In our childhood years, many of us never entertain thoughts of missionary labor or involvement in religious or church work. For that matter, we may not even have any interest in church affairs. Normal, youthful dreams would perhaps arise when we would see the excitement of firemen dressed in their suits, holding onto the back of the fire truck, racing to save someone’s life—and then we would decide to become firemen. Then we might have been impressed with some of the teachers at school—but public speaking was personally not anywhere on my list, so that idea never took any root for me, anyway. Later, as we became aware of monetary benefits, our ideas would land on some occupation that yielded a very good income where we could be comfortable in at least the upper middle class of society, if not actually becoming wealthy.
But something happens with all our plans, goals, associations, and achievements the moment we surrender our life to Jesus as our personal Saviour. This change in perception and direction is clearly demonstrated in the greatest of all the commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (). Our relationship to God must be Number 1 in our life—our first, our best, and our everything. Many may accept Jesus as their Saviour, but are we ready to accept Him as the actual Lord of our lives? .
When Jesus becomes my Saviour, He also becomes my Lord. What exactly does “Lord” mean? By definition it means “he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding.”1 We may be attracted to the idea that Jesus will forgive my sins and grant me eternal life at some distant future day, but each of us must consider: Am I truly prepared for Jesus to rule my daily life as my Lord? It is not what we say or teach or profess or even the wonders we may perform in the name of Jesus. Instead, it is what we are doing that shows whether or not we have actually accepted Jesus as the Lord of our life. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” ( ). It is only when my Saviour becomes my Lord that I can even begin to fulfill my purpose in life and satisfy that implanted hunger in the soul.
The purpose of life
Why are we here? What does God expect from us while in this sinful world—once we have committed ourselves to the service of our Lord and Saviour?
You remember the experience of a very zealous persecutor in the first century. He was rushing everywhere throughout Palestine, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (). On his last such journey as he was approaching Damascus, he experienced a personal encounter with the very Jesus whom he was persecuting. This was not a sudden conversion as many would think. It was actually the fruit of a seed that had been planted by the bold and caring testimony of Stephen—and Saul, this chief persecutor, then surrendered to Jesus as His Saviour and Lord. By his life, we can see that this was no common surrender as of a person in a crisis; it was rather the result of a deep conviction that had needed just one more encounter to bring it to fruition.
Paul immediately understood what it meant for Jesus to be His Lord. “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (verse 6, emphasis supplied). No sooner does a soul surrender to Jesus than are witnessed the results of that surrender. Paul saw himself no longer as a free agent to do with his life whatever he chose. Instead he saw himself as a servant to his Lord. All of us who are waiting for the second coming of Jesus also become servants. And what is a servant? In reality, the Greek word for “servant” inis the same as for a slave—one who does his master’s bidding. When we accept Christ as our personal Saviour, we are committing ourselves to do whatever He may ask of us. Are you prepared to ask, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
It is this life of complete dedication and service to our Lord that brings joy and happiness into our lives. “Happiness that is sought from selfish motives, outside of the path of duty, is ill-balanced, fitful, and transitory; it passes away, and the soul is filled with loneliness and sorrow; but there is joy and satisfaction in the service of God; the Christian is not left to walk in uncertain paths; he is not left to vain regrets and disappointments.”2 Do you want real happiness?
“Witnesses unto Me”
The fact that Christianity brings the greatest happiness to a person’s life is no secret. It is true that many who profess religion, even the present truth, never experience this state of bliss to any great extent. But Jesus has promised it to every true believer. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (). A person can experience the depths of such joy only when living in a constant relationship with Christ. . This joy, even in tribulation, is something that words cannot describe, but it will be experienced to the depths of the soul. Paul describes, “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation” ( ).
Why is it that so many professed believers never experience this glow of happiness in their lives? Why is it that so many professed Christians seek for it in the myriad of fun things to do, in exotic places to see, in worldly attractions and clothing, in expensive housing, furniture and cars, and in forbidden relationships? It is because they never experience the satisfaction that fulfillment of their purpose in life gives. And what is that purpose? The Great Commission found in.
This is the natural reaction of a person who has tasted the water of life and becomes a Christian. The moment we experience the new birth, our plans and goals experience a radical change in direction. “Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life. The receiver becomes a giver. The grace of Christ in the soul is like a spring in the desert, welling up to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the water of life.”3Naturally, we become missionaries. Every true Christian becomes a missionary in his or her own right. In reality, all who have Jesus in their life are missionaries—and everyone without Jesus is a mission field.
At conversion, we transform that natural reaction of joy in the plan of salvation and sharing the truth with others into a vow before God. “In making a profession of faith in Christ we pledge ourselves to become all that it is possible for us to be as workers for the Master, and we should cultivate every faculty to the highest degree of perfection, that we may do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable.”4 The purpose of seeking excellence in everything we do is to fulfill our responsibility as workers for our Master. This is why in school we are not satisfied with anything but the best. This best is not just in comparison with other students but with the perfection of the character of Christ in both life and studies, as seen in the marks we receive in the classroom as well as the way we act. All this determination to be faithful in our daily activities prepares us to use the gifts that God grants us for His service and the evangelization of the world.
Since the church is the body of Christ, then it is impossible for us to fulfill this obligation properly without connection with the church. This is why Saul at his conversion was directed to that small body of believers still meeting in homes rather than in synagogues or churches. “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (5). “The Redeemer of the world does not sanction experience and exercise in religious matters independent of His organized and acknowledged church. Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. But in the history of the conversion of Saul, important principles are given us, which we should ever bear in mind. He was brought directly into the presence of Christ. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be ‘a chosen vessel’ unto him; yet he did not personally impart to him the lessons of truth. He arrested his course and convicted him; but when asked by him, ‘What wilt thou have me to do?’ the Saviour placed him in connection with His church, and let them direct him what to do.”
“Everyone who connects himself with the church makes in that act a solemn vow to work for the interest of the church and to hold that interest above every worldly consideration.”6If this is not our experience, then we are actually holding the church back from accomplishing its purpose and are essentially delaying the coming of Jesus.
When Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” whom did He mean? (7 This is why “everyone who is added to the ranks by conversion is to be assigned his post of duty. Everyone should be willing to be or to do anything in this warfare. When church members put forth earnest efforts to advance the message, they will live in the joy of the Lord and will meet with success. Triumph always follows decided effort.”8 The life of service is the only way to experience the intended joy that Christianity brings.). “The Saviour’s commission to the disciples includes all believers to the end of time. All to whom the heavenly inspiration has come are put in trust with the gospel. All who receive the life of Christ are ordained to work for the salvation of their fellow men. For this work the church was established, and all who take upon themselves its sacred vows are thereby pledged to be coworkers with Christ.”
Although all are expected to participate in this work, who is especially called to dedicate his or her life in serving our Saviour? The dedication and strength of the youth is needed to accomplish the task ahead of us.. This is why the youth are called to dedicate their heart to the Lord early in their life: “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” ( ).
Although all may be called to dedicate their life to the Lord, the youth can accomplish so much more with a full life of service than someone who gives only his or her last remaining days. This is why “a young heart is a precious offering, the most valuable gift that can be presented to God. All that you are, all the ability you possess, comes from God a sacred trust, to be rendered back to Him again in a willing, holy offering.”9 Although God is calling for everyone on this earth to dedicate his or her heart to Him, it is the youth that receive this special call because they are not only able to accept the plan of redemption themselves but can help so many others with a life dedicated in service to their Lord.
And what will happen when our youth truly experience this stimulus to service? “With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering and sorrow and sin!”10
Training for service
Working and serving is one thing, but doing it effectively is so much more. How can we be most effective in outreach activities? It is when those who have experience in working effectively train others in faithful and efficient service. This is why the whole issue of training became a law in Israel, first for the parents and then for the nation as a whole. (See 11.) After experiencing the truth ourselves, we must share it with the next generation so that they can benefit from the experience of the older ones and surpass them in efficiency. “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” ( ).
“The schools of the prophets were founded by Samuel to serve as a barrier against the widespread corruption, to provide for the moral and spiritual welfare of the youth, and to promote the future prosperity of the nation.”12
When we think of training as essential in other trades, how much more we should understand this need for training in the highest occupation than anyone can have—working with souls for their eternal destiny. “Education and training are rightly regarded as an essential preparation for business life; and how much more essential is thorough preparation for the work of presenting the last message of mercy to the world! This training cannot be gained by merely listening to preaching. In our schools our youth are to bear burdens for God.”13 This is not just theoretical—it is also to be practical while the youth are studying, not just after they complete their education and training.
As we think of the responsibility of giving this message to a sin-sick world, our training institutions need to be more like the schools of the prophets.
What benefit is it for a child of God to obtain recognition from a worldly school in order to have authority to teach the third angel’s message? It is true that we can go to worldly schools and obtain other qualifications just as Moses did, but that is not the preparation needed to teach the word of God.
Who is to attend the schools?
Since every person, upon joining the church, is obligated to present the message to this sin-cursed world, it would be quite natural to conclude that every member needs this training. This is why every person should go to our missionary schools no matter what his or her future occupation in life will be.
“‘Why,’ says one, ‘what is the need of being so particular thoroughly to educate our youth? It seems to me that if a few who have decided to follow some literary calling, or some other calling that requires a certain discipline, receive special attention, this is all that is necessary. It is not necessary that all our young people should be so well trained. Will not the thorough education of a few answer every essential requirement?’
“No, I answer, most decidedly not. . . . All the youth should be permitted to have the blessings and privileges of an education at our schools, that they may be inspired to become laborers together with God.”14
Not only that a person does not know what responsibilities he or she may have in the cause of God officially, but everyone, no matter what his or her occupation in life, has opportunities to witness for Jesus. That being the case, all need training to do so most efficiently. It is in this way that we can hasten the coming of our beloved Jesus. “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.”15
In the place where I was born, Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia, there is an Olympic-sized pool where there are really high jumping platforms. On one occasion while we were walking around it, a person jumped from the highest platform and missed the pool. I don’t remember all the details but that made a traumatic impression on my young mind. As a result of that experience, I can work on second and third story roofs on construction sites, but the moment you place water below me, some kind of phobia takes possession. One time we were in Tahiti where everyone was jumping off a bridge. I decided that it was time to jump as well and lined up with the others. Each person would hold onto the rails and then dive in. I held onto the rails and finally mustered the courage to jump. However, I did not go anywhere as my hands were still holding the rails and would not let go. After several attempts, I finally made the fearful jump. Unlike jumping from the bridge to the river below, when we jump into the arena of service, we have a Saviour that has promised, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (). Are you ready to dedicate your life for service to our Lord?