THE ministry of this denomination faces a stupendous task. We have a world to warn and a church to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Time is short. We must therefore give ourselves completely to the accomplishment of this assignment. Nothing else, regardless of its importance, must be allowed to intervene. We must be totally dedicated men, fully committed to the finishing of God's work. This is a high and holy privilege. Nothing else can compare with it. We are not merely trying to hold our own. This, by all means, we must do, but we are to go out into the highways and byways and by the grace of God compel others to come in, that "my house may be full." This is of tremendous concern to the Lord. It must be to us.
Other aspects of our ministry are important and demand a share of our time. We have goals to reach, campaigns to run, expenses to meet, and routine services to conduct. But not all of these together nor any one of them individually is to so absorb our time and efforts that our great preaching ministry is to be neglected or to become secondary. We are not to encourage dependence upon us as ministers in activities for which local leaders should be responsible. We can and must so organize our work that we shall have time for evangelistic preaching. This is a vital part of every minister's obligation. No pastor, no departmental secretary, no minister, either ordained or looking forward to it, should ever feel released from the burden of direct soul winning in the evangelistic services. The true minister for Christ will, as directed by the Spirit of God, do the work of
an evangelist. Mere pastoral ministry is not enough. Spending endless hours on sermon preparation in an attempt to challenge the thinking of our people is not the limit of our responsibility. We are to proclaim the everlasting gospel with such earnestness, power, and authority that sinners in the church and out of it will be convicted and be led to confession of sin, surrender of life to the Lord Jesus, and acceptance of Him as Saviour and Lord.
At the time of our ordination we were charged to "preach the word," not the opinions of men. We are not heralds of a constantly changing, frequently adjusting gospel. The need of the human heart is for salvation, conversion, and the new birth. This the minister for God has to offer in Christ Jesus. He is to become so totally involved in this work that no diversion must enter his life or service, no side line. No other activity can be tolerated if he is to fulfill the commission given him by his divine Lord.
"While you stand in the position of a herald of truth, a watchman upon the walls of Zion, you cannot have your interest interwoven with mining or real-estate business [or any other, for that matter] and at the same time do effectually the sacred work committed to your hands. Where the souls of men are at stake, where eternal things are involved, the interest cannot safely be divided."—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 530.
This is the price we must pay. Nothing less will satisfy the Lord, the church, or the lost. "If you feel no burden of soul for those who are ready to perish . . . there will be no room for you in the kingdom of God."—Ibid., vol. 9, pp. 103, 104.
This, fellow workers, is serious business. Upon our response to it depends the success of our ministry and, indeed, our eternal destiny. "There are many ordained ministers who have never yet exercised a shepherd's care over the flock of God, who have never yet watched for souls as they that must give an account."—Ibid., vol. 6, p. 434.
In this hour when the demands upon us all are so great, when revival, reformation, and soul winning are the one mission and goal of the entire church, we must not fail to fulfill our obligations. Instead of seeking some easy way out, let us ask God for a deeper understanding of the value of a soul. Let us pray for greater love for God and our fellow men. Let us give ourselves untiringly to this holy work, with no other interest absorbing our energies. We are to seek to save the lost wherever they are. This is our great mission as ministers. May God help us to become so effective in it that we shall know the continuing thrill of leading souls to the Lord and to fellowship with us in this blessed truth. Let there be total commitment to this work on the part of every minister of the gospel.
N. R. D.