The Bible worker finds that the precious souls with whom she labors differ widely in disposition, habit, and education, and that no two human experiences are alike in every particular. Starting from the same premise, people arrive at different conclusions; the duty one finds to be a great trial, another finds delight in performing. Since the problems are as numerous and varied as the dispositions with which she has to deal, let us consider the ultimate end of all her problems, — bringing the individual up to the clear line of decision, and then one step farther, which carries across the line.
If we ever keep in mind that in the matter of decision it is the Holy Spirit that leads across the line, and not the human instrument, we shall seek to keep self out of sight and let the Lord guide. Our readers may be led to give assent to the truth which we teach, but it is the Spirit of God which brings them to decision. It is in this way that we become " workers together with Him."
How clear and how assuring is the instruction imparted to workers through the Spirit of prophecy: " I saw that the mere argument of the truth will not move souls to take a stand with the remnant; for the truth is unpopular. The servants of God must have the truth in the soul. Said the angel, They must get it warm from glory, carry it in their bosoms, and pour it out in the warmth and earnestness of the soul to those that hear.' A few that are conscientious are ready to decide from the weight of evidence; but it is impossible to move many with a mere theory of the truth. There must be a power to attend the truth, a living testimony to move them."—" Testimonies," Vol. 1, p. 113. Herein lies the secret of success in bringing souls to decision.
Guiding principles in dealing with souls on the way to the point of decision, may be briefly enumerated, as follows:
I. "Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord." 1 Peter 3: 15, A. R. V.
2. Make each study clear and convincing. In order to do this, we must never attempt to conduct a study on any subject which is not perfectly clear to our own mind and heart.
3. Magnify Christ and His word. We should avoid giving the impression that we are teaching something newly originated. Truth is eternal. Clearer light shining on truth reveals new gems of beauty, but it is the revealing which is new, and not the truth itself. Although individuals are prone to regard anything which differs from their established belief as new-fangled ideas, their attitude will change when they come to realize that we are teaching the words of Christ, and setting forth His doctrine, rather than being teachers of Seventh-day Adventist views.
4. Watch for opportunity to secure assent to truth. Great advantage results from securing the reader's assent to each point of truth presented, right from the very start. The prophecy of Daniel 2 is a familiar starting point, for it awakens interest in the Bible, establishes faith in the authenticity of the Bible, and clearly portrays the truth of the soon coming of the Lord. Even in this study, dealing with the rise and fall of earthly kingdoms, there is opportunity to establish the reader in the path of acknowledgment and assent, which leads toward the goal of final decision in favor of all God's truth. For example, we observe that our reader is impressed by the solemn truth that we are living in the very " toenails " of time, in the days when the God of heaven will establish His everlasting kingdom, and we may appropriately ask, " I want to be a citizen of that kingdom, don't you?" Of course there is always favorable assent. " Then let us take out our naturalization papers and make our citizenship sure," explaining just what this involves in personal relationship of the soul with God, and close the study by a prayer of consecration for the establishment of God's kingdom in the heart just now, as a pledge of the inheritance which is offered.
5. Make frequent personal appeals for surrender to Christ. Every Bible study must make Christ the center and circumference of all truth, and hence always affords opportunity to acquaint the individual soul with Christ. " Christ is the center of all true doctrine." Bare doctrine without the living Christ is not true doctrine. Let us ever keep uppermost in mind the following instruction:
" We are not to make less prominent the special truths that have separated us from the world and made us what we are, for they are fraught with eternal interests. God has given us light in regard to the things that are now taking place, and with pen and voice we are to proclaim the truth to the world. But it is the life of Christ in the soul, it is the active principle of love imparted by the Holy Spirit, that alone will make our words fruitful. The love of Christ is the force and power of every message for God that ever fell from human lips."— "Gospel Workers," p. 288.
A Bible worker relates a personal experience as follows:
" A very worldly young woman was invited by one of my readers to be present at the time of our Bible study, and for her special benefit I was asked to repeat the study on Daniel 2. When it came the turn of this young woman to read the Scripture text, she was assigned the thirteenth and fourteenth verses. When she had read them, she looked up at me in expectancy for some explanation, and just then I felt impressed to say, ' You see, Daniel had a living Christian experience; he knew the Lord in a very real and personal way; and that is why he was able to meet Arioch, the captain of King Nebuchadnezzar's guard, with such confidence in face of the decree of death. David also, in earlier days, had the same personal Christian experience, and the same God who was with him when he slew the lion and the bear was also with him when he slew the giant Goliath. These Bible characters did not simply know about God, and believe there was a God, and remember to call on Him for help in time of need; but God was a constant abiding reality in their lives, and enabled them to say and to do just the right thing.
" ' Dear friends, we must have just such an experience in order to meet successfully the crises in life. If we do not today realize that we have this living Christian experience, we may enter into its privileges just now.' One of the ladies said, ' I wish I did have such an experience,' and it was apparent that both were under conviction of the Spirit of God. Needless to say that the study of Daniel 2 went no farther that day. Nebuchadnezzar and his dream were forgotten in the present need of help from God, and on our knees we sought and obtained a personal relationship with the Christ who gave the great prophetic dream and its interpretation as a lamp in a dark place to guide His children home."
6. Emphasize that a definite message involves decision which means life or death. If the third angel's message means just that to us, we shall be better able to make its meaning clear and definite to others. Present a clear picture of the joy or the sorrow of the consequences of decision. Use concrete illustrations. To tell the reader that " we have a wonderful truth," is too general. Step by step lead him to see just how wonderful the divine message to a lost world really is. To use a homely illustration: The salesman for a brand of soap makes his customer see that his soap is good soap, real soap; soap that cleans and purifies. He demonstrates its effectiveness. So with the teacher of truth. Conviction must attend the words, so that people are convinced that the Saviour is a real Saviour, that He does actually cleanse and make pure from the sinful life.
7. Pray, and enlist others to pray for your readers. " Multitudes in the valley of decision " are brought " over the line " by prayer, and we are instructed so to do: " Solicit prayer for the souls for whom you labor; present them before the church as subjects for their supplication. It will be just what the members of the church need, to have their minds called from their petty difficulties, to feel a great burden, a personal interest, for a soul that is ready to perish. Select another and still another soul, daily seeking guidance from God, laying everything before Him in earnest prayer, and working in divine wisdom. As you do this, God will give you the Holy Spirit to convict and convert the soul."—"Testimonies," Vol. VI, pp. 80, 81.
If we follow the method of the Master Teacher, we find that our allotted task is threefold: First, to bring people to Christ by conversion; second, to build them up in Christian character; and third, to train them for Christian service. Let us ever " be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
Kingston, N. Y.