It is while with the inquirer in " the valley of decision " that the Bible worker senses, perhaps most keenly, the solemn duty and responsibility resting upon her. The individual to whom God's message of truth is brought in this personal manner, stands in a different relationship to God than at any previous time in his life, and there comes the psychological moment when decision involving eternal consequences must be made.
Should the Bible worker at such a time be indifferent to the solemn opportunity, or lack spiritual discernment for guiding the soul through the struggle with the powers of darkness in combating the doubts and fears which loom up before the entrance to the path of obedience, or if in her own personal experience she has become severed from the Source of power which draws the soul by the cords of love, what excuse can be offered in the day of final reward for the souls which are lost through such unpardonable neglect?
As we look into the faces of the men and women studying the word of God with us, there should arise in our own hearts that same yearning for souls which the Saviour revealed in dealing with the woman of Samaria, when He left His own temporal needs for the sake of bringing that soul to the momentous decision.
The method of personal labor employed by Philip the evangelist in dealing with the Ethiopian is particularly suggestive for bringing the individual to and safely through the deciding point. This method yields to brief analysis, as follows:
1. Philip was so fully connected with God that the Holy Spirit could direct him to a soul seeking for truth.
2. He hastened to the spot where the man was struggling.
3. He joined himself to the struggling man.
4. He put a personal question to the man, thus awakening the desire for Bible study.
5. He had the man read the word of God for himself, whereby is recognized the principle that there is power in the word. 1 Peter 1: 23.
6. He began at the very scripture which the man was reading, and from that point of special interest " preached unto him Jesus." Philip knew that Jesus had said, " I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." John 12: 32.
7. He Instructed the man so fully in this brief Bible study as to bring him to immediate decision. " See, here is water," said the eunuch, " what doth hinder me to be baptized? "
Philip's teaching, however clear, forceful, and convincing, would have been in vain If it had not led the inquirer to take the deciding step which brought him within the fold of the church of Christ. And here we have set forth the essential requisite for baptism and church membership. In response to the eunuch's question, Philip answered: "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest " be baptized. And the man readily replied, " I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Only on the assurance of genuine heart belief in the Son of God would Philip baptize the eunuch.
Philip knew from personal experience just what it means to believe in Christ, and it was this living power in his life and teaching which led to the ready decision by the one taught. Is it not true that if we, as Bible teachers, working under the direction of the Spirit to-day, actually believe with all our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God, and that by His life we are saved; that it is His message of salvation which is now in the balance of decision; and if we would seek to lead our readers to the same personal belief, our difficulties would be greatly lessened.
It is lack of belief in God that causes many to put off making their decision for truth; and the reason why we so often fail in bringing people to a decision, is because we do not possess the power of decision ourselves, or practice it In our daily life.
There are certain studies which I have found to be effectual in bringing people to the deciding point. One of these studies is based on Luke 14: 16-20, the theme being " The Last Call ? to the Supper." The excuses which are mentioned in this parable as put forth by those who are unwilling to obey God, readily yield to personal application to the individuals with whom I am studying; and I endeavor, by the Lord's help, to show that there is no excuse of adequate merit to release them from obeying the clarion call of God at this hour.
For another study I deal with the question, " Is God particular?" and call attention to Genesis 22:1-3, where we find the record of Abraham's quick response to the command of God. I explain how this old man rose up early in the morning to perform the task which God had required of him,— the most severe test of faith which could be brought to any parent's heart, the sacrifice of an only son. Abraham had learned by experience that delays are dangerous, as they give the enemy an opportunity to sow seeds of doubt which so quickly yield a fatal harvest. From this point I lead to the experience of Balaam, recorded in Numbers 22: 8, 9, and explain that delay on Salaam's part resulted in his losing eternal life.
" The Elijah Message " is another study which the Lord has blessed, as I have given it with the object of bringing the individual to a decision. The closing text in this study is 1 Kings 18: 21, which is a direct appeal from the God of heaven to decide either for or against Him. Improving this as the psychological moment, I endeavor to draw from the reader a response as to what his decision is. I then have a season of prayer, and ask God to enable the individual to be true to the vow he has made. In connection with this study, I dwell at length on what it means to step out by faith and take God at His word, and often refer to my own personal experience, and tell what faith in God and His promises has wrought for me.
It is true that not all who hear the message will make the right decision. But although this is a bitter disappointment, there is left on record for our encouragement the experience of Christ in dealing with the rich young ruler. All the persuasions of Christ did not bring that hard, proud heart to the place where he was willing to give up the world and " come, and follow " the divine Teacher in His life of self-denial and service.
We also have the experience of Nicodemus as an example of favorable opinion of the truth, accompanied by prolonged procrastination. Apparently that interview by night, in which the Saviour taught the wondrous mystery of the new birth, failed to bring Nicodemus to a decision; and we find that after the lapse of three years Nicodemus was still unwilling to identify himself with Jesus. Yet in that tragic hour of earth's history, when the Saviour's pierced body was laid in the tomb, we find in Nicodemus the unfearing manifestation of devotion to the greatest Teacher the world has ever known, revealing that the words of truth uttered on that memorable night had not been fruitless.
There is a statement found in " The Great Controversy " which should be cherished by every Bible teacher. It is found on page 612, and reads as follows:
" The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. . . . Many whose minds were imnressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. . . . The honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord's side."