Our Stupendous Responsibility

The progress, prosperity, and success of the cause of God on earth will be in direct proportion to the faithfulness, devotion, and effectiveness of His ministry.

By CARLYLE B. HAYNES, President of the Michigan Conference

The progress, prosperity, and success of the cause of God on earth will be in direct proportion to the faithfulness, devotion, and effectiveness of His ministry. That is a law of progress which can be neither altered nor modified. And the contemplation of that law should produce such a sense of awful respon­sibility upon the part of every minister of Christ as to make him tremble. The Christian church is set forth in the Bible as the light of the world. If that light becomes darkness, then great becomes the darkness.

If the glorious light of gospel truth and holi­ness is not reflected forth from the body of Christ's professed followers, where is the diffi­culty? It lies in the ministry. God's min­isters are the appointed lights. These are the stars of God. These, above all others, are to "arise and shine." If they are unfaithful, if they fail to obtain the promised blessings and attain to greater usefulness by their faith­fulness, then they become responsible for a momentous and disastrous failure, and they will be held accountable.

Who can estimate what the reckoning of that worker will be who comes short of attain­ing the holy eminence in his calling which by grace he is fully competent to attain, and as a consequence there follows a loss to the church and the cause of Christ? Certainly there can be no question regarding the seri­ousness and the certainty of loss which is con­sequent upon a minister's failure. That is as certain as the operation of any law of nature. A faithful minister of Christ will attain re­sults which, were he unfaithful, would never have an existence. Is it too much to say that this most lamentable of all losses is now in process every day, and is spread far and wide throughout the ranks of the people of God?

Why is it that the great enterprise which God is carrying forward among men has not been completed ere this? Why do the chariot wheels drag so heavily? Why are so many hundreds of churches merely marking time? Why are so many tremendous opportunities for service being passed by when they open before us? The answer is plain. These con­ditions are exactly what, without a miracle, they must be. They are precisely what, ac­cording to the law of cause and effect, they should be. The development is in accordance with the ways and the means. And so it will continue. If the ministers of Jesus Christ continue to remain in the condition in which they now are, then the cause of Jesus Christ will continue to make the same degree of progress as heretofore. If they progress, it will progress. If they stand still, it will stand still. The church will always be just where the ministers are. I confess I cannot look at this bit of philosophy without a sense of great and solemn awe. But I have been unable to find any way to avoid its force and truth.

If we ministers of Christ permit our eyes to be drawn away from Him to the things of earth; if we come to think more of gaining the comforts of this world than of gaining the glories of heaven; if we are lured away from the hardness of our vocation by the softness of other pursuits; if we allow ourselves to be attracted away from our duties to seek a little of the gold that perishes; if we turn away from the toil, self-denial, hardness, and in­tense devotion of the true soldier of Christ; if we think more of name and fame than "everlasting remembrance" among countless myriads of the redeemed; if we are influenced more by the pleasures of sin than by the treasures of heaven—if, in a word, earth in­stead of heaven attracts our eye most, then we need expect no particular progress in the cause of Christ. Under such circumstances there is nothing to wonder at in the slow ad­vancement of the kingdom of God.

The ministers of God are mainly responsible for the condition of His church. It could not be otherwise. There is no other class of men in the world similar to them. They are ap­pointed by the great Head of the church to cooperate with Him in the eternal salvation of men. They are commissioned by Him to bear to the whole earth "this gospel of the king­dom." They are men set apart—set off from this world and all its pursuits, and assigned over to a mysterious and solemn fellowship, colaboring with God for the accomplishment of the final work of the gospel, compared with which the whole physical universe is less than nothing and vanity.

This ministry, in the strength and leader­ship of God, can compass its stupendous task in this generation. We are well able to go up and possess the whole land. Shall we not, then, advance and conquer?

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By CARLYLE B. HAYNES, President of the Michigan Conference

January 1940

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