In the crisis hour of the great Reformation the place of the Bible in the church became the great issue. We are thrilled at the dramatic stand of Luther, who before rulers and prelates declared with his hand on the Bible, "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me !" We point to this as the hour of the birth of Protestantism. The invention of the printing press aided greatly in the spread of those doctrines which grew out of the Reformation. Later, new discoveries and inventions gave wings to the gospel, while the missionaries' chief tool and weapon was the Bible.
Since the Reformation new ideas and ideals have been rapidly creeping into the Christian church. Most significant are the fantastic and heinous philosophies of our modern times. Our hour is marked with great religious confusion. Spirits of devils are gathering together heathen forces for the great battle of Armageddon. More significant is the fact that their work is not confined to the heathen, but that they are concentrating on the leaders of our so-called Christian nations. Heaven well describes confusions as "Babylon the Great." There is need for a work of revival and reformation today ; in fact, it must complete the retarded work of the Reformation of the sixteenth century.
Our own denominational work began in meekness and obscurity, but it is to be finished with power and great publicity. The revival work of men such as Moody and Spurgeon prepared the way for our message in its earlier days. These movements were powerful in their day because of the force and application of the Scriptures, at least to the extent of revealed light. But today we face a different problem. We must meet a new generation that has forgotten the God of the Bible. It has not entirely forgotten the Bible and its stories, but after decades of dodging of the Sabbath truth and kindred timely reforms, by Christians, the Bible has ceased to be to them the only Protestant authority.
Thus Protestantism, gradually at first, but then more boldly, stepped down from its solid rock—the Bible ! Modernism, "higher" criticism, evolution, spiritism, and many other Christless isms have now struck deep roots in the garden of the church. Where once she dogmatically quoted the words of Christ, "Every plant, which My heavenly Father bath not planted, shall be rooted up," today the so-called church of Christ indulgently tolerates and even nurtures the weeds of infidelity and unbelief.
In our evangelism we must contend with these modern forces of skepticism, but we are also challenged by a more subtle problem. Churches that a few decades ago refused to admit the imminent return of Christ to this world now preach this doctrine, but with alarming confusion—and yet with an appeal to the more shallow Bible students. The enemy of truth has long recognized that this doctrine interests the Bible lover. He is today bending every energy, by means of these confusions, to detract from the real truth.
We bring caution to our evangelists and Bible instructors to abide by those methods of truth presentation that -teach the Bible with certainty and power. There is a growing tendency to find our patterns in pentecostalism, dispensationalism, or in other revivalistic movements. We have the heavenly blueprint, and the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy point the way. The breach between a sham Protestantism and true Protestantism is widening rapidly. Before the end, Seventh-day Adventists will be walking alone, with their eyes upon Jesus only.
The masses in our larger cities must be reached with our message, and in the smaller cities thousands must also hear it. As we endeavor to reach these masses we must not overlook work for the individual. Our work must not be a hurried program of a series of lectures or Bible readings in every city, town, and hamlet before the end; it is not merely one of tense pressure to hastily call at the many homes we must reach in connection with our public preaching in halls, tabernacles, or tents. It is more than giving people a pleasant and urgent invitation to attend regularly our evangelistic meetings. It is more than welfare work for the sick and needy.
Art of Persuasion a Personal Work
Our public work has been carefully outlined to us by God's messenger as a great personal work, out of which will grow lasting reforms for the family. Souls must be quietly and personally persuaded to accept the truth. Conflicts must be decided by the Spirit's sword, and victories wrestled through on our knees with souls who are in the valley of decision.
There is now a great need in our evangelistic work for trained Bible instructors who are not just "doorbell ringers," "encouragers," or "inviters," as one worker aptly stated it. The need today is for a type of worker who is masterful in handling the Scriptures. We must more fully understand the pattern of Bible work that God has in mind. He pictures to us a courteous, kind, understanding, persuasive worker. Men and women of broad experience in Christian living are called for. Workers are needed who have mental endowment, those who are themselves close students of the Bible. Again, the Bible instructor is described as a person who searches the Word diligently for personal help first of all, and then for help to bring its truths to others.
L. C. K.