I am convinced that our greater success in the ministry is dependent upon our learning to rely upon the promised power disclosed in these words: "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zech. 4:6. Every minister knows and believes this text. We all know in theory the truth of what the Saviour said, "Without Me ye can do nothing." Manifestly our need is to knOw how to be fully surrendered to Him, and be made fully available for His use. This knowledge must come through much earnest prayer and whole-hearted surrender. It is not our talent and ability, our pleasing personality, or our methods that, we are to bring to Him; but we must bring ourselves. The Lord is not to use our equipment and our methods, but us. It is we that need to be surrendered to Him in order to be instruments used by this promised power.
"It is not great and learned men that the ministry needs; it is not eloquent sermonizers. God calls for men who will give themselves to Him to be imbued with His Spirit."—"Testimonies," Vol. VI, pp. 411, 412.
We all find it difficult to realize that while God, in the working out of His great plan of redemption, depends upon men, He never depends upon their human acquirements. It is hard to grasp the simplicity of it. We must remember, however, that though we are to be childlike in trust, and faith, we are not to conclude that our work is to be brought to a low level. God calls for men who will give themselves to Him. They are to become His men, His instrumentalities. Such men will implicitly trust Him and rely upon His power. This does not mean that we are never to have plans or make any effort to improve our talents and increase our ability; but it is certain that we are to become His, and the power by which we succeed in our ministry must be His.
We are constantly subjected to the temptation to appeal to the human heart, and to respond to the call of our human nature for that which pleases and entertains and satisfies the human. We seek to get the ears of men and to awaken their interest by resorting to ways and methods with which the Holy Spirit will not be associated, and unwittingly our faith is more in what we are doing and the way we are doing it than in this promised power.
J. E. Conant, dealing with this feature of the ministry, has these significant words to say:
"We play up the things that are an appeal to the natural man. We bait the lost with fine music, beautiful architecture, splendid sociability, sensational topics, racy discussions of current events, and even moving pictures; and the result is that when they do come, they take one sniff at our bait and say, 'Cheap!' and then go straight back to the world, where they can get what they call the 'real thing.'
"Even when a great evangelistic effort is being made, most of the Lord's people resort to an appeal to the natural man to get the lost to the meeting, by emphasizing the crowds, the great singing, the spectacular preaching, and other natural attractions; and many an evangelist helps it along by his antics in the pulpit."
Is it not true that we often do the very things revealed in the foregoing paragraphs? It is the human appeal. Reliance upon these things pleases and satisfies human nature. But God dr"es not provide power to work in such ways. He wants men whom He can use; He wants a message, methods, and music in all our public efforts that He can use, not to appeal to human tastes and perverted natures, but by the power of the Holy Spirit to awaken in the hearts of men a desire for Him and His salvation.
And He has promised limitless power to the man who knows how to put aside self and selfish methods and plans. Power is promised to the man who will make room for the working of the Holy Spirit. These words are significant on this point:
"There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon His heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God."—"Testimonies," Vol. VIII, p. 19.
While we must never ignore the importance of education and the value of all that pertains to a proper preparation, yet the one constant and outstanding need of our ministry today, and that upon which our efficiency depends more than anything else, is a full and complete surrender to God. We are accustomed to think and speak of it as a simple thing; in reality it is one of the most stupendous facts of human experience. With such surrender there will be no selfishness left in the life to hinder, no human ways and plans to interfere with and prevent the working of the Holy Spirit. That all-sufficiency of which we are assured will be provided when we as ministers learn how to be wholehearted in our surrender, in our trust.
The provision that God has made for us in the ministry is again mentioned in these words:
"God has provided divine assistance for all the emergencies to which our human resources are unequal. He gives the Holy Spirit to help in every strait, to strengthen our hope and assurance, to illuminate our minds and purify our hearts. He means that sufficient facilities shall be provided for the working out of His plans."—"Testimonies," Vol. VI, p. 415.
"God is able and willing to bestow upon His servants all the strength they need. He will more than fulfill the highest expectations of those who put their trust in Him." I.d.Vol. VIII, p. 11.
South Lancaster, Mass.