The Reformation Herald Online Edition

Ambassadors for Christ

Preaching the Gospel to Every Creature
Preaching the Gospel to Every Creature
José A. Usuga Goéz

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

According to these scriptures, it is clear that the gospel message is to reach the ends of the earth. The good news of salvation in Christ must make its way across borders and oceans to reach the farthest corners of the planet. This is the divine command and it is our mission as God’s chosen people. If the world is to be lightened with the glory of God, we have an important part to play in this work.

Without a doubt, we sometimes feel the same limitations as the disciples surely felt when the Saviour commanded them to preach the gospel to everyone. The challenge was too big for them as it is for us, but the promise made to them—that His presence would attend them until the end of the world—also belongs to us. (John 17:18, 20.)

Thank God, in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy we find not only the charge of tilling the entire field, but also the form and methods to achieve this goal in the short time left. The Lord assigned to us His plan of evangelization, but also left us the tools to carry it out successfully.

Medical missionary work

“The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up” (Isaiah 1:5, 6).

“The earth . . . is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth” (Isaiah 24:5, 6).

“We have come to a time when every member of the church should take hold of medical missionary work. The world is a lazar house filled with victims of both physical and spiritual disease. Everywhere people are perishing for lack of a knowledge of the truths that have been committed to us. The members of the church are in need of an awakening, that they may realize their responsibility to impart these truths.”1

“During His ministry Jesus devoted more time to healing the sick than to preaching. His miracles testified to the truth of His words, that He came not to destroy but to save. . . .

“The followers of Christ are to labor as He did. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the suffering and afflicted. We are to minister to the despairing, and inspire hope in the hopeless.”2

Many doors now closed will open before the delicate touch of the medical missionary. There are thousands of souls who would never be reached unless we use the entering wedge—the light of health reform. Both in the world and in Christendom with its various religious congregations there are many souls who are waiting for the Restorer of health for body, soul, and spirit. Where there is pain, we can make use of the keys in our hands to open the door of many hearts to the truth: A word of encouragement, counsel full of love about nutrition, fervent prayer for the sick, simple treatments by natural means, hymns of praise, prayer for families going through difficulties—all this will open the way to reach the people with the gospel because our great need is God’s opportunity (Luke 4:18).

Personal home visits

The apostle Paul testified: “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house. . . . Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:20, 31).

“Your success will not depend so much upon your knowledge and accomplishments, as upon your ability to find your way to the heart.”3

“Much depends upon the manner in which you meet those whom you visit. You can take hold of a person’s hand in greeting in such a way as to gain his confidence at once, or in so cold a manner that he will think you have no interest in him.”4

“This house-to-house labor, searching for souls, hunting for the lost sheep, is the most essential work that can be done.”5

“All who can, should do personal labor. As they go from house to house, explaining the Scriptures to the people in a clear, simple manner, God makes the truth powerful to save. The Saviour blesses those who do this work.”6

“Of equal importance with special public efforts is house-to-house work in the homes of the people. In large cities there are certain classes that cannot be reached by public meetings. These must be searched out as the shepherd searches for his lost sheep. Diligent, personal effort must be put forth in their behalf. When personal work is neglected, many precious opportunities are lost, which, were they improved, would advance the work decidedly.”7

“Let Sabbathkeeping families move . . . [to new areas] and live out the truth before those who know it not. These families can be a help to one another, but let them be careful to do nothing that will hedge up their way. Let them do Christian help work, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. This will have a far stronger influence for good than the preaching of sermons. Deeds, as well as words, of sympathy are needed. Christ prefaced the giving of His message by deeds of love and benevolence. Let these workers go from house to house, helping where help is needed, and, as opportunity offers, telling the story of the cross. Christ is to be their text. They need not dwell upon doctrinal subjects; let them speak of the work and sacrifice of Christ. Let them hold up His righteousness, in their lives revealing His purity.”8

“Among the members of our churches there should be more house-to-house labor, in giving Bible readings [which we would now call Bible studies] and distributing literature.”9

“The Lord calls for decided efforts to be put forth in places where the people know nothing of the truth. Singing and prayer and Bible readings are needed in the homes of the people. . . . Those who do this work must have a ready knowledge of the Scriptures. ‘It is written’ is to be their weapon of defense.”10

The ministry of music

“What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

“There are few means more effective for fixing [God’s] words in the memory than repeating them in song. And such song has wonderful power. It has power to subdue rude and uncultivated natures; power to quicken thought and to awaken sympathy, to promote harmony of action, and to banish the gloom and foreboding that destroy courage and weaken effort.”11

Singing to the glory of God drives away the enemy and praising Him beats Him back, giving us the victory.

“While Christ was working at the carpenter’s bench, others would sometimes surround Him, trying to cause Him to be impatient; but He would begin singing some of the beautiful psalms, and before they realized what they were doing, they had joined with Him in singing, influenced, as it were, by the power of the Holy Spirit which was there.”12

Souls are drawn to Christ and His church through the ministry of music. An inspirational anthem may touch the heartstrings, and the soul is softened and subdued to receive the saving truth in Christ Jesus.

The ministry of canvassing

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. . . . In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good” (Ecclesiastes 11:1, 2, 6).

To provide training in the line of canvassing work is a task that the church must not neglect.

“When young men enter the canvassing field filled with an intense longing to save their fellowmen, a harvest for the Lord will be reaped as a result of their efforts. Then let them go forth as missionaries, to proclaim present truth, praying constantly for increased light, and for the guidance of the Spirit, that they may know how to speak words in season to those who are weary. Let them improve every opportunity for performing deeds of kindness, remembering that they are doing errands for the Lord.”13

“Our publications are now sowing the gospel seed, and are instrumental in bringing as many souls to Christ as the preached word. Whole churches have been raised up as the result of their circulation.”14

The sale of books and magazines can be fruitful, yet interest in the truth can also be raised up through surveys, religious opinion polls, and questionnaires about health and family topics. These inquiries pave the way for conversation and Bible courses should be available to follow up on the interest.

Jesus has given us a few examples of an opinion poll: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13–16). (This conversation took place in the circle of the disciples but a similar example posed to the public is found in Matthew 11:7–11.)

God’s appeal echoes down through the centuries: “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it” (Jeremiah 5:1).

Public conferences

Jesus is presented to us in the scriptures as the greatest speaker ever known. Often His speeches were made in open fields to the ears of large crowds. (See Matthew 5:1, 2; 14:14; Luke 21:37, 38.)

The apostles also adopted this approach in preaching the gospel. After Pentecost, their messages were accompanied by power and wisdom from on high to touch the hearts of thousands of listeners. (See Acts 2:41; 4:4.)

When William Miller gave lectures on the second coming of Christ, it drew crowds and produced a great sensation. “No wild excitement attended the meetings, but a deep solemnity pervaded the minds of those who heard.”15

Ellen Harmon attended these meetings and was deeply moved by them.

“In the cities of today, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God’s appointment will find it necessary to put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes. And when they succeed in bringing together a large number of people, they must bear messages of a character so out of the usual order that the people will be aroused and warned.”16

Camp meetings

“Camp meetings are to be held in many places, and evangelistic work is to be done after the camp meeting is over. Thus the sheaves are to be gathered in.”17

“And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also” (Zechariah 8:21).

“The camp meeting is one of the most important agencies in our work. It is one of the most effective methods of arresting the attention of the people and reaching all classes with the gospel invitation. The time in which we live is a time of intense excitement. Ambition and war, pleasure and money-making, absorb the minds of men. Satan sees that his time is short, and he has set all his agencies at work, that men may be deceived, deluded, occupied, and entranced, until probation shall be ended and the door of mercy be forever shut.”18

“If our camp meetings are conducted as they should be, they will indeed be a light in the world. They should be held in the large cities and towns where the message of truth has not been proclaimed. And they should continue for two or three weeks. It may sometimes be advisable to hold a camp meeting for several successive seasons in the same place; but as a rule the place of meeting should be changed from year to year. Instead of having mammoth camp meetings in a few localities, more good would be done by having smaller meetings in many places. Thus the work will be constantly extending into new fields.”19

Why attend the camp meeting?

“Come, brethren and sisters, to these sacred convocation meetings, to find Jesus. He will come up to the feast. He will be present, and He will do for you that which you most need to have done. Your farms should not be considered of greater value than the higher interests of the soul.”20

“It is important that the members of our churches should attend our camp meetings. The enemies of truth are many; and because our numbers are few, we should present as strong a front as possible. Individually you need the benefits of the meeting, and God calls upon you to number one in the ranks of truth.

The lay members of our churches can accomplish a work which, as yet, they have scarcely begun.

“Some will say: ‘It is expensive to travel, and it would be better for us to save the money and give it for the advancement of the work where it is so much needed.’ Do not reason in this way; God calls upon you to take your place among the rank and file of His people. Strengthen the meeting all you possibly can by being present with your families. Put forth extra exertion to attend the gathering of God’s people.

“Brethren and sisters, it would be far better for you to let your business suffer than to neglect the opportunity of hearing the message God has for you. Make no excuse that will keep you from gaining every spiritual advantage possible. You need every ray of light. You need to become qualified to give a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. You cannot afford to lose one such privilege.”21

Moving into new areas

“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Genesis 12:1).

Sometimes when our people move from one city or country to another, they easily fall into anonymity and thus lose their connection with the church—and in some cases their relationship with Jesus, only to end up dying spiritually.

But God’s plan is that instead of this, we are to take Jesus with us wherever we go, as Abraham did. Wherever we raise our camp, a new mission field should be established, just as Abraham would leave an altar for the Lord.

“God calls for Christian families to go into communities that are in darkness and error, and work wisely and perseveringly for the Master. To answer this call requires self-sacrifice.”22

“The lay members of our churches can accomplish a work which, as yet, they have scarcely begun. None should move into new places merely for the sake of worldly advantage; but where there is an opening to obtain a livelihood, let families that are well grounded in the truth enter, one or two families in a place, to work as missionaries. They should feel a love for souls, a burden of labor for them, and should make it a study how to bring them into the truth. They can distribute our publications, hold meetings in their homes, become acquainted with their neighbors, and invite them to come to these meetings. Thus they can let their light shine in good works.”23

Printed and audiovisual materials

Besides spreading printed literature, one effective method of lay evangelism is through the use of audiovisual material. Short messages recorded on audio or video have had extraordinary influence in arousing the interest of many souls who have come to take their position on the side of the present truth. Wherever this method has been tested, we know it works. Brethren from various countries can testify that what we are saying is true.

“New methods must be introduced. God’s people must awake to the necessities of the time in which they are living. God has men whom He will call into His service—men who will not carry forward the work in the lifeless way in which it has been carried forward in the past. . . . ”24

“Means will be devised to reach hearts. Some of the methods used in this work will be different from the methods used in the work in the past; but let no one, because of this, block the way by criticism.

“Men are needed who pray to God for wisdom, and who, under the guidance of God, can put new life into the old methods of labor and can invent new plans and new methods of awakening the interest of church members and reaching the men and women of the world.”25

Radio and television programs

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1). It would be a big mistake not to take advantage of the mass media to preach the gospel. Through radio and television programs and selective forms of social media, we can reach hundreds and even thousands with the message of Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Jesus declared: “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops” (Matthew 10:27).

Without a doubt, this is another effective way to reach many with the message of truth. More workers must be educated and properly trained to do this work in a professional manner. Many among us have this vocation, and can well be educated to perfect this beautiful talent to speak wisely from the microphones of a radio or TV channel.

May God bless all the media used in preaching the Gospel. Amen!

References
1 Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 62.
2 The Desire of Ages, p. 350.
3 Evangelism, p. 437.
4 Gospel Workers, p. 189.
5 Evangelism, p. 431.
6 Ibid., p. 442.
7 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 111.
8 Ibid., vol. 7, pp. 227, 228.
9 Ibid., vol. 9, p. 127.
10 The Upward Look, p. 58.
11 Education, pp. 167, 168.
12 The Adventist Home, p. 443.
13 Gospel Workers, p. 96.
14 The Review and Herald, June 10, 1880.
15 Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, p. 16.
16 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 109.
17 Evangelism, p. 399.
18 Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 31.
19 Ibid., p. 33.
20 Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 575, 576.
21 Ibid., vol. 6, p. 39.
22 Ibid., vol. 9, p. 33.
23 Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 245.
24 Evangelism, p. 70.
25 Ibid., p. 105.