Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 7, 1960

"Make Full Proof Thy Ministry"

John Allen Thurman, Boone, North Carolina

Guarding the truth is a 'watchword' in the word of God. Men who have accepted the call of the gospel are given the command to continue steadfastly in the apostles 'doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and prayers' as well as to be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord."

Paul in writing to the young evangelist Timothy, said, "0 Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science, falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen." (1 Tim. 6:20-21) In our own times there is perhaps not a more solemn charge nor one which is filled with more grave responsibility than the one contained in this passage of divine scripture. The admonition is not only applicable to Timothy, but rather to all evangelists who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, or who seek to preach the glad tidings of the great joy to the whole creation.

This charge made by Paul to retain the truth was an appeal to guard the truth from apostasy and to admonish the evangelist to avoid involving himself with those who sought to apostatize, or stir up trouble. In our day many evangelists seem to concern themselves too much of the time with meeting the opposition; and thus fail to fulfill their ministry. In 2 Tim. 4:5 the inspired apostle writes, "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." Yes, it is even possible for a minister to be overtaken in a fault, to neglect one's duty, and to lose one's soul as a result of ignorance, weakness, or rebellion as well as anyone else. To "endure afflictions" permeates the idea to let no suffering affright nor to let the dread of them either cause you to abandon the truth, or relax in your zeal for the salvation of men. The work of the evangelist is to preach Christ crucified and to bring the glad tidings of peace and salvation to a lost and dying world. If we do not neglect our sacred function and seek to perform faithfully all the duties we make full proof of our ministry.

The intention of a lot of brethren is in the direction of sincerity and honest preaching of the faith. Yet a few endeavor (it seems) to engender strife and division which is wholly un-Christian and unethical as well as "extremist" in nature and purpose. Have you ever stopped to think how much harm can be done by meeting the opposition with impatient darts? Yes, only little can be accomplished with the "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" tactics of some; and thus permitting a leaven that makes division more apparent rather than working in the direction of unity. Paul has admonished us to "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3) We cannot have this unity unless there is a cessation of attacks which are often filled with animosity and enmity among so-called brethren, brethren who are commanded to love one another with a love which is not puffed up. In the beatitudes (Matt. 5:9) Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God." Are we truly peacemakers today? Or can we more aptly be called warmakers?

In the Bible are we not warned against devoting our time as ministers to foolish reasonings and questions, but admonished to devote our time toward other activities of Christian service? We must remember that evangelists are expected to fulfill their ministry in preaching the gospel to lost souls and according to 1 Tim. 6:11 to "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." Too long has the horizon been clouded over with questionings which involve, primarily, matters of opinion and expediency to the exclusion of the gospel being preached and it alone, though emphasizing at times the lessons of Christians or preachers who have the right or Bible authority for making a "personal opinion" toward a brotherhood solution binding on other Christians or congregations of the Lord's church. When a problem does arise, the solution can only be found within the local congregation or by individual Christians, either according to a "matter of faith" or a "matter of expediency." Can we not try as our forefathers did even in this Modern Age to ever strive as they did to "speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent."

The time has come for Christian brethren to wake up and preach the gospel. The only "side" that we can take on any controversy or religious issue is, of course, the BIBLE SIDE; and on that side to work for unity by prayer and patience and love ever "keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Above all let us remember even in these distressing times that we must "make full proof of our ministry" lest we become blind guides and teachers, hypocrites of the gospel purpose to seek and save the lost. Jesus said in Matt. 23:24 concerning the scribes and pharisees, "Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!" Could not a similar statement be repeated to the evangelists of the twentieth century who fails in his duty to fulfill the ministry which is ordained of God to those who are ministers indeed; those who live "of the gospel" and proclaim the good news to the world?