A few years ago I was introduced
to an older gentleman whose demeanor and smile made me want to get to know him
better. I had heard about this man, so when I was in his area for a few meetings,
I made an appointment to meet with him in his home one afternoon. I came a little
like the queen of Sheba--with some hard questions about how to see assemblies
grow and how to overcome difficulties that crop up from time to time. And I
left many hours later (almost late for the meeting I was to speak at) with the
realization that I had been in the presence of not only a real man of God, but
a passionate evangelist and patient shepherd.
His name was Mr. John Martin.
Since that time we have shared a number of happy hours together in fellowship,
a highlight of which was the two weeks I spent in their home. Prayer, Bible
study, and the things of God are the atmosphere in which this home is bathed.
Both Melissa (his wife) and John are quick with smiles, can see the humorous
side of life, but never trivialize those events. They see in all the circumstances
of life that God is in them, working out His great purposes. Both are dedicated
to God first and to the work to which God has called them.
In a self-effacing way,
John has penned his life story. He tells how God moved in saving souls in the
Old Order Mennonite community where he lived. He recounts how he and Melissa
were saved, how more than 1000 people attended when 15 believers were baptized
by immersion in a nearby river.
He never turned back. But
from those humble beginnings, assembly after assembly has sprung up and is going
on today. How did he do it? That is the beauty of this book. There is no one
method; no pre-planned marketing approach, no demographic charts and population
assessments, no ethnic or cultural surveys. Let John himself tell you. "All
of these assemblies referred to represent a great deal of hard work. Much visitation
was done in all of these areas. The attendance at the Bible studies was sometimes
discouraging, but perseverance and patient, persistent plodding brought its
reward." He just did it! In the open air, in rented halls, home Bible studies,
door-to-door visitation, tents and camps--whatever seemed to open at the time--John
went through the opened doors. And the 15 to 20 or more assemblies that he was
used by God to see planted are the testimony of one who, as the title of the
book says, was Saved to Serve. Gospel Folio Press is happy to be the
publisher of this small, but significant book.
One of the things John mentions
in his book is that he never watered down the gospel. He never sought to be
"politically correct." In this day and age when not to offend seems to be the
watchword, and entertainment the means of preaching what Paul would call "another
gospel," we need to be reminded of the cardinal truths of the gospel.
One of those cardinal truths
that is missing in too much of the evangel today is the doctrine of repentance.
Gospel Folio Press has just released a reprint of H. A. Ironside's classic book
on repentance: Unless You Repent, one of the most definitive statements
I have seen on this subject. For anyone who would preach the gospel, whether
to a Sunday School class or to large congregations, this is must reading. The
objections to the preaching of repentance are systematically taken up and refuted.
This book is written with the passion of an evangelist and the clarity of an
expositor. The tough passages are not dodged but carefully explained. The result
is, as William MacDonald says in his foreword to the book, "a breath of fresh
air, dispelling the fog."
This is the gospel that
John Martin and many others have preached over the years and have seen real
converts to Christ as a result. It is the only gospel that is true to the Word
of God. May each of us be renewed in our dedication to both the passion and
truth of the gospel. Our world needs men devoted to Christ and His Word, for
God has promised to bless His Word, not our methods.