Editor’s Note: The title on the cover ought to bring a lot of questions into your mind. What has the title “The Proper Use of the Present Life” to do with me? What do we mean by “proper use”? And, how does this relate to the rest of the title?
A few months ago, I encouraged the Beacon Lights Staff and the Young People’s Federation members to provide our magazine with topics that our various writing departments could write about. The response to this encouragement was excellent. The next step was to appoint a committee of three to take on the task of organizing the topics for use in our magazine. After an evening of discussion, the appointed committee came to the July meeting of the Beacon Lights Staff with two special issues for January and March, focusing on the life of the covenant child today.
Each rubric was assigned a particular subject area to write on.
I have also included an article by Mr. Mitch Dick on Bible study which fits in with the emphasis of Part I.
Young people have a calling with respect to the mission task of the church. If fact, it may very well be that God has blessed some of our young men with gifts which He wants them to use for the ministry of the Word! Capable young men in the churches ought prayerfully and seriously face the question whether God is calling them to be ministers or missionaries of the Gospel. Aside from this, however, all young people have a calling to be involved in the mission work of the churches.
Christ calls and ordains missionaries and sends them out to fields both at home and abroad. Christ does this through the office of believer. It is the church, believers as the Body of Christ, that preaches the Gospel in all the world. The church does this through the office of believer. This is the way Christ works. According to Acts 13 the Holy Spirit said to the church at Antioch, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” After fasting and praying the believers then laid hands on Barnabas and Saul and sent them away on the first missionary journey. In close connection with this is the fact that through the consistory the believers supervise the work and life of the missionaries. Apart from this rule of Christ the missionary cannot and may not function.
Believers, also young believers, have the calling to support the missionaries. Believers are called to provide liberally for the earthly needs of the missionary and mission. God calls all believers to do this. Apart from this there can be no mission work at all. Believers must also support the missionaries in prayer. The Apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesians to pray for him
so that he might have boldness to open his mouth to make known the mystery of the Gospel. He made the same request of the Thessalonians that the word of God might have free course. To the believers at Colosse came that same request. It ought to be obvious that apart from the support, encouragement, and prayers of the believers’ missionaries cannot labor. This calling does not merely come to the older members of the church. It is the calling of youthful believers as well.
All believers, also young believers, have the calling to be living witnesses of the gospel. The New Testament is simply full of this. I Peter 2:12 exhorts us to have our conversation (manner of living) honest among the Gentiles. The purpose is that they may see our good works and glorify God in the day of visitation. According to I Peter 3:15 we must be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks a reason of that hope that is in us. The purpose is that unbelievers who falsely accuse our good conversation in Christ may be ashamed. I Corinthians 10:31-33 teaches whether we eat or drink or whatever we do we must do all to the glory of God. We must not give offense either to the Jew or the Gentile or the church. We must follow the Apostle’s example who sought not his own profit but the profit of many that they might be saved. And, to cite no more, Acts 8:4 tells of the Jerusalem Christians who were scattered abroad by the persecution which followed Stephen’s martyrdom. They went everywhere preaching the Word. Literally they were “evangelizing” the Word, announcing the good news of Christ.
This is the calling of believers. They must witness by means of spoken word. They are called to evangelize, to speak of the Wonder of God’s Grace in Jesus Christ. They must call people to faith and repentance. They must not keep still about God and His Christ and Word. Always they must be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks a reason of the hope that is in them. Believers are also called to witness by means of their actions and life. They must always live in every sphere of life in obedience to the will of God. Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, single members of the church, young and old, all must witness to God’s glory. This must be done in the home, at work, while on vacation. Always and everywhere believers all are called to live their lives in such a way that Christ is seen in them. This witness will have its fruit. It will provoke the hatred and persecution of the ungodly. It will render them without excuse and they will be ashamed in the day of visitation. This witness will also be God’s means to bring His elect into the church where they will hear Christ through the preaching of the Word, believe in Him, call upon His Name and be saved. This truth is beautifully summed by the Heidelberg Catechism when it teaches that one of the reasons the Christian must do good works is that: “. . . by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.” (cf. Lord’s Day 32)
This calling of the church is rooted in her eternal election in Christ Jesus. God’s purpose in electing His church in Christ is that His praises may be revealed by the church. In I Peter 2:9 the Scriptures teach that believers are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. The purpose is that they might show forth the praises of Him Who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. This means that God has set apart the church for Himself in the midst of the world. That the church is elect in Christ, therefore, implies a serious calling and that calling is to manifest God’s praises. The church does this by the preaching of the Word and the witness of believers. By that mighty power the elect are gathered out of the nations, the ungodly are condemned, and the Kingdom of God comes in Christ in all its glory.
This is the calling of all believers. Let youthful believers know this is their calling. Our prayer is that their youthful zeal and energy may be channeled into a living, powerful witness of the great things God has done for them in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In addition, there are specific ways in which young people can be involved in the mission work of the churches. They can, for example, offer their time and gifts to the Evangelism or Church Extension Committee of the church of which they are members. Young People can assist in the mailing of tracts, pamphlets, and other printed materials. They can distribute these materials themselves among friends, coworkers, and/or fellow students. They can place suitable materials in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other places. These are just some of the ways in which the youth of the church can be actively involved. They can volunteer similar services to the Domestic and Foreign Mission Committees of our churches.
Young People ought also to correspond with our missionaries. Whether a missionary labors in North America or in a foreign country the work is difficult, lonely, sometimes even frustrating. It is encouraging to him and his family to receive evidence of the love, concern, and prayerful support of the youth of the church “back home.’’ Young people can also correspond with young converts with whom the missionaries are working. This would be encouraging to the young converts, foster the communion of saints among the youth, and be helpful in building up new and youthful converts in the faith. Such practice would also yield increased awareness on the part of the youth of the specific needs and concerns of the mission field. Thus too the youth would be enabled to pray for missions more knowledgeably.
These are just some of the ways in which young people can be actively involved in missions. No doubt the readers can think of many more! Talk about these things among yourselves. Discuss these matters in your Young People’s Society. Speak to your pastor and/or elders and your parents about this. Above all remember the word of Jesus which, though spoken to the twelve disciples, also applies to all of us: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.’’ (Matthew 10:32, 33)