The Mission Of the Church In the World
The Mission of the Church in the World
Haldeman was a fundamentalist leader and pastor of the First Baptist Church of New York City. Called the "dispensationalist pastor," he authored books on prophecy and the dangers of liberalism.
The general concept of the mission of the Church in the world is that it is here to make the world better, to lead it to a higher lane of life, to be a factor in its civilization, its asset of righteousness and the guarantee of its integrity. The Church is to make the world a better world for the natural man to live in and to make the natural man a better man to live in the world.
To this end the Church and the Christian minister as the representative of the Church are to engage in all moral and reform movements, identify themselves with all sociological endeavor and join hands with good men everywhere in the effort to purify and stabilize government.
In response to this concept I reply that it is wholly unwarranted in the Word of God; and that the very constitution and outlook of the Church repudiates it.
The Church is not here to make the world better On the contrary, the Church is here to testify the world cannot be made better; that so far from being made better it will go from bad to worse.
The Church bears the same relation to the world that a life boat and its crew do to a ship pounding to pieces on the rocks.
There is the ship in full view. Each succeeding wave lifts the vessel and in turn lets it fall with a definite blow on the hidden reefs. The people in the vessel do not appear to realize their danger. There is laughter and song and dancing. At nightfall the sinking ship is illuminated from stem to stern. Steadily the waves lift with a crooning sound and the cruel rocks thrust out their sharp blades and jagged fangs and cut away at steel and iron as the doomed people are drawn downward to the waiting and the whelming depths of the sea.
The men in the lifeboat are putting out. Do they carry with them paint and gilding and flowers? Do they intend to stop the leak, decorate the ship within, paint it without, and distribute flowers to the easy idlers on the deck? Nay! They are driving through the surf to reach the doomed vessel's side. Now they reach the vessel. They do not sing, "All is well"; but with loud and warning voices they cry, "Escape! Flee for your lives!"
They have but one aim: to get the people out of the ship, get them into the lifeboat and bring them to the shore to a place of security and peace.
The Church is here to impress upon me two immense facts-the fact of the soul and the fact of eternity.
The Church is here to cry out in the ears of men: "You have a soul. You are a soul. The biggest part of you, the only part that is real and permanent is your soul. You cannot see it. You, your real self, the soul is invisible-just as invisible and just as eternal as God. "
The Church is here to cry aloud in all the ranges of an arousing and appealing voice that one word above every other word-"soul."
By consequence of such relation to the soul the Church is here to awaken men to, and impress them with, the fact of eternity. The Church is here to so move upon men that each man shall ask himself the question: "Where and how shall I spend eternity?"
"Eternity! Eternity! Eternity!" Thy soul, that is the word the Church is called upon to cry in the ears of men. Men and their systems may be planning for time, or a scheme of life that takes in only the calendar of the years; but the Church with wide-open eyes and far vision and extended hands pointing to the shoreless beyond, is to be crying night and day in the ears of men.
"Eternity! Eternity! Eternity! Thy soul, not thy body; eternity, not time; arouse, awake, awake, arouse O sons of men before too late."
This is the high, the holy and the true message of the Church. This is her mission-to impress upon a careless world these two immense and all-concerning facts: the soul and eternity.
The Church is here to warn men of the hell that awaits every soul out of Christ.
The word "hell" has fallen out of theology, it is banished from polemics, it is not heard in the pulpit and is tabooed from polite conversation. And yet the sweetest-lipped Man who ever spoke, not only uttered it, but Himself invented that most ruthless and jarring of all human phrases, that inelegancy which the advanced thinker can never anesthetically forgive, that sulphurous and merciless phrase- "hell-fire." And it is the same sweet-lipped Man who has described the most harrowing scene ever presented to mortal gaze, the awakening of the rich man in, "this place of torment." (Luke 16:19-31)
The faithful minister must tell him that the only true basis on which he can build his life for time and eternity is regeneration, the possession of the new, the perfect and the holy life which the risen Son of God alone can give.
What right has any minister of Christ to talk to the man about being sober, about overcoming the habit of drink in is own strength when that minister is authorized to tell the man should he sincerely and genuinely receive the new life which is in Christ, he will immediately have power, not only to abstain from drink, but to live a life as superior to the mere morality of the flesh as the heavens are to the earth?
What right has the ambassador of Christ to link himself to a movement which is a part of the self-gratulating civilization of the hour, a civilization which, at its best, will be swept away?
He cannot logically take part in sociological endeavor even though (but mistakenly) it call itself, "Christian"; for it is a movement which at the very outset denies the fundamentals of the Church, based as it is on the idea that there are self-redemptive forces in human nature needing only to be cultivated to build up a society pleasing to God. The moment he lends his countenance to such a movement he becomes a false witness. He shuts out from the ears of men the warning notes of that judgment which in its culmination will overthrow the best sociological system ever intended by man.
This is the admonition of the Apostle. He says: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel (or an unbeliever)?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
The Church is here to warn men, to tell them that however long delayed, the end of "man's day" is certain; however fine and high the civilization to which it may attain, God will set it aside; and while as an individual citizen the Christian may have his responsibility to discharge in relation to the powers that be as ordained of God, yet as a Christian he must refuse to ally himself with the world's movements and must testify that the Church is forbidden to place itself under such an unequal yoke-the yoke of natural and spiritual generation.
Let the Church in the hour of her opportunity be faithful and while testifying of a living and coming Lord, not only invite men to surrender to Him and be saved, but in all steadfastness of truth lift up her voice of warning to a world each day rushing on to judgment.
[End Haldeman article]
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
The Apostle Paul includes himself as one in a world of once alienated sinners-"...who hath reconciled us to (God) himself by Jesus Christ..." Paul was in the world that God had reconciled to Himself in Christ at Calvary. The blaspheming, persecuting, murdering and injurious Saul-more vile in his manner, disposition and intent than the overwhelming majority of persons we shall ever meet in our market places. More cruel than any person walking into a modern abortion clinic. More guilty of wicked conspiracy and collusion against the people of God than any political leader or police agency chief today. The enemy of Christ and His Church, Saul.
"...if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away?" (1 Samuel 24:19). Christ had found His enemy on the Damascus Road-there he lies prostrate before Him. Christ, once again, is the mighty conqueror. How does this Holy Conqueror treat His captive? "But arise, and stand upon thy feet: for I appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee..." (Acts 26:16ff). Words of love-more than mere pity-deep divine love!
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Worldwide reconciliation. Every sinner of every evil stripe-reconciled! By the Cross, the most debauched of sinners put into a position of being a potential child of God. And in some judicial way more wondrous to us than any tongue can tell or than any writer can pen, the judgment of God is restrained-held back, described as "not imputing their trespasses unto them;..." and this is precisely what makes this age in which we live, in a particular way, the day of salvation,...the accepted time...the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2), and the reason in our practical ministry that we are instructed, "Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, , in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,..." (Read 2 Corinthians 6:2-13)
Oh, the difference between the Old Testament prophet's instruction for the eyes, and the instruction of the Lord Jesus. Yes, two different instructions for looking at the field. One regarding a prophesied time (Jacob's trouble future) and an un-prophesied time (this current accepted time, this day of salvation). The word of the Lord by Joel is to instruct the generations of prophetic Israel regarding "that which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten." (1:4). They were looking for fields of judgment, and so will the generation still living on earth when the Church has been removed. The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, didn't tell his disciples to look for this judgment immediately, though it would come...and will yet come. The Lord's instruction which extend through this "day of salvation" is "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." (John 4:35, 36). If a preacher should fail to understand the special place of "the dispensation of the grace of God" he may apply the seeking for of judgment, appropriate in Daniel's 70th Week, wrongly to the "accepted time" when, under the preaching of the Gospel of the Grace of God, God is withholding judgments and is "not imputing their trespasses unto them." To confuse these ages may create a cruel and vicious approach toward souls.
And God has committed unto us the word of reconciliation and has labeled us "ambassadors for Christ." Ambassadors! Then our task is to make every attempt to represent well the will and desires of Christ, who is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." Those to whom we minister must not, from our demeanor, our speech or our visage, ever get the sense that we would glory in their demise and in their destruction. Christ is the Savior of all men. He came into the world to save sinners...not to destroy sinners. How shall we preach and minister then? As ambassadors for Christ, the unsaved must take from all they see and hear about us that we genuinely desire their deliverance from sin and coming judgment, and their reconciliation to God. For this is what Christ Himself desires. We must examine ourselves in this question: How does our ministry beseech and pray sinners in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. They are made to be potential children of God by the work of the Cross. They shall not become children of God until they, believing the awfulness of their condition under condemnation, and the all-sufficiency of Christ and His atonement to deliver them, repent of any other hope, and trust only in Christ's Merits. But how do our ministries beseech and pray sinners to that place?
On the Cross God made His beloved Son to be the most vile of sin that we have ever heard about or could ever imagine taking place. Christ was made the sin of sodomy. He was made the sin of the murder of unborn children. Christ was made the sin of the most debauched of all political tyrants. Why? So that the sodomite might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. That the murderer might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. That the dictator and the despot might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. Only the wicked Pharisee in us would want to remove the thought that the sodomite might come to Christ. That the murderer might come to Christ. That the tyrant might come to Christ. The old nature in us so desires that the wicked go to hell, just as Jesus' disciples so wanted to call fire from heaven on the enemies of our Lord, and were of the wrong spirit, that we are proven to be still deserving of hell ourselves, and would quickly descend there had we not one day been delivered by faith in the correct Object. We are the ones that have forgotten that we were purged from our old sins. This is the way we walk and act in the presence of those who yet do not understand, and in the face of those to whom we have failed in our ambassadorial roll.
Fields white unto harvest will face the palmerworm, the locust and the cankerworm, if we do not repent of our own way and find the compassion of the One who has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation.