Have we ceased to appreciate the exclusiveness of the cause? Our cause is to make it to heaven and take as many as we can with us. But I am afraid that in many places the Lord’s people have simply ceased to appreciate, or failed to understand, the exclusiveness of this cause.
The church of Christ is the exclusive agent. Paul called it “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). As far as the gospel in concerned, if it is ever proclaimed it will be proclaimed by the church. God did not solicit our help in the creation of the world. But now, in the conversion process, God uses human instruments, as shown throughout the book of Acts. Paul informs us that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Cor. 1:21). Paul asked, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). Indeed, the church is God’s exclusive agent to carry the gospel to the entire world. If we don’t do it, it won’t be done.
The gospel is the exclusive power (Rom. 1:16). If the world is ever saved, it will be because the gospel has been preached to them, believed by them, and obeyed by them. It is just this simple: without the seed there is no product; and the gospel is the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11; I Pet. 1:23-25). Thus, we read of the gospel being preached in every case of conversion in the book of Acts. Where the gospel does not go, there will neither be conversions nor congregations of Christ’s church established.
Soul-winning is the exclusive mission of the church. The mission of the Lord’s church is singular: proclaiming the gospel to the whole world that men might be saved. The Lord and His church are inseparably joined (Eph. 1:22-23). Therefore, whatever the mission of our Lord was in the world becomes our mission. His mission was to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). This must be our mission also! This mission is accomplished through three areas of activity: evangelizing (II Tim. 2:1-2; 4:1-2), benevolence (Gal. 6:10; James 1:27), and edification (Eph. 4:15-16). Benevolent work should have as its primary objective the winning of souls to our Lord.
Now examine your own heart. Have you—have we—forgotten the exclusiveness of the cause; have we ceased to appreciate this exclusiveness? If the Lord’s church is not the exclusive agent, if the gospel is not the exclusive power to save, and if winning souls is not our exclusive mission, then we cannot claim to be the church established by Christ (Matt. 16:18)
Some would have the church to be nothing but just another denomination among many. And when that occurs we have no scriptural authority to exist.
Let all of us get back to teaching our neighbors, our friends, and the whole world about the church you read about in the Bible. Let us preach the gospel, God’s power to save, and let us do all we can to save the lost.
Paul M. Wilmoth