We have been hearing already in the meetings many things pertaining to the Kingdom of God and I hope that there is in the minds and hearts of all a deepened interest in this Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is founded in the world by the mutual sacrifice of God’s servants and of God’s saints. The progress and growth of this Kingdom depends upon our continued willingness, as the servants and saints of God, to sacrifice. Earthly kingdom’s are founded by selfishness; God’s heavenly Kingdom here upon earth is founded by sacrifice.
Two weeks ago today, I went up to Vancouver, British Columbia, with two of our brothers, Alfred McLeod and James Pascoe, and saw them on board the “Empress of Canada.” They left us for China with the fullest confidence and hearty fellowship of all God’s servants and saints that knew them. I believe I understood a little better than some just exactly what it meant for them to go to China. I knew better than they the difficulties they would have to face during the years that lay ahead and, because of that, I could appreciate perhaps a little more than others their sacrifice.
It always seems to me a very real thing when young men and young women, in the first instance, go forth in the Work. The pathway of service is a path of sacrifice and every man and woman that has a part in this ministry must be willing to sacrifice. In taking this first initial step out into God’s great Harvest Field, they know and others know that as far as their earthly prospects are concerned these are forever blighted, that henceforth, as far is this world is concerned and in the eyes of their fellows, their lives are being worse than wasted. I have often wondered if the saints of God really appreciate or understand the cost of this ministry, what it really means to young men and young women to go forth into the great Harvest Field. The people of God demand greater sacrifice from their preachers than any other body of religious people in the world. They insist upon this and it is right that they should, for the Scriptures teach clearly and unmistakable that the pathway of service is a pathway of sacrifice. I am inclined to think that there are many of God’s people that do not appreciate this fact and because of this, they do not value this ministry as they should. This is a very important thing in our reading and understanding of the Scriptures to be clear in our minds with regard to what this Book teaches about the ministry. It is just as important that you should know what to expect from those that are in the ministry as it is for us to know what we have a right to expect from you who are not. The Scriptures make very clear and plain the difference in sphere, in ministry also, between those who have gone out into the Harvest Field and those who, for various reasons, are denied this privilege. I have told you in this building more than once of asking a question way back there in Manitoba many years ago, of “What is the New Testament difference between servants and saints?” One man replied, “The difference is this: the saints live it and the servants preach it.” A little later, at another convention, I asked the same question and another brother said, “The difference is this: the servants work for Christ and the saints work for themselves.” I don’t know how true this is but I suspect it is true in some cases at least. At another convention, I asked the same question and a brother replied, “The difference is: the servants of God have many homes and the saints have only one.” He was a little bit mixed up, too. A brother who is not here, who was one of the first to profess in the state of Washington, but whose understanding of this difference has appealed to me and seems to me to be structurally right, he said, “The difference is that the servants of God sacrifice all for the Kingdom’s sake and the saints use all for the extension of the Kingdom.” This man lived up to his understanding of what the Scriptures teach with regard to the servants and saints of God. The servants of God sacrifice all; there is an equality of sacrifice amongst us as ministers of Christ; none of us make a greater sacrifice than the other; each of us sacrifice all. It would be a wicked and dishonorable thing for any of us, as servants of God, to ever give the impression that our sacrifice was greater than that of our fellow servant who labors by our side. In this matter of going forth into God’s great Harvest Field, there is an equality of sacrifice and each worker makes the same sacrifice, all of them sacrifice everything actually and literally for the Gospel’s sake and apart from this willingness to make this supreme sacrifice, none could have a part or lot in this ministry. I hope you get this, I hope this is clear to your minds, I hope you understand the conditions that those have fulfilled who are in your midst today as the handmaidens and bondservants of the Lord. Surely it is not too much to say that if the bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord are willing to make this sacrifice, the sacrifice of all, that those who claim to be in this Kingdom of God, claim to have some little interest in the extension of this Kingdom, should be willing just as gladly and heartily to use all they have and are in the extension of the Kingdom of God and the furtherance of His Gospel in the world. This is not a one sided affair, it would hardly be right or reasonable to say in our hearts, “The workers have to do all the self denial, they have to do all the sacrificing, they work for Christ and we work for ourselves.” I don’t think that would have a very happy result in any of our lives and I don’t think it would bring into our lives the blessing and seal of God. I would like to think that the saints in Washington, Idaho, etc. are like the saints of Philippi 1900 years ago, who from the first day were just as much interested in the spread of the Gospel as the servants of God who brought the message to them in the first place.
Now, it is a very real step for young men and young women in the prime of life, when prospects are brightest, when they have visions of possibilities in their lives, to deliberately turn their back upon it all, sacrifice everything and go forth into God’s great Harvest Field to preach the Gospel. But, it is to me a greater sacrifice when those who have labored for years in the Gospel lift up their eyes afresh to “behold the fields white unto harvest,” leave their own field of labor, the fellow servants whom they learned to love and those who God gave them in the Gospel and go to a foreign land to master a foreign language and spend years in the doing of this in order that they might be fitted to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to men of another race and of another tongue. When I saw that boat leave Vancouver two weeks ago for China with our two brothers on board, I understood and I think I appreciated all that meant for them to say, “Good-bye” to all that they had learned to love in order that they might master that new language and be fitted to preach the Gospel to the Chinese.
Sometimes, when workers go abroad, a question arises in the hearts and minds of some as to how are the workers taken care of in the foreign field? Have they been promised a stated salary? Is there some secretary or treasurer that they can confer with or consult with? Is there a central fund from which they can draw in any time of need? Is there some headquarters to which they can make an appeal? It is difficult for the people of God to grasp this simple fundamental fact that those who go to foreign fields are taken care of and go forth in exactly the same way as the workers go forth from this convention. They ask for no pledge and are given none, they have no stated salary, there is no central fund, there is no secretary or treasurer to whom they can make appeal, we have no earthly headquarters, our headquarters are in heaven. Can you then understand or appreciate the faith, the courage that young men and young women have to put thousands of miles between them and their fellow servants and the saints of God whom they have learned to love whom God gave them in the Gospel? Can you picture yourself away in some foreign land, among some strange people, nobody to sympathize with you, nobody to encourage you, nobody to minister to your needs, with no understanding or pledge given by any in the homeland? Did you ever try to picture yourself thus and ask yourself how you would feel? Ask yourself if you left under those conditions, with you be really willing to “fight the good fight of faith?” The faith, the courage, the boldness of these our fellow servants does not relieve us, who are in the homeland, of our responsibility, and I hope that we will not be unmindful of them in our prayers, unmindful of them in writing occasionally to let them know that we love them still and are interested in their labors and their conflicts and will be willing to share with them a little true self denial and sacrifice for the Gospel’s sake. I say again, that this Kingdom of God is founded and can only be extended by the mutual sacrifice of the servants and saints of God.
There may be here in our midst today some young people who in the past weeks and months, perhaps for years, have been thinking about the Harvest Field, thinking about the “fields that are white unto harvest” and hoping that someday they might be numbered among the reapers and it might not be out of place in this meeting this afternoon to mention a few things with regard to, shall we say, the qualifications? that are necessary in order to have a place in this ministry. We have been approached a good many times by different ones and they have expressed the desire to launch out into the Harvest Field, and perhaps one of the first things we consider is their health, their physical health. Unless they are reasonably healthy in the beginning, we know they will not be able to continue long. We have known some who in the very first year, have broken down and we have advised them to take their place among the saints. There is no dishonor to doing this – they were willing to sacrifice even unto the end but the condition of their health made plain that it was not wise to continue. They were one ahead of the best of the saints in that they faced the difficulties, trials, and hardships of a worker’s life and because of their health were forced to take the second place.
Then the second qualification is the ability to hold down a job and to support, if the necessity has arisen, those who are dependent upon them. We wouldn’t like any of you to think that the Lord calls men and women into His Harvest Field who do not know of anything better to do. I remember, some years ago, two men said that they wanted to go forth and told us they were out of work. The Lord never called anyone into His great Harvest Field who was out of a job. He only called those who were able to hold down a job and make good. He didn’t call Peter when he had “toiled to all night and caught nothing.” It was after Peter had made a real success out of the fishing business that Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you to become a fisher of men.” We would like to think that those who will someday fill a place in this ministry have given evidence of having a real love for their parents and have honestly sought to share the responsibility of the home with them and have won the respect and confidence of the saints who met with them in their own little church. We wouldn’t like to encourage any out into the Work in whom the church had not confidence. Timothy, when he was encouraged to go forth into God’s great Harvest Field, had the respect and confidence of all who met in the church where he, his grandmother and mother gathered in the Lord’s Name.
We also would consider for the ministry only those who have been diligent in searching the Scriptures, in seeking to get to know for themselves the mind and will of God, who can express themselves simply and clearly in the little church meeting and who have sought to do their utmost in filling a useful place in the Kingdom.
And then, we could not and would not encourage any out into the ministry who are unwilling to fulfill the conditions that Jesus Himself laid down, who would be unwilling to have fellowship with Him, first of all in His poverty, first of all, sell all, literally and forever, and have fellowship with Him in His homelessness. We have often said in our meetings that there are two things fundamental to the faith of Jesus: the “homelessness of the preacher and the church in the home and only in the home.” Whenever we depart from these two fundamentals we have departed from the faith, we have become apostate. We must contend to the very end of the chapter for the homelessness of the preacher and the church in the home and only in the home. The longer I live, the better satisfied I have become with the wisdom of God’s plan and its simplicity.
I have been encouraged as I have visited our brethren in different parts of the world, by seeing that this plan of Jesus works perfectly in every land and among every race, and I hope the day will never come when we will, in any sense, weaken with regard to these two simple fundamentals of the faith: the church in the home and the preacher without the home. Those whom Jesus called out into the Harvest Field had to be willing to have fellowship with Him in putting the claims of the Kingdom first and keeping the claims of his own flesh and blood in the second place. Sometimes those who love you best will seek to hinder you and discourage you from having fellowship with Jesus in this ministry. Parents would not like to think of their boys and girls poor, homeless, and would sometimes press their claims unduly. Jesus had to make clear and plain in the latter part of the ninth chapter of Luke that none could have any part in this ministry unless they were prepared to put the claims of their own flesh and blood in the second place. Lastly, they must be willing “having freely received to freely give.” When I think this afternoon of our fellow servants scattered all over the world, I look at this map here and I think of them over there in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Africa, India, China, Japan, South America, and remember that all of them have gone forth in exactly the same way as those who are in your midst this afternoon will go from this convention, everyone having taken the same steps, no pledge asked or given, nothing promised, their hope and confidence in Him who said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”
I hope it is not with some of us a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” I remember a few years ago, a sister told us her experience in one of these countries and I remember well how I felt when she described how more than once during the years she was gone, going to the Post Office, walking sometimes many weary miles, expecting to hear from some of those whom she had known and loved, only to be disappointed again and again and she said the hardest experience that she had to go through during those years was to feel that “I have been forgotten.” Some of us get used to being forgotten, there are others who suffer a great deal when they feel in their hearts it is just a case of “out of sight, out of mind, I am forgotten.”
I turned over today to the back of my Bible and I found there a few verses written by one of our brothers who is now over in Italy. I think he must have been suffering a little when he wrote these verses, that he was experiencing what this sister said was one of the hardest things to endure:
Forget them not, the faithful band Who kindred leave behind, To bear the truth to every land As debtors to mankind.
Forget them not, in solitude, When breathing ernest prayer, That God may think on them for good And bless them everywhere.
Forget them not, the toilers brave, Who scatter forth the seed; To Jesus they are willing slaves Touched by a world in need.
Forget them not, for Jesus’ sake, No selfish quest have they, The daily cross they humbly take, Forget them not, I pray.
I hope there will never come a day in my life and I hope there will never come a day in your life when you will forget our beloved fellow servants, bondservants and handmaidens, who are today scattered over the globe, loyally and heartily laying down their lives for Christ’s sake and for the Gospel’s. If, when you leave this convention you form the habit of going daily to the secret place, then think kindly and prayer earnestly for those bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord whom you know and love and who are today seeking to extend the Kingdom of God in other lands, facing difficulties and problems and hardships which we, in this country, know nothing about. So, “forget them not.” I am not going to say this afternoon that you should limit your correspondence or prayers to those who are laboring in foreign lands, I would like to think that everyone here would take in interest in those who are in their own province and state and who seek in every way possible to be a help and comfort to them. We have only a few brief years to live, a few brief years of service, and it would be wise for us to “redeem the time,” to buy up the opportunities that are at hand, to endeavor to “lay up treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt.”
The question may have arisen in the minds of some, you may have asked, “Is it worthwhile to live for the furtherance of the Gospel and the extension of God’s Kingdom?” If this Book teaches anything it is that there is nothing more worthwhile. I turn sometimes over to that Parable of the Pounds and that Parable of the Talents and surely if these two parables teach us anything, it is this: that the pathway of service is the pathway that leads to sure and certain reward. The best thing that these parables teach is that the life of service, which begins here, continues beyond the grave. Here is the place and now is the time that we are qualified for greater service in that “everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
I hope that one result of this convention will be that all of us will live more gladly and heartily with eternity’s values in view and lay up a little “treasure where moth and rust doth not corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal.”