Home page   Site search   Site index

ebook: Holiness and missions

Chapter 6: Propagated in the Epistles

by Susan N. Fitkin

In 1915 Susan Fitkin emerged as the first president of Nazarene Missions International. This 1940 booklet sounds one of Fitkin's major themes. Minor editing has been done to increase readability.

The Epistles are missionary letters, written by missionaries to missionary churches. Almost every one of them emphasize both holiness and missions. St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, uses his letter writing to interpret the gospel to missionary churches.

The theme of the Epistle to the Romans is: "The Gospel of God, not for Jews only, but also for Gentiles." Paul notes that universal salvation has been provided and ought therefore to be accessible to all at the earliest moment. He clearly sees it as the responsibility of the whole church to get the news to the whole world. Robert E. Speer echoes the message of Romans by saying, "The great need in the church today is to realize the world's need of Christ, and Christ's adequacy to meet that need."

In the first chapter of Romans the apostle declares his debtas a believer to get to the gospel to the whole world:

"I am obligated both to the Greeks and to the non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Romans 1:14-16).

The first two verses of chapter 5 have the gospel in a nutshell: "Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

In the remainder of the chapter, five "much mores" definitely explain the two works of grace while also declaring "where sin increased, grace increased all the more." (Romans 5:20)

Romans 10:11-15 is a missionary message. It asks some very pertinent questions:

"As the scripture says, Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile -- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?"

These are questions every church member should ponder well, asking God to show them if they are doing their best in His world-wide program. In the beginning of chapter 12 Paul pleads with believers to make an entire consecration; to become a living sacrifice, to not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed, that they may prove God's good, acceptable and perfect will (which is definitely stated in Thessalonians to be sanctification). (I Thessalonians 4:3) In Romans 14:17, Paul declares, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

In 1 Corinthians the apostle refers to his Corinthian readers as "babes in Christ." This missionary says to them: "In Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me." (1 Corinthians 3:15-16) The thirteenth chapter reveals to them their privilege and the absolute necessity for them to be made perfect in love.

The Epistle to the Ephesians has been called the Bride's Book. It is written to the saints, the true Church, which is "his body." In chapter one Paul declares God's call to be holy: "God . . . has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Ephesians 1:3-4)

In the third chapter, Paul mentions God's global family: "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19)

In the fifth chapter Paul comes back to the emphasis on being filled with the Spirit, exhorting his readers: "Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:18-20)

He also reminds them that abundant provision has been made for the church to be holy: "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:25-27)

It is evident that the apostle was teaching second blessing holiness to these missionary churches. In the last chapter he reminded them they were Christ's soldiers. They must "be strong in the Lord," have on the "full armor of God," and carry weapons with which to fight the enemy and win trophies for their King (Ephesians 6:10-17). World missions was the God-given task of this church which was called to be holy.

In Thessalonica there was such a fine working church that the apostle declares: "We always thank God for all of you . . . We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love . . . You became imitators of us and of the Lord . . . so you became a model to all the believers Macedonia and Achaia." (I Thessalonians 1:2-7)

Notwithstanding this great comfort, Paul told the Thessalonians he was burdened that they might be sanctified: "Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith . . . so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God." (I Thessalonians 3:10, 13)

In the fourth chapter he follows up on that thought by exhorting his readers to go on to holiness: "We instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. You know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be holy. . . . For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." (I Thessalonians 4:1-3, 7)

He prays again for his readers at the close of this first Epistle: "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

To Timothy, his son in the gospel, Paul writes about the twin themes of holiness and missions: "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. . . and for this we labor and strive, that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. . . You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presences of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (1 Timothy 1:5; 4:10; 2 Timothy 2:1-3)

The Epistle to the Hebrews begins with the graphic description of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The keyword of that epistle is "better." The Son of God was better than the prophets and better than the angels. He was and is an ever-living High Priest. The writer of Hebrews is seeking to confirm Jewish Christians by showing that Judaism had come to an end through the fulfillment by Christ of the whole purpose of the law. We now have a better covenant with better promises, and a better tabernacle. The second veil has been rent and we may now enter and abide within the "holiest of all."

Hebrews 10 says, "Here I am, I have come to do your will.' . . . And by that will we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . because by one sacrifice he had made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. . . . Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:9-10, 14, 19-22)

Then follows the great faith chapter with its list of illustrious heroes who through unwavering faith in this great High Priest achieved mighty victories.

In the twelfth chapter we have the exhortation, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men, and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14) The closing chapter has one of the most beautiful benedictions in the New Testament:

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)

The Epistles of Peter are addressed "to God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." (1 Peter 1:1) Peter had not forgotten the vision on the housetop recorded in Acts. As he writes this letter, no doubt he had in mind not only the scattered Jews, but also Gentile believers. In the first chapter of his first letter he exhorts believers to holiness: "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy'." (1 Peter 1:14-16)

The First Epistle of John is a family letter from the Father to His "dear children" who are in the world. The letter stresses the privilege of having sweet personal fellowship with God the Father and with the Son. It urges believers to walk in the light, that their joy may be "complete." (1 John 1:4)

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light . . . we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin, . . . If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." (1 John 1:5-7, 9; 3:1-3)

The Third Epistle of John is a personal letter to a missionary minded member of a local church. From what John writes, it sounds like that church was dominated by a proud non-missionary leader. The beloved Gaius is commended for caring for missionaries because "for the sake of the Name they went out, receiving no help from the pagans" (3 John 7) and he helped them to continue their journey "in a manner worth of God." (3 John 6) And the Lord was so pleased with Gaius' loving interest and sacrificial service that the letter was placed in the Bible and has been preserved for our instruction down through the ages. Among the lessons to be learned from Third John is that it pays to cooperate with God-given plans.


Our Latin American field begins with the Border Mexican District, This includes not only several fine Mexican churches in California, but also some in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, with one church across the border in Old Mexico at Ensenada, and Sister Santos Elizondo's splendid church and orphanage across the border from El Paso, Texas. God is graciously blessing the Border Mexican work and some new churches are being organized.

Old Mexico

In Old Mexico they have made unusual progress this past quadrennium. They have more than doubled their membership and erected some much needed buildings. Recently, when Foreign Missions Secretary C. Warren Jones was at their district assembly, all agreed it was the greatest one they have ever had. That means much, for our Mexican Nazarenes are among the finest in the world.


In Peru the work goes on amid much persecution from the Roman Catholic majority. In some sections, the opposition is very fanatical with people really believing that the Protestants are priests of the devil. Sometimes the lives of our missionaries have been in danger, but God protects them.

Our main stations are located near the coast. Here we have substantial property and a good Bible Training School. We have a great district in Peru with many churches scattered over the mountains and cared for by faithful pastors. Our working force here has been greatly depleted during the past quadrennium by death and faithful missionary pioneers needing furlough. The national evangelists are carrying on faithfully and God is blessing. Pray the "Lord of the harvest" to send forth laborers into this needy harvest field.

Central America

Our missionary trip to Central America was unique in that it included our first flight by airplane. This was also an unusual one, for in flying only 150 miles from Guatemala City to Coban, one of our main stations, we crossed three high, rugged mountain ranges, descending into the valley between each one. This meant that the plane was either pointing its nose heavenward or earthward most of the time. But we were happy and blessed. We were soon to see some of the five tribes of Central American Indians that our precious missionaries are seeking to reach with the blessed gospel which is "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16)

We were impressed with the prayer tower in the patio of the Girls' School at Coban. Frequently missionaries and students have an all day of chain prayer, beginning at 5 a.m., each one spending half an hour in prayer in this tower (which was originally built for wine storage). We found a real revival spirit over the district, and had beautiful services in several churches with earnest seekers at the altar. We had one long day on a trip to mountain churches. They awoke us before daylight, and we arrived back home about midnight, tired, but happy. Indians wrapped in their bright colored blankets were seeking at the altar for the first time, praying to be saved and then rising to testify that God had given them peace in their hearts.


In Argentina new recruits are carrying on with marked success. Rev. and Mrs. Frank Ferguson, our pioneers on this field, are now home on furlough. They laid a solid second-blessing holiness foundation for a great district during years of fruitful service.

New District Superintendent John Cochran writes:

"We have had three tents in the field all summer. God has signally blessed and given some very excellent meetings and a number were saved. Since moving down to Buenos Aires we have had a very fruitful campaign in a section of the city where we had hoped to begin a new work. We had wonderful crowds and many sought the Lord. I think about one hundred people for I counted them as they came. We have rented a hall and begun a new work there. 'Praise God from whom all blessings flow.' That is five new places as the result of that tent the Lord promised us when you were here. It is now in the twenty-fifth campaign and we hope to be able to use it another year. Brother and Sister Lockwood are beginning the long desired Bible School in a rented building, with about thirty students. We hope to have our own new building soon. Pray for us."

Visiting this field in the fall of 1937, I was greatly surprised at the progress made. They had few church buildings, but fine congregations of spiritual Nazarenes gathered in Christian homes. Some were seeking the Lord in every service.

At one afternoon service, in a large room donated by a Christian woman for services, we found a nice company gathered, mostly women.

During the service I noticed an Indian man on the back seat and prayed definitely for him. The others took part in singing and some testified and a few were at the altar for sanctification. When about to close the service I asked one of the missionaries if he would ask that Indian man if he wanted to say something.

He arose and said: "I am not a bad man, I don't smoke much, I don't drink much, and I come to church to bring my wife, who is a real Christian."

After the service I saw them drive away in their little two-wheel cart drawn by a donkey. I never expected to see them again. But when we reached the home of our native worker for the evening service, there in the little room was Manuel Martinez, the Indian, sitting on the front seat. My faith was increased for his salvation. He listened eagerly to every word of the little message and was the first to kneel at the mourners' bench and pray through to victory. How happy and thankful I was!

It was a pleasure to see the work in Lujan, forty miles from Buenos Aires. We visited the great Roman Catholic cathedral there and saw devout worshipers bowing down before a little sixteen-inch doll which is the Virgin Saint of all Argentina. Dressed in rich robes sparkling with jewels, the little doll was in a small chapel on one side of the cathedral. It was mounted on a gold pedestal which had been placed on the top of a high altar. There it stood, encased in a wide gold frame with a golden canopy above it. It is said to be the most artistic and expensive display of its kind in the world.

We also visited Rosario, two hundred miles in another direction. This is a city of half a million population and our second main mission station was just being opened there. They now have an organized Nazarene church there and new companies of Christians in the suburbs. They had a precious District Assembly. I will mention just one of the many fine reports given by our national evangelists who evangelize as well as pastor the churches. Most of them with their wives were caring for two or three or four churches and missions. Some reported five and six hundred pastoral calls made that year. The one that stood out to me reported that, besides ministering to four charges, he had made 78 evangelistic trips to other cities and villages during the year.

They all have the blessed experience of holiness and are real missionaries. . . . [ continue reading ]

  Chapter:  << Previous  |   1  |   2  |   3  |  4   |   5   |  6  |   7  |   Next>> 

Holiness and missions in John's Revelation

Next chapterThe last book of the Bible, with all of its apocalyptic images, is a clear call to missions and to holiness. [ read more]

World missions course materials and syllabi

  Top of page| My Home Page | Master List\Index| |SNU Missions Program |Scripture index

Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132  |  Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax: 405-491-6658

Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. When you use this material, an acknowledgment of the source would be appreciated.