Establishing New Believers

The Scriptures place before the gospel worker the true objectives in all evan­gelism—training our converts to be steadfast, unmovable in the principles of the third an­gel's message, always abounding in the work of the Lord, perfecting Christ's character in the life.

By L. A. SEMMENS, Dean, School of Theology, Washington Missionary College

The Scriptures place before the gospel worker the true objectives in all evan­gelism—training our converts to be steadfast, unmovable in the principles of the third an­gel's message, always abounding in the work of the Lord, perfecting Christ's character in the life. (See 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Colos­sians 1:28, 29.) To do a work of this type requires the power of the Holy Spirit in the life, and a reflection of the image of the great­est evangelist the world has ever known—Jesus Christ. We are His representatives, and are to bear as our "credentials to the world, the ineffaceable characteristics of His immortal principles."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 37.

The initial responsibility in establishing new believers rests with the worker who brings the message to the heart of the convert. In the first place he should see that those he brings in are truly converted.

"There is a sad lack of genuine conversion among us. We do not put forth personal effort that souls may have a true knowledge of what constitutes repentance, faith, and remission of sins. Our minis­tering brethren make a decided failure of doing their work in a manner directed by the Lord. They fail to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. They have not gained an experience through personal communion with God, or a true knowledge of what constitutes Christian character ; therefore many are baptized who have no fitness for this sacred ordi­nance, but who are knit to self and the world. They have not seen Christ or received Him by faith."—Mrs. E. G. White, in Review and Herald, Feb. 4, 1890. "The agency of Satan must be understood as a working, vigilant power, awakening in every possible way the same activity in others to work evil, as he himself possesses. We are not ignorant of his wiles. We know he thrusts unconverted persons into the church, and lulls those who know the truth into a state of security, that they may not discern his devices, and counteract his influence."—Id., June 19, 1888.

The third angel's message is an educating power. It is based upon principles of right living, right thinking, right eating, right drink­ing, right working, right resting. Rev. 14:12. Its import is such that it reaches the whole man. Therefore, it requires earnestness and thorough conversion on the part of the worker. (See "Testimonies," Volume V, page 132.) The worker must be an educator as well as a preacher. Note the following:

"Christian ministers, physicians, teachers, have a broader work than many have recognized. They are not only to minister to the people, but to teach them to minister. They should not only give in­struction in right principles, but educate their hear­ers to impart these principles. Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessing can be retained only as it is shared."—"Ministry of Healing," pp. 148,149.

One of the surest ways of establishing new converts is to set them to working for others.

"All who give evidence of true conversion should be encouraged to work for others."—Id., p. 178.

"Every church member should be engaged in some line of service for the Master. Some cannot do so much as others, but everyone should do his utmost to roll back the tide of disease and distress that is sweeping over our world. Many would be willing to work if they were taught how to begin. They need to be instructed and encouraged.

"Every church should be a training school for Christian workers. Its members should be taught how to give Bible readings, how to conduct and teach Sabbath school classes, how best to help the poor and to care for the sick, how to work for the un­converted. There should be schools of health, cook­ing schools, and classes in various lines of Christian help work. There should not only be teaching, but actual work under experienced instructors. Let the teachers lead the way in working among the people, and others, uniting with them, will learn from their example. One example is worth more than many precepts."—Id., p. 149.

When this instruction is faithfully followed, the establishing of new believers in the faith follows naturally. For further study, see "Testimonies," Volume VI, pages 49, 98, 99. The words of inspiration have not left us without counsel regarding the way in which new believers are to be educated. In fact, as the instruction is studied and followed, there is found a wealth of principles to use, and it is passing strange that we are content to do work which lasts only for time, but which does not bear the stamp of eternity.

"After individuals have been converted to the truth, they need to be looked after. . . . They [min­istersl do not realize that these newly converted ones need nursing,—watchful attention, help, and encour­agement. These should not be left alone, a prey to Satan's most powerful temptations ; they need to be educated in regard to their duties, to be kindly dealt with, to be led along, and to be visited and prayed with. These souls need the meat apportioned to every man in due season."—"Testimonies," Vol. IV, p. 68.

"When a person has received the truth, mistaken friends fear to expose him to any test or trial, and they immediately endeavor to secure for him an easier position. He goes to some place where all are in harmony with him. But is his spiritual strength increased thereby ? In many cases not. He comes to have as little real stamina as a hothouse plant. He ceases to watch; his faith becomes weak ; he is neither growing in grace himself, nor aiding others."—Id., Vol. V, p. 183.

These principles are sound because they come from the Spirit of God. In the light of the present situation found in the denomi­nation, where for every three persons brought into the message two go out in North Amer­ica, and one and a half go out in fields outside North America, it would seem that there is need for us all to study anew and put into practice Heaven's instruction on the methods to be used in bringing people into this message and keeping them in. We must remember that God's plan for the establishment of new believers in present truth can be accomplished only by following His principles.

"The work of the minister is not simply to preach, but it is to visit families at their homes, to pray with them, and open to them the Scriptures. He who conducts the work outside the pulpit in a proper manner will accomplish tenfold more than he who confines his labor to the desk."—"Historical Sketches," p. 147. See also "Ministry of Healing," pages 143, E44.

"The reason many have so superficial an experience is that they do so much for themselves and so little for Jesus. Intercourse with those who are in need of help, with the purpose of saving their souls, will lead us to pray for wisdom, and look to Jesus as our helper. By unselfish labor for others, we shall establish ourselves in the faith far more firmly than by listening to so many sermons. The Holy Spirit will be our helper, giving us arguments with which to meet opposition, and in all our work giving us steadfast faith and unshaken confidence. Thus we shall gain an experience of more value than gold, silver, or precious stones."—Review and Herald, Jan. 12, 1897.

It is obvious that in the establishment of new believers there is necessity for the worker not only to minister to the people, but to teach the people to minister. When this is done, we find that Solomon's admonition is pertinent—"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." Eccl. 7:8. Christ said, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Matt. 24:13.

The harvest is not the end of the annual report, but the end of the world. The reap­ers are not the ministers, but the angels. No man ever lost time in the heavenly race by stopping to help another. Sometimes those of us who are praying for showers of blessing need only a thaw. We need today -a revival in the simplicity of the true principles of win­ning souls. The simple principles of the truth need to be enunciated under the power of the living God. What we should long for, crave, and strive for is an unction of the Spirit.

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By L. A. SEMMENS, Dean, School of Theology, Washington Missionary College

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