As MY Father hath sent me, even so send I you." These ringing words of challenge have ever been in the mind of the true messenger for Christ. The disciples took them so literally that they went everywhere preaching the word, and the Lord added unto the church daily such as should be saved. This is still the great mission of the church, and to fulfill it with urgency and in love is the primary concern of the gospel minister.
The word penetration is being currently used with great frequency in evangelical circles as well as in many other areas of activity. It envisions a going forth in response to the Lord's command to proclaim everywhere, to every kindred, tongue, and people, the glorious gospel of salvation, which is the greatest need of the world today.
In Spite of Obstacles
At the close of the Congress on Evangelism in Berlin in a symbolic act of penetration the more than 1,250 delegates and observers with flags flying marched out of the Kongresshalle, intent on going to the whole world with the story of saving grace in this generation. They went, knowing the tremendous odds they face; they went, mindful of barriers that had been erected, walls that had been built, and curtains that had been dropped, all of which have been conceived primarily as obstacles to the onward conquering march of the gospel. They went with the promise of the Saviour ringing in their ears: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
God has not promised that the way will be easy, but He has promised that we will succeed. "No weapon that is formed against thee," offensive or defensive, "shall prosper" (Isa. 54:17). This is God's Word and this we must believe. We are to go with the blessed good news. This is our charge and responsibility. God has made Himself responsible for our success.
The challenge to the remnant church then is to go everywhere and penetrate. Not merely in a symbolic act but literally. We are to penetrate the great cities where limitless numbers of walls have been erected. We must penetrate these walls, even the concrete fortresses of the great apartment complexes behind which countless thousands live in fear and despair. We must seek for ways and means so that by every available tool the message might be given to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. We must discover better methods and sharper tools so that no one, whatever his condition or attitude, shall be beyond the point of our penetration. We must use the pulpit, personal contact, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and the telephone.
Responsible for the World
We must penetrate the dark counties and the unworked cities and towns all over the world. Untold millions of people live in areas where the Advent message has never been preached and where no light from this last message of mercy has ever shone. This is the responsibility of every minister, every organization, every institution, every church member, everywhere. Ours is a task not only for our own little arena of activity but for every part of the whole world.
We must penetrate the walls of indifference, self-satisfaction, and prejudice (real and imaginary), that divide the world and build shelters behind which so many cringe in fear and uncertainty. We must penetrate the campuses of the great educational institutions of the world with this saving truth. We must penetrate the godless philosophy proclaimed by godless philosophers. We must cut through to the millions of young people who are spiritually ignorant and in rebellion and will remain so unless we reach them with the good news.
Reach the Hospitalized
We must penetrate the gigantic medical complexes. Here people suffer and die, the great majority of them without the light of the gospel reaching their benighted hearts. To meet this challenge, to penetrate this wall, we need consecrated, committed medical workers of all classifications to share their faith and thus dispel the darkness. We must penetrate the walls of our penal institutions. Here is a class of people whose bitterness and revolt has branded them as the unwanted and unloved. To them the message must be brought and for them the light of hope and truth must shine forth.
Penetrate Walls of Complacency
We must penetrate the wall of complacency and materialism that is so much in evidence in our affluent society. "We have everything we need—who needs Christ?" Even for these we are to work and with sympathy and understanding seek to make the gospel so desirable and so appealing to them that even the self-satisfied will yearn to possess the pearl of great price.
We must penetrate the coldness of our Christless formalism. We must reveal to them that to have a form of godliness but to deny its power is to place oneself where he is of all men most miserable. We must overcome this evil with a love that drives away all unconcern, all callous self-satisfaction.
We must penetrate the lukewarmness of the remnant church and lead our dear people to "buy of me gold tried in the fire, . . . and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (Rev. 3:18).
We must penetrate the wall of self-righteousness that so characterizes our self-centered service. We must cease thinking about what we will get out of it and concern ourselves more about what we can put into it so that others may be blessed by the witness of our Christlike lives.
Fight Fire With Fire
We must penetrate the barriers of tameness and lifelessness that so often characterize our witness in the pulpit and out of it. It is no sin to get excited, to really get exercised as we seek to awaken the people to their desperate need. A little old-fashioned pulpit pounding, voice raising, and crying aloud might convince people that we are deadly in earnest about the urgency of the message that we bear and our concern for their salvation. Tame, lifeless discourses have no place in this age when the whole world is engulfed in flames. If we are to rescue some from certain destruction we must dash through these walls of fire and overcome with holy fire the fire that consumes spiritually.
Not 1/10 Part
We face a world in desperate need. We are experiencing explosions of every kind, not the least significant of which is the population explosion. It is sobering to realize that the combined growth of the Christian church is not one-tenth of the growth of the world population. We live in a time when self-worship is rapidly replacing the worship of God. This is most characteristic of the so-called Christian countries of the world. And think of the challenge of the heathen countries.
More Ex-Members Than Members
We face a church in desperate need—in need of revival and reformation, a church thinking it is rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing. Yet all the while many, perhaps the majority, are unprepared for the coming of the Lord and will certainly be lost unless some changes take place and that soon. Backsliding and apostasies among us are staggering. In many of our great cities we have more ex-members than we have present membership.
To meet these challenges in the world and in the church we have a beautiful message of hope and salvation. This is what is needed in both places. Our message is timeless and relevant and filled with heart and life appeal. We do not need now or ever to change our message. Our need is not changed messages but changed men to proclaim them. Spirit-filled men who are intent on casting down imagination and everything that exalted itself against the knowledge of God. "The weapons we wield are not merely human, but divinely potent to demolish strongholds; we demolish sophistries and all that rears its proud head against the knowledge of God; we compel every human thought to surrender in obedience to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4-6, N.E.B.).* It is our duty then to provide the world with a full view of this temple of truth into which all who will may come and find help and safety.
The Sin Barrier
We face, today, barriers all over the world that tend to divide us—barriers of race, color, and social standing; but the greatest divider of all, the real wall of separation, is sin. This wall must be penetrated so that God's children everywhere shall no longer be separated. Families must be reunited, homes re-established, churches rebuilt, that the righteous nations that keep the truth might be gathered into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
Hall of Tears
Separating East Berlin and West Berlin is a great wall now well-known around the world. This wall divides a city, separates loved ones, and breaks up homes. In this wall is a checkpoint known as the Hall of Tears. Here at various times loved ones come, hoping to catch a glimpse of other loved ones who have been separated by the wall. Here they come and look with great longing and eagerness for a dear and familiar face. When at last they see one they wave to one another and weep. They are permitted no other contact. They just stand there and wave and weep. It is a heart-rending time for all and it is all caused by a wall—a wall that need never have been built.
There is coming a time, fellow workers, when once again there will be a truly great wall of separation. On one side will be the hordes of the lost, and on the other the company of the redeemed. Loved ones will eagerly look for and see one another. They will wave back and forth, tears will be shed on both sides. May no family be divided by that wall because we have failed to do our honest best to reach them with the good news of salvation.
May God help us all in the little time that remains to go forth with the truth, breaking down partitions, walls, and separating curtains, and proclaiming with all the earnestness and urgency that we possess, the glorious news of salvation and the coming of the Lord. Let us penetrate everywhere until the world shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
"As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." Let us penetrate every stronghold, every fortress, that the devil has erected, so that the work may be quickly finished and that Jesus might come soon.
* The New English Bible, New Testament. © The Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1961. Reprinted by permission.