“The Mission of the Church” American Sentinel 10, 41, pp. 321, 322.

October 17, 1895

WE print elsewhere in this paper an article entitled, “Preacher and Plutocrat; or, the Corruption of the Church through Wealth,” by Rev. Walter Allen Evans, which is deserving of more than passing notice.

Many will doubtless seek to turn aside the force of Mr. Evans’ criticisms, warnings, and exhortations, by the cry of pessimism, and by pointing to our boasted civilization, the progress of the age in the arts and sciences, to the material prosperity of the world, and to the intelligence of its people; but none of these answer to the various serious questions raised by Mr. Evans.

Human nature is optimistic.

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast,

Man never is, but always to be blest.”

To this characteristic of the race rather than to any scriptural warrant, is due the general belief in the final triumph of the gospel by the conversion of the world.

The true mission of the Church is little understood even by her ministers. Popular theology inculcates belief in a temporal millennium wherein all the world is to be converted to the Lord Jesus Christ, and all nations to own him as King; but the Scriptures teach a very different doctrine.

When the Saviour was about to leave this world, he commissioned his disciples, saying, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;” 374 giving them also the divine assurance, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” 375

But he gave them no promise that the time would ever come when all the world would receive the message which they were to give. On the contrary, he told them that as he had been persecuted so they would be persecuted. 376 And that “as the days of Noe were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be.” 377

The days of Noah were days of moral darkness and degeneracy, yea, even days of gross wickedness 378 and forgetfulness of God; days when faith was well-nigh extinct in the earth; and that this is what the Lord wished to be understood as teaching would be the condition of the world in the closing years of its history, is evident from his language on another occasion, when he asked this question: “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? 379

The gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” 380 But the Scriptures nowhere teach that the time is ever coming when all the world, or even the majority of the world, will believe. When asked by one, “Lord, are there few to be saved?” 381 He said unto them, “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” 382

Again, speaking of the end of the world, we find the Lord saying to his disciples: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” 383 There is nothing, however, in all this that indicates that the purpose of the gospel is to convert the world.

In perfect accord with the texts already quoted, are the words of inspiration found in the Acts and in the Epistles. In the first general council of the Christian Church, James declared that Simeon had set forth “how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” 384 While we find Peter declaring “that there shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts;” 385 and the Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, says: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.” 386 And again, in giving a solemn charge to his son in the gospel, he says: “I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the quick and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.” 387

In the light of well-known and recognized facts, must we not conclude that the time foretold by inspiration has come? For, according to the testimony of ministers themselves, men are heaping to themselves teachers after their own lusts, and are turning away their ears from the truth, and are being turned unto fables. 388 Instead of being upon the verge of temporal millennium, wherein all men are to yield to the claims of the gospel and gladly acknowledge Christ as sovereign, is it not evident that the world is ripening for the harvest, so graphically described by the pen of inspiration: “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the [322] sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”? 389 [322]

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