New Testament Principles put to the Test
W Williams, Venezuela
It’s all very well to talk about “Principles,” but DO THEY WORK? Here is one answer.
No doubt it is a long cry from final orders given to His own on that mountain side in Galilee to the present time. “Times have changed greatly.” Surely, We do not deny it. “Circumstances alter cases.” Generally they do. “Modern times require modern organization.” In the business world, this is so. “The Church has grown to be a universal institution and therefore requires reorganization to suit the varied needs, so that New Testament principles cannot be carried out to-day.” Now here is where we differ. It can be done.
It will be generally conceded by Christians, that we have the Great Commission given by Christ to the Church, for this dispensation of grace, in Matt. 28. 18: 20. “All power is given unto Me in heaven and earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Let us look at four salient statements in our Lords’ words:
- “All power”: R.V., “All authority.”
- “Teach all nations”: “Make disciples of all nations.”
- “Teaching them to observe all things.”
- “I am with you always”: Greek—”All the days.”
The first statement shows us that He has all the power and consequently the sole right to command His servants. He would have every sent servant keep in close touch with the Risen Head for guidance and marching orders.
The second makes it clear that He wishes the Gospel proclaimed to every nation, thus banishing all derogatory talk about racial colours and customs. The third shows that the missionary must not pick and choose but teach the whole counsel of God. The last statement is not the least for it assures the Lord’s servant His own special presence right up to the end of the age or dispensation.
Thirty six years ago we were face to face with these four truths:
- Has He still “all power” to supply our temporal needs after leaving “the nets?”
- Would the Lord wish us to leave Canada and comforts to go to Venezuela, a field noted as unhealthy, unfruitful and in the throes of the periodical revolution?
- Would it be possible to plant churches after the New Testament pattern, and teach them to observe “all things”?
- Could one really count on His being with one “all the days”?
Over thirty-five years have come and gone since we started out from Toronto, trusting those four terse statements, and we can say in the words of another—”Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you.”
- We have proved that the Lord has all power to supply all the need of His servants. The better we got to know the Lord the more we could trust Him. The expenses of the work have increased very much. In the last five years of war we spent on food and travel double what we used to; yet we have been able to give to the Lord’s work and workers double what we ever did in past years. All this without using circular letters or any other means to bring our names before the Assemblies.
- We deem it a tremendous favour the Lord has bestowed upon us in allowing us to come to Venezuela with the Gospel. It humbles us to the dust when we contemplate hundreds of Venezuelans saved, baptized and gathering in church capacity to remember their risen Lord. We contemplated over 300 of them this year at a conference carrying out His last request with a calm quietness, a scriptural order, and a softness rarely equalled in our home gatherings.
- “All things” We have sought to preach the Gospel in all its fulness, nobly aided by our fellow-missionaries and our Venezuelan brethren. We have taught them believers’ baptism and what it entails. We have stressed the necessity of the “local church.” None of us foreign workers, or any of our Venuezuelan brethren, who give all their time to the work, are in the oversight of any assembly. We have shown them that it is His will that they remember His death on first day of the week. We have taught them to rule their own assemblies and ever seek the fellowship of them all. Five of our esteemed workers have been years at home unable to get back owing to the Venezuelan Government prohibiting their return. Rome is busy pulling every political string to exile every one of us. If any of us here went home we would never get back. But if our God allows this we have the solid satisfaction that the assemblies would carry on without us. This is a tremendous argument in favour of carrying on work on New Testament principles on the foreign field as it makes it self-sustaining and independent of the foreign worker.
- “All the days” This is the sticker, Mr. Saword asked a Venezuelan brother, who he was encouraging to give all his time to the Lord’s work, if he could not trust the Lord. The brother replies, “I could trust the Lord; but I could not trust my brethren!”
You see the Venezuelan heart is the same as ours. Of the six Christians of Toronto who signed our letter of commendation, nearly all are with the Lord. A new generation has risen who do not know us. But He does not get old. He will never change nor die. “Thou Remainest” Here we took our stand at first. Here we stand still. “He faileth not.”
Now as to the practical results, it has worked. There are now 28 assemblies, in 8 different states. In 10 other places a regular gospel testimony is maintained with the hope of seeing assemblies formed later.