How Fundamentalists Should
Obey Christ's Commission...
By Going After People!
By Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) | Sword of the Lord
That Is the Way Greatly Used Evangelists and Greatly Blessed
and Enlarged Churches Win So many Souls
“ . . . Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” ... “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” —Luke 14:31,23.
All over America God is raising up great churches that are bringing in amazing crowds and baptizing hundreds, and in some cases, thousands per year!
How do they do it? Do not be deceived by the howls of the scoffers, the jealous, the tradition-bound and more or less unfruitful critics who say that those who have such crowds and win many souls must do it by illegitimate means!
No, those thousands of souls brought to the churches and won to Christ and baptized are not really won by “gimmicks” by prizes, by special days. by bubblegum and goldfish and big shows. These people are actually brought in and won by enormous labor, ingenuity, experience, prayer, faith, and simply going after the people. All the devices are incidental methods or simply details sometimes used to implement the work. But the real source, the real secret, the real method is according to the Bible command and method—they go after the people and get them.
BASIC PRINCIPLE OF GREAT COMMISSION AND BIBLE SOUL WINNING IS GOING AFTER SOULS
First Word in Great Commission Is “Go”
We are commanded, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). If “go” is not the biggest word in the Great Commission, it is certainly the basic one. Nobody ever catches fish without going fishing. Nobody raises a crop unless he goes to the field. Nobody graduates from college unless he goes to school.
Now in the parable of the great supper, the host sent his servant (the only servant mentioned) to knock on doors, to insist that people who had been invited come quickly to the supper where all was ready. When they had foolish and insincere excuses, the master said, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.”
Notice again that is was “go.” When th servant did as he was bidden and got all the people in town that he could get, including skid-row bums, beggars, the no-goods, the ne'er-do-wells, then the master commanded him urgently, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14;23). You see, the basic thing about soul-winning is to go after people.
In Matthew 22:1-14, a king made a marriage feast for his son. This king “sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding . . . . ” And again, “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.”
How like the modern busing ministry of many great churches is this next verse: “So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests” (Matthew 22:10).
The central theme of the Great Commission is to go and get people for Jesus.
In John, chapter 1, we have the story how John the Baptist was preaching and announced the Saviour. Two of His disciples followed Jesus and at His invitation, went home with Him, for the day. Then we read:
“One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” —John 1:40-42.
What is the big word there? It is “findeth.” We read that Andrew “first findeth his own brother Simon.” Then in verse 43 we find that Jesus “findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.” In verse 45 “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth . . . . ” The Bible way is to go find the people and bring them to Jesus.
Isaiah 32:20 says, “Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.” Oh, God wants us to love everyone Jesus loved and to seek everyone He seeks, and “be all things to all men” that by all means we might win some.
How Did Church at Jerusalem Win Thousands in Few Weeks?
What a marvellous burgeoning, growing, magnificent thing was that great church at Jerusalem. following Pentecost! They had had three thousand people added to them that one day. Again, later we read in Acts 4:4, “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” Oh, yes, in the midst of enormous persecution and suffering, they went on winning thousands to Christ.
In chapter 5 we find the blessed work went on. Verse 14 tells us, “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.”
How did they win so many in the midst of persecution and suffering? “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (vs. 42).
The persecution became so intense that eventually most of the Christians were “scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” We are told, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1,4).
This, Too, Was Method of Apostle Paul and Other Apostles
Many of us have naturally thought that Paul may have been the greatest preacher the world ever saw. But we read in II Corinthians 10:10 that that was not the impression of the Christians at Corinth. They said, “His letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”
We need not wonder that many preferred the teaching of the great blockbusting Peter, first of the original twelve apostles. Others preferred Apollos, the man so learned and so filled with the Spirit and mighty in the Scriptures. Yet Paul went around the Mediterranean Sea and set the rim of the Roman Empire on fire. How?
Well, when he came back to Ephesus and called for the elders to meet him out in Miletus in Acts, chapter 20, he tells the preachers there, “I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Paul said that if anybody went to Hell from Ephesus, he was not to blame, for he had preached there for three years, and “I . . . have taught you publickly, and from house to house” (vs. 20). Then in closing he solemnly reminded, “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
Oh, last year I walked up and down those paved streets in the ruins of old Ephesus. I stepped into that great stadium where the mob gathered that hoped to lynch Paul. I could imagine Paul going up and down those streets, even into the night, weeping as he introduced himself and said, “I must tell you about Jesus and give you the Gospel of salvation!” Oh, that kind of soul winning, “publickly, and from house to house,” and “night and day with tears,” gets results from God!
God's way in the Great Commission and for all soul winning is just go get the people for God, get them saved and baptized, then train them to go get others saved!
Oh, the Lord's plan was to go out and get the people everywhere! We find Him going from one town to another, up and down all around Galilee, and then over across the little Sea of Galilee, and then in Samaria, and then in Jericho, in Jerusalem and Bethany. How many miles Jesus walked! How many long, weary days He worked and pled and warned and blessed and healed! How many nights He prayed! It is true that Christ Jesus died for our sins, but He set an example for us of how to reach the people, how to follow Him by going out after the people everywhere.
Even With Jesus, Incidental Matters Were Only Incidental Means to an All-Important End
It is true that Jesus healed the sick and worked mighty miracles. How the crowd wanted to see them! When they saw the man at Capernaum, let down through the roof, forgiven and then healed in a moment, then saw him take up his bed in his arms and walk home well, they said, “We never saw it on this fashion” (Mark 2:12).
Oh, I don't wonder that people crowded to hear Jesus and see Him. But Jesus knew, of course, that everything else was secondary, incidental, and was simply used to get people to hear the Gospel.
It is true that Jesus fed the multitude of five thousand and again He fed four thousand, and He knew that the people followed Him for the loaves and fishes. But this was with Him incidental. Out of His compassionate heart He fed them, but He also knowingly used these things to draw the crowd to hear the Gospel. His compassionate concern was to get the people to hear the Gospel. If you think the loaves and fishes were the principle things to Jesus, your thinking is very shallow. No, He came to save sinners, and reaching the people was the passion of His heart all the time.
Even With Jesus, Incidental Matters Were Only Incidental Means to an All-Important End
When Peter and John went to the temple and found the lame man, a beggar for forty years who had never walked a step, Peter had faith to take him by the right hand and say, “ Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Oh, what an excitement when the man leaped to his feet which had never before borne his weight, leaped and laughed and talked and held Peter and John until a great crowd came together. And to them Peter and John preached the Gospel and got people saved. Oh, I know that with compassion of heart and with the power of God they healed the sick man, but they knew that the great object was to preach the Gospel and get the people saved. It is true that the healing attracted a multitude, but it was the multitude to hear the Gospel that they wanted most of all.
SOURCE: “I Am A Fundamentalist” - a book by Dr. John R. Rice; part of chapter 8, “How Fundamentalists Should Obey The Great Commission: By Going After People!,” pgs. 113-118; copyright 1975, Sword of the Lord Publishers; ISBN: 0-87398-400-5
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