Necessity of Personal Work

Reaping results in the sacred work of the pastor and evangelist is not based upon accident or mere "happenstance."

By STEPHEN B. OLNEY, District Leader, New London, Connecticut

Reaping results in the sacred work of the pastor and evangelist is not based upon accident or mere "happenstance." It is the result of intense energy and ambition, through well-directed plans and wise, efficient labor.

God has placed upon the advent ministry grave responsibilities. It is not merely our prerogative to persuade men arid women to believe this mes sage and take their stand upon its broad principles. We are to convert them.

To labor in "Christ's stead" (2 Cor. 5:18, 20) is to work in Christ's place, to take up the work that He laid down in this world. This places upon every minister the obligation of using the methods which Christ employed in reaching the hearts of men and women.

Christ's method of labor was ordained of His Father prior to His mission in this world. One purpose of that mission was to reveal to the human agent in the work of salvation the methods which an all-wise God foresaw would be the successful way of reaching the sinner steeped in iniquity and transgression. It was the divine-human method, and when the Son completed the work of establishing in this world a practical demonstration of it, He committed to His chosen agents the task that He had begun. He said, "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." John 20:21.

In this sense we as ministers are definitely "la borers together with God," working His plans, using His methods, following His procedure, and reaping the results that He would reap under similar conditions and circumstances. We are told that "God's ministers are to learn Christ's method of laboring." "Those who, in response to the call of the hour, have entered the seivice of the Master Worker may well study His methods." "Let them make Jesus their pattern, diligently studying His life and bringing into the daily practice the principles that actuated Him in His service while upon earth." (Acts of the Apostles, p. 365; Prophets and-Kings, p. 73; Testimonies, Vol. IX, p. 124.)

This is the only wise course for successful soul-winning evangelism. Any other method will prove destitute of lasting results, because human ability and ways of working are not God's ways. "Not by might, nor by power" can the work be done.

Christ was the true evangelist and the perfect pastor. He preached powerful discourses, soul-winning sermons. "Never man spake like this man." The people were astonished at His doctrine and hung on His words. They thronged about Him by day and refused to leave Him alone at night. The success that attended His efforts, however, cannot be attributed to His oratorical superiority or to His matchless, soul-stirring utterances, but rather to the personal touch with the one-soul audience.

The sermon was the means of arresting the attention and arousing the interest. Then began the labor, the watering of the seed, the cultivation of the tender plant that eventually grew to maturity and ripened for the harvest. Christ spent more time in personal work than in preaching, and so must we if we are to reap results that He expects of us. In the Testimonies we read that "the work of Christ was largely made up of personal inter views. He had a faithful regard for the one-soul audience."—Volume VI, p. 115.

It was the contacts that Christ made in the home and the personal interviews by the wayside, that yielded the greatest results in Christ's ministry. He came close to the people. He understood their need. This inspired comment 'reads:

"Never was there such an evangelist as Christ. . . . By methods peculiarly His own, He helped all who were in sorrow and affliction. With tender, courteous grace, He ministered to the sin-sick soul. . . . Day by day He might have been seen entering the bumble abodes of want and sorrow, speaking hope to the down cast, and peace to the distressed."—Ministry of Healing, PP. 22-24.

Today we are completing the work that Christ began. Upon our shoulders has been placed the obligation to carry to the world the last warning message that is to save men and women every where from a world of doom. Much depends on our manner of labor and the methods which we employ. We cannot improve on the methods of the Master. We must work in the wisdom that is from above. With wisdom and prudence we must build on the foundation erected by Christ and His consecrated servants. Our preaching is only the beginning of our soulsaving work. Evangelism embraces more than mere speaking and lecturing. Through the Spirit of prophecy the Lord has instructed the gospel ministry thus:

"When a minister has presented the gospel message from the pulpit, his work is only begun. There is personal work for him to do. He should visit the people in their homes, talking and praying with them in earnestness and humility. . . . Let ministers teach the truth in families, drawing close to those for whom they labor; and as they thus co-operate with God, He will clothe them with spiritual power. Christ will guide them in their work, giving 'them words to speak that will sink deep into the hearts of the listeners."—Gospel Workers, p. 187.

The work of the minister is not an easy task. At least it should not be. Entered into in the spirit of the Master, it becomes wearing labor, ceaseless effort, and nightly vigils. We are told:

"To merely go out and speak to the people now and then, is not working for God. There is no real work in it. Those who labor for God have just begun the work when they have given a discourse in the desk. After this comes the real labor, the visiting from house to house."—Testimonies, Vol. III, P. 558.

In our evangelism we need ever to remember that the success of our effort lies in our wisely accepting this divine method. Quoting again, this time from Testimonies to Ministers, page 313, we read: "Teaching the Scriptures, praying in families,—this is the work of an evangelist, and this work is to be mingled with your preaching. If it is omitted, preaching will be, to a great extent, a failure."

Every evangelist desires results, tangible results. It is discouraging to work and labor with little or no fruitage. God does not expect it of His workmen. It is true that we may not feel satisfied for the travail of soul that we have endured. The Lord may in wisdom hide from our eyes the good that we have done, or He may permit someone else to reap the reward of our labor, in order to keep us humble or to teach us more fully to lean upon Him. But we can pray that He may give to us eventually the fruit proportionate to the value of the task committed to us and keep us humble through other means, that the sacred work to which we are called be not hindered.

Our failures are not because God is withholding from us the reward for which we have so earnestly prayed and labored. Rather it is our failure to co operate with Him. From Gospel Workers, page 190, we read that "many a laborer fails in his work because he does not come close to those who most need his help." There is not one of our workers but would grasp eagerly the opportunity of increasing his results tenfold. Would you? And yet we are told definitely that "he who does faithful work outside of the pulpit, will accomplish tenfold more than he who confines his labors to the desk."—Testimonies, Vol. IX, p. 124.

Numbers, however, are not what the true worker is seeking for. We must convert men. Conversion does not come en masse. The presentation of truth may stir the heart, attract the interest, and create a desire, but seldom does it bring about the reformation sought. The personal touch is needed. This is proved by the fact that in our evangelistic sermons we must make appeals that strike directly, in a personal way, to the heart of the convicted one. If this appeal is not made, the opportune moment passes. We must strike while the iron is hot. It must be personal evangelism in mass evangelism.

But this personal touch must not stop with the personal appeal made in a general way. If it does, the effect will largely be such as is illustrated by Jesus in the parable of the sower. Some seed fell on hard ground and some fell on stony ground.

In such a case the hearer never goes farther than to assent to the truth, or perhaps he accepts of it, but in a short time falls by the way. He may thus be convinced of the theory of the truth but be destitute of its sanctifying power—a stranger to true conversion.

It is the prerogative of the evangelist to "beseech" a man "in Christ's stead." "We pray you, . . . be ye reconciled to God." Such a work can be carried on only by a man-to-man contact, a heart-to-heart appeal. It is not so much numbers that count, as the securing of results that endure to eternity. God's messenger has instructed us very definitely in regard to this in Volume IV of the Testimonies:

"Ministers who labor in towns and cities to present the truth should not feel content, nor that their work is ended, until those who have accepted the theory of the truth realize indeed the effect of its sanctifying power, and are truly converted to God. God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty -make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. These ministers should devote less time to preaching sermons, and reserve a portion of their strength to visit and pray with those who are interested, giving them godly instruction, to the end that they may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." "While in the midst of a religious interest, some neglect the most important part of the work. They fail to visit and be come acquainted with those who have shown an interest to present themselves night after night to listen to the explanation of the Scriptures."—Pages 317, 536.

As heralds of the coming king, ministers of the advent message, we need to renew our emphasis upon this important phase of our ministry. Lecture and oratory are worldly means of reaching the senses. Evangelism combines with these the personal touch, and is heaven's means for the conversion of men and women, the blood-bought heritage of Jesus Christ. Let us, dear fellow workers, be wise in winning souls, ever putting into operation those divine methods which will ensure greater results.

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By STEPHEN B. OLNEY, District Leader, New London, Connecticut

September 1944

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