The prompt, unquestioning obedience of these men, with no promise of wages, seems remarkable; but the words of Christ were an invitation that carried with it an impelling power. Christ would make these humble fishermen, in connection with Himself, the means of taking men out of the service of Satan, and placing them in the service of God. In this work they would become his witnesses, bearing to the world His truth unmingled with the traditions and sophistries of men. By practising His virtues, by walking and working with Him, they were to be qualified to be fishers of men.
Thus were the first disciples appointed to the work of the gospel ministry. For three years they laboured in connection with the Saviour, and by His teaching, His works of healing, His example, they were prepared to carry on the work that He began. By the simplicity of faith, by pure, humble service, the disciples were taught to carry responsibilities in God's cause.
There are lessons for us to learn from the experience of the apostles. These men were as true as steel to principle. They were men who would not fail nor be discouraged. They were full of reverence and zeal for God, full of noble purposes and aspirations. They were by nature as weak and helpless as any of those now engaged in the work, but they put their whole trust in the Lord. Wealth they had, but it consisted of mind and soul culture; and this every one may have who will make God first and last and best in everything. They toiled long to learn the lessons given them in the school of Christ, and they did not toil in vain. They bound themselves up with the mightiest of all powers, and were ever longing for a deeper, higher, broader comprehension of eternal realities, that they might successfully present the treasures of truth to a needy world.
Workers of this character are needed now, men who will consecrate themselves without reserve to the work of representing the kingdom of God to a world lying in wickedness. The world needs men of thought, men of principle, men who are constantly growing in understanding and discernment. There is great need of men who can use the press to the best advantage, that the truth may be given wings to speed it to every nation, and tongue, and people.
The Gospel to all Countries
Everywhere the light of truth is to shine forth, that hearts may be awakened and converted. In all countries the gospel is to be proclaimed. God's servants are to labour in places nigh and afar off, enlarging the cultivated portions of the vineyard, and going to the
regions beyond. They are to work while the day lasts; for the night cometh, in which no man can work. Sinners are to be pointed to a Saviour uplifted on the cross, and from many voices is to be heard the invitation, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."[2 JOHN 1:29.] Churches are to be organised, and plans laid for work to be done by the members of the newly organised churches. As workers go forth filled with zeal, and with the love of God, the churches at home will be revived; for the success of the workers will be regarded as a subject of deep personal concern by every member of the church.
Earnest, self-sacrificing men and women are needed, who will go to God and with strong crying and tears plead for the souls that are on the brink of ruin. There can be no harvest without seed-sowing, no result without effort. Abraham was called to go forth from his home, a light-bearer to the heathen. And without questioning, he obeyed. "He went out, not knowing whither he went."[3 HEB. 11:8.] So to-day God's servants are to go where He calls, trusting Him to guide them and to give them success in their work.
The terrible condition of the world would seem to indicate that the death of Christ has been almost in vain, and that Satan has triumphed. The great majority of this earth's inhabitants have given their allegiance to the enemy. But we have not been deceived. Notwithstanding the apparent triumph of Satan, Christ is carrying forward His work in the heavenly sanctuary and on the earth. The word of God portrays the wickedness and corruption that would exist in the last days. As we see the fulfilment of prophecy, our faith in the final triumph of Christ's kingdom should
strengthen; and we should go forth with renewed courage to do our appointed work.
The solemn, sacred message of warning must be proclaimed in the most difficult fields and in the most sinful cities, in every place where the light of the great threefold gospel message has not yet dawned. Everyone is to hear the last call to the marriage supper of the Lamb. From town to town, from city to city, from country to country, the message of present truth is to be proclaimed, not with outward display, but in the power of the Spirit. As the divine principles that our Saviour came to this world to set forth in word and life, are presented in the simplicity of the gospel, the power of the message will make itself felt. In this age, a new life, coming from the Source of all life, is to take possession of every labourer. O, how little do we comprehend the breadth of our mission! We need a faith that is earnest and determined, and a courage that is unshaken. Our time for work is short, and we are to labour with unflagging zeal.
"The field is the world."[4 MATT. 13:38.] We understand better what this saving comprehends than did the apostles who received the commission to preach the gospel. The whole world is a vast missionary field, and we who have long known the gospel message should be encouraged by the thought that fields which were once difficult of access are now easily entered. Countries hitherto closed to the gospel are opening their doors, and are pleading for the word of God to be explained to them. Kings and princes are opening their long-closed gates, inviting the heralds of the cross to enter. The harvest truly is great. Eternity alone will reveal the results of well-directed efforts put forth now.
Providence is going before us, and Infinite Power is working with human effort. Blind indeed must be the eyes that do not see the working of the Lord, and deaf the ears that do not hear the call of the True Shepherd to His sheep.
Christ longs to extend His sway over every human mind. He longs to stamp His image and character upon every soul. When He was on this earth, He hungered for sympathy and co-operation, that His kingdom might extend and embrace the whole world. This earth is His purchased possession, and He would have men free and pure and holy. "For the joy that was set before Him," He "endured the cross, despising the shame."[5 HEB. 12:2.] His earthly pilgrimage was cheered by the thought that He would not have all this travail for naught, but would win man back to loyalty to God. And there are triumphs yet to be accomplished through the blood shed for the world, that will bring everlasting glory to God and to the Lamb. The heathen will be given for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. Christ will see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied.[6 SEE ISA. 53:11.]
"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the
abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee." "For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."[7 ISA. 60:1-5; 61:11.]
The commission given to the disciples is given also to us. To-day, as then, a crucified and risen Saviour is to be uplifted before those who are without God and without hope in the world. The Lord calls for pastors, teachers, and evangelists. From door to door His servants are to proclaim the message of salvation. To every nation, kindred, tongue, and people the tidings of pardon through Christ are to be carried. Not with tame, lifeless utterances is the message to be given, but with clear, decided, stirring utterances. Hundreds are waiting for the warning to escape for their lives. The world needs to see in Christians an evidence of the power of Christianity. Not merely in a few places, but throughout the world, messages of mercy are needed.
He who beholds the Saviour's matchless love will be elevated in thought, purified in heart, transformed in character. He will go forth to be a light to the world, to reflect in some degree this mysterious love. The more we contemplate the cross of Christ, the more fully shall we adopt the language of the apostle when he said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.[8 GAL. 6:14.]