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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
True preaching appeals to the conscience and heart, not just the
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).
Cayman Brac, West Indies