A study of evangelistic methods is helpful and is bound to strengthen any man's work. But what we ourselves are, is really more important than any methods we use. A statement from the pen of Mrs. E. G. White, in the Review and Herald of February 28, 1899, contains a mighty challenge to the ministry of this denomination: "There would be a hundredfold more conversions than the records show today if God's workmen were what they should be. . . . A large share of the shallowness of the work is the result of the shallowness of the workers." A statement like that really drives me to my knees, and I tremblingly inquire, "Lord, am I the, kind of worker I ought to be?"
There are two aspects to a soul winner's life. There is the manward aspect and there is the Godward aspect. There are certain qualifications that a soul winner must possess or have in his relations to God, and there are certain qualifications that he very much needs to possess in his relations with his fellow men. Godward, he should possess seven qualifications in particular: (1) holiness of character, (2) full surrender, (3) vital spiritual experience, (4) daily consecration, (5) humility, (6) living faith, (7) unction of the Holy Spirit. Let us consider each briefly.
1. Holiness of Character.—We are told in 2 Timothy 2:21 that "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." That means that if I am going to be a vessel God can use, I must be purged from sin; my character must be holy. And Leviticus 10:3 says God will be satisfied in those who draw nigh unto Him.
2. Fully Surrender.—There is a citation from a book called "Pastoral and Personal Evangelism" that has greatly helped me:
"I know of no man who has been anointed to preach for God who has not walked in a path of toil and self-denial hot enough to blister his feet. The price of great victories is great surrender—surrender of ease, of natural inclination, of everything that interferes with the one great thing we do. Men do not become saints in their sleep. Pastors do not witness great revivals by simply wishing for them. The only royal road is the one which bears the mark of a pierced foot. The light which lights the world is a burning as well as a shining one. As the oil wastes, the flame expires. It is worthwhile to be consumed with the ardor of our devotion if only we may light the world."—Page 29.
When Moody made his first trip across the Atlantic, Mr, Varley said to him, "Moody, God is waiting to show the world what He can do through one man who is fully surrendered to Him." We are told that Macey leaped to his feet and said, "By the grace of God I will be that man." And surely God wonderfully used him as a mighty thunderbolt against sin, to bring men to Jesus' feet,
3. Spiritual Experience.—Christ must be in my heart before I can ever lead anybody else to Him. I cannot even speak the language that will bring a soul to Him unless He is in my heart. The nearer I live to Him, the closer I can get to my fellow men spiritually. You remember David's experience in the fifty-first psalm: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." "Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me." "Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee." In these days when so many people have a form of godliness without the power, God's ministers must be thoroughly converted men who can teach others how to give their hearts to Jesus.
4. Daily Consecration provides a new in-filling of power from God which is very necessary for the soul winner to have every day as he goes out.
5. Humility.—Every worker for God needs to be humble. He needs the humility that God gives. We are told in that stirring citation from "The Desire of Ages:" "There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the work of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God."—Page 250.
6. Living Faith.—A soul winner must have a living faith. He must know how to lay hold on the promises of God and see them fulfilled. He must have faith like that woman who had an incurable disease—a living faith by which he can reach out and touch Jesus and draw from Him the power he needs. It is possible for ministers today to have the success the apostles did. The servant of the Lord says:
"They expect success, and think that they must have the same order of success as did the apostles on the day of Pentecost. This success they will have when they go through the experience of humble, self-denying sacrifice as did the apostles. When they present as earnest supplications from broken, contrite, believing hearts as did the apostles, then the same proportion of success will attend their labors."—"Testimonies to Ministers," p. 207.
7. Unction of the Holy Spirit.—The Holy Spirit furnishes the power to lead men to God. Sometimes we are prone to forget this. When an evangelist goes to a home for a personal visit, he sometimes thinks he says something to bring a person to a decision, but the Holy Spirit alone can produce the decision. We must have the unction of the Spirit, that the Spirit can use us to move hearts to God. An evangelist must pray while he preaches. When you are making that call for people to put up their hands or come forward, are you praying to God to move the hearts of the people? Christ tells us that when the Holy Spirit comes, we will have the needed power.
It is well for each one to check up on himself as a soul winner and ask: Do I possess holiness of character ? Am I fully surrendered? Do I have a vital spiritual experience? Do I make a daily consecration? Am I truly humble? Do I possess a living faith that will draw others to Jesus? Do I have the unction of the Spirit?
Soul-Winning Relation to Man
Coming now to the manward aspect, there are seven qualities that we especially need to possess: (1) knowledge, (2) sincerity, (3) earnestness, (4) love, (5) tenderness, (6) tact, and (7) adaptability.
1. Knowldge.—A worker must know the truth. He must know whereof he speaks. That is. one of the "whys" for this graduate school and theological seminary. We must be mighty in the Scriptures, like the men of old. A preacher cannot always carry notes. It is very essential for you to know the Bible. The Holy Spirit will help you to remember the texts you need in order to turn minds in the right direction at the crucial moment. But the Holy Spirit cannot bring to our remembrance texts that we have never learned and mastered. We must know them for ourselves.
2. Sincerity.—A man must live the truth he preaches to others. If he does not, he is only a parrot or a robot. Of Jesus it was said, "Never man spake like this Man." And why? Because never man lived like that Man. We are told in the "Testimonies" (Vol. IV, p. 402) that when our works correspond with our profession, very much more will be accomplished than is being done now. We must believe with all our hearts what we teach to others. If a man doubts that Jesus Christ is soon coming, that neutralizes his power to move men to prepare for it. If he doubts that the judgment was set in heaven in 1844, he cannot effectively preach, "Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come."
3. Earnestness.—A soul winner must be in earnest. Such a man will not make trifling remarks and relate jokes in the pulpit. I have observed, too, that even though some men may be lacking in other things, if they are deeply in earnest, they do win souls.
4. Love.—An evangelist must be a lover of men. Look at Paul. In Romans 9:3-5 he says he could even wish himself to be accursed and lost from Christ just to win his own brethren. That is the love it takes to win souls. In "Acts of the Apostles," page 55o, we read: "Those who have never experienced the tender, winning love of Christ cannot lead others to the fountain of life."
5. Tenderness.--A soul Winner must deal with people tenderly. He needs a tender heart, and if he has the Holy Spirit, he will have a tender heart. Paul says in Acts 20:31 that for three years he "ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." We have the promise in Psalms 126:5: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."
6. Tact.—"He that winneth souls is wise." It takes tact to know just how far to go. In some cases, young men I have had with me go too far. They unduly press a soul for a decision. Of course I would rather have a young man who does that than have one who is not in earnest. But it does take great tact to know just how far to go in the matter of persuasion. It is a most delicate work to deal with people's souls, and it takes tact and discrimination.
7. Adaptability.—A soul winner must adapt himself to all conditions. He must be as much at home in a palace as he is in a hovel. He must be able to converse with the college professor and the illiterate man, and know how to adapt himself to both. Paul adapted himself to all classes that he might reach them with the truth.
"Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law ; to them that are without law, as without law (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak : I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." 2 Cor. 9 :19-22.
Each of us ought to check up on himself : Do I have an accurate knowledge of the truth? Am I truly sincere? Am I deeply in earnest? Do I have a love for souls? Do I have a tender heart? Am I tactful in dealing with people? Do I know how to adapt myself to people and to varied• conditions? May the Lord Himself teach us what we ought to be and do as successful soul winners.