christians,” they are second-generation, Christians, they have received it from their parents, they have that form of baptism which sprinkles infants which can also give the wrong impression. And I found that a big error has arisen, that is what to me is a big error, and it shocked me. I find that they make a clear distinction in teaching between belief and new birth. Well, I think that is false to the Scriptures. These are all evangelicals and fundamentalists, yet they make a clear distinction between people who believe Jesus and people who are born of the Spirit! To my mind, in the Scriptures, belief is new birth—they are one thing. We are making a false division which has crept right into that Church.

I had a little experience of what it means myself because I heard a terrific address given to about 2,000 of these godly people. Of course, it had to be interpreted to me afterwards, but the speaker was vehement and emphatic. I found he was preaching repentance, repentance, particularly concerning certain forms of sin. And I was led next address to preach the Blood for it is the Blood that cleanses. The eye of God is on the precious blood and when our eye is also fixed on Him who is the Lamb of God, as God’s eye is fixed on Him, there is immediate deliverance. I took various illustrations such as any of us would take, the Prodigal Son who was immediately accepted by the Father; Zacchaeus who was immediately accepted of Jesus, and so forth, to show the immediate salvation. I had heard that at a previous meeting, hands had been asked to be raised in a congregation of a people of prayer, of zeal, of earnestness, as to those who knew of their new birth. They said that only about 15% went up out of that 2,000. Well, on this occasion I didn’t feel led to make any appeal, but the head man of the Church rose up afterwards. I didn’t know what he was saying, of course, but he called out something and a great forest of hands went up. I found out afterwards what he asked was, “How many of you now know that your sins have here and now been washed away in the Blood of Jesus?” I don’t know what was meant by that forest of hands, but I do know this, that that same evening a man, one of these nationals, sent up a letter with a thank offering and said, “for 28 years I have believed in the Lord Jesus, but only today do I know that my sins are washed away in His precious Blood, and here is a thank offering.”

And afterwards I heard a talk between a group of soldiers and someone said, “Do you know what those soldiers are saying? They are saying, ‘We believed in Jesus 2 years ago, but we have only discovered today that we are saved by His grace now.’”

So you see, there is a great need for us to be sure we preach the complete regeneration Gospel, a Gospel that gets people born again and saved here and now by His grace, who will confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus, and are shining as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of Life. Well, that is milk for us, and perhaps it is milk we have to re-drink occasionally.

It took us a long time in Africa (I know what I am talking about there) because I know the shock we had of profession without possession. Africans would come in easily, by the thousands, and we began to find that if there were any born again they were probably mere units among the thousands and we had to start all over again. So I know it is all too easy to get professions in certain countries without possession.

II. SANCTIFICATION—A HOLY CHURCH.

I next stress what really, according to that verse we have just quoted, is the second aspect of the same objective of evangelization; that is sanctification. Under whatever term we preach it, I would stress that God calls us to be people who are commissioned never to rest until we see the full likeness of Christ, the image of Christ in the people to whom we go. We are to see a sanctified people as well as a saved people. I suggest that the whole New Testament emphasis is that; that the occupation of Paul and the other writers through the letters was holiness. A holy church.

I think, I don’t know if you do, that it’s a sad thing, though it happens, that a precious New Testament word sometimes gets attributed to one separate group. Now we get what are called a “Holiness people.” I thank God for the Holiness people; may there be more of them! But they will agree with me when I say they are not the only people who have holiness. Holiness is a Gospel word. I have heard that some of you missionaries here in Japan are afraid of using “holiness” because it is a technical term. It is a Bible term, not a technical term. We must wrest it from its wrong use. Everyone of us ought to be a holiness missionary, as well as a justified missionary.

My, my! I will tell you a secret. This very morning at our own breakfast table in our own mission, when I said that our Bible School in England is Holiness Bible School, one of our missionaries said, “Oh, is it holiness?” meaning, “I hope it isn’t.” I said, “I hope it jolly well is. I will go back and see to it if it isn’t.” My, my! Not holiness? We stand for holiness. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” “Warning every man and teaching everyman that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” “My little children of whom I have travailed in birth until Christ be formed in you,” not an embryo, but a fully formed man who can be a full Christ inside me. “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” and a multitude of other texts. I hope God gives us as missionaries a divine burning in our hearts.

Of course, we have to have an experience first. This isn’t the series of meeting in which we are talking about the experience and the deeper life—we shall talk about them next week. But having ourselves had the experience of a full salvation, we must learn how to expound a full salvation. I find it has taken me a much longer time to be a teacher of full salvation than to be an experiencer of it; but I am to be both experiencer of full salvation and a teacher of full salvation, so that I can produce people who are fully saved and whose lives and hearts are known by God and whose satisfactions are in the Lord Jesus Christ. And that will be a satisfaction to us too. I don’t know what you heard in old days in England, but we used to hear that there were no converts in the world equal to some of the converts in Japan who are the product of the old Japan Evangelistic Band, and they told me that where beloved Barclay Buxton and Paget Wilkes and men like that preached a full salvation and entire sanctification (whatever particular terminology we may use) it has produced deep, strong, rich, holy, God-loving, soul-loving lives. Coming out here after all these years, our hearts have been stirred for, without making any inquiries again and again in different places in Japan, I have found a product of that work. This pastor or that person would say, “Oh, yes I first heard about the Word of God from Mr. Paget Wilkes, or Mr. Buxton or Mr. Cuthbertson or one of those early men.” I thought again that it was a re-emphasis to my own soul of the seed of the Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit of those who preached a living, full salvation. I used to know those men of last generation; they weren’t men who stand high in the way of doctrine, but they produced lives—lives on that standard.

We are all so new here, as I said yesterday, we may get the idea that nothing happened before the last war in Japan, but it did in the power of God. But I won’t underline that point further except to stress it. I do hope that we missionaries, no matter what your terminology is will have no rest in your own souls until you know the secret of holiness, are continually sanctified and living victoriously and have the burden and the burning in your own soul to see that those to whom we minister also find that secret, and live in the fulness of God. So we are producing both a saved and a sanctified people or as this verse said both a forgiven and a sanctified people—separated, consecrated, sanctified.

III. ORGANIZATION OF LIVING CHURCH.

The third part of our ministry, I suggest, is the building of the living church. The first two parts of the ministry are individual; salvation and sanctification. The third is corporate; the building of the living church. We are going to examine that a little further in a few minutes time.

It should be a real concern to us that we build after the due order. We remember that word David used when he attempted to bring back the Ark on the new cart not after the due order and when Uzzah touched the Ark, and the hand of God struck him. David sought to bring the Ark up to Jerusalem in his own way and was rebuked but then later on he found but from God’s word what was the due order. He said now that this and this must take place so that we bring the Ark of God up after the due order.

There’s a due order for the living church for its outward life as well as its inward, and it is part of our responsibility to discover what that due order is, and then to build on it. Again, in my recent wanderings, I came upon a striking example of that. Perhaps one of the most striking experiences I have had during this last year and a half was when I discovered an Indian who was mightily used of God. There were no foreign missionaries, no foreign money (although he welcomed foreign missionaries to come and fellowship with him—he was entirely open that way), but it’s purely an Indian work. It has leapt like a flame and expanded from place to place having about 130 churches, many of which are very large.

I worshiped in one of their churches all day Sunday with about 800 people. I learned from the Indians how the Lord’s day should be spent but I found the secret lay here; this beloved brother (he’s not head of the church, because they are on right church principles; he’s the senior brother among them) said to me, “I had to learn my lesson because we started this work under the call and power of God (I think about 12 or 15 years ago), and God broke through with a mighty revival and people were swept into the kingdom in certain parts of India, and as there were neighbouring churches there, I just left them in those churches. I got the shock of my life when I came back about 6 months later to find death; they just disappeared, nothing seemed remaining and I learned that I had done only half my duty. My duty was not only to get them born-again and maybe filled with the Spirit, but also to teach them how to worship after the due order and how to be churches on the New Testament pattern.” Of course, that brought in persecution, but as I moved from place to place I was stirred to my depths to meet these groups who had learned something of worshiping according to His pattern, as well as being themselves individually saved and sanctified people.

So I suggest that those are our three ministries as missionaries. Evangelization producing regeneration and sanctification in the life of the believer, and the building on the New Testament basis, the church of Jesus Christ.

A. GOD’S AGENTS IN PRODUCING THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH.

Now I want to pass from that to a little consideration of God’s agents in producing the New Testament church, the church which is His body, and then, if I have time, to look at the church itself.

1. Apostles—Full Time Agents.

Now it’s obvious to us what the agents are, but I think it’s good to remind ourselves that there’s a clear place in the New Testament for full-time agents of the Gospel who have a specialized ministry. I will refer to this specialized ministry in a moment. But there is an obvious Scriptural place for full-time agents of the Gospel. The first was the Lord Jesus Himself, the Apostle and High-priest of our calling, who was called out from His secular life into what we would call full-time ministry, gathering around Him another dozen men who each left all to follow Him. So we get the pattern.

We get the pattern again after Pentecost when the apostle said, “Appoint other people to do the other businesses. As for ourselves, we will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.”

We get the pattern coming out again in the beginning of the evangelization of the Gentiles when the Spirit of God said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them,” and out from them came the first evidences of what we may call the missionary agencies of today.
We remember that famous verse in Acts 20:4 where it speaks of being accompanied by Sopater of Berea; and Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica; and Gaius of Derbe; and Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia; a thrilling list you have. These men were picked up from the different young churches going all the way now into full-time ministry, as far as we know, with the Apostle Paul and doubtless representing many others not mentioned by name.

So we have New Testament authority for full-time agents, not as pastors of churches, no, not as pastors of churches, and still less as lords over God’s heritage, but as propagators of the Gospel, bringing the churches of Christ into being. I suppose the nearest New Testament word really is “apostle,” because that is used in the New Testament in a wider sense than merely the twelve Apostles, but I suppose it is a word that we should be reticent in using, because it has such peculiar implications. Perhaps we prefer today simply to say “missionary.”

We won’t go further into the matters concerning missionaries as agents of the Gospel, except to say this: there are many problems which centre around the organization of missions and missionaries, and also the character of missions and missionaries. We are passing by, though, except for one comment. On organization, I will just say this, but many of you won’t agree with me. Perhaps many of you would like to agree with me and can’t!

But I’m positive, from twenty years experience on the home end of a mission that missionary groups on a foreign field should be independent groups. There should not be remote control on mission fields. Home boards have no business to control foreign fields. Home boards may have their place and their activities and those activities may be in liaison with the fields, but home boards have no business to control. You cannot control from ten thousand miles away what is being done here. I’m positive what the law of the Spirit is; He gives His mind to the people who pay the price. I think it is a very important law. The Spirit reveals His mind to the people who pay the price, because they are pretty cautious about what they do then for they are going to pay for it themselves. When you get a committee six thousand miles away from you who legislate it, it doesn’t cost them too much, maybe, but if you have to do it, it will cost you something. So you will be a little more careful in getting the right guidance. Now there is much more in it than that. I suggest to you that we reproduce ourselves and if you are accustomed to bowing continually to distant authority, you’ll accustom your churches to bow to distant authority too. You won’t give them the right Scriptural foundation of independence if you are not independent yourself. Therefore I think there is a very vital matter here because of what we are reproducing in the converts. Well, as I say, some of you enjoy that independence and some of you sigh for it. If some of you can find a way to get it, well, get it, that’s all!

With that I pass on. There are no board members here so we are quite safe. There’s only Brother Thompson and he thinks the same as I do, I think. So that’s all I’ll say on the question of
mission organization which isn’t our immediate objective here.



2. National Evangelists.

I want to go on to a matter of very great importance, a matter which possibly some of you have solved. I think possibly some of the older missions here have solved it; I would like to hear very much from them if they have. And that’s the problem of the national evangelists. Now I again speak somewhat in the dark as concerns Japan, because I don’t know your set-up sufficiently, but my chief concern is the problem of the national evangelists where there are not national churches able to support them.

Now I originally came, as I told you, from a field where the converts were by the thousands from the beginning and the problem has never arisen as to how to support evangelists. For thirty or thirty-five years we never put a penny of foreign money into the African Church; it always runs its own affairs and pays for its own affairs, but I came across a very different problem when I came over this way. I came to Indonesia, Thailand, India, and then to you here. I came across the problem and dilemma of the fact that, in these days of nationalism, all seem to agree that you cannot adequately present the Gospel to nationals unless it is done by nationals; that is, only by nationals or by a mixed team that contains nationals. Now the dilemma is: from where are you to get your nationals? Who is to support them? It’s a question of which comes first the egg or the chicken? The nationals produce the church and the church supports the nationals, but which is to come first?

Now the solution made by all the older denominations and some of us too, doubtless, has corruption at its core—and that is foreign subsidies. So we are facing the fact that there is a vast, foreign subsidized national ministry. It has obvious corruptions about it. We have to face the facts, and one is that foreign subsidies often produce professionalism.

I believe security in the church of Christ is its biggest curse, security in the earthly church of Christ is its biggest curse. I don’t believe this Book ever offers earthly security. It offers heavenly security and earthly insecurity, and I believe the deadness which has come into the whole church, generation by generation, and which has entailed the starting of new groups, has been largely because the representatives of Jesus Christ have sought earthly security and then have cooled down in their zeal because of it.

I think it is the curse of denominations but no doubt you won’t agree with me. You get that in the paid pastor or paid evangelist. It seeks something from the church. I saw that with my own eyes in India. And you have church members who are church members partly for what they can get from the foreign missionary—schooling and so forth. So there is this element of professionalism which has crept right in through the foreign subsidy.

You get another grave danger, that is, subservience to the foreigner. I met a very tragic situation fairly recently which illustrates what I mean. There was a strong national group which was strongly conservative although there was some modernism among them—they had been born out of one of the old denominations, but the national evangelicals have risen up and taken hold of the whole church of tens of thousands. They now hold the seminaries and they hold control of the place. The modernists are in the minority and the evangelicals are in the majority, but because they are in the majority they have begun to veer away from this modern ecumenical emphasis and they do not think they ought to be linked in an ecumenical fashion with a lot of others who are not true to the word of God, and that they ought to move out of those ecumenical circles. They wanted either to make for themselves something which is wholly pure and wholly true to the Word of God or join something of the same kind. Do you know what happened? The secretary of the big denomination arrived on the field, and he shook his finger at them and said, “You either follow our denomination in its ecumenical principles, or it will hurt your pockets.” And they have not come out yet. They are wavering; will they? Will they not? Will they for the sake of filthy lucre, fear because they are largely subsidized by foreigners? There’s the danger.

A third reason why foreign subsidy is obviously something that we should move out, is the prospect of us all being moved out, and then what happens to the foreign subsidy? As we all know any time these lands may close to foreign missionaries. Then what happens?

So we all agree—and, mind you, the old denominations agree as much as we do—that the foreign subsidy is not the right way for the support of the national evangelists or national workers. But what’s to happen where you have no churches to support them or where the churches are so weak they can hardly do it? I presume that may apply to some of you here. Your churches may be so weak that they couldn’t support the worker they should support.

That came upon us as a great burden when I was in India and more recently here in Japan. Now it came to us as fresh light. It may not be fresh light to you and as I say perhaps the older missions have been practicing it for some time and they can confirm what I am saying. Now the first thought is this: We first of all went back to the time when the first apostles were called, when the first missionaries or the first national evangelists were called. That was the twelve disciples. And we saw that when the Lord Jesus called them there was no promise made of any kind of material support. Their response was to give all; it wasn’t given conditionally. They didn’t leave all and say “on the condition I get so much back.” They simply sold all, left their nets, forsook all and followed Him. That’s the first response of the God-called person, whether foreign or national. Not how am I supported? I must follow, and to follow I leave everything else alone for the privilege of following Him and fulfilling His word.

Now then as they went along with the Saviour—quite incidentally, as far as I can see—He pointed out to them the fact that if they did the Father’s work the Father would look after their material needs. And I suggest to you that there’s no more important passage in the New Testament concerning this matter than the end of Matthew 6 in verses 24-34 where it says, have no treasure but Jesus. Lay up all your treasure there. Have no outlook except Jesus: look only on Him. See Him in every circumstance; keep your eye single; and have no activity except for Jesus; only serve the one Master. If you are Jesus-centered in your love, and Jesus-centered in your outlook, and Jesus-centered in your activity, you are on pretty secure ground; and if you are on this ground, just go on and you will find the rest will follow! That is all He said. It’s not too common even amongst us to find those who really believe it. But that is all He said. He said, “If you do that, the Father who feeds the birds and clothes the flowers will feed and clothe you.” And He came right out with that final statement: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Now I suggest that that is a fundamental principle, and as I said before, one of the reasons why a ministry becomes rotten is because we come into it on the bargaining basis. We don’t just fling the world away to follow Jesus. We say I’ll fling my world away but please give me a good bit back to make sure I’ve a stomach full. I suggest that this is the order in which Jesus first brought into being those who were called into full-time ministry. They had a treasurer among them—apparently that’s how they lived. Judas had the purse, and presumably therefore people did give gifts which went into the purse, and certain women were moved to minister to them and were blessed. You know of various women who ministered to them. That’s all there was to it.

Now the next point that came to us may not refer to all of us here, but I know, thank God, it refers to many of us, and that is: Yes, we did step out on that basis—many of you did. In our own mission, and I’m sure it’s so in many of your missions, we make a very strong point of this—you do not go to the mission field looking to a church. If you do, when the church collapses, you collapse; and any day even the precious American economy may collapse. You go to the mission field leaning on the Living God, and you have so proved that you can trust Him. He’s put you through such experiences that you know you can trust Him with an empty pocket, so that if your church collapses behind you or your homeland collapses behind you, you go on because God has called you. That’s the call. Your call is not based on how you live; your call is based
on selling all to follow Him, and it suggests your dying with Him.

How many of us have come out on that basis. It’s a principle of faith, although I can’t go into detail now, but what happens is that God works us to a position of faith. When you get to a position of faith you become fixed in it; you can walk in it at ease. Sometimes it takes God a long time to work us to that position. Of course there is only one form of faith, but in faith for material things, if we walk alone with Him on His Word, He’ll bring us through testing experiences until our feet are steady on that road, and we have gained that position of faith and are able to walk simply, steadily, with a single eye on this Invisible Person and His Word.

Now, when that situation has come, God can trust us with supplies and we’re not moved to rely on the supply because we have found our position in Him. Do you see my point? After He has tested us and He has our feet steadily walking on the plain pathway of faith, then He may channel supplies in through this church or through that individual. Well, we say, “Thanks. Praise the Lord! That’s grand, but we are not relying on you.” I’ve never dared do what Paul did—I don’t know if you have but when Paul received gifts he said, “Well, thank you very much and, I’m sure you’ve had a blessing in giving to me,” not, “I’ve had a blessing in receiving.” I haven’t tried that one yet, have you? You see, the proof was that he was indifferent. You know quite well Paul didn’t work because he needed to stock up supplies. He makes it quite plain in 11 Thess. that he worked to set an example of the toiler to them.

I’m very glad to hear that Brother Don Hoke is going to produce horny-handed sons of toil out of the Bible School, because it is surely a need. There is surely a need for persons who will work with their hands as well as speak with their tongues, and Paul said, “I am only setting an example. I don’t rely on that for my daily bread.” Oh dear no! Paul knew something better than that, and the proof was that he was indifferent on that level. And when the gifts did come, Paul said, “Oh, thank you for the gifts,” and, as I say, “It will be a blessing to you if you gave to me,” not, “I got a blessing out of receiving it.” Pretty good, I think.

Now I’m leading on to my important point. I’m trying to show that many of us have been called out to the way of faith and it has been along certain definite principles. We’ve had to learn to walk with a single eye. We’ve had to learn to walk with no resources behind us. And we’ve walked that pathway, and we’ve had some stumblings and crackings. But we’ve gone through and we’ve proved that faithful One. And we have proved that it is true that if we seek His kingdom first, He does supply. And gradually He has set our feet on a road in which we are now steady—we are free! We are not full of fears, inhibitions, and questions. We know our God.

Now having arrived at what I call the position of faith, having set our feet on that roadway, then He may be pleased to move that church or that individual to supply our need, maybe regularly but we are not relying on them. We are not moved. We accept gratefully what they send, but we’re relying on Him. That’s our pathway of faith.

Now this is the discovery I made in India—I found that we had slipped into a false condemnation when it concerned the nationals. The devil had slipped a false condemnation into us. It was this: we said, “Oh, well, we have churches behind us. You can’t ask these poor Indians with no churches behind them to trust God.” It came like a flash of lightning: “You’re accepting a lie; you’re not trusting the churches in the homeland. The whole basis upon which you came out is not the churches in the homeland. God may have used the churches in the homeland to supply your need, but you have not trusted in them, and you are still pursuing that old pathway of walking with Jesus alone. Let the churches disappear and we will still walk with Him.” We saw that we had taken false condemnation and that we have a right to call the Indian or Japanese or Thai evangelist to walk that same pathway as much as ourselves, and we should say to them, “Yes sir, we walk it.” They may not believe it; that’s not the point. We are only responsible to God. We walk it and so we can call on them.

We suddenly saw that there’s the solution! Challenge India! Challenge Japan! Challenge Thailand for men and women with a single eye who will walk out on Matthew 6:24-34, and will dare to do it, maybe in the face of the fact that there is no one humanly in their country who will support them. You say it is too high? It can’t be too high for the Word of God can’t be too high! It’s the Word of God. We are not asking them to follow us; we are asking them to follow Him and His Word.

So we started that in India. Just the first one or two have come out and we are being led to start the same thing here in Japan too, just among our first Japanese workers.

There are one or two other points of interest that surround it. One is this: evidently in the days of Jesus, as I have already said, funds were channeled to Him. There was the purse, and funds did come in which were presumably used among the disciples, and so on, so we have treasurers. Each of our missions have people who are responsible for finances. They are not responsible to provide the finances but they are responsible to channel the finance. And all of us have our treasurers at home, who say, “As the Lord sends the money, we channel it; if it doesn’t come, it is God’s business, not mine.” One anxious principal of a Bible School in England asked one of our leaders a few weeks ago, “Do any of your missionaries ever starve? (They all say the W.E.C. starves. Well, my trouble is I get too many chins, not too few.) But she said, “Do any of your missionaries ever starve?” It was a lady principal and our missionary gave an adequate answer. He said, “Madam, if they starve it’s God who starves them.”

Amen! Certainly! God lives in me, and takes me the way He wants me to go, and if He wants me to go the way He took Paul—hunger, thirst, nakedness, peril—He will take me that way; it’s not the devil. The devil doesn’t run my life! Praise His name, God runs it! And if God wants to take me the starving pathway may I starve joyfully, that’s all. That’s exactly what it says, “Paint your face, and don’t look as if you’re starved when fasting.” (I don’t mean the paint some people put on—I mean sort of looking nice.)

Now on that basis we came to this conclusion: that it will be wiser to have separate fellowships for Japanese and foreigners because in the end it is a Japanese church. So we are not mixing or intending to mix the two fellowships; we are not actually introducing Japanese nationals into our foreign fellowship. We are encouraging them to start a fellowship on the same basis themselves; a fellowship of full-time workers, every worker accepting Matt. 6:24-34 as his material basis of life, daring to believe that this Living Person will do exactly what He says He will.

Now at the same time this comes in, that is, when God has us walking steadily on the pathway of faith, His usual method is to channel supplies through the church. With most of us, that’s the usual method; we may say it is the complete method. Our supplies come from God moving churches or individuals to give, but, as I say, all the time we know that we are not relying on that. We’re walking with Him. Now we are taking the same line with the nationals. This is just in the experiential stage that we are starting in with. India and Japan are the only two fields so far. We are suggesting to them now to appoint a treasurer or appoint among themselves a committee if they like, who will be responsible for funds and if the Lord, as He pleases and by whom He pleases, channels into you supplies you can divide them on some agreed system as in the mission.

One other point going along with that which came to us is that the channel of supply is through the whole church. We talk about nationals for convenience, but there is only one church, the church of Jesus Christ, and God may move any of His people anywhere to channel those supplies and therefore there is no reason why supplies shouldn’t be channeled from the home end as much as from the field. I think I have discovered an error in my own outlook and the outlook of those at home for we have had a few evangelists and workers in India and other countries and here too, who have been carrying on but they have been supplied mainly out of the missionaries’ pockets. But we have seen, “No, that is not the whole plan of God.” The whole plan of God is that the whole church is used to channel supplies. He may move whom He will, by what way He will, but it’s always along that line; it comes from Him. It may come horizontally, but we see it as coming vertically. So we are setting our system going. No guarantees. Nobody! No Japanese, or Indian, or Thai or anybody else who comes in says, “I’m expecting so principle,” [sic.] but we say, “We’ll take whatever God sends in walking with a single eye on Him.”

Meanwhile, we missionaries on the field, and the home end too, will feel a certain burden, without any direct responsibilities, but a certain burden as God moves us to channel supplies. I probably may well talk about this thing because it is a burden on me and maybe God will move people in the homelands. That’s all right, but it all has to be on that unguaranteed basis, and whatever comes will be channeled by some secure way to the treasurer and the treasurer, in an anonymous sense, will divide that among the people according to need. Well, I have spent some time stressing that because for ourselves we feel at last we have found the solution we have been looking for. We feel that on this basis we can challenge India to produce many evangelists and can challenge Japan on the clear-cut basis by which we were called out that of human insecurity and Divine security.

B. GOD’S CHURCH ON EARTH.

Now my last few minutes will move on a little quickly but I want to pass on for a few moments from the full-time worker through whom the church comes into being to the church itself and share with you a few thoughts concerning God’s church on earth.

1. The Church—The Body of Christ

Now the first thing I would say is this: properly speaking there is only one church. Now that is not wholly Scriptural for the Scripture does speak of more than one. I’ll speak of that in a moment, but properly speaking there is one body of Christ, one church, and therefore we always seek and need to maintain the outlook that we all are part of the one body. I think it has its importance in this way; I was challenged in India by certain Indians who said, “You missionaries live on a limb, and that’s why often you feel so weak. You come to us as outsiders and you kind of live in some far distant corner on a limb hoping to make the Church of Christ.” He said, “Brother, you are the church. You missionaries are the church wherever you are; the church is any of the members of His body, two or three gathered together in His Name;” and, he said, “What you missionaries ought to do is to learn to start functioning yourselves as the church where you are before there may be any sign of a national church and you become just a member of that national church, although as foreigners you may move off in due course.” But we are always part of the church wherever we are.
“National” and “foreigner” are only convenient for certain purposes but it’s not the ultimate. I saw that working very interestingly in one little corner. We have a field in Pakistan, a most difficult field, right up on the Afghanistan border, and I found there a young man named Don Rowley, right on what is called the Kaidon valley among the Mohammedans. There are only about five converts. He’s been there about two years. He functions like this. He has a little house and with him he has one young man who is an out and out convert from Mohammedanism. Those two are the church, they break bread together, they worship together, and they are the church which is in their house. Now they have, scattered round them in the villages, about four other Mohammedans who have come out for Christ and there are also a few soldiers visiting there who are nominal Christians but at least they come along. And the church just functions in his house like that. They are the church, and share fellowship with them. So here’s the living Church in a house; the church including the missionary and the national. I thought that was a nice little picture of the point that the Indian was making.

2. The Local Church

Now beside the fact of The Church, the Scriptures make it quite plain of course that there are churches: “the church which is in his house.” Acts 9 says that “the churches had rest” after Paul’s conversion, and there are many evidences that we know of in the Scriptures where it distinctly speaks of the church in the plural. Therefore, the Scriptures give us complete authority for the local church as well as the Universal church. We therefore have to learn what the New Testament order is for the local church—that is what is of such great importance to us.

First of all I would say this: if we really divorce ourselves from any traditional outlook, any denominational outlook, and like little children seek to find what the Scriptures indicate to us as the New Testament order, it is clearer than most people think. It’s pretty obvious that most of our difficulties come in from traditions which we bring in out of loyal to some group or other. If we cut out our church history and cut out everything else and look simply to the Scriptures, the New Testament Church is pretty obvious.

(a) Its Independence

Now the first point I make concerning the New Testament Church, which is of great importance, is its every indication that independence is the basis. Now I don’t think I can prove that entirely from any text. There is in the New Testament a certain relationship between the men who brought the churches into being and those churches. Paul had relationships through his visits and his epistles and he sent Timothy to abide at Ephesus and Titus to Crete and so on and so there was that amount of link. Then those men, when they went there, advised them, taught them, and to some extent you might say commanded them, but I suggest that the whole evidence of the New Testament with its thousands of churches all over the place points obviously to the fact that the church worked on an independent basis. I think one of the clearest proofs of that is this; there came an extreme time in Corinth when there had to be an excommunication. Now Paul had no two thoughts as to what ought to be done and he told them that the only thing they ought to do was to excommunicate that brother. But all he could do was tell them, and they did it. Paul didn’t do it—he was absent. They did it. Then in II Cor. Paul writes, “I’m glad you did the right thing,” but in that sense it wasn’t Paul ordering; he brought to bear all the influence he could but it was the church themselves who made the decision and acted. I don’t know if you will agree but I very strongly feel the foundation importance of that, that the New Testament order is the independence of the national Church wherever it’s springing up.

(b) Its Form of Government
Now we will have a brief glance at one or two other points concerning the church before I close and that is the question of the form of government and the form of ministry. Now the form of government is quite obvious; elders and deacons, but mainly elders. Notice this, as you often have, elders is always plural in the Scriptures. I think you will find there is no evidence ever in the Scriptures where one elder is appointed. It is always elders; there’s safety there. It was the elders who ruled. Now they did rule. “Let the elders that rule well be worthy of double honour.” “Obey them that have the rule over you.” Always “them” you see. Now elders were appointed out of the Church membership, that’s obvious. “They ordained elders.” In the early church, evidently the first elders were ordained by the apostles. That means, I suppose, if we are responsible for forming new churches we should have a right to ordain the first elders, but of course they are the members of that existing church, and they are to rule. They have to learn how to rule on New Testament standards “not as lords over God’s heritage, but examples of the flock,” etc. They rule by persuasion, not by compulsion.

The pattern for that is Acts 15 where we get the elders pronouncing the sentence over the question of circumcising. James the elder said, “I give my sentence to” so and so. Then he says, “it seemed good to the Apostles, elders and the whole church” to do so. He won his way with the church and they won his way with him. It was a combined decision; it wasn’t them putting something over him. So it is that kind of leadership: leadership which wins conviction and carries the people with him so that there is one voice speaking. It is rather late and so I can’t go into the detail I intended. So the leadership of the church is not in the hands of what we call a pastor. It’s in the hands of elders.

Now I want to get to another point here. I’m sure you won’t agree, but I will still challenge you on the Scriptures. Can you prove to me from Scripture that there have ever been pastors appointed over Churches? I can’t find it. I can find no evidence in Scripture that there ever were pastors appointed over churches. What I discovered in Scripture is this: the elders fulfilled the ministry between them; and we’ve gone off beam in our modern churches. The reason is obvious. To have elders to do it you have to have a living people, and living people are not too common to find—so it is much more convenient to pay a pastor to preach to you than to be alive yourself! And I fear, frankly speaking, that our modern method of a one-man ministry has come in because we are too lazy to have the life of God ourselves.

The real method is a living church headed up by living elders who minister the Word. Now I’ll give you a proof or two of that; it’s worth stopping for a moment. Look at Acts 20:28, the last commission which Paul gave at Miletus when he called the elders of the church of Ephesus together. He spoke to the elders; there were no pastors. Verse 28: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made your overseers (not one overseer, but overseers) to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” So you see the elders fed them. The elders today are people who open the pulpit door and let the parson in, but in the older days the elders ministered the Word; they were the parson. That’s English language; perhaps you wouldn’t understand that!

Look at Timothy. This is an interesting point. I Tim. 5:17, “Let the elders (plural) that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the Word and doctrine.” The elders laboured in the word and doctrine. They didn’t have pastors put over them and it even says they are to be paid. So evidently there was some form sometimes of making contribution to the elders, presumably perhaps because he couldn’t do a full time job in the world. I don’t know. The proof of that is in the next verse. “For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” The meaning is that the elders, in certain cases, might get contributions from the churches for their support, but they were in the plural and were appointed elders out of their churches and not called from outside. They were members of the church ministering to the church. You get the same in l Peter 5:1-2 which says, “The elders which are among you I exhort—feed the flock of God which is among you.” So you get the same idea. Thus I think that I’ve given you sufficient evidence of that from the Scriptures.

Now I’m going to suggest what the New Testament pattern is—and again I must say that I really learned this more than anywhere else among the Indians, in the purely national Indian church—I found that their emphasis was this: they maintained that the Scriptures say that the Spirit gives gifts and those gifts are to be found in Eph. 4:11, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” You know the passage. These gifts are given to the body. The emphasis they made which struck me, and which is as near Scripture as you could get, was that we should expect to see those gifts appear in our churches. They said, “In our Indian churches we watch and if we see among the men of God in the church one person who is very active in visiting the sick and has a tender word of comfort, he is the pastor, and we commission him to visit the people and get into their hearts and homes. If we see another man who has an extraordinary gift of teaching the Word of God we say, ‘Here, you have the gift of teaching. Exercise that. Study in the Word of God. Use your gift in the ministry of teaching the Word of God to us.’ If you see somebody else who is obviously active in preaching the Gospel you say, ‘Here, he has the gift of an evangelist. Now use it.’ And so we go on all the way down the line. We seek to find in our body the manifestation of the various gifts and then get them into action.”

Now I suggest to you that that is the New Testament pattern. Of course it is so radical I believe I must say this; we just have to face the fact that God uses every means. If He didn’t He wouldn’t use us, and so He has mercy on us and in spite of our flesh He uses us. He has mercy on the churches; in spite of the pastors He uses them! Excuse me. You see what I mean? He is flexible, praise His Name! Praise God for the blessed men of God. We could all name blessed men of God and how mighty their ministry is. I would ask for a show of hands here perhaps half of the congregation would say, “Yes, it was through the ministry of pastor so-and-so that I was saved.” God has used them, but I don’t say it is top-notch. It is second class. First class is this one, at least, I think so.

(c) Its Forms of Worship

Well, now I’ll only say one other thing and that is regarding forms of worship. There is the government of the church, there is the ministry in the church, and there is the form of worship in the church.

Now I just stress this, brothers and sisters: we’ve lost our way. We have lost our way through a one man ministry. And this whole set-up we have, with a pastor marching on to the pulpit as I am here and a row of the choir following—it isn’t within a thousand miles of the New Testament! Put a few bombs under the whole thing and start again. Then you’d get somewhere! We want liberty.

I sat among that blessed group in India; 800 of them—sat on the floor. We started at 10:30 a.m.; we broke bread together; some people ministered the Word to us; we prayed and testified and so on. There was a baptism too. We sat there from 10:30 a.m. till 5:30 and then at 5:30 we broke up for a common meal all together which was part of the fellowship, and then we resumed at 6:30 and went on till 10:30 again. So we worshiped from 10:30 to 10:30—the thrill of my life!

I always hate Sunday at home. How can a missionary preach in 35 minutes? You haven’t the first point out in 35 minutes, and you are only given 35 minutes to preach in, but if you go to an Anglican church you are given 15 minutes! I hate it. I want to go where I can preach till I am finished. I feel sorry for you. We have lost the way, haven’t we? I don’t believe the Holy Ghost comes through quickly, brothers and sisters; I believe the Holy Ghost takes His own time. And if the Holy Ghost is going to come through you have to give Him His time and He will do it as He likes and when He likes and He won’t bring a message from 11 to 12:15 because you have a beef in the oven. Bother you old beefs—“whose god is his belly,” difficult one, isn’t it?

I am just saying this—I suggest to you just this. The New Testament order of worship was fellowship. It was based on freedom in the body. And out of the body were the teachers; and they preached and taught but there were the others who trained and worshiped and so on. The ideal description I think is I Cor. 14:26 which is really only just mentioned incidentally but it gives us that little picture. I’m very fond of this for that reason. “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation.” Then he says, “Let all things be done unto edifying.” And then he speaks about the prophets, v. 29, “Let the prophets speak two or three . . .” You see those were the ones who had the gift among the people; they had the gift of preaching. So there are two or three of them, not just one who would have a go. They would take it decently and in turn. I often say this, “You can soon see the contrasts between the fires of those days and the ice-boxes of today,” because in those days Paul said, “Look here, be a little quiet; don’t all speak at once. Give another fellow a chance.” But we say, “Here, do speak up and say something. Don’t all be dead.” You see that’s the difference—we’ve lost it haven’t we? There was something liberated among those people; they had fellowship and they brought out, “Oh let’s have this hymn; we’ll pray; here, I’ve a testimony to give.”

Of course I saw it in Africa where they have that again; they have fellowship in Africa. And there was preaching. It wasn’t all fellowship; there were the preachers too. You get the whole pattern, I think in Acts 2:42 just after Pentecost, where it says, “They continued in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.” Acts 2:42, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Now there you have direct teaching, definite solid teaching by those equipped to do it. That’s doctrine! That means that one man stands up and teaches; so you always have that. We must have steady imparting of the Word of God, as well as the preaching of the Gospel to the outsider. But then you get fellowship, that sense in which there is a freedom of the Spirit by which all can participate, can learn to participate, and expect to participate. “Breaking of bread and prayers.” I’m pretty sure we have gone wide away in the breaking of bread, but perhaps I’m a bit too radical.

Evidently the original breaking of bread was part of the meal according to I Cor. 10 where it says that they brought their own food; it was part of an ordinary meal. And when you think of it at the beginning, it was that with Jesus wasn’t it? He had an ordinary meal and at the end of the meal He just broke a piece of the bread and said, “Here eat this. Drink this.” It was part of the meal. And I suggest that the real meaning of the Lord’s supper was just a last touch of fellowship. In Acts 2 you get a great deal about “breaking bread from house to house.” Now it doesn’t necessarily mean the Lord’s supper—we don’t know. To my mind it includes ordinary meals, “breaking bread from house to house.” I take it that it was just fellowship because there is a melting up in a meal, isn’t there? When you sit around the table and drink the famous Englishman’s cup of tea you get warmed up. But you know what I mean; there is fellowship. I believe the ideal is just fellowship, just simple earthly fellowship, having the necessary food, and then move on to the Lord’s supper; that’s the ideal.

Well perhaps, as I say, that is too far-fetched for us modern back-sliders. Perhaps we can’t manage that one. But I saw a little thing here in Japan which touched me. We had a meeting at one of our little churches, just beginning with 30-40 people and there was quite an intense message on brokenness, confessing, cleansing and so on. The meeting was fairly tense, and that is not always the best moment for people to own up, but they provided fellowship afterwards and brought out the Japanese tea—that green stuff, and some little buns while we all sat on the floor and ate. It melted us up. We didn’t have the Lord’s supper. I think it is a pity we didn’t. But out of that meal they began to talk. They were in tears in no time and one was getting up to go and confess to the other that they had a bad heart and so on. Through the meltedness of the fellowship the Lord came in and the preaching was completely at the end of the fellowship, round the meal table.

But anyhow let’s remember this: it is the Lord’s table in all simplicity. There is not such a thing as ministering the Lord’s super. I think we all know that. This priestcraft idea has slipped in—there’s no such thing. There is only one minister of the Lord’s supper and that is the pierced Hand itself. Who gives us the bread and serves us the wine as we meet around it.

Well that is very brief. I’ve stumbled about at 50 miles an hour at the end, but my time has gone. So may the Lord bless you.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2008/8/1 14:54Profile





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