"THE GOSPEL IS FOR ALL"
"And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth…" (Acts 17.26)
INTRO.: A song which reminds us that the Lord has made of one blood all nations and therefore we need to go and teach God’s word to all nations is "The Gospel Is For All" (#424 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #555 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by John Moody McCaleb, who was born in Hickman County, TN, on Jan. 25, 1861, the youngest son of John and Lucy Jane Beasley McCaleb. When he was only six months old, his father was killed when he failed to hear a Civil War sentry’s order to halt while crossing a shallow stream. John’s early education was at William Anderson’s Carter Creek Academy. When he was fourteen, J. M. Barnes came to preach at the Old Dunlap congregation where the McCaleb family attended, and at the close of one service he came forward to be baptized. The baptism took place the next day at Gordon’s Ferry, one mile away. After his mother’s death in 1881, he sold his share of the family farm and worked first as a book dealer and then taught school at Little Lot for a brief period. During this time, he also began his work as a preacher by filling for Felix Sowell, who had come to the church at Dunlap for an evangelistic effort but was called away and insisted that McCaleb continue the meeting. In January, 1888, McCaleb arrived at Lexington, KY, to attend the College of the Bible at Kentucky University.
While a student there, McCaleb met Della Bently, a farmer’s daughter, and they were married on Oct. 7, 1891. After the wedding, they took a train ride to southern Kentucky where they lived with close friends at Woodsonville. When he came out of the College of the Bible, McCaleb was opposed to both instrumental music in worship and the missionary society. Invited to preach for the church at Glasgow, KY, he agreed if they would remove the organ, but they refused. However, W. K. Azbill was ready to lead a group of missionaries to Japan without the aid of the Missionary Society and contacted McCaleb about going. Soon the McCalebs decided that they were ready to join the party, and they left for Japan in 1891, arriving on Apr. 12, 1892. He returned from the Far East in 1899 for two years, during which time he spoke to various congregations about the Japanese work and also talked to David Lipscomb about starting a school in Tokyo similar to the Nashville Bible School (now David Lipscomb University), then went back to Japan in 1901. The following year he established his boarding school in a house near Scudeo Baski. It moved to the Koishikawa chapel in 1904 and remained there until 1907 when a new facility was built. Also in 1907, his wife and children moved to Louisville, KY, where they had good friends so that the children could get an education in America.
Two years later McCaleb himself came back to America for a three-year furlough, during which time he again traveled among the churches to inform them of the Japanese field and its needs. Returning to Japan in 1915, he made another trip to the United States in 1918 to see his youngest daughter’s graduation and a two-year old grandchild whom he had never seen. These words were likely produced around 1921, since, so far as anyone has been able to determine, they first appeared in Great Songs of the Church (No. 1), edited that year by Elmer Leon Jorgenson (1886-1968). Going back to Japan, McCaleb stayed until after the death of his wife at Louisville in 1939. Then in 1940, as war clouds gathered, he left Japan never to see it again. Two years later, he married Elizabeth Reeves, and the two lived in Los Angeles, CA, where McCaleb taught at George Pepperdine College. After a lengthy illness he passed away there on Nov. 7, 1953. The tune (McAnally) is thought to be an American Southern folk melody and was arranged in its present form for the 1876 hymnbook Good News by Rigdon McCoy McIntosh (1836-1899). The music has also been used with other hymns in some of our books, such as "Am I A Soldier Of The Cross" by Isaac Watts.
Among other hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 also edited by Jorgenson; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1983 edition of the 1978 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song challenges us to do all that we can to see that the message of salvation is taken to everyone.
I. According to stanza 1, we should take the gospel to all because mankind is of one origin
"Of one the Lord has made the race, Through one has come the fall;
Where sin has gone must go His grace: The gospel is for all."
A. Whether white, black, yellow, or red, all mankind is the result of God’s creation: Gen. 1.26-27
B. Yet, through one man sin was brought to all mankind in the world: Rom. 5.12
C. Therefore, wherever sin has gone must go the word of God’s grace for man’s salvation: Acts 20.32
II. According to stanza 2, we should take the gospel to all because we are blessed by it
"Say not the heathen are at home, Beyond we have no call;
For why should we be blest alone? The gospel is for all."
A. The "heathen" here simply refers to unsaved people, and yes, there are heathen here at home, but God’s message is not intended to be kept at home because it needs to be taught to all nations: Matt. 28.18-20
B. Therefore, even though not everyone can go into foreign lands, we need to think about the importance of seeing that the gospel is taken to regions beyond: 2 Cor. 10.16
C. Because of the blessings that we have received, we are debtors to share the power of God unto salvation with others, both far and near: Rom. 1.14-16
III. According to stanza 3, we should take the gospel to all because people need it to live
"Received ye freely, freely give; From every land they call;
Unless they hear they cannot live: The gospel is for all."
A. It is a Bible principle which God has given to His people that as they receive freely from Him, they should freely give to others: Matt. 10.8
B. Even today, people call from every land just as the man from Macedonia called to Paul: Acts 16.9
C. Only those who hear the gospel and respond to it in faith and obedience are promised that they will be saved, so our obligation is to preach it: Mk. 16.15-16
CONCL.: The chorus continues to remind us of our great responsibility.
"The blessed gospel is for all, The gospel is for all;
Where sin has gone must go His grace, The gospel is for all."
In a world that is lost and dying in sin, all of God’s people must remember that "The Gospel Is For All."