A World Waiting To Be Won Duncan Heaster email the author


Introduction ( by Alan Eyre)

1. We're All Preachers: Motivations For Preaching || 1.1  Joyful Urgency || 1.2 Making Disciples

2. Doctrine Based Preaching || 2.1 The Bible is God's inspired, infallible word



This is a book for all of us who have “wholeheartedly obeyed” the Biblical doctrines of salvation and “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Romans 6:17; Jude 3). The key word, the operative concept, is “entrusted”. If we invest in a Trust Company, we expect profits as well as the company directors who manage our funds. The Lord Jesus has “entrusted” his treasure to us only and solely because he expects to get a return on his venture capital through our faithful effort (Luke 19:11-27). We may share in that return if he approves our work.

This book contains no new ideas. For those of us who have been ‘in the truth’ for years, what Duncan Heaster tells us in this book is well known and familiar. Peter’s letters, the apostle tells us himself, were written “as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles” (2 Peter 3:1-2). There can be little doubt that “the command” Peter has in mind is the command to preach the truth. “A World Waiting To Be Won” is exactly like those important epistles.

Yet, after twenty centuries since the angels sang of God’s goodwill to men above the fields of Bethlehem, our brotherhood needs this book. We need it desperately. For two big reasons we need it.

The first and principal reason is simple. “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). Every magazine in the brotherhood shouts this message. The situation is exactly the same as our Lord Jesus faced himself at the time he spoke those words: the labourers are few. The task before us requires total commitment from us all, however small our individual contribution may be.

The second reason we all need this book is somewhat less obvious, but very real and serious none the less. Early in our modern history as a denomination, the  brotherhood was deeply infected with the virus of Calvinism, a deadly heresy. In the 19th century many converts to true Bible teaching were Protestants of some kind before they were baptized, and traditional Protestantism has always been deeply influenced by Calvinism. This heresy did not begin with John Calvin. He simply revived a particularly virulent form of an old spirit of legalism and ritualism characteristic of Pharisees, Judaizing Christians, and many so-called ‘fathers’ of the medieval church. This spirit is totally hostile to the very idea of world evangelism, which is why holders of Bible truth for more than a century did so little of it. It is a spirit of self-righteousness and arrogance which asserts that God is sovereign and we have no say at all in who will or will not be saved, and no part whatever to play in recruiting God’s “elect”. The fact that we are God’s elect is a proof that we were predestined for eternal salvation, but preaching is futile because only God knows who to call. We are told to avoid the world, not turn it upside down (Acts 17:6).

At the ecclesia where I was baptized 55 years ago, there was a small notice outside the meeting hall stating that weekly public lectures on the Bible were held inside it. Inside were ten rows of seats for church members at the front, then a rope across the room, and behind the rope one row of seats “for the alien” as potential converts were called. Behind that row was a long table with many books and tracts. The bookstall steward (who is still alive) dutifully laid out his books and then at the end of the meeting locked them away again in the cabinet. I rarely recall anyone occupying that row for the alien. Yet I know that all the elders of that ecclesia felt perfectly satisfied that their duty to witness was being regularly and satisfactorily fulfilled. Just occasionally a world event would prompt what was called a “special effort”, which was always about prophecy and announced by a very small notice in a local newspaper. We were used to none or very few ever showing up. That ecclesia no longer exists.

Looking back now I marvel at the fact that I should ever have been inspired by this religion. But the fact is, my church of previous connection was far worse! I remember well: in a vast, echoing, smoke-blackened cathedral-like parish church that could hold hundreds, there were sometimes half a dozen at holy communion and the full time priest knew next to nothing about the Bible.

Yet inspired I was. As an early teen I read every book and tract on that table, from cover to cover. I became convinced that this scenario of incredible lethargy and smugness held a great treasure. Just as Paul wrote long ago: “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). That is Duncan’s message in this book. Heed it well.

One event jolted me into action. Knowing that I was seeking Bible truth, I was invited to a cocoa factory to hear a preacher speak about “Understanding the Bible”. If I had been invited to the world-famous Minster (cathedral) in that city, I would have understood, but a cocoa factory? The very idea seemed absurd.

I went, and the result was startling. Here was an odd little man who worked in the cocoa factory, with signs of some recent accident still grievously disfiguring his body, with passion and eloquence urging us to “understand the Bible” for one utterly compelling reason: it was a matter of life or death, nothing less.

Incidentally, it was no surprise to me when much later Alfred Norris, the cocoa man, wrote “Preaching the Word”, the first treatise on worldwide evangelism to jolt us out of our Calvinist straitjacket.

After the meeting in the cocoa factory, I returned to the ecclesia with the special seats for aliens a much wiser young man. I made some overtures that I would like instruction in gospel truth. There were about fifty brethren in that ecclesia, but it was a sister named May Rhodes who led me faithfully and truly into heavenly places in Christ. May Rhodes was a maid, that is to say a ‘menial’ (that really was the word), a domestic servant. Her only book, almost her only possession, was a well worn Bible full of notes, and in her damp, dingy basement room my heart burned as she “opened the Scriptures” to me (Luke 24:32). Almost all I have been and am spiritually, my knowledge and love of the Word, my appreciation of His grace abounding, my search for a suitable wife in the Lord, and my experience as a preacher in sixty countries on six continents, I owe to God through this humble social nobody who was mighty in the Scriptures and fervent in the Spirit (Acts 18:24-25). Fifty-five years later I still consider May Rhodes to have been one of the greatest preachers of God’s truth I have ever known. The secret was simple: she had an utterly unquenchable faith in God and His promises. To me, no other saint more fully epitomizes the words of the Lord Jesus: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38). 

I wish to highlight and commend to every reader fifteen great truths which Duncan expounds in this book about preaching the truth.

  • God depends for the furtherance of His purpose upon our faith in, and individual response to, His abounding grace.

  • Preaching is a joint enterprise. We are workers together with Him. It is a work for the glory of God and His Son.

  • Preaching is an exercise in humility. We can be proud of others whom we have helped, but not of ourselves. We are sinners preaching to sinners.

  • Our aim in preaching is not to win a theological argument, convince others that they are wrong and we are right, sway others with our logic and cleverness, or even prove that we are the only right church. It is the same aim as the Lord Jesus: to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, open the eyes of the blind, release the oppressed and announce the coming of God’s Kingdom.

  • Preaching has not achieved its object unless there is sincere repentance and a total change of outlook in the convert, a mirror image of a similar and prior repentance and change of outlook in the preacher.

  • We must preach because we love our fellow men. We do not love them by putting up invisible walls to keep people out of God’s house rather than opening doors to let them in. God - amazing though it is - gave His Son to die a dreadful death because He loved the world, loved sinners, including me, the worst of them.

  • God is ever hopeful that men and women might repent and partake of His eternal blessings. So must we be, however barren the ground may appear.

  • The power of eternal death and eternal life has been committed to us. The salvation of others really is in our hands. Yet God uses our weakness, and even our failures, to further His purpose. However, our failures will testify against us in the day of reckoning.

  • It is not just Bible knowledge that we must seek to impart. Our words must be backed up by example.

  • There must be an urgency in our message and in the carrying out of it.

  • Our witness is to be Christ-centred, not focused around the preacher.

  • Disunity amongst the preachers will nullify our work. Far greater priority must be given to unifying the Body of Christ in these last days.

  • True preaching appeals to the conscience and heart, not just the intellect.

  • Given all the cultural and social obstacles, the astounding effects, the amazing ‘success’, of first century preaching is humanly inexplicable. It is exactly the same today. There is no human plan that will ‘succeed’ in converting Muslims, Buddhists, Chinese, or Western materialists. But, according to His word, God has such a plan.

  • Competent shepherding is essential if the wonderful work of witness is not to be negated and sheep subsequently lost. If we fail in this, Christ will find the lost but we will lose our reward.

The Scriptural proofs for all these truths are given in great detail in this book, and they are incontrovertible. As Paul once wrote, we are without excuse (Romans 1:20). So read on, and pray and sow your seed and water it, knowing that you and the Lord of the harvest will rejoice together.

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).

Alan Eyre

Cayman Brac, West Indies