The Reformation Herald Online Edition

Ambassadors for Christ

“In Season, out of Season”
“In Season, out of Season”
Sergey Karvatski

At His ascension, Christ addressed His followers with a holy duty to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God to all nations. That meant that every living soul upon the earth would have the opportunity to hear the most precious message that their sins can be forgiven, that they can be saved for eternity through the mercy of Jesus Christ, that the end of this world is approaching, and the kingdom of God is coming. God’s plan is thus to enlighten the earth with His glory.

“The whole earth is to be illuminated with the glory of God’s truth. The light is to shine to all lands and all peoples. And it is from those who have received the light that it is to shine forth.”1

“The time has come when the message of Christ’s soon coming is to sound throughout the world.”2

Time is flying and every second someone’s life is suddenly cut short. Every minute someone finishes his life. . . . Have all these souls who are so precious to Christ reconciled with their Creator? Did all that have passed away manage to prepare themselves to meet the Lord? How many acquaintances, relatives and other people dear to your heart have finished their life unprepared for eternity? The Lord commands: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2).

“The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory.”3

“We are to go forth to proclaim the goodness of God and to make plain His real character before the people.”4

Service—God’s instrument

Dear friends, Christ did not give His disciples a commission to bring people into His kingdom because He couldn’t evangelize the world Himself; for there is nothing impossible for Him. Christ Himself could have preached the truth faster and more efficiently than any human.

“God could have reached His object in saving sinners without our aid.”5 The Lord could proclaim the message of salvation Himself or through the angels in a short span of time. Yes, “God could have proclaimed His truth through sinless angels, but this is not His plan. He chooses human beings, men compassed with infirmity, as instruments in the working out of His designs.”6

The angels would have fulfilled the commission joyfully and unconditionally. For example, “the angel sent to Philip could himself have done the work for the Ethiopian.”7 The angel descended from heaven with a commission, but instead of coming to the Ethiopian he went to look for Philip.

Why did he waste time to look for a man? Why didn’t he just do it himself?

The mission was entrusted to people, so that by serving Him they could grow into the similitude of Christ! Service is God’s instrument for Christian growth! By helping our fellowmen we grow spiritually!

How can we become effective missionaries?

When Christ gave a definite commission to His disciples: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15), this small group of disciples had no riches, no power, no education. How could they fulfill Christ’s commission?

In John 20:19 we read about Christ appearing to His disciples in the upper room, where they had gathered out of fear for their lives. The door and the windows were shut, and every rustling sound caused much anxiety.

The disciples were discouraged by the crucifixion of their beloved Master. Yet suddenly appearing in the upper room, Jesus declared to them, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). How could they fulfill the commission if they were even afraid to go out from the upper room? Knowing their worries and their need, He immediately said: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22).

After forty days, the Saviour said that the disciples needed the special power of the Holy Spirit, and moreover, He promised them this power in abundant measure if they would ask. (See Acts 1:4, 5, 8.)

“Christ’s visible presence was about to be withdrawn from the disciples, but a new endowment of power was to be theirs. The Holy Spirit was to be given them in its fullness, sealing them for their work. ‘Behold,’ the Saviour said, ‘I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49)”8

This promise strengthened the followers of Christ so that they could fulfill the Gospel work entrusted to them. God promised that He would send the disciples the power of the Holy Spirit.

“They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised.”9

It was on the day of Pentecost that the disciples received confidence, courage—the qualities needed for the work of salvation.

“The Spirit came upon the waiting, praying disciples with a fullness that reached every heart.”10 The Lord supplied the church with the talents to fulfill His great commission, giving them ability to understand and preach in all the languages existing in their time (see Acts 2:4–12) as well as power to heal the sick and resurrect the dead, just as He had foretold (see Mark 16:17, 18).

The result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit

Driven by the desire to proclaim the truth, the disciples went around the world. Within about three decades the preaching of Christ spread throughout all of Palestine, Asia Minor and Asia Major, northern Africa and Europe and reached even the settlements of skiffs—the message of salvation went to nearly all the civilized parts of the world in those days. The voice of truth penetrated the farthest corners of the known world of that time. Thousands heeded the message of salvation; many Christian churches were organized in Greece, Macedonia, India—and in the cruel Rome that hated and persecuted Christians, including even among Caesar’s household.

The sincere followers of Christ became missionaries as soon as they learned of the Saviour.

“Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life. The receiver becomes a giver. The grace of Christ in the soul is like a spring in the desert, welling up to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the water of life.”11

A missionary is one that fulfills a mission. It is the one that has found Jesus and cannot be silent; he is eager to share the received revelation with others.

“The spirit of Christ is a missionary spirit. The very first impulse of the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Saviour.”12

My dear friend, do you have such an experience in your life? Maybe you are sitting and waiting until someone else does the work instead of you.

Very often we have doubts about whether we will succeed or not. We are sitting, planning, holding seminars for each other in the places where there are as many of us as trees in the dense forest, and we don’t go farther than this. But how many places and huge cities are calling us with a Macedonian cry?

The marching orders

“The Duke of Wellington was once present where a party of Christian men were discussing the possibility of success in missionary effort among the heathen. They appealed to the duke to say whether in his judgment such efforts were likely to prove a success commensurate to the cost. The old soldier replied: ‘Gentlemen, what are your marching orders? Success is not the question for you to discuss. If I read your orders aright, they run thus, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Gentlemen, obey your marching orders.’ ”13

“If you would go forth to do Christ’s work, angels of God would open the way before you, preparing hearts to receive the gospel. Were every one of you a living missionary, the message for this time would speedily be proclaimed in all countries, to every people and nation and tongue. This is the work that must be done before Christ shall come in power and great glory. I call upon the church to pray earnestly that you may understand your responsibilities. Are you individually laborers together with God? If not, why not? When do you mean to do your heaven-appointed work?

For all who are disheartened there is but one remedy—faith, prayer, and work.”14

Time is running out . . .

We have little time left to fulfill our Lord’s commission and we need to remember that the powers of darkness are not idle; the enemy and his supporters work 24 hours each day, while we are measuring off for God but a tiny portion of our time, pondering whether to work for souls or not! We should realize that as we approach the Lord’s return, the powers of darkness are making every effort to implement their cunning intentions leading souls to ruin.

The enemy’s wrath is now intensifying even more as his end is approaching (Revelation 12:12), yet we are not to be surprised. Jesus has told of this in advance (Matthew 24:21; John 15:20; 16:2; 2 Timothy 3:1, 12).

It’s difficult to describe in words the persecutions God’s children have suffered over the centuries. The enemy’s hatred against the followers of Christ knows no bounds. And since the times of Christ the church has resisted the attacks of the powers of darkness only with the help of the Lord. Millions have been tortured and killed. But their death was as seed—many executioners later came to Christ and many witnesses of executions on scaffolds and guillotines received Christ as their personal Saviour.

The faith of these true children of God shines throughout the ages, inspiring and encouraging Christ’s followers. And no matter how diligently Satan may try to counteract God’s church, he will never gain the ultimate victory; Christ has already conquered him on the cross and this is a sure pledge of victory for the followers of Jesus! And when some workers fall smitten by the hand of the enemy, the others step up—picking up Christ’s standard, walking through the thorns, holding fast the hand of the Saviour. Soon the Lord will finish His work upon the earth.

My dear friend, no matter what obstacles are coming upon your way, we have the clear command of Christ: “Go and preach!” We have no time to waste and get sidetracked on unimportant temporal things, on material needs, on arrangements for our well-being. There’s no time to GET DISTRACTED FROM THE MAIN GOAL! It doesn’t matter what the devil does, the main and most important thing is what God does!

The disciples didn’t fret and worry about Rome; prohibitions and threats couldn’t stop or frighten them. Even the most terrible persecution didn’t make them stop preaching about Christ. All the difficulties did not merely try their faith, but strengthened it!

As soon as Christ organized His church, the Jews became even more embittered against Christians. Terrible persecutions and martyrdoms began. Yet fearlessly, with songs, praise and prayers on their lips, these courageous heroes of faith received death at the hands of the tyrants that didn’t understand the main thing: where one Christian died, thousands were born for the life with Christ!

Later when Satan understood that he could not destroy the church that way, he changed the tactics; the form of warfare was changed. In the days of Constantine the persecutions ceased and pagan rites entered the church, human authority superseded God’s authority, and God’s commandments were substituted by human regulations. Now the true Christians that were faithfully keeping God’s commandments were persecuted by the professedly Christian church that was actually serving the interests of the state.

Later, the great reformers accomplished a great work of carrying the Word of Life to millions of people at the cost of their lives. They labored in perilous times with one goal—to fulfill Christ’s commission: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world” (Matthew 24:14).

Of Jeremiah it is written: “Imprisoned, and placed in the stocks, the prophet nevertheless continued to speak the messages of Heaven to those who stood by. His voice could not be silenced by persecution. The word of truth, he declared, ‘was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay’ (Jeremiah 20:9).”15

The controversy is going on and will intensify, yet leaning on the experiences of former generations we are encouraged. It doesn’t matter what kind of persecutions the enemy makes and how he tries to counteract the message; he will not succeed, the truth will be preached.

Christ overcame in this controversy and His victory has paved the way of victory for us. Don’t be discouraged; don’t become disheartened: go boldly in the name of One Who has already overcome and gives us strength to overcome.

Instruments in the hands of Christ

Just as a sculptor begins with a plain piece of granite and uses instruments—designated tools—to create a beautiful sculpture, so we can be instruments in the hands of our Creator.

“Let us begin to work for those who have not had the light. . . . What we need is a living faith, faith to proclaim over the rent sepulcher of Joseph that we have a living Saviour, one who will go before us and who will work with us. God will do the work if we will furnish Him the instruments. There needs to be among us a great deal more of prayer and much less of unbelief. We need to lift up the standard higher and still higher before the people. We need to remember that Christ is always at our right hand as we proclaim liberty to the captives and deal the bread of life to hungry souls. When we keep before our minds the urgency and importance of our work, the salvation of God will be revealed in a remarkable manner.

“God help us to put on the armor and to act as if we were in earnest, as if the souls of men and women were worth saving. Let us seek a new conversion. We need the presence of the Holy Spirit of God with us.”16

The inhabitants of the Earth need to be educated, reproved, and appealed to and this should be done by the Holy Spirit that will use people as His instruments. If this is the case, can we doubt the success of the missionary work?—No, never.

An honor and a privilege

The Lord has bestowed upon us a great honor—we can become His colaborers in the work of salvation! It’s not a heavy burden, it’s a great PRIVILEGE! “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). It is this privilege to carry the message of salvation to the perishing world that is offered to you, my dear friend! Will you receive God’s calling or will you stand aloof—the decision is yours!

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). Whether with us or without us, the work will be done!

When Christ uttered these words He was surrounded by a small group of Galilean fishermen. He Himself was rejected by the Jews. From that small beginning, a great work is to be accomplished. This message will sound till it spreads throughout all the nations. No persecution can hinder it. On the contrary, persecution tends to facilitate the promotion of the gospel.

Everyone has a choice to make: whether to be or not to be a coworker with Christ in completing the gospel work. You may say: “What can I do?” If you’re just sitting, then you will do nothing—but if you take up the work where you are, you soon will see the results.

The power of example

After a big coastal storm, thousands of starfish were drying up on the beach, anxiously moving their tentacles but unable to return to the sea. Onlookers and photographers came to capture the beautiful, yet terrible sight. They watched but did nothing to save the dying creatures.

One boy was not able to bear the scene. He quickly grabbed a few starfish and carried them to the water. A man inquired, “May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die unless I throw them back into the water.”

The man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. You won’t really be able to make much of a difference.” The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

Soon the man joined him in the project, then others came, and more and more followed until many people undertook the aim to make a difference. So, thanks to this small boy’s persistence, nearly all the starfish were saved, though they had been doomed to die!

My dear friend! It’s true that you cannot help everyone, but you can help those close to you! Then, help at least one perishing soul to find the way of salvation!

If suddenly your life ends today, have you ever thought: “What did I personally do for the Lord?”

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:1, 2, emphasis added).

“The end is near, stealing upon us stealthily, imperceptibly, like the noiseless approach of a thief in the night. May the Lord grant that we shall no longer sleep as do others, but that we shall watch and be sober. The truth is soon to triumph gloriously, and all who now choose to be laborers together with God will triumph with it. The time is short; the night soon cometh when no man can work. Let those who are rejoicing in the light of present truth now make haste to impart the truth to others.”17

The truth is soon to triumph. The work of salvation will be finished. Become a partaker of this triumph!

References
1 Evangelism, p. 407.
2 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 24.
3 Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 415, 416.
4 Faith and Works, p. 61.
5 The Desire of Ages, p. 142.
6 The Acts of the Apostles, p. 330.
7 Ibid., p. 109.
8 Ibid., p. 30.
9 Ibid., p. 37.
10 Ibid., p. 38.
11 The Desire of Ages, p. 195.
12 The Great Controversy, p. 70.
13 Gospel Workers, p. 115.
14 Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 438. [Emphasis added.]
15 Prophets and Kings, p. 432.
16 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 107. [Emphasis added.]
17 Ibid., p. 135. [Emphasis added.]