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

Many of you have been asked questions during the past year about your preachers and a number have found it difficult 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 possibly have left the impression in the minds of the friends that this is some kind of a secret or semi-secret fellowship that they have been brought into. I would like to dispel once and for all any such impressions, so that you will feel absolutely free to answer any questions your friends may ask about God's people or about His servants, for we hold nothing in secret that we are not prepared to preach openly. We hold nothing that we are not prepared to tell you from this platform, and are quite indifferent as to whether or not what we say is listened to by those who are not yet numbered among us, for everything that we hold and everything that we teach is to be found within the pages of God's own Book, which is open to all men.

I want to talk to you very frankly, and freely, 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 very large extent upon us being absolutely frank and open so that there is no room for any misunderstanding.

I propose to answer for questions that have been asked at different times during the year. They may not have occurred to you or they may have, so I am going to anticipate this possibility and endeavor to answer these four questions this afternoon. They are perhaps more practical than spiritual, but it is important that we be clear in our minds with regard to each and all of them.

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

2. Why do New Testament ministers travel so much?

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

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

You can see that these four questions are very practical, and I will try to answer all of them just as simply and clearly as I can.

First - what is the fundamental difference between the New Testament Ministry and all other kinds of ministry with which we are familiar?

During the year, some of you received a questionnaire dealing with the New Testament Ministry. A number sent in answers, many of which indicated that there were a good many things in connection with the ministry that you are not exactly clear about, so when questioned by your friends, you were embarrassed and instead of clearing their minds and satisfying them, your answers tended rather toward irritating them and cause them to feel, "I don't want to have anything to do with your ministers or with the fellowship into which you have been brought." The impressions given, to a very large extent, were that there are 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 being deliberately left out of the matter, and if they feel that there are things in connection with your religion that 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 to answer their questions, and to encourage you to do so more helpfully and spiritually that in the past.

The physical needs of the true ministry and false are exactly the same. The true ministers need food, clothing, shelter, and as a means of exchange, they need money. False ministers need food, clothing, shelter, and money. When the question is asked, "What is the difference between your ministers and ours?" The reply that is usually given is, "Well their needs are the same, we admit, but the difference lies in how their needs are supplied. Your preachers preach for a salary - ours don't; your preachers appeal for money - ours don't; your preachers have homes of their own - ours don't." While these differences are true and help to distinguish the false from the true ministry, yet none of them, not all of them together, give us the actual fundamental differences between the true ministry and the false.

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 to some people. Or some of you may say, "The Lord takes care of our ministers," Both answers are in a sense true, but they do not give any light to those who question you. You leave them just as much in the dark as they were before.

Some have answered the question with, "I don't know." I heard of one of our brothers having a discussion with the preacher with whom he had previously been in fellowship. He was telling them of the wrongness of taking up collections and of having a salary and a home of his own. The preacher turned to this brother and said, "How then do your preachers live?" The brother answered, "I really don't know." That wasn't really true; he did know but he didn't know how exactly to answer that question.

I was discussing the subject last year before quite a company of people and asking questions dealing with the New Testament ministry such as, "How do New Testament ministers live, etc." A brother sitting in the front seat said, "I have been in the Way for seven years, and I haven't found that 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 this question, "I would like to know just how the workers get their clothes and money to travel with?" The man had been professing for fifteen years.

I have been glad to hear of people asking these questions, because it proves that workers everywhere are very slow to discuss the subject. They would rather leave people absolutely in the dark and to convey the impression that they are selfish in their motives or in their ministry or that by discussing these things they wanted anything for themselves.

The Old Testament is very clear with regard to how in Old Testament days the priests and Levites were cared for, and the New Testament is equally clear with regard to how God servants are taken care of today. I want to emphasise in answering this first question what to me is the actual and fundamental difference between the New Testament Ministry and every other ministry. Jesus taught that the laborer is worthy of his hire. That is often quoted to us, and Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:14 said, "The Lord has ordained that they which preach the Gospel should 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 which Jesus laid down in the Gospels. No man is justified in living "by the Gospel" apart from fulfilling those conditions.

When your friends ask you a question, "How do your preachers live?", the proper answer to give is, "Our preachers live by the Gospel." But they say, "Our preachers do that, also." And then gently and with grace you should go on to explain to them that the reason why our preachers "live by the Gospel," and we love to make it possible for them to do so, is because they have fulfilled the conditions that Jesus laid down in the Gospels for the New Testament 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 the questions with regard to the New Testament simply, frankly, and without unnecessarily reflecting upon those who your friends support, in nine cases out of ten, 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 carpenter for eight years, but for 3 1/2 years He lived "by the Gospel" and got His bread as a preacher of the Gospel just as honorably as He did as a carpenter. Jesus did not live on charity. Those that live on charity find nothing in return; Jesus always gave more than He received. If He received hospitality from Matthew the Publican, from Simon the Pharisee, or from Lazarus the brother of Mary and Martha, 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 professed people came to us and offered us food, clothing, shelter as an act of charity, we would refuse it, for we are not living on charity. 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 that we have fulfilled the conditions that justified 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 servants will in no wise lose its reward on that day.

Only those who have fulfilled the conditions laid down by Jesus for the New Testament ministry are justified in living by the Gospel.

This is the fundamental difference between the minister that God uses to bring you into the family and kingdom of God and all other kinds of ministers we know in the world.

What then are the conditions that Jesus laid down in the New Testament which He expects those to fulfill who want to have a part in this ministry? I should like to think that we are very clear on what it costs our brothers and sisters to go forth into God's great harvest field; there are no people on the earth that demand more sacrifice on the part of those who minister to them. This is scriptural and in line with God's plan. An article appeared last year in one issue of "Good Housekeeping" written by professor of a university, entitled, "The Cruel Promises of Jesus." It rather surprised me to find this man of the world recognizing a large portion of the teaching of Jesus was applicable only to the ministry; and that was very difficult to face, and because of this difficulty, it had been more or less explained away and watered down until it became absolutely meaningless.

We do not wish to hide from anyone what Jesus taught with regard to the initial steps into the ministry. Not all are called into the ministry, not all are called to become bondservants 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," for any man who claims to be living by the Gospel (without fulfilling the conditions) is receiving money under false pretense and will one day come under the just condemnation of God.

What are these conditions? I will present them in the form of questions. 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 poverty?

In connection with the New Testament ministry, there is a real equality. No one of us makes a greater sacrifice than the other. We each make equally and the same sacrifice. We sacrifice all, and it would be very dishonorable 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 the very first condition, there is an absolute equality among us, so that we are all placed on the same level. In order to illustrate this point, a few years ago three young men who had volunteered for the work came to see us, all three boys sitting in a row and we questioning them with regard to their purpose. We asked them if they were willing to fulfill the very first condition, to sell everything, making themselves poor and to have fellowship with Jesus in His poverty, and of course they said, "Yes." The first boy said he did not have much to sell. We asked what he had to sell and he told us it was an old Model T Ford. We asked him what it was worth and he said only about $25. We asked the next boy how he stood, and he said that he had about $150 in the bank. We told him that it had to be so scattered that it could never be gathered again. The third boy said, "All I have is one hog." He was the youngest of the three and had put everything he had earned into helping his mother at home. Now she felt that 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 whether the first boy had a Pierce-Arrow or a Model T, whether the second 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 has 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 are still 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 just applied the second condition. He said, "Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." We never hear of that young man going out into the work. To be homeless for Jesus' sake is a very real thing. It is just as well for those who are thinking about fulfilling a place in the ministry to recognize this. For six months after you have left home you may suffer from a very common disease - homesickness. Those who have been in the ministry must be prepared to be homeless as He was and to be able to say as a minister of the Gospel, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have their nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His 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 upon this it seems to me to be the most stern of all the conditions that Jesus put before candidates for the ministry. When one man said to Jesus, "Suffer me to go in very my father." Jesus said, "Let the dead bury their dead," What he meant by this was that no man is 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 are dead in trespasses and sin. Another man said, "Lord, I'll go but suffer me first to go home and say goodbye to my friends." And Jesus turned to him and said, "No man having put his hand to the plough and turns back is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Instead of His bribing men into the ministry, it would almost seem as though He were trying to prevent them. Instead of promising them a nice living, good prospects, and lots of time for reading and fellowship with others, or encouraging them to believe that in the ministry they would climb up the social scale, He did the exact opposite. Instead of making it easy for them, He made it hard. Instead of making it pleasant thing He made it the very 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 an individual or group of individuals pledged to take care of you, and preach the Gospel without money and without price, wherever you have the opportunity?" If we knew that anyone of us ever lifted a collection, or asked for money, we would immediately see to it that that one would be excluded from our fellowship as a preacher of the Gospel. We are glad to know that throughout the world God's servants have been able to go forth in His name and are preaching the Gospel in many different lands and making that Gospel as it was in the New Testament 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, then to leave it to anyone to suggest that they are selfish or mercenary in their motives or in the Ministry.

The fifth question that we would like to ask is in connection with that verse dealing with a corn of wheat. "Are you willing to be as a corn of wheat which falls into the ground and dies?" Are you willing to let death work so that life may be wrought and others? Are you willing to be dead to what is honorable and legitimate for others?

The sixth question we ask 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 when Jesus called men into His harvest field, He would accept none who would set any limits to their ministry. Whenever we become settled or rooted in any field, sooner or later, death begins to work. There was no such thing as a fixed or settled ministry in New Testament days. None of us are in any state for life. There must be a willingness to accept and obey the commission Jesus gave to His disciples, "Go forth into all the world, teaching all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."

There is another question which we sometimes ask those who are desirous of going forth, "Are you willing to go with any one of your brethren?" Those who have the responsibility for 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 twelve, He did not do it lightly, and when He sent the seventy out later, He did not do that lightly. When others later went out, this was not looked upon as a light matter, and we would like to say that it is a custom 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 into the furtherance of the Gospel."

Only those who have fulfilled the conditions which I have enumerated it are justified in living by the Gospel.

But those who have 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 of God lives on charity. They will worthy of their hire and it comes to them in God’s appointed way.

We are not ashamed of that fact that Jesus lived by the Gospel and we are not ashamed to teach others to 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 ministers live or live as ministers of the Gospel?" Someone answered, "We shouldn't tell anything." I took the opposite view and said, "I am prepared to tell them everything." If a man asks me any questions regarding the ministry and desires an answer, I am prepared to give them that answer and to prove from the Scripture that my answer is according to the teaching and example of Jesus.

The second question I would like to answer is: Why do these New Testament ministers travel so much? They seem always to be 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 to other cities also, for therefore am I sent."

The reason the workers travel so much is because they could not be New Testament ministers if they did not. Jesus did not stay and preach, but went and preached. His commission was, "Go ye into all the world, and teach all nations." The New Testament ministry is essentially a travelling ministry. There are those in the church who assume a little responsibility whom we speak of as elders, men who live in their own homes and are settled there. But the ministry I am speaking of is a moving ministry and it could not be a New Testament ministry apart from this.

The third question I would like to answer is: Why is it necessary for the workers who have gone to foreign fields to return home again after a period abroad?

I heard of a man who some time ago, after a meeting, went to a friend and said, "I am very glad that Jack explained that to us this afternoon, for I used to think upon it as an unnecessary expense for workers to go abroad and spend several years there and then come back again." He was looking upon it from purely a viewpoint of dollars and cents. It is just as necessary for workers to return to us as it was for them to go from us.

No workers now in the regions beyond were sent there by any other worker or by any group of workers, There is no troop of workers that I know of that would assume that responsibility. Those who are in different fields in China, Japan, India, all over Europe, and all over Africa are not there because any of us sent them there. They are because God moved upon their own hearts and caused them to lift up their eyes to behold the fields white unto harvest. He awakened an interest in their hearts in people in other lands, and so moved upon them that they expressed the desire of their hearts to launch out a little farther into the deep, and if we had any part in the going, it was in deciding the qualifications.

Many have volunteered to go whose health would not justify them in going. Men 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 can have the glad assurance that God sent them there, and when the devil discourages them, they can fall back on this thought, "I am here not 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 every land." We would not like any servant of God to lay hands upon any brother or presume to say, "You go here," or "You go there." It would indicate that we were out of God's plan if we presume so to do.

Why is it just as 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 toward health and longevity, and it would be a cruel thing if we were satisfied to leave 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 of them have fathers and mothers whom they love and who like to see them and whom then would like to see. This is not a human fellowship, it is a spiritual fellowship, but it has a 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 foreign lands, to returning home again to tell the story of the labors to those 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 are still responsible whom they would like to see and who would like to see them.

The fourth reason and the most important is that it is necessary for unity of the people of God. This fellowship that is ours is more wonderful to me the older I get. Here we are, a body of people absolutely unorganized, and a puzzle and mystery to the world. They are prepared to leave us alone and we are content to be left alone. We are satisfied to be as the mustard tree, and shrub in a man's back yard to which no one will get 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, and from continent to continent contributes to the fulfillment of the purpose of God in uniting his people into the family, one fold, one fellowship, one kingdom, so that we can truly say that we are one in Christ.

Our brethren in South America have asked me to come down to visit them. I don't think that 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 help to link our brethren and South America to the brethren in North America, and to endeavor to add a little to the foundation that has been laid down by others, and to build upon that foundation not hay and stubble, but gold, silver, and precious stones.

Those who have read the book of Acts will note will have noticed how little groups of God's servants were continually on the move, going from one country to another - from Europe to Asia. It seems to me that this was God’s simple and wonderfully nice way of uniting His people so that regardless of their race or nationality, color or language, they would be one people and that in a measure at least, there would be answered the prayer of Jesus on the last night of His life, that "they might all be one in Him." So that when we welcome some of our brothers from China, Japan and other countries, their coming will awaken in us a new interest in those countries. Those who have gone to other countries and have returned to us bring those countries a little nearer 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 preachers to live, to travel to foreign countries, and to return?

When you talk about the workers coming and going, your friends will tell you that all of this takes money, and it does. When they ask you where the money comes from you say, "Oh, the Lord provides it." Why not tell them plainly just where it comes from? It just comes from you.

Money as a means of exchange is used to enable workers to live, to travel to foreign lands, and it comes as a spontaneous, unsolicited, freewill offering of God's children. If you don't love to do it, the law doesn't accept it.

When 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 it is used to minister to our brethren abroad, or to bring them back from foreign fields, or to send others there. Occasionally God's children who set their affairs in order and whom the Lord takes home remember an individual worker with gifts of money, or sometimes they leave them a piece of property. But that money is scattered in the furtherance of the Gospel and that property is sold and the money it brings us scattered in the same way, so that no gift can ever enrich any individual worker.

When you are asked this by friends, "What is the fundamental difference between our ministry and every other? Why do workers travel so much? Why is it necessary for those who go from us to return again? Where does the money come from?" I hope you will feel free to be frank and candid with them, so that you won't convey the impression that this is some kind of a great secret society you are in. We teach nothing in private that we are not prepared to proclaim from the house tops to all men, for anything we teach can be read by all men in the pages of God's own book.