Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 5, 1957
NUMBER 31, PAGE 7,15b

Cornered Off

Tommy Kelton, Box 48, Uyo, Nigeria

I have just finished reading the July 11, 1957, issue of the Gospel Guardian in which Brother Leroy Garret asks Charles Holt if he believes that "all of God's children are cornered off in what you call the church of Christ." I appreciated the plain direct answer that was given: "Yes, I believe that ALL of God's children are 'cornered off' in the church of Christ (because the church of Christ is the family of God and ALL of God's children are in His family.) They are 'cornered off' when they are added to the church. This is when they are saved — it is the same thing. Only those who obey the gospel are thus added, 'cornered off', and saved."

By faith I know that any Bible believer must believe exactly this very thing. If I did not believe this to be true, I would not be pleading for a restoration of New Testament Christianity.

While we are thinking of the unsoundness of one that does not believe this, I think it would be good for us to apply the consequences of this truth to those of us who do believe it. In plain words, it means that everyone who has reached the age of accountability and has not obeyed the gospel, and worships and works according to God's pattern, will go to hell. This is a hard saying, and becomes even harder when we come to look at it percentage wise. Only one-twentieth of one percent of the people of this globe are members of the Lord's church. Only five people out of every ten thousand now living have been baptized into Christ. That means that if every single person who has ever been baptized is saved (in spite of ungodliness, unfaithfulness, divisions, etc.) for every one who is saved there are two thousand who are hopelessly and eternally lost. This seems at first glance unjust; but who will make such a charge against God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit?

God is just, because he "so loved the world (all of it) that he gave his only begotten Son." (John 3:16.) Christ is just because he "tasted of death for every man." (Heb. 2:9.) The Holy Spirit is just because he has given all men "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" through the scriptures which "completely furnish unto every good work." (II Pet. 1:3; II Tim. 3:16,17.) Man was already under condemnation before any of these acts of mercy took place. (John 3:18.) Each of these divine acts, as well as all of the scheme of salvation, was "by grace," (Eph. 2:5; Titus 2:11.) Even if this grace had not been shown, all accountable beings could be lost and still God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit would be just.

While we think of God's part, we are often prone to forget about our part — the obligation of the family to the Father. We have been saved by grace, but when we were saved we immediately became debtors. When the Lord purchased us we became bond-servants to his will. (Rom. 6:17,18.) As our Master and Lord he has commanded us to preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15.) Therefore we are debtors to all men to preach the gospel to them; this is the only way any one of them can be saved. (Rom. 1:14,16.) If a man does not hear the gospel, he will go to hell. (Eph. 2:12.) God is under no obligation to save him, because all of God's activity in behalf of any man's salvation is unmerited anyway. The same justice of God which causes him to damn the sinner who has not heard the gospel causes him also to damn the baptized believer who has not obeyed his command to preach the gospel to these people. If we fail to pay our debt to "every creature," we will have to pay it to God. The eternal principle of God's justice is set forth in Ezekiel 3:18. If we warn people, their blood is on their own head; if we fail to warn them, their blood is required at our hands.

Brethren, the world stands as a testimony against us today. Ninety-five percent of those who are now lost have never heard the gospel at all. Gospel preachers can be found in only 25 of the 230 countries of the world. We cannot say, as Paul could in his generation, that the gospel has been "preached to every creature which is under heaven." (Col. 1:23.) We cannot say that "if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, whom the god of this world hath blinded." Countless millions have any opportunity at all to hear the word. This inexcusable lack of obedience on the part of Christians, their failure to make any truly serious effort to reach the unsaved of earth, will not be over-looked by God. The souls of those who have never had the opportunity to hear in our generation are going to cry out in judgment against us.

Today there is much discussion as to how the work of preaching the gospel should be done. I think this discussion is good, because when zeal to preach to every creature causes us to think that "the end justifies the means" the church is certain to end in apostasy. No matter how strong may he the convictions of either side of the present controversy, all of us admit that the gospel must be preached to every creature in this generation — else God will hold us responsible for our failure. This one thing I know, God's plan and God's plan alone will achieve this goal. During apostolic days God spoke this same command to twelve men, and they obeyed it in their generation. Five generations have lived since the start of the Restoration Movement — and not a single one of those generations has come even close to obeying the Lord's command. There are ten thousand times as many men of strong conviction now on both sides of the present controversy as there were in that original first century band. If either side has the truth, and truly believes it, the whole world will be evangelized during our generation. This one thing I am certain of — God's way works. In New Testament times it converted people so fully that no power on earth or in hell could stop them from going out and converting others — until every creature under heaven had had the opportunity to hear. God's plan will do the same thing today.

We who have been "cornered off" by God when he called us by the gospel need to be very careful not to "corner ourselves off" in a small section of the world and leave the bulk of humanity without the gospel of Christ. God has given us our marching orders. They are given to each one of us. As long as there is one creature under heaven who has not heard the gospel, every Christian on earth is under a divine compulsion and direct command to take it to him.