Friday, September 25, 2015

“Must the Whole World Hear?”

Third Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Must the Whole World Hear?"
For the week of September 26, 2015

After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. Rev 18:1

It goes without saying that the whole world has not yet heard the gospel. The lesson posits that the reasons for failure in this mission are the human shortcomings which include:

" (1) poor planning for outreach, inadequate understanding of the task; (2) narrow focus on mission only as education, health care, disaster relief, or development, which overshadow preaching the gospel; (3) underfunding and understaffing by the sending organizations; (4) missionaries unsuited to the task; and (5) nations that forbid the preaching of the gospel."

To this list we might add: (6) not preaching the fulness of the glory of God revealed in the gospel. The gospel is universal good news that Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life has already given all that is needed for the salvation of mankind. "This gospel" of the kingdom that reveals the true character, or name of the Lord, is what must be preached before the end. 

The time of the promise which God had sworn to Abraham was drawing near; but since that promise included the whole earth, it was necessary that the Gospel should be proclaimed as extensively. The children of Israel were God's chosen agents to perform this work. Around them, as the nucleus, the kingdom of God was to center. That they proved unfaithful to their trust, only delayed, but did not change God's plan. Although they failed to proclaim the name of the Lord, and even denied it, God said, "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." Numbers 24:21. "This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness into all nations, and then shall the end come." Matthew 24:14. (1900 EJW, EVCO 192-3)

Ever since the creation it has been true that the whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord (see Isa. vi. 3), and that the heavens declare it. Ps. xix. 1. The trouble is that men are so self-centred that they do not recognise it. The work of the Gospel is to lead men to recognise the glory of God in His works, and to do all things to His glory. When the Gospel shall have been finished, then "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. ii. 14), and then God will be all in all. (January 3, 1895 EJW, PTUK 16.3) 

In the final proclamation of the everlasting Gospel to all the earth, there is one new feature. It is not a new truth, which is then revealed for the first time, but it is the re-statement of an old truth, with the added emphasis that the time has come when it is to be fulfilled. "Fear God, and give glory to Him: for the hour of His judgment is come." Rev. xiv. 6 The whole earth is concerned in this solemn event, and it is to be made known to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. This is to be a leading thought in the last message. A work of judgment begins in heaven at the same time that a special preaching of the Gospel begins on earth, and the work on earth derives a special significance from the work of judgment that is carried on in heaven. (September 10, 1903 EJW, PTUK 581.4) 

While it is true that many will be saved based on what little truth they have had to respond to, it is also true that we are responsible for being truth-speaking witnesses far and wide against the soul-destroying lies of Satan. God is on trial. In a very real sense, as His witnesses, so are we. 

Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 638.

Men are in peril. Multitudes are perishing. But how few of the professed followers of Christ are burdened for these souls. The destiny of a world hangs in the balance; but this hardly moves even those who claim to believe the most far-reaching truth ever given to mortals. There is a lack of that love which led Christ to leave His heavenly home and take man's nature that humanity might touch humanity and draw humanity to divinity. There is a stupor, a paralysis, upon the people of God, which prevents them from understanding the duty of the hour. 

     When the Israelites entered Canaan, they did not fulfill God's purpose by taking possession of the whole land. After making a partial conquest, they settled down to enjoy the fruit of their victories. In their unbelief and love of ease, they congregated in the portions already conquered instead of pushing forward to occupy new territory. Thus they began to depart from God. By their failure to carry out His purpose, they made it impossible for Him to fulfill to them His promise of blessing. Is not the church of today doing the same thing? With the whole world before them in need of the gospel, professed Christians congregate where they themselves can enjoy gospel privileges. They do not feel the necessity of occupying new territory, carrying the message of salvation into regions beyond. They refuse to fulfill Christ's commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15. Are they less guilty than was the Jewish church?

The professed followers of Christ are on trial before the heavenly universe; but the coldness of their zeal and the feebleness of their efforts in God's service mark them as unfaithful. If what they are doing were the best they could do, condemnation would not rest upon them; but were their hearts enlisted in the work, they could do much more. They know and the world knows that they have to a great degree lost the spirit of self-denial and cross bearing. Many there are against whose names will be found written in the books of heaven, Not producers, but consumers. By many who bear Christ's name, His glory is obscured, His beauty veiled, His honor withheld.  (COL 303-4) 

The truth for this time embraces the whole gospel. Rightly presented it will work in man the very changes that will make evident the power of God's grace upon the heart. It will do a complete work and develop a complete man. Then let no line be drawn between the genuine medical missionary work and the gospel ministry. Let these two blend in giving the invitation: "Come; for all things are now ready." Let them be joined in an inseparable union, even as the arm is joined to the body.  (6T 291) 

The Holy Spirit, Christ's representative, arms the weakest with might to press forward unto victory. God has organized his instrumentalities to draw all men unto him. He sends forth to his work many who have not been dedicated by the laying on of hands. He answers objections that would arise against this method of labor, even before they arise. God sees the end from the beginning. He knows and anticipates every want, and provides for every emergency. If finite men to whom he commits his work, do not bar the way, God will send forth laborers into his vineyard. To every converted soul he says: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It is not necessary that the Lord should first sit in earthly legislative councils, and inquire of those who think they must plan for his work, "Will you permit men whom I have chosen, to unite with you in working in some part of my moral vineyard?" Christ was standing only a few steps from his heavenly throne when he gave his commission to his disciples, and included as missionaries all who would believe on his name. Jesus wants every minister to whom he has committed a sacred trust, to remember his injunctions, to consider the vastness of his work, and to place the obligation of preaching the gospel to the world upon the large number to whom it belongs. "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." The power of God was to go with those that proclaimed the gospel. If those who claim to have a living experience in the things of God, had done their appointed duty as God ordained, the whole world would have been warned, and the Lord Jesus would have come to our world with power and great glory.  (HM, August 1, 1896 par. 6)  

Christ gave His life to save sinners, and He says to His people, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." He has laid out before us the work to be done, and has declared that He will give us power to do this work. Shall we take Him at His word, believing that He meant just what He said when He declared that the whole world is to hear the message of mercy?  (RH, December 24, 1901 par. 20) 

Let us keep the Faith of Jesus given to us, let us believe and live the truth that God's word will accomplish what it has set out to do! ~ Todd Guthrie