“THE BOOK WILL WORK ANYWHERE”
Those words were uttered by Dr. Tim Rader, the pastor of the Fundamental Baptist Church, Kinross, MI at the fall 2014 “Old School Gathering” where over 60 Fundamental Baptist preachers gathered together for fellowship, Biblical instruction and spiritual inspiration. Those words have re-echoed time and time again in this editor’s ears, so that he decided to penthe following editorial based on that statement. This writer’s proof for the above statement comes directly from the New Testament, the local N. T. church’s operational manual
“The Book will Work Anywhere” in the
Evangelizing of Sinners
In Acts 1:8, Christ repeated the Great Commission for the fifth time (Other instances: Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, John 20:28). In that verse, our Saviour promised His specific power for the proclamation and evangelization of lost sinners. Did the book work anywhere in the first century Roman world?
It worked first in Jerusalem, when after Peter preached his great sermon at Pentecost, according to Acts 2:41, there were 3,000 souls that were converted and added to the local Jerusalem church! The Book worked again in Acts chapters three and four when Peter preached at the temple and the number of men alone who were converted was 5,000 souls.
The Book worked again in Acts 8: 8-5-8, 12 when Phillip preached the Gospel and “the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake.” Acts 8:12 states that “’But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus, Christ, they were baptized both men and women."
Yes, the Book worked again in that same chapter, when in Acts 8:26-40, Philip used the O. T. Scripture from Isaiah 53 to lead an Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. Acts 8:35-38 states: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture [Isaiah 53] and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And He answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
Guess what? The Book worked again in Acts 16:25 when Paul and Silas were in prison, in the conversion of the Philippians Jailer and his entire household in Acts 16:28-34. Yes, the Book even worked in the ungodly wicked city of Corinth. According to Acts 18:8, the book will even work in the worst of pagan environments with even the conversion of prominent political officials and others when they hear the gospel. That verse declares that “Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue [in Corinth] believed on the Lord with all his house” after Paul preached the Word and “many of the [pagan] Corinthians, hearing believed, and were baptized.”
You know what? The same book that worked in the 1st century will also work in the 21st century! All you need to do is read Dr. R. B. Oullette’s presentations in each issue of the Sword of the Lord entitled “It Can Be Done” where he delineates the stories of pastors who have built strong evangelistic soul-winning ministries in both small towns and large metropolitan areas.
A prime example of the book working today in a large metropolitan area is the Gospel Light Baptist Church in Walkertown, NC (Winston Salem, NC area), where Pastor Bobby Roberson has faithfully labored as a simple expositor of the Word for more than 58 years. This church averages nearly 3,000 SS attendees each week. This church has been built by common unheralded believers who faithfully use the Book each week in numerous evangelistic outreaches, including an extensive bus ministry that utilizes almost 60 buses each week.
Using the Book in preaching and daily soul-winning endeavors, Dr. Oullette has seen his own church grow from a small congregation of 50 to between 1100-1200 each Sunday over a 40 year period.
But How about the Book working in evangelism in small out-of-the way rural areas where the population is slim. Pastor Rader’s church, whose statement this writer is using, is a prime example of the validity that “The Book will work anywhere.” The Fundamental Baptist Church which he pastors is located in a sparsely population upper-Peninsula town that doesn’t even have a stoplight! Yet, the recent Sunday that this preacher visited there they had over 500 in SS, 600 the previous Sunday, and they average 400 in attendance each Sunday. And lest you wonder, at the Sunday night service, there must have been about 250-300 attendees!
This writer is thinking now of two small Northern Michigan villages that have populations of 300 or less. The two independent Fundamental Baptist churches in those two small towns average over 100 every Sunday in the AM service. Despite the thinly populated areas, the book is working in those small towns.
Dear discouraged preacher, “The Book will work anywhere” in evangelizing sinners, if you will simply work it, even in the smallest size churches. This writer recently preached in a church where there were 15 or Fewer present that Sunday morning. When he gave the invitation a lady stepped forward to publicly confess Christ. A Roman Catholic, the pastor had led her to Christ in visitation endeavors that week. The pastor told this evangelist that she has been attending regularly each week, that she has been baptized and is rapidly growing in Christ.Yes, once again this writer goes to the N. T. Scriptures to validate his thesis. Christian service doesn’t end with the evangelizing of sinners, it just begins. While a church’s endeavors must always be first and foremost centered around the evangelism of the lost, a church’s work doesn’t conclude when a sinner is converted and baptized. That is the originating point, but a life-long process of spiritual edification must begin, always using the Book.
Edifying of Saints
The words edify and edification come from a basic root that deals with the building of a house. It is used figuratively in the N.T. for the building up and strengthening of saints and N.T. churches. In I Cor. 3:10, the Apostle Paul declared that the saints in the local church there were "God's building." One Bible expositor says that the words edify/edifying/edification are used metaphorically in the sense of "promoting the spiritual growth and development of character of believers by teaching or by example," words that suggest "spiritual progress as the result of patient labor" in teaching the Scripture.
As the Word was faithfully expounded and taught in the early first century N.T. assemblies, the Scripture declares in Acts 9:31 that "Then had the churches reset throughtout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." According to that text, the faithful exposition of the Word will result in the multiplication of N.T. churches.
In I Cor. 14:12 Paul explains that the spiritual gifts that God has given to individual believers in the church were granted for edification purposes: Paul states: "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying [spiritual building up] of the church." Spiritual gifts, abilities and talents were given, by God, not to promote the exaltation of gifted individuals, but for the building up and strengthening of fellow believers in local assemblies.
And how is such an admonition achieved? It is as believers use the Book and live by the Book! Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians was that the "God of peace" would "sanctify" them "wholly" and that their "whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." And how was that to be accomplished? As the saints were edified by the daily use of the Book!
In Eph. 4:11-12 Paul explains that God gave some evangelist, pastors and teachers "for the perfecting," the building up-the spiritual maturation "of the saints". Acts 16:5 declares that as the Book was preached, "the churches" were "established in the faith and increased in number daily." In the next chapter, in Acts 17:11, Paul writes about the Berean Christians "who received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so." The Berean believers used the book to discover whether or not the teachings they were hearing were Scriptural.
What happened after those 3,000 souls accepted Christ in that historic Pentecost sermon by Peter. The Scripture states in Acts 2:42 that “they continued stedfastly in the apostle’s doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and prayers.” What was it that built up those saints and made them spiritually strong? It was the proclamation of the “apostle’s doctrine.”
Now, nothing will edify, build up and spiritually strengthen new believers more than the preaching of “doctrine.” In fact, the N. T. uses the word "doctrine" at least 31 times. The N.T. is filled with verses emphasizing the importance of teaching sound Bible doctrine. In Acts 5:28, the apostles at Jerusalem were accused by the unbelieving Sanhedrin officials of saturating the city with the doctrine concerning Christ. These Christ rejecting religious apostates claimed that the apostles had "filled Jerusalem with your doctrine."
In his final meeting with the Ephesian elders in Acts chapter 20, Paul commended these pastors "to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up [edify] and give an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." Paul tops it all off in II Tim. 3:16-17, when he declares near both the end of this epistle and his martyrdom as well that the Book will work for all the spiritual needs of believers:
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect [completely mature], thoroughly furnished unto all good works." In those majestic verses, Paul makes it plain that Book will work to meet every essential spiritual edifying need of believers. The apostle emphatically declares in this passage that there is absolutely no need for any extra-Scriptural revelation to edify and build up believers: The written Scriptures are a sufficient rule of faith and practice!
This writer does not have the time here to elucidate, but if readers will take that time themselves, they can learn how such famed 20th century Fundamental Baptist preachers such as Dr. Len Broughton, Dr. R.G. Lee, Dr. Tom Malone, Dr. W.B. Riley, Dr. T.T. Shields, and a host of other noted Fundamentalist giants built their churches simply by preaching only the Book!
“The Book will Work Anywhere” in the
Equipping of Servants
When God saved us as lost sinners, we not only became instant saints as I Cor. 1:2 and Eph. 1:1 clearly states, but Christ became our Master and Lord as John 13:13 plainly states. As our Master, we are His subjects, but as our Lord, we are His servants. Believers were converted not to sit and do nothing until they reach Heaven, but to give themselves in active lives of service for Christ. Col. 3:23 says that we “serve the Lord Christ.”
Now we serve Christ via the forms of various gifts that God has freely granted in His sovereign will. No Christian has been left out. In His infinite wisdom, God has granted, even to the most unheralded and seemingly unnoticed saints, some spiritual abilities to assist local N. T. churches in their Great Commission tasks.
In I Cor. Chapter 12, Paul explains that there is a wide variety of spiritual gifts that God has granted to believers in local churches; some gifts were temporary—such as tongues, healing power, and the word of knowledge—and active only until the completion of the Biblical Canon, while others were permanent. Some of these gifts are more prominent and public in their operation, while others are background gifts which do not receive great attention, yet they are all necessary for the effectual ministry of a local church. (You need to read the entire chapter to fully comprehend this important truth.)
In one of the Scriptural passages dealing with spiritual gifts—Eph. 4:11-16—(Rom. 12:6-8, I Cor. Chapter 12 & 14 are the other two references), Paul declares that the gifts, there in the form of Biblical offices, were granted “for the perfecting of the saints,” a word that implies the proper equipping for Christian service. II Tim. 3:16-17, verses previously quoted, state that The Book, when properly utilized, is sufficient to “perfect” [to bring to full spiritual maturation] saints, so that believers can be “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Yes, the ministry of “good works” is how believers serve Christ. They can ably and competently manifest those “good works” because they have been properly equipped to do via the spiritual feedings they receive through THE BOOK—and the strengthening “with might” by the Spirit of God that dwells in the “inner man”—Eph. 3:16.
Eph. 2:8-9 are great salvation verses that are regularly utilized in the evangelization of lost sinners—and rightly so—but the verse immediately follows—Eph. 2:10 describes the fruit of salvation. While salvation has never been obtained by good works, good works are the direct product of this non-humanly merited salvation. Good works are not the root of salvation, but they surely are the fruit of salvation: Here are Paul’s own words about the results of genuine conversion in that verse: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Consider the following spiritual provisions that The Book supplies for Christians: The Book—God’s Word—enables believers to be effective as/in (1) Waterers of the Seed—I Cor. 3:6-8; (2) Winners of Souls—Ps. 125:5-6; (3) Workers in Service—Eph. 4:11-14. (4) Workmen in Study—II Tim. 2:15; (5) Warfare with Satan—Eph. 6:10-18; (6) Wisdom for Sanctification—James 1:3 and (7) Watchmen in Stand—Ez. 3:17.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Yes, as Pastor Rader stated: “The Book will work anywhere.” It will work in the (a) evangelizing of sinners, (b) edifying of saints and (c) equipping of servants. “THE BOOK WILL WORK ANYWHERE—IF YOU WILL WORK THE BOOK!” Try it and see—D. J.