“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”Mark 16:15
“The Gospel to Every Creature” has such a powerful and purposeful ring to it. There is no greater goal for the Christian life than to give it all for the sake of the Gospel – to order one’s life so that the Good News of Jesus Christ might be preached to every person in our generation. We can be assured that men have lived and died for lesser things! Therefore, let us not waste our lives on anything less than the high calling of God in Christ and the diffusion of the Gospel throughout the world. While preaching to the Jews of Antioch in Pisidia, the Apostle Paul gave to King David one of the greatest compliments that can be given to any man. He declared: “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep…” Acts 13:36 In spite of all his flaws and failures, it is the testimony of Scripture that King David served the purpose of God in his generation. If this can be said of an Old Testament saint, how much more should it be said of us who bear the name of Christ and have a more complete understanding of His Gospel? We have been bought by the blood of the Lamb; therefore, we should no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf (II Corinthians 5:15). We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for goods works; therefore, we should strive to walk in them and not grow weary (Ephesians 2:10). We have been transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1:13); therefore, the cry of our hearts and the labor of our lives should be: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 Although our generation is only one among many, it is still our generation, and the one for which we are responsible. We have not been called by God to turn back the shadows on the steps and repair the past, nor are we called to rush into the future and arrange what should be. However, we are called to advance the purpose of God in this present generation; to be stewards of God in this one moment in human history; to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every man, woman, and child under heaven. Only then may we join the Apostle Paul in his triumphant declaration in the face of death: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:7-8 Whether we desire it or not, all of us will have some degree of influence on our generation, and all of us will stand before God and give an account of himself. Therefore, we who know better ought to seek to influence our generation according to the will and purpose of God, and thus secure for ourselves the joy of an untroubled conscience on the day of our death. To live well is to die well.
Unless you are living in a cave or some remote island of the sea, you know that the world is passing through something of an upheaval. In the United States we are witnessing historic changes in our government, economy, and foundational beliefs. Many of the political, economic, and religious convictions upon which this country was built are being set aside without a second thought. All the while, the church appears to have little political or economic power to stand against this rapid deformity and eventual collapse of the nation. This truth should not lead us to despair, but to cling more fervently to the Gospel and its proclamation to our generation. New administrations can wipe out forty years of conservative political victories with a single swipe of a pen. However, the combined armies of those administrations cannot undo what God has wrought in the heart of a single individual. This is not a time to retreat, but to abandon all the unbiblical methodologies and maneuverings that so weaken and hinder the modern church, and return to the truth of an unedited and unpolished Gospel. It is the preaching of the Gospel and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals that ultimately subdues the wickedness of a pagan culture and transforms it into a city of God!
In September of this year, I will be two years from fifty. I am not an old man, but neither am I young. To put it bluntly, I am nearer to the grave than I am to the cradle. This reality does not burden me or cause me to despair, but rather it kindles a sense of urgency in my heart. I want to be more like Christ, and I want to be a more faithful and efficient servant. I regret my many failures in the past, but I cannot turn back the clock, and I cannot fix what has already been done. However, I can push forward into the future, and strive with greater force to lay hold of the very thing for which God has laid hold of all of us – conformity to Christ, the proclamation of the Gospel to every creature, the transformation of individuals and cultures through the power of the Cross. I hope and pray that you will join me in the renewal of a commitment to be an obedient servant of God and to lay down our lives for His purposes in our generation. Let us… … count everything as rubbish that we might gain Christ (Philippians 3:8). … forget what lies behind and press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ (Philippians 3:13-14). … lay aside every weight and sin and run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1). … go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Such a commitment is certainly worth making and renewing. Such a life is certainly worth living!
I will end this brief exhortation for renewal with a few helpful resolutions taken from the Seventy Resolutions written by Jonathan Edwards. He penned them between the years 1722-1723, when he was only nineteen years of age: “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.” • Resolved, that I will do whatever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own eternal good, throughout my entire life… • Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, especially for the good and advantage of mankind in general, regardless of whatever difficulties I encounter. • Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, but what tends to the glory of God. • Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can. • Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live. • Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life. • Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I think I would do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and the torments of hell. • Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
A WORD TO THE YOUNG
Time does not seem like such a precious commodity when you think you have a great deal of it. What you do with your time is not a great concern when you forget that it belongs to Another and that He will hold you accountable for every second that He has entrusted to you. Poor stewardship of time is a great malady found among young and old alike, but it is especially common among the youth. First, the young often presume that they have time without end, and forget that they are mortal like the rest. Secondly, as the young grow towards adulthood, they often become increasingly enamored with their new found freedoms. They forget that they are still subject to God’s rule and will be held accountable on that Great Day. Such presumptions lead to many sins, and ultimately result in a “wasted life.” We do not know how much time we have been given by our Creator, but through the Scriptures we are informed that even the longest life is nothing more than a passing shadow or “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Our death as well as our judgment has been divinely appointed (Hebrews 9:27). How then shall we live? In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul gives us the following instruction: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…” Ephesians 5:15-17 If you are a young man or woman, I beg you to be extremely careful with regard to how you live your life. As a Christian in a fallen world, you stand as a soldier in the midst of an endless minefield of evil. One wrong step can lead to your destruction and the destruction of your companions. Therefore, you must be absorbed in the study of God’s Word so that you might grow in wisdom and be able to discern His will in all things. You must devote yourself to the things of God and not waste the few days that have been given to you on trivial pursuits. In the following are set forth a few helpful hints to direct you on your way to a fruitful life as a true servant of Jesus Christ.
First Hint: Consider Christ-like character to be of utmost importance. Character is everything. The fruitfulness of your work in the kingdom will be determined by what you are. Seek after conformity to Christ and discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
Second Hint: Devote yourself to the study of God’s Word. The fool gains whatever little knowledge he possesses though personal experience, but the godly man learns from every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Thus a godly and wise youth avoids the painful pitfalls of the fool who would rather “live and learn” than “learn from God and live”. The one virtue which most marks the truly useful servant of God is his or her knowledge of the Scriptures. A young man or woman would do well to follow Robert Murray McCheyne’s Daily Bible Reading Calendar which can be downloaded from the internet.
Third Hint: Devote yourself to prayer. This is not a mere suggested step to greater piety, but a direct command taken from Scripture (Colossians 4:2). We are to pray at all times and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Prayer is a multi-faceted discipline that cannot be confined to petitions and entreaties, but also includes thanksgiving, praise, and communion with God. How can a young man or woman learn to pray? By studying the inspired prayers of Scripture and by praying, praying, praying.
Fourth Hint: Fellowship with the godly. Three aspects must be mentioned here. The first is separation from evil influences. The second is fellowship with those who inspire and encourage you to greater Christlikeness. The third is opening your life to the companionship and instruction of older men and women. He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools (other youths) will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).
Fifth Hint: Flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness. The same Scriptures which command us to stand firm against the devil (Ephesians 6:11), also command us to flee from youthful lusts (II Timothy 2:22). This tells us that the temptation of sexual immorality is overpowering and we must avoid it at all cost. If you do not fear this sin you will fall. It is not a question of “if” but “when.” Avoid internet use without accountability and un-chaperoned fellowship with the opposite sex.
Sixth Hint: Avoid trivial pursuits. You are a child of God, destined for glory, and called to do great things in His Name. Do not waste your life on hobbies, sports, and other recreational pursuits. Do not throw away the precious moments of your life on entertainment, movies, and video games. Though some of these things can properly have a “small place” in the Christian’s life, we must be careful not to give undue attention to temporal and fruitless activities. Do not waste your life. Employ the time of your youth in developing the character and skills necessary to be a useful servant of God. Seventh Hint: Fan to a flame the gift of God which is in you (II Timothy 1:6). Seek to discover your gifts and learn to minister to others according to the grace of God that has been given to you. The Scriptures contain a long list of youths who were mightily used of God – Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Esther, Timothy… You should do everything in your power to join their ranks as early as possible. Learn the Scriptures. Be diligent to present yourself approved of God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, who accurately handles the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15).
Paul serves as the HeartCry Coordinator in Western Europe. He is currently overseeing our missionaries in Italy, Spain, and France. He is also the founder and director of the HeartCry Missionary Society. Paul lives in Radford, Virginia with his wife Charo and their four children: Ian, Evan, Rowan, and Bronwyn.More By Paul Washer