Preaching!—All truly great preaching—on the human side—springs from truly great concepts, and these in turn are based upon broad foundations of study, observations, thinking, and discussion. Gripping sermons are not prepared in a few hours, a day, or a week. They are the pouring forth of years or decades or a lifetime of study and observation. The hastily prepared sermon is usually quickly forgotten. The great things, and the deep, are always simple in essence and outline. Though none may be able to fathom the depths and all the involvements of the mighty truths of redemption and revelation, even the child and the untutored may grasp the central features in their sublimity. So keep truth simple, sound, and fundamental. Many things that appear deep are only muddled. Most things that seem intricate are complicated simply because they have not been thought through and resolved into their basic principles.
Target!—The advent ministry —evangelical, educational, and medical—is the target of the devil's hellish hate and of his shrewd, relentless attack. He is angered with the remnant church that upholds the perfect law, love, and will of God. And the focal point of his bitterness is its public representatives. If he can overthrow them, and cause loss of confidence in them and in what they represent, he weakens the very structure of the church itself. To this end he strikes with infernal might. He knows that not all are susceptible to the same approach. Therefore he seeks to make one a legalist or formalist, another an extremist or fanatic, and still another an agitator or subverter. He seeks to overthrow some by enticing them to depart from the faith, others by tempting them to stumble in dishonesty, and yet others by trapping them into falling morally. He is a keen student of human nature. He attacks upon the weakest point. It is therefore imperative for us to be on our guard. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." And God pity the man who, through apostasy, dishonesty, or moral lapse, causes loss of faith in the fair name and witness of the church. The more prominent he has been, the more will be his accountability for the betrayal of his Lord. Now, as never before, we need to watch in these sobering times described as a repetition of the days of Noah and of Lot. Again we say, "Watch."
Distinctions!--Sympathetic understanding, respect, and love are foundational to any and all effectual work for those of another nationality, race, or color. Clear and sharp distinction between moral principles, spiritual involvements, Biblical truths, and Christian requirements of universal application and obligation, on the one hand; and those national customs and manners of dress, food, and the like, that have nought to do therewith, on the other, is essential for those commissioned to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people with our last message. We must overcome national prejudices, win confidence, and secure acceptance to the priceless truths we bring to the non-Christian peoples. We must learn to look through their eyes, to realize and apply the fact that we are not commissioned to Americanize or Europeanize, but to Christianize. For instance, in some 'lands no shoes are worn; in others, sandals are worn. But such customs are immaterial national or geographical accouterments which have little or no bearing on our basic commission. We are to teach modesty and separation from the vulgarities and vanities of the world, but we must keep out of those items and attitudes that have nought to do with the salvation of man. Recognition of this principle will save us much grief, needless misunderstanding, and friction. We must shun a superiority complex.
Lessons!—We do well to pause and ponder frequently the solemn lesson of recent world events. To some, it seemed almost inconceivable, a few years back, that relentless, wholesale persecution should appear in enlightened lands in these modern times. Such anachronisms seemed to belong to the Dark Ages and the times of ignorance. And to some, the divine depiction of the latter part of Revelation 13 seemed almost equally fantastic. But all can now see how the unleashed passions, prejudices, and hatreds of man can go to almost unbelievable lengths in oppression. And precisely this will come—and that right soon—to the commandment-keeping remnant. The world's frenzy of hate will be visited upon us, and oppression will be fiercest in the lands that have enjoyed the greatest religious freedom or achievement. We will be blamed for the world's woes, and history shows that there is no oppression so extreme and bitter as religious oppression.
The testing hour is near.
L. E. F.