Leading in Service
By W.A. Spicer
The minister who is in close contact with the church members and who is leading them into service, is filling a post second to none in all the cause. This time of the judgment hour is the time of spiritual refreshing foretold, when God was to finish His work in power. Now it is, surely, that Psalms 110:3 applies especially: " Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power."
With the time at hand, and the refreshing from the presence of the Lord making those who are receiving it more willing than ever to serve, it is for us to lead. And here is where we ministers face the most difficult, but the most important task. We know well that it is easier to preach to the people about service than it is to plan and devise and instruct and lead the people in that service. Here is a golden motto on leadership in service set for us in the spirit of prophecy:
" The best help that ministers can give the members of our churches is not sermonizing, but planning work for them. Give each one something to do for others. . . . Especially should those who are newly come to the faith be educated to become laborers together with God."—" Testimonies," Vol. VI, page 49.
Some of us are in general work, here and there continually. For one, I long to sit at the feet of our ministry that is in close contact with the local church, and learn better how to help believers to take up the every-day ways of missionary work. I wonder how some of our ministers in large centers have worked out this suggestion from " Gospel Workers: "
" There should also be in our larger churches special training schools for young men and women, to fit them to become workers for God."— Page 75.
Not for a moment can we contemplate any lessening of effort by our evangelists who have the gift of strong public evangelism; but the great army of laborers among the churches have the equally important and equally fruitful responsibility of leading the believers into action. Moreover, more than ever before, the public evangelist calling new souls to obedience, needs to make it a call also to service, as suggested in the motto quoted, " Especially should those who are newly come to the faith be educated to become laborers together with God." As I survey the experiences of recent years in which we have seen here and there special outpourings of blessing and quick ingathering of souls, it seems generally to have come where new believers, with few advantages of training, have gone out in simple faith to work for others.
May God bless our ministers and workers among the churches and our home missionary and young people's leaders who are working out this commission to lead a third of a million believers into soul-winning action.
Washington, D. C.
Keepers of the Vineyard
By Taylor G. Bunch
"They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept." Cant. 1: 6. This is a statement of solemn significance to the ministers of God. The vineyard is used in Scripture to represent the church, and the individual members of the church are as fruit-bearing vines, requiring to be watered, cultivated, and pruned by the keeper of the vineyard, that they may bear fruit. There is still another sense in which the heart is likened to a vineyard or garden in which seeds of divine truth are sown to spring up and bear fruit to the glory of God, and under this simile the vines or plants of character must be watered by the Holy Spirit and cultivated and nurtured by the divine Husbandman; but the keeper of the heart vineyard is required to cooperate with the divine agencies, by heeding the instruction, " Keep thy heart with all diligence," lest any root of bitterness spring up in the form of noxious weeds which choke the fruit-bearing vines. The vineyard must be kept clean if it is to bear its maximum harvest.
The manner in which the personal vineyard is cultivated is proof whether or not the keeper is qualified to look after the interests of another. No minister is capable of keeping the vineyard of the Lord unless he keeps the vineyard of his own heart. If he does not know the meaning of victory over personal sins, he is not qualified to be intrusted with the larger responsibility of guarding the souls of others. The authoritative statement is made that " the watchmen are responsible for the condition of the people " (" Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 235), and this is a striking commentary on the text of Scripture quoted. Renewed vision, spiritual revival, cleansing from sin, and reformation of life must begin with the keepers of the vineyard. When this takes place, the church will be awakened, its members transformed, and the latter rain will fall in its fullness.
Pentecost came to the apostolic church when the apostles were ready to receive the blessing. The necessary preparation was made in the upper room, where study, prayer, repentance, and confession prevailed. In other words, the revival that brought the early rain, began with the keepers of the vineyard; the apostolic church was spiritual because its leadership was spirit-filled. Though the apostles' teaching was denounced by the Sanhedrin as treason, victory attended them everywhere, because they had learned the secret of victory in their own lives.
David set forth a fundamental essential in the life of a minister for God when he wrote: " Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee." Ps. 51: 12, 13. Isaiah recognized the necessity of a cleansed ministry as a prerequisite to a cleansed church when he said: " Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord; " and Paul writes: " If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work." And the same high standard for the shepherds of the flock, the keepers of the vineyard of the Lord, is set forth in the writings of the spirit of prophecy. (See " Testimonies to Ministers," pp. 260, 261, 440.) Fellow ministers, as keepers of the Lord's vineyard, may it never be our sad experience to confess, . " They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept."
Loma Linda, Calif.
The Practical Side of Our Ministry
By A.N. Allen
If we may judge from the range of subjects dealt with by Inspiration in the Bible and through the spirit of prophecy in the " Testimonies for the Church," it would seem that the divine plan for the minister is that he be more to the people than a preacher of doctrine. Doctrinal truth is of the greatest importance, but it must ever be remembered that the minister's duty also involves the responsibility of being an adviser and guide in material affairs which concern the life of the individual. The need for the minister to combine practical and spiritual instruction has rested upon me with deep conviction for a number of years, and in this connection I wish to refer to a few personal experiences in dealing with practical problems in the life of the church member.
The father of a large family in one of our churches was a workman, but lacked business judgment, and as a consequence the family was ever in dire want. I felt that this brother needed not only to be taught how to pray and to be faithful in his church duties, but he needed good sound business advice, and consequently I took him in hand. I sought to enter into his business life with him, and wisely and carefully to suggest better methods. The effort paid. At the end of two years this man was the owner of a well-paying business, free from debt; his tithes and offerings were multiplied, and two of his daughters, educated in our schools, became church school-teachers.
In one church, where poverty necessitated much charity during the winter months, I found on careful investigation that the majority of the families were running accounts at the stores, and buying all manner of things on the installment plan, which involved the very highest prices. For the help of the situation in this church, a plan was developed for associate cash buying at wholesale prices. In addition to this, the members were encouraged to plant gardens and raise their own vegetables,— a means of economy which had been almost entirely overlooked. Better paying positions for some of the more capable members of the church were secured, and in various other ways the people were encouraged to get something ahead. The result of this practical education was that the Sabbath school offerings in this church showed the highest per capita rate in the conference, the tithes were greatly increased, home conditions improved, and the young people entered our schools.
In another church I found a man who was -always in debt. Careful inquiry revealed the cause of his weakness in this respect, and when the situation was explained to him, he gladly co-operated, and soon the difficulty was permanently remedied. Later this man and his wife, by their own industry, were able to attend one of our schools, and now occupy places of responsibility in the Lord's cause.
In one Seventh-day Adventist home conditions were far from promising.
Things were in a shiftless, run-down condition. It was found that the wife and mother had for years been afflicted with a physical malady which, under proper medical care, was entirely relieved, and as a result the woman became a real home-maker, which had been impossible during her sickness.
Other cases might be referred to, but these are typical of conditions which exist to a very large extent, and which we, as ministers, cannot ignore as true shepherds of the- flock, for we are told through the spirit of prophecy that " every man who bears the message of truth to our churches must do his duty by warning, educating, rebuking."
It is quite probable that in every Seventh-day Adventist church there are men who could greatly increase their earning power if encouraged to attend a night school and either learn a trade or become more proficient in the line followed. To many church members, both men and women, it would be an advantage to take a Fireside Correspondence course, and thereby qualify for a definite line of service. The result of giving our people such practical help would be seen in a higher standard in home and church life, full enrollment in our church schools, and a great increase in tithes and offerings.
Santa Leopoldina, Goyaz, Brazil.
The Everlasting Gospel in " Present Truth " Setting
BY H. S. Prenier
The everlasting gospel is like a precious jewel which becomes an heirloom passed down from generation to generation. The setting of the ancient jewel may be changed, but the gem remains the same. Just so, the everlasting gospel remains unchanged, but during succeeding ages its presentation varies according to the development of the plan of salvation, which is governed by the prophetic timepiece in the written word.
The " present truth " phase of the everlasting gospel, which, at the specified time, called into existence a people of understanding mind and willing heart for its proclamation, is set forth in Revelation 14:6, 7. In this setting the everlasting gospel centers in Christ as high priest in the most holy place in heaven. From this central theme of the gospel emanates the " present truth " concerning the sanctuary, the final atonement, the judgment hour, the law of Jehovah, the Sabbath as the seal of creative power, the second advent of the world's Redeemer, and synchronous events. All these teachings which Seventh-day Adventists proclaim are based upon the work of Christ at this present hour of earth's history; and any other gospel presentation than this, to-day, is not the genuine jewel in " present truth " setting.
We have reached the ultimate in the gospel message. Our High Priest is about to finish His work in the heavenly sanctuary, and the door of mercy will close forever. The " mystery of God " is about to be finished. All past and present gospel presentation clusters around Christ,— His atonement for man on Calvary, His intercession for man as high priest in the heavenly sanctuary, and as Redeemer and King when He returns for His bride, the church. The precious jewel of the everlasting gospel gleams most brilliantly in its timely setting, and to-day its varicolored facets reveal a personal Saviour who is officiating in man's behalf in the heavenly sanctuary, and who, by His representative, the Holy Spirit, takes up His abode in the hearts of His children on the earth, in fulfillment of His promise, " Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
Seventh-day Adventists should give a new and mighty note to the testimony of the apostle Paul, which meant so much to him and should mean still more to us, " I am not ashamed of the gospel, of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
College View, Nebr.
Are not the proclaimers of the judgment hour in honor bound to present with its declaration the full provision of God for successfully passing the bar? No mere enunciation of the unalterable standard, however vivid and eloquent, will suffice. Such brings but mocking despair. The Advocate who never loses a case, and the way of complete justification must be presented, or we are recreant to our plainest duty.
For Better Workmen
A Curious Habit
While in a meeting the other day, an important question was under consideration, which was to be decided by vote, and in presenting the matter for action the leader of the meeting said: "Let every one who favors this plan stand on their feet." This was a double surprise to me. In the first place, a person cannot very well stand any other way than on his feet; and in the second place, when the leader asked every one to stand on their [other people's] feet, I recalled an experience of having my feet trampled on accidentally, and concluded that with a deliberate command by the leader for such conduct, I would better find a way to get out of the room.
How very common the error, when talking about one person or thing, to refer immediately to the subject with their or they, as if a host had been mentioned. One can scarcely mingle with a group of people for even ten minutes without hearing such statements as: " Each one brought their own lunch." " Everybody likes their own way." " Not a man escaped getting their feet wet." " Many a sinner found their Saviour that night." " No one should go unless they are invited." " Let everybody bring their Bible." " If anybody wants to, they may leave their umbrella here." Every Christian should love their neighbor as their-self." " Let each one take their turn." " Every one does as they please here." " Neither father nor uncle could give up their business." " Every worker has their faults." " Will either of you gentlemen lend me your umbrella? " " Will one of you gentlemen lend me their pencil? "
This curious faulty habit of speech is easy to correct, but it is very common and very persistent. See how easily the correct form of expression falls into line when you consider only the one small point of making the numbers agree:
Let every one who favors [or, all who favor] this plan, stand.
Each brought his own lunch.
Everybody likes his own way.
Not a man escaped getting his feet wet.
Many a sinner found his Saviour that night.
No one should go unless he is invited. Let everybody bring his. Bible.
If anybody wants to, he may leave
his umbrella here.
Every Christian should love his neighbor as himself.
Let each take his turn.
Every one does as he pleases here. Neither father nor uncle could give up his business.
Every worker has his faults.
Will either of you gentlemen lend me his umbrella?
Will one of you gentlemen lend me his pencil?