Making Truth Live
"I feel no longer under the compulsion to be profound; I must be understood," declared a famous preacher recently. To present profound truth in a compelling yet simple way is a rare ability. But that is real teaching. We should aim to do more than make people understand. We must see to it that they do not misunderstand. General Von Moltke said to his officers at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War, "Remember, Gentlemen, that any order that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood."
Human nature has not changed much since Jesus taught in Galilee. He spoke in parables because the people "seeing see not ; and hearing hear not, neither do they understand." He made them understand. "Through the imagination, He reached the heart." (The Desire of Ages, p. 254.)
The world's greatest teacher knew the art of making truth live. He appealed to the imagination. He painted pictures—word pictures—to convey the message of God. The things that men were doing —fishing, farming, cooking, cleaning—these became vehicles to convey the treasures of truth.
We are all visual minded. The Chinese say, "One time seeing is worth a thousand times hearing." Of course it is. The nerves that lead from the eye to the brain are some twenty times larger than those that lead from the ear to the brain. That is why visual evangelism is so important to the heralds of the advent message. "Write the vision, and make it plain" is God's commission to us, "that he may run that readeth," or as Luther's translation reads, "that he that runneth by may read." (Hab. 2:2.) In this age of speed men have to read while literally "on the wing." Not long, labored dissertations on doctrine, but clear, pointed presentations of Christ—that is what men need today.
Every preacher is a teacher ; at least he should be. How can we as evangelists become better teachers ? First of all, we must study the true technique of teaching. The creative teacher is always assured a hearing. Do you have a good blackboard in your equipment ? We do not mean a 3'x3' board that stands on an easel. That is not only crude ; it is a nuisance. We recommend a revolving blackboard not less than ro'x3', or better still, 12'x4'. Such a blackboard is a "must" in the equipment of the up-to-date evangelist-teacher. In a future discussion we will deal with the construction of such a board, giving some hints on its use and misuse.
"By the use of charts, symbols, and representations of various kinds, the minister can make the truth stand out clearly and distinctly. This is a help and in harmony with the Word of God."—Testimonies, Vol. IX, p. 542.
Our work is to make truth live, and it is surprising how a few strokes on a big board will help. Like the Master, we can reach the hearts of men through their imaginations.
Here is our task, fellow workers. How effectually are we performing it?
Love an Essential in Soul Winning
Evangelism is not an argument but an experience. When Jesus came preaching, He was no prophet of doom but a herald of good news. And His "life was the light of men."
Evangelism is not so much a method as it is a message. And its message must be delivered with a passion for the lost. The heart of the Saviour was moved with compassion when He saw the multitude. And we are told that had it not been for the love expressed in look and tone—the evidence of His tenderness toward the lost—He would never have attracted the crowds that He did. Men and women felt that they had found a Friend. Not sentimentalism but true sympathy was revealed in every action. It is recorded on page 254 of The Desire of Ages:
"His tender compassion fell with a touch of healing upon weary and troubled hearts. Even amid the turbulence of angry enemies He was surrounded with an atmosphere of peace. The beauty of His countenance, the loveliness of His character, above all, the love expressed in look and tone, drew to Him all who were not hardened in unbelief. Had it not been for the sweet, sympathetic spirit that shone out in every look and word, He would not have attracted the large congregations that He did.
Elder J. E. Fulton was speaking to the students in the old Avondale College many years ago when he said : "This world is dying for want of love—men and women who will love the wickedness out of the hearts of their fellow men." World War I was then at its height, and he told of the suffering on the battlefield and how many broken lives would be returning home in need of love. His message gripped my heart, for I had just lost my brother on the battlefield, and I pledged my life to a service of love.
Loving the wickedness out of the hearts of men brings the greatest thrill in life. Hanging on my wall is a picture of a little girl cuddling a broken doll in childish affection. The doll has no hair, only one leg, and half an arm, but it nevertheless holds a big place in her heart. Underneath are the words, "Love is blind." How true.
If we would win men, we must love them ; and love them in spite of their faults. "By this shall all men know ye are My disciples, if ye have love."
Love truly woos and wins.
R. A. A.