"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IX No.II Pg.3
October-December 1946

Missions And Missionaries

O. C. Lambert

The word mission does not occur in our English Bible. Since translators choose their own words in expressing the meaning they find in the original Hebrew and Greek, they might have correctly employed this word also. Not long since I heard a young preacher severely calling to task those who use the word loaf instead of bread, as being unscriptural. But some translators use it and it happens to be the first word Thayer uses to express the meaning of the original.

But the word mission and the word missionary have been so long employed to make distinctions unknown in the New Testament, that I feel that it would be less misleading if we would use other words. For instance: A mission is not a church and a missionary is not a gospel preacher or evangelist. To have a church that controls a group somewhere which they call a mission is dangerously near the Catholic idea of diocese, which was made in the early history of Christianity. If our brethren who are in distant places are not establishing churches as Paul and others did in New Testament times, then I am not interested in their work. Why is a man a gospel preacher or an evangelist who preaches the gospel in nearby places but the instant he goes to some distant place, especially, if he should cross the ocean, does he become a missionary? The denominational churches have had missions and missionaries in foreign lands for more than a hundred years, but have no self-supporting churches, and according to surveys made by their own people have failed to accomplish much. Our people in adopting their terminology have also appropriated their ideas, and we have had missions and missionaries in foreign lands for more than fifty years and have few if any self-supporting churches. Each Christian is obligated to take the gospel to others.

I may admire the purposes of these representatives of denominationalism who make such heroic sacrifices, yet I do not approve what they do, and I do not want any of my brethren to conclude that I am antagonistic toward those who are trying to spread the gospel. I am trying to help, not to hinder. I wish we had hundreds out everywhere where we have so few. I am merely urging caution, that we want to do everything on the New Testament pattern.

Frequently I hear people speak of "hard places." I have come to the conclusion that there is not nearly as much difference in the possibilities of different localities as we sometimes imagine. It is true that people with different languages, customs, and backgrounds, generally require a different method of going about the work, and a different preparation for the worker. Many diseases which formerly baffled the medical profession are yielding to a better prepared doctor. While it may appear childish to mature people to say that one of the first things we must learn if we expect to get into the hearts of people is to be able to make friends. We avoid people we do not like. We do not buy groceries or insurance from people we dislike, and we do not go out of our way to listen to a fellow preach if we do not like him personally. Some seem to go on the idea that the best way to convert a man is to first insult him! Preaching the gospel is the greatest errand of mercy. If we are not genuinely in love with people we will fail. We ought to "become all things to all men." Paul, the most successful preacher who ever lived, preached "publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20: 20). I think it a waste of time for the preacher to simply visit the brethren to enjoy a little social chat with them, but for a person to go into new homes and make friends for the church is a great adventure.