Who Should Preach?
By I. H. Evans
Often we hear the questions asked, " Who should preach? " " Shall we set this man to preaching? " Is it well to have a clear understanding as to who should preach?
1. None but consecrated, devout men should enter upon this sacred work. One's willingness to lead a clean, moral life, so that all who know him approve of his conduct, has a bearing on whether or not he should be intrusted with the work of preaching. He must be a man who does not love money, and is free from covetousness; otherwise he will be eager for gain, and will bring reproach upon the cause of God. If he is a covetous man, he will meet many temptations, as did Judas, to betray his Lord. Under stress, or for gain, he may leave his ministry and enter worldly pursuits. No man who is God's own will do this.
No other calling or profession can compare in sacredness with that of the ministry. A lawyer may be learned and eloquent, a doctor may be skilled and efficient; yet they may be profane, intemperate, unclean, and still be leaders in their professions. But a minister cannot be profane, intemperate, or unclean, and command the respect of those who know him. " Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord," is the divine command.
Carlyle said of the minister: "He presides over the worship of the people; is the uniter of them with the Unseen, the Holy. He is the spiritual captain of the people; he guides them heavenward, by wise guidance through this earth and its work. The ideal of him is that he be what we call a voice from the unseen heaven, interpreting even as the prophet did, and in a more familiar manner, unfolding the same to men. He is the prophet shorn of his more awful splendor, burning in mild radiance, as the enlightener of daily life." Only holy men can thus be true preachers.
1. One who would preach must have the gift of teaching and persuading men. If he is only a teacher, the church under his ministry will drift from its moorings, for the soul cannot live on knowledge alone. There must be a spiritual power to persuade, if the preacher is to draw his auditors heavenward. He must not be alone a commander, but a leader as well. Of Christ, Isaiah wrote: " I have given Him for a witness to the people, a leader, and commander to the people." When a true minister ascends the pulpit to preach, he is looked upon as the mouthpiece of Jehovah. His message is from God. His words are the words of a prophet of God, and not the words of an ordinary man. Thus we read, " The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts."
2. The man must feel that he is called of God to speak in the name of Jehovah. He must be conscious that the Unseen is working in him, so that with Paul he can say, " Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel." The preacher must have a message, and he must know that his message is from God. He must be possessed by his message till his heart can hold it no longer. It must come from his lips, not as something learned; but as a burning revelation from heaven.
3. The preacher must be a student. He must read thoughtfully, closely, absorbingly. While receiving his message from God, the minister is not justified in neglecting reading and hard study. God can speak to a student who reads and searches for truth far more fully than to an idler who refuses to do hard work in study. The man who does not love study, seldom long remains convicted of a divine call to preach.
4. The preacher must love the people. He who shuns the common people, demanding all his time for himself, invites failure. Christ and John the Baptist and Paul all loved the people. The greatest study on earth is man. Books are good, yet man is the highest study, next to the Godhead. The successful preacher must mingle with the people, that he may know how to deal with them, and how to be a true shepherd to the flock of God.
5. He must be a man of faith and prayer. He must hold communion with the heavenly spiritual forces. Angels must be his companions. He must have an ear that has been opened to hear the voice of God when He speaks. Communion with God through prayer will give power to the humblest man called to preach. One of the most eloquent talks I ever heard was from the lips of a man who could hardly read. Souls melted and cried aloud under his touching appeal, and three precious young people were born into the kingdom of God in that five-minute talk. Men who have a message should preach.
No Travail — No Souls
By W.W. Fletcher
Spiritual birth, like physical birth, is always accompanied by travail of soul. The " new birth " cannot be brought about except through spiritual anguish and suffering. Our Saviour revealed that suffering and death on His part were necessary antecedents to the springing up of a new life in the hearts of men. To illustrate this fundamental principle, He said, " Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12: 24. The kernel of wheat dies in order that a new plant may spring up bearing " much fruit; " and even the life of the Son of God must be yielded, in order that " He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied " (Isa. 53: 11) through the knowledge that many have become justified thereby.
When the church is " at ease," there will be, no spiritual births in Zion. Such is a perilous situation, and the Lord says, " Woe to them that are at ease in Zion." Amos 6: 1. But " as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." Isa. 66: 8. The experience of Rachel when, in her unbearable disappointment because of her childless state, she exclaimed, " Give me children, or else I die " (Gen. 30: 1), may be taken as representing the barren state of the church; while Jacob, her husband, represents Christ, the bridegroom of the church. When the church so longs to see souls born again that she cries out in anguish to her Lord, " Give me children, or else I die," there will be a response in souls born into the kingdom.
Hezekiah presents a view of the woeful state of the church resting at ease, — desiring to see children born into the kingdom, but unwilling to endure the strain and the responsibility which rest upon her to bring about the spiritual birth. We read: " This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth." Isa. 37: 3.
There is nothing more distressing to the true servant of God than to see people come up to the borders of the kingdom, so to speak, and yet not enter in. To see men convinced of the great truths of the gospel, while yet remaining unmoved in heart and unchanged in life, humbles and grieves the worker for Christ. All ministers and Bible workers have experienced this. Parents realize the bitterness of this experience in their efforts for their children. Fathers and mothers may do their best in training their children,—teach them all truth, combine precept with example,— and the children may mentally assent to it all, and yet not yield the heart to Christ. How powerless parents are to bring about that inward change known as the new birth! How helpless the minister realizes himself to be when confronted by those who acknowledge the truth of his teaching, but in whose lives no regenerating, converting power is witnessed. It is even more distressing to the minister to come in contact with those who have a longing of heart to become Christians, and yet realize that he lacks the power to bring them through the new birth experience into the realm of spiritual life in Christ Jesus; and further to recognize that this lack is due to no fault or intent on God's part, but lies wholly with him. To be in such a situation is to recognize the tragic significance of the statement, " The children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth."
The travail of soul which leads to the new birth involves an earnestness in prayer, a steadfastness of purpose, an undaunted courage, and a faith which knows no defeat. It is an experience of self-sacrifice, of struggle, of solemnity. Concerning the experience of the physical birth, the word of inspiration states: " A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." John 16: 21. So with the spiritual birth. In view of the ordeal through which the church must pass, it is not surprising that though the spirit is willing, the flesh may be weak; but the joy of compensation is ample and complete.
Zion will share in the joy of her Lord.
The apostle Paul shared in this crucial experience of travail of soul, as revealed in his letter to the Galatians, where he says, " My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." Gal. 4: 19. Also to the Corinthians he writes, " Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." 1 Cor. 4: 15. Ministers, pastors, evangelists, are not called to be simply instructors concerning Christ, but as " fathers " who travail in soul until men and women are begotten unto a new life in Christ Jesus. This is the sweetest and the most richly rewarded experience in the life of a worker for God. It is unspeakably greater than any seeming advancement, position of authority, honor, or appearance of ability or success.
The only channel through which the much-needed revival of godliness will come is that of prayer. " A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer." Therefore we are admonished, as ministers, to " give ourselves continually to prayer." Acts 6: 4. " Ye that are Jehovah's remembrancers, take ye no rest, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." Isa. 62: 6, 7.
Shall we not more earnestly heed this admonition, and enter into that travail of soul which must precede and accompany the new birth in the lives of men and women? The time is not far distant when the scene portrayed in " Early Writings," page 288, will be witnessed: " Then Jesus looked upon. His redeemed saints; their countenances were radiant with glory; and as He fixed His loving eyes upon them, He said, with His rich, musical voice, I behold the travail of My soul, and am satisfied.' "
Wahroonga, N. E. W.
Applied Art in Evangelism
By J.L. Butler
Art may be applied to evangelism in at least three effective ways: Its primary value is in advertising; its secondary value is in making the tent or tabernacle itself attractive and dignified; third, it renders a valuable service in illustrating the topics of study. When evangelism lacks these aids, it fails to reach a large class of people; and those who are reached are slow to grasp the message presented.
When art is applied to evangelistic advertising, it may take several forms. The more common form is that of artistic lettering on handbills and in newspaper ads. A knowledge of certain essentials is necessary; otherwise the submitted copy must be left to the hurried efforts of uninterested typesetters. Another form of letter advertising which proves effective is that of blackboard and billboard displays, together with automobile displays. This requires considerable training in the use of the brush, and a study of the various styles of alphabets and color combinations. Blackboard and billboard displays are made more effective by accompanying illustrations, either in sketch form or in finished detail. To make the illustrations artistic requires much practice; to make them appropriate requires much research or originality.
Another form of advertising is that of artistic posters — hand lettered and illustrated. These have been effectively used in post office and bank windows, etc., and at the entrance of the tent. They may call attention to a special lecture, or to the various kinds of lectures in a series; or they may be used to advertise the literature. They are also valuable as motto displays. But the true value of a poster is in its flash effect. One glance should reveal its essential message. This means that open space is as valuable as words. It must say little, and say it well.
Generally speaking, it is a real science to know what to emphasize in advertising, and then to know how to emphasize it in more than one way in an artistic manner. There are so many signs to be read nowadays that few of them are read, except by those who are looking for something special. It is the unusual that catches the attention to-day. But the unusual must not be repulsive; it must be artistic. People may tolerate jazz in music, but they do not like it in art.
Emphasis in advertising is obtained in several ways. The size, boldness, and style of letters are resorted to as one means. Color is another. The effect of " bigness " is another. This is obtained by placing in the display something of a much larger size literally, but drawing it small behind or near the object or words that you wish to have " stand out." The horizon background is a common form. There are many other ways of producing this striking effect.
But art does more than get people out to the meetings; it makes them feel that they are entering a place that is respectable; a place where they will learn something that is worth their time. Applied art makes the tent or tabernacle attractive and dignified inside and out, and attends to the proper arrangements of all the equipment. Such art is an expression of co-operation and unity. It gives a unified, one-plan effect to all the details. The entrance and the platform background harmonize under its skill; the literature counter and the stereopticon booth harmonize and blend with the rostrum design and colors. The choir and instrumental quarters blend with the rostrum in arrangement and adornment. By following this general principle the effect of " oneness " is obtained inside the attention is not distracted to several pieces of furniture, each of which is saying, " I am different; look at me."
The actual size of the rostrum and other pieces of furniture must be governed by the size of the tent or tabernacle. It is best to put plenty of white or light colors into the decoration of the rostrum, to give it a bright, cheery effect. Sufficient and properly arranged electric lights are very essential in lighting the rostrum, the tent, the entrance, and the blackboards. People like a bright, cheery place that has an artistic appearance and does not cause eyestrain from glaring lights.
When art is applied to all these features of evangelistic work, it helps much; but it should not stop here. Art should also help the evangelist to make his study clear and impressive; it should help the medical lecturer and demonstrator; it should help the singing evangelist; and it should assist the Bible worker and the newspaper reporter. There are many ways in which art has been successfully applied to the endeavors of these evangelistic workers.
Some of the detailed means of application have been: blackboard diagrams, blackboard sketches, hand-painted or printed cloth and paper charts, stereopticon illustrations and quotations, motion pictures, enlarged photographs, posters, pictures, and printing cuts. Much might be said about each of these means of applied art; each is a real study by itself. When applying art, it should not be studied simply for art.'s sake, as is too often done, but art should be made the obedient servant of the purpose for which it is applied. And he who is a real master of art in these various departments of service will not destroy its individuality by tolerating shoddy work nor by demanding too much of it. Art is not all, it cannot succeed alone; but it helps it is a valuable assistant in evangelism.
Of course all of us who are in the Lord's work are willing to accept all the assistance we can get; but the great question now is, Are we willing to pay the price that brings the full assistance of applied art in evangelism? By this I do not mean so much the dollars and cents, which are of course indispensable, but rather the painstaking effort that is necessary to become trained to the degree of application of art to evangelism that is effective with the modern public.
San Fernando, Calif.
The Minister's Conduct
By E.K. Slade
The ministry is a holy calling, a sacred and serious work. Levity and foolish talking and jesting have no place in the life of a minister of the gospel, and when carelessly or presumptuously permitted, they bring a discordant note and throw the life out of harmony with the divine ideal.
We are living in a pleasure-loving and pleasure-seeking age. The highest salaried people of the world are those who devote time and talent to amusing the public by mirthful song, speech, and antic. There is even a deplorably prominent tendency to make the preaching of the gospel take on the form of a comedy and the preacher himself appear as a comedian. A minister of a leading denomination, when recently addressing a convention of preachers, condemned in strong terms the course of a preacher " who would court a grin while a soul he sought to win." Surely the tendency toward such preaching should be resisted to the utmost by ministers who are commissioned to convey God's last message of mercy to the world. The fact that congregations are often pleased by such preaching, should serve to startle and alarm the minister, rather than be an incentive to excel as an amusing and entertaining preacher.
Not only should the minister eliminate from his public speaking all levity and foolishness, but he must live above such things in his daily life. It is possible to be pleasant and affable without jesting and joking, to be winning and courteous without being frivolous and clownish. The fruits of the Spirit are not of this nature; nothing with the slightest suggestion of jest or mirth was witnessed in the life of Christ, yet He was courteous, cheerful, winning.
There appears to be a growing tendency on the part of ministers and laymen to express approval of the witty and the laughable in public speaking, which has by no means helped the situation. As ministers of the gospel, in particular, it would seem more proper to indicate strong disapproval of such conduct, rather than to give sanction to it as indicating a pleasing and interesting speaker, when such practice develops a taste for trash instead of a hunger for the bread of life.
Both young and old are heard to say of ministers who will not stoop to this level of providing entertainment, " Oh, I don't care to hear him. He is so tedious and uninteresting! " While the expression, " Oh, isn't it wonderful! " is often heard at the close of a speech made by the minister of the gospel in which a thread of funniness was prominent from start to finish. At the close of a sermon by a young minister at a camp meeting, a brother minister was heard to say, " That was fine! There was just enough Irish wit and spiciness to make it interesting." The " wit and spiciness " referred to could not appropriately be considered indecent in an ordinary public speech, but it was unbecoming and out of harmony with the sacred calling of the ministry, and tended to cater to the popular desire for that which is funny and laughable.
When sermons are preached on the Sabbath day, and in the place set apart for sacred worship, in which bits of humor and touches of mirthfulness are made the prominent features, with the poise and facial expression of the, speaker in keeping with the ludicrous thought, the result defeats the real purpose of the ministry. Notwithstanding the fact that many in the audience seem pleased and are profuse in their praise of such speakers, we would not convey the idea that all our people prefer this type of sermon, for we know there are those who strongly disapprove of the minister's lapsing into the common strain of amusement and entertainment.
There is no defense for the conduct of a minister who resorts to the recital of ludicrous anecdotes, and there is no appropriate occasion for making a joke of courtship and marriage, as is frequently done. I believe that the ministry is somewhat responsible for some of the foolish pranks and practices that attend wedding ceremonies. One leading denomination has made a very drastic ruling in disapproval of all questionable practices which have come about in connection with and immediately following the wedding service. It is time that we as a people, and especially as ministers, decidedly disapprove of the conduct which makes some weddings a shame and a reproach. It is possible for such occasions to be joyful and pleasurable without resorting to the cheap and vulgar practices which have become altogether too common and are often looked upon as perfectly proper.
Counsel has been given us as ministers and people which renders us inexcusable in following a course of conduct in which levity and foolish speaking are approved, either in ourselves or in others. For lack of space, references to pointed statements in the writings of the spirit of prophecy on this subject are given herewith, instead of quoted paragraphs. It is hoped that every reference will be looked up and carefully read in its connection and entirety. Comment upon these inspired statements is unnecessary. As I read such words of counsel, I am made to realize that we as ministers and leaders have too lightly regarded our high calling, and that our failure and sin in this respect has brought reproach upon the cause we love. I feel certain that I voice the sentiment of my brethren in the ministry in saying that we should experience complete deliverance from this insidious foe, the levity which cheapens and weakens our influence and works widespread disaster.
Spirit of Prophecy Compendium
Those who engage in foolishness and jesting deny Christ. " Testimonies," Vol. I, p. 304.
Angels record. Id., Vol. II, p. 180. Bring barrenness of soul. Id., p. 236. Unworthy of the gospel minister.
"Gospel Workers," pp. 131, 132. An indication that Christ is not abiding in heart. " Testimonies," Vol. VI, p. 173.
Seeking approbation of men rather than of God. Id., Vol. I, p. 133. Conscience is asleep. " Testimonies to Ministers," p. 83.
Inappropriate in business meetings. " Gospel Workers," p. 448.
The divine ideal for the minister's conduct set forth. " Testimonies to Ministers," pp. 142, 143.
Counsel is also given concerning certain methods which some are inclined to follow in public work. I quote briefly from a letter written by Mrs. E. G. White to one of our leading ministers a number of years ago, as follows:
"All our preparations for presenting and illustrating the truth must correspond with the solemnity of the message we bear. The Lord never designed the advancement of His work to depend on outward display.. We are to keep as far from the theatrical and the extraordinary as Christ kept in His work. Sensation is not religion, although religion will exert its own pure, sacred, uplifting, sanctifying influence, bringing spiritual life and salvation. . . . The truth that we have to proclaim is the most solemn truth ever intrusted to mortals, and it is to be proclaimed in a way that corresponds to its solemnity and importance. There is to be attached to it no fanciful display. Such display meets the minds of some, but how few are really convicted and converted by a fanciful blending of display with the proclamation of the solemn gospel message for this time. The display counterworks the impression made by the gospel message."
South Lancaster, Mass.