By C.B. Haynes
There was a time when Jesus was in need of helpers, and it is interesting to note how He obtained them. He went in search of them, He found them, He showed them the fields white for harvest. Then He trained these chosen helpers by a process which enabled them to discover their own powers in leadership. Jesus assigned to each helper a definite task, and patiently bore with his mistakes, pointing out the better way. He saw the weakness of Peter, and He also saw his strength. He knew the doubting nature of Thomas, yet recognized his loyalty.
We are to follow the Master's example in the important work of training men for responsible service in His cause. There are many individuals in our churches, weaker than Peter and more doubting than Thomas, who may be trained for successful leadership if we are willing to bear patiently with them, but who will be lost to God's service if unseeing eyes and unfriendly hearts deal with them roughly and unsympathetically. Most men need to be made strong, rather than set straight. Place responsibility upon men. Assign them definite tasks. It is surprising how leadership will develop under responsibility. Let us not fear to incur some risks with prospective workers. Theory cannot be turned into practice without some form of trial. In supplying the church with leaders, men must be tried; and the opportunity to become a leader should be given every follower of Christ. The way in which he relates himself to such opportunity, demonstrates to what extent latent powers of leadership can be awakened.
We must train the officers and leaders in our churches to meet their duties and responsibilities. When once we place responsibility upon them, let us see to it that we do not reassume the responsibility. Make the leaders fight their own battles. Let us have confidence in them, and make them understand that we have confidence in them. We must never go over their heads to adjust matters in the field which has been placed in their charge. Let us learn to say " we " instead of " I," and let the operation of the church become " our " task rather than " my " task. Let it be " our " field instead of " my " field. If the work succeeds, let it be " our " success instead of " my " success. If it fails, let it be " our " failure, rather than " your " failure. The stability of our work depends upon due recognition and regard being given to the responsibility of officers and leaders.
Every church is called to become a training school of Christian leaders, and it should ever be remembered that these leaders will bless the world or damage souls according to the training they receive. The training of efficient leaders is our holiest and most profitable task.
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Preaching to Bring Conviction
By J.C. Raft
Concerning Paul and Barnabas we read: " It came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed." Acts 14:1. Wherever these apostolic preachers went, a revival took place. It was not their purpose simply to attract attention and to get a large crowd of people to listen to what they had to say. Paul and Barnabas knew that they had been called of God, and recognized that they were chosen and ordained by the Holy Spirit for preaching the gospel. Possessed by a living faith in the message which they had been commissioned to bear, with unwavering confidence in the word of the Lord and His promises, and clothed with power from on high, they went forth, and " so spake, that a great multitude . . . believed."
Since the days of Paul there has never lived an evangelist of such power in winning souls, and Inspiration has recorded the history pf the apostle's life and his methods as an example to preachers in all ages. Paul preached " not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." His method was " not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." He possessed the gift, the ability, and the power to preach in such a manner that " a. great multitude . . . believed."
God has called the ministry of the advent movement to proclaim the everlasting gospel in its last phase, to meet the needs of a perishing world. This gospel is to be proclaimed in such a way as not only to attract the attention of the masses in " every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people," but to bring conviction to the heart of the individual, which will lead to personal belief in and adjustment of life's program to the demands and provisions of that gospel.
The work of the evangelist is to win souls for Christ, and for this divine power is needed. It is not sufficient for a minister of the gospel to be able to draw large audiences, and to win admiration because of his pleasing oratorical ability. These qualifications are necessary, and were prime factors in the experiences of Paul and Barnabas, but they became effective only when under absolute control of the Holy Spirit, who is the one who convicts of sin, and whose power alone will enable the evangelist so to speak that a great multitude will believe and turn to the Lord. Through sincere, earnest prayer, through the diligent searching of the Scriptures and the instruction of the spirit of prophecy, and by complete surrender and consecration of the life to God, will it be possible for our preaching to bring conviction of heart and lead to personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. " The presence of the Spirit with God's workers, will give the proclamation of truth a power that not all the honor or glory of the world could give."
Through Nature to Honest HeartsBy George McCready Price
The world has greatly changed during the last twenty-five years. The elaborate study of Hebrew and Greek, which used to constitute a large portion of ministerial training, has passed. But a true knowledge of nature in all its phases has become the means of securing the attention of the people everywhere. Especially is this the case in gaining the attention of intelligent, educated folk; and thus is afforded a successful method for presenting the truth for this time to this class of people for whom we are doing little.
In view of the instruction which should guide us in all our ministerial training, we may well ask, Why has this true-knowledge-of-nature phase of ministerial education been so shamefully neglected? A few of the impressive statements found in " Counsels to Teachers " may appropriately be repeated in this connection:
" While the Bible should hold the first place in the education of children and youth, the book of nature is next in importance."— Page 185.
" A knowledge of true science is power; and it is the purpose of God that this knowledge shall be taught in our schools as a preparation for the work that is to precede the closing scenes of this earth's history."— /d., page 19.
Now I grant that Mrs. White often uses the word " science " in the sense of all knowledge outside the Bible, but it seems self-evident that in this passage she means what we commonly call " natural science," or knowledge of God's created works.
"In the natural world, God has plac. 1 in the hands of the children of men the key to unlock the treasure house of His word."—Id., p. 187.
"The whole natural world is designed to be an interpreter of the things of God."—Id., p. 186.
" The most effective way to teach the heathen who know not God, is through His works. In this way, far more readily than by any other method, they can be made to realize the difference between their idols, the works of their own hands, and the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth.... There is a simplicity and purity in these lessons direct from nature that makes them of the highest value to others besides the heathen."— Id., p. 186.
I should like to emphasize this last sentence. It is telling us how to deal with " others besides the heathen." This would certainly include the multitudes who are forgetting God that we find in all our large cities of to-day. And I would have you note that these lessons are to be "direct from nature." This certainly means an appeal to facts, objective facts, which are termed scientific facts from the world around us. And all these facts are to be used as " the key to unlock the treasure house of His word." It is in this way that our ministers and other workers will be able to impart a knowledge of that "true science" which is said to be "power." But before they can impart they must receive; and " it is the purpose of God that this knowledge shall be taught in our schools as a preparation for the work that is to precede the closing scenes of this earth's history."
Berrien Springs, Mich.
Balanced Lives Demanded
By O. E. Wood
When we stop to think about it, we are forced to admit that human character is not only versatile, but that we all are, at least a little, out of balance. This unbalanced state may not be so apparent to the individual as to his associates, but it is nevertheless true. We are strong on some points of character, and weak on others. A worker with determination to make progress in achievement, may, because of the moderation of others, become unbalanced by the development of an impatient disposition; and the man who never becomes impatient may be overbalanced on the side of taking things easy, when he should have balanced strength for aggressive work.
Seventh-day Adventists are commissioned to bear a most solemn message to the world, and God expects His workmen to obtain that balance of character which He alone can impart, and which must be obtained in order to be successful in His service. The minister who proclaims a destiny-sealing message from the desk, and when out of the desk engages in frivolous conversation and unbecoming conduct, is not well balanced in his character, and his pitiful condition is apparent to the observer. Untidiness in personal habits, or alternate periods of elation and dejection in mental attitude, are also indications of lack of proper balance. Many other such unmistakable signs might be mentioned.
A personal reform, a careful and delicate balancing of character, is called for, lest in that rapidly approaching day we be weighed in the balance of God and found wanting. The timely messages from the Lord to help us develop character which will stand the test, should not be overlooked. The following brief quotations are designed to open up the study of character development in a more comprehensive manner:
" We have varied minds; some are strong upon certain points, and very weak upon others. These deficiencies, so apparent, need not and should not exist. If those who possess them would strengthen the weak points in their character by cultivation and exercise, they would become strong."—"Testimonies," Vol. III, p. 33.
" A noble, all-round character is not inherited. It does not come to us by accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We shall have to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected."—" Christ's Object Lessons," p. 331.
" It is necessary for you to watch for the weak points in your character, to restrain wrong tendencies, and to strengthen and develop noble faculties that have not been properly exercised. The world will never know the work secretly going on between the soul and God, nor the inward bitterness of spirit, the self-loathing, and the constant efforts to control self; but many of the world will be able to appreciate the result of these efforts. They will see Christ revealed in your daily life. You will be a living epistle, known and read of all men, and will possess a symmetrical character, nobly developed."—" Testimonies," Vol. IV, p. 376.