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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
By M. L. Moser, Sr.
Taken from the book, Baptist Doctrine
There are two main ways by which a church can carry forth its duty to the Word of God:
1. By the distribution of the Bible, religious books, tracts, etc.
This is a method by which a church may do good to the impenitent. God has given to the world one book. It is unlike all other books. It carries with it, wherever it goes, the credentials of its inspiration and claims the reverence due to a communication from heaven.
The Bible is God's gift to the world. It was not given to the white man, nor the red man, nor the black man, as such, but to universal man. This volume alone unfolds the way of salvation by telling the wonders of the cross. It is revealed truth by means of which the soul is regenerated, sanctified, and prepared for heaven.
Who is to see to it that this precious book is distributed at home and abroad? It cannot be reasonably expected that God's enemies will do it. His friends must engage in the work. They know something of the value of the Bible, and their sense of its worth must prompt them to circulate it. Every church should consider itself, by virtue of its constitution, a Bible Society, and should aid in the great work of disseminating divine truth throughout the world.
It is a question that may well be pondered with solemn interest: Will God, In His providence, long permit any people to retain His Word, if that people do not give it to others? Let every church think of this.
The distribution of religious books, tracts, and periodicals is a work kindred to the circulation of the Scriptures. Religious books are reproductions and expositions of some of the truths of the inspired volume. A good hook brings a portion of divine truth into contact with the conscience and heart. And this is the reason why the unobtrusive tract is so useful.
A special use should be made of the tracts and pamphlets that set forth the distinctive principles of Baptists. There is a very large variety of tracts, pamphlets and books. Copies of these should be circulated by hundreds of thousands.
As a people, we claim that certain great truths have been committed to our care. For what did the Lord commit them to us? To pass them over as unimportant? We dare not do this. These principles are not ours to do with as may seem most agreeable. They are Christ's. He has honored us with their custody, not for ourselves, but for others. Upon us he has placed the especial responsibility of commending them.
In common with all other Christians it is our duty to bear testimony to all truths, but especially to our distinctive principles. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to Christ our Lord, and we owe it to our brethren, dearly beloved, but in order to make known these principles to the very utmost of our ability.
The mission of Baptists will not be attained by apologizing to the world for an existence, by asking pardon of other denominations for differing from them, or by begging that we may not be esteemed as bigots. We must become aggressive in spirit, positive in the advocacy of our principles.
And these truths can be made known best by the free and wide-spread circulation of our Baptist tracts, pamphlets, and books. Let them, then, be freely used. Tracts cost but little, and what an irresistible, all-pervading power might be called into being by the churches, if they would but address themselves with determination and perseverance to the gradual but perpetual distribution of these tracts, pamphlets, and books!
How greatly might converts be guarded from erroneous views and practices, be indoctrinated in the principles of the gospel and faith of the church, and be made substantial Christians, if with the hand of fellowship, the pastor could give to each one received the best small work on Baptism, another on Communion, and still another on the Duties of Church members! And the pastor should not hesitate to ask the church to supply him with these aids in his work.
2. By sustaining the cause of missions.
The missionary enterprise is usually referred to in its two aspects - home and foreign. There is full scriptural authority for the presentation of both these aspects. The commission of Christ to the apostles of itself furnishes it: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:15-16).
It is clear from this commission that the gospel is to be preached at home and abroad; for it is to be preached in all the world. It is to be proclaimed to all the nations; for it is to be proclaimed to every creature. "...Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This was the program of missionary labor in apostolic times. How suggestive the words, Jerusalem - all Judaea - Samaria - uttermost part of the earth. This was the plan and zealously was it executed.
It may be laid down as an axiom that no church, not animated with the missionary spirit, can be in a healthful, prosperous state. The missionary spirit is the spirit of the gospel - the spirit of Christ. Of every church it ought to be said in truth as of the Thessalonians: "From you sounded out the word of the Lord." (I Thess. 1:8) The sound should go forth till it reaches the remotest limits of the earth. It is the sound of the Word of the Lord.
The Word of the Lord is the gospel by which sinners of all nations may be saved: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?" (Rom. 10:13-15)
Indifference to the cause of missions is cruelty to immortal souls. How are sinners in our own land, or in foreign lands, to be saved without the gospel? Ought not those who have the gospel to send it to those who have it not? Earth's wretched millions are starving for "the bread of life," and this bread is in the custody of the churches.
Dare they refuse to distribute it among the perishing at home and abroad? No church can perform its duties to the world without sustaining the cause of missions, without giving, according to its ability, to spread the gospel of the grace of God. Praying without giving is presumption, and giving without praying indicates a self-dependence offensive to God. Let it be said, as of Cornelius, so of every church: "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God." (Acts 10:4)