Jack Carroll - The New Testament Ministry - Bakersfield, California Convention - 1934

Many of you have been asked questions during the past year about your preachers.  A number have found it hard to give satisfactory answers to these questions.  Some have conveyed the impression that there are things about the ministry that they are not prepared to tell others, and they have possibly left the impression in the minds of some of their friends, that this is some kind of a secret or semi-secret fellowship that they have been brought into.

 

I would like to once and for all dispel any such impressions so that you will feel absolutely free to answer any question your friends may ask about God's people or about His servants.  We hold nothing in secret that we are not prepared to teach openly.  We hold nothing that we are not prepared to tell you from the platform and are quite indifferent as to whether or not what we say is intended for those who are not yet numbered amongst us, for everything that we hold and everything that we teach is to be found within the pages of God's own word, which are open to all men.

 

I want to talk to you very frankly and freely.  I want to make you feel we are anxious to take you into our fullest confidence and tell you all that is in our hearts, for as I grow older I recognize more clearly and fully that our fellowship with and confidence in each other depends to a large extent upon us being absolutely frank and open, so there is no room for misunderstanding.  I purpose to answer four questions that have been asked at different times during the past year.  They may not have occurred to you and they may have. I am anticipating to this possibility and will endeavor to answer these four questions this afternoon.  They are perhaps more practical than spiritual, but it is important that we become clear in our minds with regard to each, and to all the workers.

 

1.              What is the fundamental difference between the New Testament ministry and all kinds of other ministry?

2.              Why do New Testament ministers travel so much?

3.              Why is it necessary for these New Testament preachers who have gone to foreign countries to return again on furlough to their home country?

4.              Where does the money come from that enables the workers to live, to travel to foreign countries, and to return home on furlough?

 

You can see that all these questions are practical, but I will try to answer them all as simply and clearly as I can.  First, What is the difference, etc.?  During the past year some have received questionnaires dealing with the New Testament ministry;  a number sent in answers.  Many of these answers indicated that there were a good many things in connection with the ministry that they were not exactly clear about and so when you are questioned by your friends you are embarrassed, and instead of clearing the minds and satisfying them your answers tend rather toward irritating them and causing them to feel as if they did not want anything to do with your ministers or with the fellowship into which you have been brought.  The impression given to a very large extent was, that there are certain things we do not want to tell people; that there were certain little secrets connected with the Ministry that we wanted to keep to ourselves.  There is nothing so irritating to the average man or woman as to feel that they are deliberately left out of a matter, and if they feel that there are things connected with your religion which you are afraid to talk about, they don't want to have anything to do with it at all.  What I wish to say is intended to encourage you to be absolutely open and frank in speaking to your friends and answer their questions in the same way I want to encourage you to be more helpful and scriptural than in the past.

 

The physical needs of the true ministry and the false are the same.  The true ministers need food, clothing, shelter, and money.  False preachers need the same.  When the question is asked "What is the difference between your preachers and ours," the reply that is usually given is "Their needs are the same we admit, but the difference lies in the way those needs are met.  Your preachers take a collection, ours don't."  While these differences are true and help to distinguish between the false and the true, yet none of them nor all of them together give us the fundamental difference between the false and the true ministry.  When some of you are asked the question by your friends "How do your preachers live?" the answer you give is "Our preachers live by faith."  While this answer is true it needs a lot of explaining by some people; or some of you say "The Lord takes care of our preachers."  You leave them just as much in the dark as they were before. Some have answered this question  I don't know."  I heard one of our brothers having a discussion with the preacher with whom he had previously been in fellowship.  He was telling him  the wrongness of taking up collections and having a salary and a home of his own.  The preacher then turned to this brother and said "How then do your preachers live?" This brother  answered "I really don't know."  This wasn't exactly true; he did know but he didn't exactly know how to answer the question.

 

I was discussing this subject last year before quite a company of people and asking some questions dealing with the New Testament ministry such as "How do the N.T. preachers live? Etc."  A brother sitting in the front row said, "I have been in the Way seven years and haven't found out yet."  I was back east a few weeks ago and was told there of a man who approached one of the workers and asked him the question "How do the workers get their clothes and money to travel with?"  That man has been professing 15 years.

 

I have been glad to hear of people asking these questions, because it proves that the workers everywhere are very slow to discuss this subject.  They would rather leave people in the dark than convey the impression that they were selfish in their motive or in this ministry or that by discussing these things they wanted something for themselves.  The O.T. is very clear with regard to how the O.T. priests and Levites were cared for and the N.T. is equally clear with how God's servants are taken care of today.  I want to emphasize in answering this question what to me is the actual and fundamental difference between the N.T. ministry and every other ministry.  JESUS TAUGHT, "THE LABORER IS WORTHY OF HIS HIRE." That is often quoted to us.  Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:14 said, "THE LORD HAS ORDAINED THAT THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL SHOULD LIVE OF THE GOSPEL."  We make no secrets of the fact that as God's bondservants and handmaidens we "live by the gospel."  And the reason we live by the gospel and are justified in so doing, is because we have fulfilled the conditions that Jesus laid down in the gospel.  No man is justified in "Living by the gospel" apart from fulfilling these conditions.

 

When your friends ask you the question "How do your preachers live?" the proper reply is "Our preachers live by the gospel."  But they say, "Our preacher does that, too." and then very gently and with grace you should go on to explain to them the reason why "our preachers live by the gospel."  And we live to make it possible for them to do so, because they have fulfilled the conditions laid down in the gospel for the N.T. ministry and it is a pleasure to minister to them food, clothing, shelter, and as a means of exchange, money in His name.

 

When you answer questions with regard to the N.T. ministry, do it simply, frankly, and without unnecessarily reflecting upon those whom your friends support.  In 9 cases out of 10 instead of irritating, you will have enlightened them and awakened in them a desire to hear a little of this for themselves.  Jesus labored as a carpenter and lived by the work of his hands as a preacher of the gospel, and just as honorable as He did when He was a carpenter.  Jesus did not live on charity.  Those who live on charity give nothing in return.  Jesus always gave more than He received.  If He accepted hospitality from Matthew, the publican, He always gave more than He received, and in this He left  for us an example that we should follow in His steps.  We do not live on charity.  If any of God's professing people came to us and offered to us food and clothing and shelter, as an act of charity, we would refuse it.  But if they came to us in His name and as an expression of their love and interest in the furtherance of the gospel, recognizing we have fulfilled the conditions that justify us in living by the gospel, it is our duty to accept, knowing that a cup of cold water given to one of the least of God's servants will in no wise lose its reward in that day.  Only those who have fulfilled the conditions laid down by Jesus for the N.T. ministry are justified in living by the gospel.  This is the fundamental difference between the ministers that God sent to bring you into the family and kingdom of God and all other kinds of ministers that we know of in the world. What then are the conditions that Jesus laid down in the N.T. which He expects those to fulfill who want a part in this new ministry?  I would like to think that we are very clear on what it cost our brethren to go forth into God's great harvest field.  There are no people on the earth that demand more sacrifice from those who minister to them than the people of God.  And this is scriptural and in line with God's plan.  An article appeared in an issue of the "Good Housekeeping" last year, written by a professor in Harvard University entitled, "The Cruel Promise of Jesus."  It rather surprised me to find this man of the world recognized that a large portion of the teaching of Jesus was applicable only to the ministry.  It is very difficult to face.  Because of this difficulty, it has been more or less explained away or watered down until it becomes absolutely meaningless.  We do not wish to hide from anyone what Jesus taught with regard to the initial step into the ministry.  Not all are called to enter the ministry.  Not all are called to become bond-servants and handmaidens of the Lord, but none can have a part in the ministry without fulfilling the conditions that would justify them afterwards, and which, alone could justify them in living by the gospel.  Any man who claims to be living by the gospel without fulfilling the conditions laid down by Jesus in the gospel is receiving money under false pretenses, and will one day come under the first condemnation of God.

 

What are the conditions?  I will present them in the form of a question:  The first is:

Are you prepared to sell all? 

Are you prepared to make yourself poor? 

Are you willing as the very first condition to have fellowship with Jesus in His ministry? in His poverty?

 

In connection with the N.T. ministry there is a very real equality.  No one of us makes a greater sacrifice than the other.  We each make equally the same sacrifice.  We each sacrifice all, and it would be a very dishonorable thing for any of us in after years to suggest that our sacrifice was greater than the sacrifice of the brother or sister laboring by our side, in this matter of fulfilling this very first condition.  There is an absolute equality amongst us so that we are placed on the same level.  In order to illustrate this fact--

 

A few years ago 3 young men who had volunteered for the work came in to see us.  All 3 of them were young and I well remember the scene; the 3 boys sitting in a row and we questioning them with regard to the purpose.  We asked them if they were willing to fulfill the conditions, to sell everything, making themselves poor, and to have fellowship with Jesus in His poverty.  Of course the answer was "Yes."  The first boy said he didn't have much to sell.  We asked him what it was and he said, "An old Model T Ford--worth about $25." The next boy  said he had abut $150 in the bank. We told him it would have to be scattered, that it never could be gathered up again.  The 3rd boy said, "All I have is a hog."  He was the youngest of the three and had put everything he earned in helping his mother at home.  Now she felt she was able to get along without him and was delighted that her boy was going forth to preach the gospel.

 

It didn't matter if the first boy had a Pierce Arrow or a Model T Ford, whether the second boy had $150,000 or $150 in the bank, it all had to be scattered so that they would have nothing to go back to.  The first condition laid down by Jesus had to be faced and fulfilled by all.

 

The second condition had to do with being homeless.  Are you willing to be homeless for life?  That is a very serious proposition.  Some of us have been preaching for a good many years and we still are homeless.  On one occasion a man came to Jesus and said "I will follow Thee."  He volunteered for the work, and Jesus looking at him said, "The foxes have their holes, and the birds their nests, but the Son of Man hath no where to lay His head." This was the second condition.  We never hear of that young man going out in the work. To be homeless for Jesus sake is a very real thing.  It is just as well for those who are thinking of filling a place in the ministry to remember this.  For 6 months after leaving home you 'nay suffer a very common disease -- homesickness.  There are those who have been homesick during the past year.  But Jesus insisted that those who were to have a part in the ministry must be prepared to be homeless as He was and to be able to say as a minister and the birds have nests, but I like the Son of Man of the gospel "The foxes have holes hath no where to lay my head."

 

The third condition is:  Are you willing to put the preaching of the gospel before the claims of your own flesh and blood, living or dead?  Sometimes when I think of this, it seems to me to be the most stern of all the conditions put before the candidates for the ministry   Jesus said "Let the dead bury the dead, "when one man said to Jesus "Suffer me first to go and bury my father."  What He meant to say is that no man was fit to preach the gospel, if the claims of his own flesh and blood, living or dead, were more important to him than bringing the message of Christ to those who were dead in trespasses and sins. Another man said, "Lord, I'll go, but first let me go and say goodbye to my friends." Jesus turned to him and said, "No man having put his hand to the plow and turning back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven."  Instead of Jesus bribing men to enter the ministry, it would almost seem that He were trying to prevent them.  Instead of promising them a nice living and good prospects, lots of time for reading and social fellowship with others, or encouraging them to believe that in the ministry they would climb up in the social scale. He made it hard.  Instead of making it a pleasant thing He made it just the opposite, for He wanted to test the depth and sincerity of the purpose of those who expressed a wish to have a part in the ministry.  Do you appreciate that?

 

The fourth question is:  Are you willing to go forth without having any individual or group of individuals pledged to take care of you?  And preach the gospel without money or price?  Wherever you have the opportunity?  If we knew of any of us ever lifting a collection or asking for money, we would immediately see to it that he would be excluded from our fellowship as a preacher of the gospel.  We are glad to know that throughout the whole world God's servants have been able to go forth in His name and are preaching the gospel in many different lands, and making the gospel as it was in the N.T. days--without money and without price.  The men and women who are preaching the gospel would scorn the very thought, would rather die in their tracks, than to leave it open to anyone to suggest that they were selfish or mercenary in their motives in their ministry.

 

The fifth question we will ask is in connection with that verse dealing with the corn of wheat. Are you willing to be the corn of wheat which falls into the ground and dies? Are you willing to let death work so that life may be wrought in others?

 

The sixth question is:  How far are you willing to go in preaching the gospel?

 

It would be nice if we could remain in California forever, where the sun is always shining. But Jesus called men to the harvest field.  He would not accept any who would set a limit on their ministry.  whenever we become rooted or settled in a field, sooner or later death begins to work.  There was no such thing as a fixed or settled ministry in the N.T. days. None of us are ever in one state for life.  There must be a willingness to accept and obey the commission Jesus gave to His disciples.  "Go ye into all the world teaching all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost."

 

There is another question we sometimes ask those who are desirous of going forth: Are you willing to go with any of your brethren?  Those who have the responsibility of arranging this matter look upon it very seriously and do not lightly undertake the arranging year after year of those who are to labor together.  When the Lord sent out the first 12, He did not do it lightly.  When He sent out the 70, He did not do it lightly.  When others went out in His name, this was not looked upon as a light matter.  And we would like to say that it is the caution of those who have this responsibility to seek for the wisdom of God and His guidance, so that during the year, the labors of God's servants may turn out unto the furtherance of the Gospel.  Only those who have fulfilled the conditions which I have enumerated are justified in living by the gospel.  But those who fulfilled these conditions and are preaching the gospel, earn their bread just as honorably as when they worked with their hands. At their different trades, for no servant lives on charity. They are worthy of their hire and it comes to them in God's appointed way.  We are not ashamed of the fact that Jesus lived by the gospel.  We are not ashamed to teach others to live by the gospel and we are not ashamed to proclaim to the whole world that we live by the gospel, and the reason we are justified in living by the gospel is that we have fulfilled the conditions laid down in the gospel.

 

Some of us were having a little discussion some time ago and the question was raised by one of the workers:  How much should we tell in gospel meetings about how we live as ministers of the gospel?  Someone answered: "We shouldn't tell anything."  I took the opposite stand and said, "We should tell them everything."

 

If any man asks me any questions in regard to the ministry and desires an answer, I am prepared to give him that answer, and prove from the scriptures that my answer is according to the teaching and example of Jesus.

 

The second question I would like to answer is:  Why do N.T. ministers travel so much? They seem to be always going somewhere.  When Jesus was preaching in a certain city in Galilee, the people of that city wanted Him to settle down, and remain in their midst, but He said, "I must preach the kingdom of God in other cities also, for therefore am I sent."  The reason the workers travel so much is because they would not be N.T. preachers if they did not.  For Jesus did not say "Stay and preach," but, "Go, and preach."  His commission was "Go ye into all the world and teach all nations."  The N.T. ministry is essentially a traveling ministry.  There are those of the church whom we speak of as elders who assume a little responsibility--men who live in their homes and are settled there.  But the ministry I am speaking of is a moving ministry and it could not be the N.T. ministry apart from this.

 

The third question I would like to answer is:  Why is it necessary for workers who have gone abroad in foreign fields to return home again after a period of years? I heard a man some time ago who after a meeting went to a friend and said, "I am very glad Jack explained that to us this afternoon, for I used to look upon it as an unnecessary expense for workers to go abroad and spend several years there and then come home again."  He was looking upon it purely from the standpoint of dollars and cents.  It is just as necessary for workers to return to us as it is to go forth from us.  No workers now in the regions abroad were sent there by any worker or group of workers.  There is no group of workers that I know of that would assume that responsibility.

 

Those who are in different fields, in China, Japan, all over India, all over Europe, all over Africa, are not there because anyone sent them.  They are there because God moved upon  their hearts and caused them to lift up their eyes to behold the fields white unto harvest.  He awakened an interest in their hearts in the people of other lands, and moved them that they express their desire to launch out a little farther into the deep.  If we had any part in their going it was in dealing with their qualifications.  Many volunteered to go whose health would not justify them in going.  Many have expressed a wish to go whom we would never think of encouraging to go and those who have gone are there by their own choice.  They have the glad assurance in their hearts that God sent them, and when the devil discourages them, they can fall back on this thought, "I am not here because any individual sent me, but I am here because God moved upon my heart, and by my own choice I am seeking to carry out His work in this land."  We would not like any servant of God to lay his hands upon any brother and presume to say, "You go here or you go there." It would indicate we were out of God's plan if we presumed to do so.

 

Why is it necessary for workers to come back to us as it is for them to go from us?  First for the sake of their health.  That in itself ought to be sufficient.  Some live under conditions which are not conducive to health and longevity, and it would be a cruel thing if we were willing to have them leave and satisfied to have them there to live or die.  So for the sake of their health it is necessary for them to come back for a change.

 

The second reason is that most have fathers and mothers whom they love and who would like to see them, and whom they would like to see.  This is not a human fellowship:  it is a spiritual fellowship, but it has its human side as well as its spiritual side.  There are fathers and mothers who have boys and girls in foreign lands, laying down their lives for Christ's sake, and these children are interested in their parents, and look forward after spending a reasonable time in these lands, to returning home again to tell the story of their labors to whom they love.

 

The third reason is that all of them were tried and tested before they left.  They have friends in the gospel for whom they feel responsible, whom they would like to see and who would like to see them

 

The fourth reason and most important is that it is necessary for the unity of the people of God.  This fellowship that is ours is more wonderful to me the older I get.  We are a body of people absolutely unorganized and a puzzle and a mystery to the world.  They are prepared to leave us alone and we are prepared to be left alone.  We are satisfied to be as the mustard seed, or tree, a shrub in a man's back yard to which no one would give very much attention.

 

God's method of uniting and holding His people together in one, is by the coming and going of His bondservants and handmaidens.  The constant coming and going, their traveling from one state to another; from country to country, from continent to continent, contributes to the fulfillment of the purpose of God in uniting His people into one family, one fold, one fellowship, one kingdom, so we can truly say that we are one in Christ.  Our brethren in South America have asked me to go down and visit them.  I don't think it is going to be a pleasure trip by any means, and I don't intend to make it a pleasure trip.  My purpose in going is to try to link our brethren in South America to our brethren in North America, to endeavor to add a little to the foundation that has been laid by others, and to build upon that foundation--no wood, hay and stubble--but gold, silver and precious stones.

 

Those who have read the Book of Acts will have noticed how little groups of God's servants were continually on the move  going from one country to the others, from Europe to Asia. It seems to me that this was God's simple and wonderful way of uniting His people, so that in a measure at least, there would be answered the prayer of Jesus on that last night of His life "that they might all be one in Him."  When we welcome our brothers from China, Japan, and other countries, their coming awakens in us a new interest in those countries. Those who have gone to other countries and return to us will bring Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and other countries a little closer to us and make us feel that we are indeed one family, one fellowship striving together for the extension of the same kingdom.

 

The fourth question I would like to answer is:  Where does the money come from that enables the workers to live and travel to foreign countries and return?  When you talk about workers coming and going, friends tell you that this all takes money and it does.  When they ask you where the money comes from, you say "Oh the Lord provides it" but why not tell them plainly where it comes from?  It just comes from you.

 

Money as the means of exchange is used to enable the workers to live and to travel to foreign countries, and it comes from the spontaneous unsolicited free will offering of God's children.  You don't minister in this way because you have to or are solicited to. If you don't love to do it, the Lord doesn't accept it and we wouldn't if we knew.  When the workers go forth, they get rid of everything they possess.  Money thus surrendered is scattered so that it can never be theirs again.  It is gone for good and used to minister to our brethren abroad, or to bring them back from the foreign field, or to send others there.  Occasionally God's children who set their affairs in order and whom the Lord takes home, leave to them a piece of property, or remembers individual workers with gifts of money.  But that money is scattered in the furtherance of the gospel and that property is sold and the money it brings is scattered in the same way so that no gift can ever enrich any individual worker.  When you are asked then by your friends, "What is the fundamental difference between our ministry and every other ministry?"--"Why do the workers travel so much?"-"Where does the money come from?"--I hope you will feel free to be frank and candid with them, so that you do not convey the impression that it comes from some kind of a secret society you are in.