Thoroughness, like earnestness, I is an essential quality of efficiency. While earnestness is dynamic and produces momentum, thoroughness lays the foundation for breadth and permanency. In all worth-while endeavor, thoroughness should accompany earnestness. Thoroughness is that quality that " goes through to the end," that reaches below the surface to rock bottom, and leaves nothing undone or partially done which can in any way contribute to the success of the enterprise in hand.
Thoroughness is one of the greatest guarantees of success and safety in the many and varied activities of mankind. Many sad disappointments, serious failures, and tragic calamities have come to millions of people in all the walks of life solely through lack of thoroughness. On the other hand, thoroughness has carried through in triumph many undertakings that must have been impossible without it.
The marvelous triumphs of Charles Lindbergh in aviation are due in large degree to the thoroughness with which he plans and executes every detail governing air travel. Thoroughness is vital to mastery and success in all lines of endeavor, and I venture the assertion that every one of my fellow ministers will agree with me that in no enterprise in which men engage is thoroughness so appropriate and necessary as in the gospel ministry,— the field in which men deal with eternal verities, with the present and the hereafter, with the things that pertain to the kingdom of God.
The great value of thoroughness as it relates to the problem of redemption is emphatically set forth in the inspired word of God, and the exemplification of this quality is revealed in the admonition and life of the men whom God has chosen and used through all ages. For example: " Moses verily was, faithful in all his house " (Heb. 3: 5), and he admonished Israel, " Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently." Deut. 4: 9. Caleb and Joshua " wholly followed the Lord " (Deut. 1:36) ; and went through in glorious triumph to the Promised Land. Hezekiah " in every work" that he begin in the service of God " did it with al his heart, and prospered." 2 Chron. 31:21. " I have not shunned to declae unto you all the counsel of God," Issures Paul. Acts 20:27. Hundredsof similar statements in the word of Gd show the value which the Lord plower; upon thoroughness in all we endeavor to do for Him.
In our consideration of the importance of thoroughness as an indispensable element in the gospel ministry, we may refer especially to three fundamental channels through which it effectively operates: (1) Thoroughness in personal, spiritual experience; (2) thoroughness in preparation for service; and (3) thoroughness in service rendered.
First.— Beyond all question, the most vital and far-reaching of all the problems relating to the gospel ministry, is the need of thoroughness and genuineness of personal spiritual experience in the life of the minister. There must be an up-to-date, present, living experience, which makes it possible to know with absolute certainty that one has been —
1. " Born anew," " from above," " of the Spirit." John 3: 1-8. This is the starting-point of any possibility for rendering effectual service for Christ.
2. That Christ is revealed in his life; for not until this revelation takes place mn he effectually preach Christ to others. Gal. 1: 15, 16.
3. That he has been made alive from death in trespasses and sins. Eph. 2: 1.
4. That in Christ he is indeed a new creature, old things having " passed away," and all things having " become new." 2 Cor. 5: 17.
5. That Christ is enthroned within, ' by His Spirit," empowering him as an effective witness. Eph. 3: 16, 17; Acts 1:5, 8.
Thokoughness in all these essentials is necessary to fit poor sin-warped human beings to apprehend and deal arght with affairs in the spiritual
Second.— In the consideration of thiroughness in preparation for service we cannot at this time refer to the years of necessary, training before enterng upon the sacred work of the miiistry, but refer especially to the thoroughness which the duties of every nev day call for,— the house-to-house visitation, the sermon, the personal contact with individuals. To be effectual in spiritual service, there must be thorough daily preparation of the heart through communion with God in Prayer and study of the Word and the Testimonies of His Spirit. If we are superficial in the reading of the Bible and the writings of the spirit of prophecy, and in prayer, we shall deteriorate in spiritual life, and thus lose power.
The subject of the sermon, although Presented many times before, must have new and enlarged study; otherwise the messenger becomes uninteresting and wearisome, and his message, lacking the vital element of thorough Preparation of heart and mind, becomes a cold, formal message, and has no power to reach hearts. It is a true statement that " nothing is more indecent than a dead preacher speaking to dead hearers on the living truths of the living God." Let us ever seek to prevent, such an " indecent " situation by giving diligent attention to greater thoroughness from this day on.
Third.— Thorough preparation must be followed by thoroughness in the work done. The ultimate end in all service is, as set forth by Paul, to " present every man perfect in Christ Jesus," and for this we are to " labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily." Col. 1:28, 29. The true minister dares not shrink to declare to his audience in due time and manner the whole counsel of God. There is no truth of the gospel that he should be ashamed of or hesitate to present in all its fullness at the proper time. With genuine thoroughness should he set forth every requirement which the Lord makes of those who would be saved. Repentance and confession, the new birth, or conversion, laying hold of the righteousness of Christ by faith, baptism, obedience to the law, accepting the messages of the spirit of prophecy, returning to the Lord His own in tithes and offerings,— these great privileges as well as requirements should be made so plain that all will understand, and so attractive that all who join themselves to the church will enter whole-heartedly into the joyous, blessed experience which they unfold.
We cannot concede that any minister can become efficient without the greatest thoroughness in every detail of service. We must at the same time, however, recognize the sad fact that a great deal of slack, superficial work is being done in bringing people into the church. Children and youth are being baptized and taken into the church who have never experienced death to sin and the new birth. Men and women are being taken into the church without an intelligent knowledge of what it means to be a Christian; they have only a surface experience in death to sin and the appropriation of Christ's righteousness; they do not understand the real significance of baptism, the great value of the spirit of prophecy to the remnant church, and the principle of stewardship which requires of them tithes and offerings.
Fellow workers, are we not all painfully aware of this lack of thoroughness among us? Are we sure that we are not all more or less at fault in this respect? My own heart promises greater thoroughness in the work of my Master than I have rendered in the past. What is your personal conviction? The crisis upon which we have entered, calls for the greatest possible thoroughness in personal spiritual experience, in preparation for service, and in service rendered. Let us heartily and thoroughly respond.
A. G. Daniells.