As the apostle Paul closed the discussion of the great doctrine of the resurrection he was led by the Holy Spirit to write, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”(1 Corinthians 15:58). It would be hard to conceive of a situation in the history of the Lord’s church that was worse, from our viewpoint, than the conditions that prevailed at Corinth when Paul wrote this first letter to those brethren. But, in spite of his many rebukes of their sins, and his admonitions to repent and do better, he never advocated that they just quit and let some other church do what Jesus wanted done! He urged them to “always abound” in the work of the Lord. All in the Lord’s body now have this same responsibility.
Actually, this is the responsibility that Christians have in any generation, under any circumstance! There is no “reverse” gear on the great “ship of Zion!” It is always ‘full steam ahead.’ We are often admonished to continue faithfully in our Lord’s service. We can never see the end of things from our perspective; however, we can believe the final conclusion of things as promised by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We must “not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
But what is the specific responsibility that members of the Lord’s church have today? Let us break it down. Gospel preachers must continue to preach the “whole counsel of God.” Preachers must not give in to the side of the extremists, nor to the side of the liberals. God’s Word is the first and last authority that must be preached—and lived by preachers of the Cross. Preachers should understand that they must not only preach the truth, but they must live according to it. This is critically true in the area of fellowship. The teaching of 2 John 9-11 is often neglected in the lives of preachers. This passage says, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” When preachers do NOT practice this teaching, how can those who follow them practice such?
Elders must be vigilant in following the inspired advice: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 21:28-30). Elders must “rule well” over the preachers and other teachers in the church. They (the elders) will give answer for every soul under their care. The elders will be responsible for allowing any false teaching or practice to enter in among the flock that they are to oversee. It will be a sad day, indeed, for many elders when they are called to answer in that great day of judgment (Hebrews 13:17). Many elders today apparently do not have a concept of their responsibility, or they are unwilling to accept the responsibility that God has placed upon them.
Members of the Lord’s church are also responsible. They must insist that the preachers preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They must personally direct their own lives by the standards of the Gospel. They must uphold the hands of faithful preachers and elders. They must be faithful in all things.
These things, in summary form, describe our responsibility in this generation and in all generations of the Lord’s church, until He comes again!
-Glenn B. Ramsey