When Christ ordained the twelve to the gospel ministry, He laid the foundation for the Christian church in the new dispensation, which should function with a definite program and vision in the world, until He comes the second time to reward the faithful with life eternal, in a sinless new earth. There would be no need for the church to exist if it did not have a unique part to fulfill in the plan of salvation. The Lord Jesus has chosen those who constitute His church to represent Him in the earth and to carry on the ministry of the gospel till He comes again to receive the church unto Himself. The church is God's agency for the salvation of man. It is to foster the spirit of love, of service, of self-denial, in behalf of sinful man till the dawn of a better day, when sin and its baneful results will exist no more.
The church is not a benevolent institution, although it should be benevolent in character. It is founded with the express purpose of carrying on the greatest and most far-reaching blessings to mankind in all the earth, at all times, in all places, under all conditions, and for all races of humanity. Its functions are for time and eternity. The great majority of the earth's population are non-Christians, steeped in heathenism, superstition, and ignorance, "having no hope, and without God in the world."
In the parable of the talents, the master gave "to every man according to his several ability." All these gifts were to be used in the lord's service until the master's return to reckon with his servants. The faithful servants worked, obeyed, and carried out the charge of their master, "Occupy till I come."
The Church's Foreign Mission Program
One of the greatest tasks of the remnant church is to carry on a world-wide missionary program. There is no provision made for this work to stop, but all provision is made for it to be carried on in spite of war, handicaps, danger, or peril. The church missionary program is so vital to the welfare of the church that she cannot do without it. It is like a live wire, vivifying the whole body. If the church should lose her missionary vision, she would lose her spirit of service. There really would not be any vital reason for her to exist. The church must never come to the stage where she thinks her missionary task is completed. That would be a fatal mistake. She is to occupy till He comes.
It is the deceitful plan of the evil one to have the church believe that her work is finished, or that it cannot be done. He would say there is no need for foreign mission sacrifices—the missionaries are coming home. But that is no sign that the work is finished. The church is to work on, regardless of the time and the prevailing circumstances. The idea of the work's closing up is a dangerous error, a pernicious evil, to mislead the remnant church and lull her to sleep just before the Master makes His appearance in the earth's final climax.
Paul, the greatest of foreign missionaries, had this to say to the church at Colosse, in Colossians 1:23: "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven." Paul says that the gospel was then already preached to every creature under heaven, but we find nothing in his writings to indicate that the church should consider her task finished. If Paul were living in this day and age, he would be the greatest of foreign mission promoters.
We must not lose our missionary vision ; instead we must be more zealous, more united in spirit and in truth for the final finishing of God's work in the earth. The time is short ; the task is great ; the reapers are few and unequal to the task; but God's mighty provisions far surpass the needs of the hour. Let us then in this late hour of the world's history go forth into all the world, filled with the Holy Spirit and with power for the final triumph of God's cause in the earth, so that the Prince of everlasting peace may set up His kingdom, which shall stand forever.