If there is one word used more than another today in connection with secular plans and programs, it is the word "total." In the past few decades we have seen the rise of the "total" state in many lands; we have been appealed to for "total" mobilization for the prosecution of "total" war and for the attainment of "total" victory. "All-out" programs have been and still are the order of the day to meet the tremendous problems of our time.
Turning with such thoughts in mind to the marching orders of the Christian church, one cannot but be amazed and thrilled to note that, though they were issued nearly two thousand years ago, their phrasing is as modern as if they had been written but yesterday. For while the world is being urged to "total" effort in this cause or that, the mandate to the church is for nothing less than "total" evangelism.
Look again at the words of the great commission as given by Jesus to His disciples just before He left them to return to His Father in heaven, and note the fourfold repetition of the word "all" actually fivefold if the wording of Matthew and Mark are combined. (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15.)
"Go ye into all the world."
"Make disciples of all nations."
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
"All power is given unto me."
"Lo, I am with you all the days [literal translation]."
In the first phrase we have what we might describe as the "total" geographical content of the commission. We are to go into all the world. That means the remotest corners of the earth north, south, east, and west. It means into the densest forests and the most arid deserts, on to the highest in habited plateaus, to the tiniest islands and atolls. And surely one of the greatest signs of the Divine Providence overshadowing the Advent Movement is that it is in fact literally fulfilling this command.
Many missionary organizations have been in existence for a longer time, but none has set itself anything like so "total" a program of extension. The proclamation of the Advent message today is well-nigh worldwide, and before the end God will make it truly so.
The command to go into all the world is supplemented by the instruction to go to "every creature." This suggests that the message must reach, not merely every place on the surface of the earth, but every stratum of society in every place.
Here again we are conscious of the leading of the Lord in the diverse avenues by which the Advent message is going to different classes of society. Thousands of souls are reached through evangelistic meetings, but other thousands would not respond to any such invitation. They, however, may receive the message through literature, through a visit to one of our medical institutions, through Dorcas ministry, through home visitation, or through the latest means of all, the radio and television and associated Bible schools. Yes, in the providence of God plans have been instituted whereby not merely every geographical area but every stratum of society in every area can be reached by the Advent message.
Coming back to the divine commission, we next note that the message itself is to comprise "all things" which Christ commanded, or in other words, the "whole counsel of God,"
The tragedy of many of the agencies pro fessing to be carrying out the great commission is that they are proclaiming only half the gospel, some very much less than half, and some even "another gospel" that is not the message of God at all!
Many missionary agencies are riddled with modernism, and far from teaching all things that Jesus commanded, they are teaching hardly anything that He enjoined and much that He did not.
There are those who proclaim fervently the free grace of God and consequent justification by faith but who fail altogether to declare the possibility, yea, necessity, of righteousness by faith. They proclaim the "faith of Jesus" but say nothing about "the commandments of God."
Then there are the social gospelers who are busy clearing slums, getting fair wages and homes for all truly noble endeavors but who have little to say about personal relationship to God, the afterlife, and our future home in the kingdom of heaven.
In all humility we can claim that only the Advent people are going into all the world proclaiming "all things" pertaining to life and godliness.
Sensing the tremendous task and responsibility that God has laid upon the Advent Movement and people, we may well ask, "Who is sufficient for these things?" But God's biddings are always His enablings, and associated with the great commission are two "total" promises to the messengers of God in their great need. They make known the wonderful fact that for the prosecution of the program of "total" evangelism upon earth there has been a "total" mobilization also of the omnipotent resources of heaven.
Said Jesus, "All power is given unto me." We live in an age of power, when the strength of nations is calculated in terms of economic power, political power, and so on. For the prosecution of our God- given task there has been provided all spiritual power. That power has been placed at the disposal of our great Leader, who in turn dispenses it to each and every worker for God.
"Ye shall receive power," were Jesus' parting words to His disciples, and that promise is equally for you and me today. God has never given a task to man without also providing power for its accomplishment.
"I was made a minister," declared Paul, "according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power." Eph. 3:7. And no one has ever been called to minister for God in any form without a similar promise of power for effectual service.
"He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision," said Paul on another occasion, "the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles." Gal. 2:8. And "the same" God will be "mighty" in us wherever we may be if we avail ourselves of the divine provision.
Finally, to assure us that this promised power will not be intermittent, but continuously available to the messengers of God, Jesus adds a last comprehensive word: "Lo, I am with you all the days."
He does not promise to energize us mightily one day and then withhold His power from us the next. If there is any arresting of the flow of power, it is because there is some clogging of the channels.
Perhaps the most wonderful promise in all the Scriptures is that inspired word through the apostle Paul: "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." 2 Cor. 9:8. God is able! Will you give Him free course in your life?
What indeed should be our response to the great call of God in these last hours of time?
Surely, the total mobilization of the resources of heaven for the total program of the church on earth demands the total surrender and effort of every child of God for the finishing of the work. May that be our resolve.