We are told that under the early rain, when "the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly," a "great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." Acts 6:7. These were doubtless from among the many priests who had come in contact with Jesus and heard Him preach. What happened under the early rain will happen again during the latter rain. (See The Great Controversy, pp. 61 1, 612.) That this will include the conversion of a large number of ministers and other church leaders is evident from the following:
"Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. . . . Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming."—Id., p. 464.
These ministers are doubtless those who have been contacted in a friendly way by our own ministers in harmony with the instruction given in Gospel Workers, page 299 (1893 edition), where we are told to be "reformers, but-not bigots," by becoming acquainted with the pastors of other churches and showing ourselves friendly and sociable, because "it will have an excellent effect" and will "give these pastors and their congregations favorable impressions of the truth." We are told that in our contact with them "we should dwell mostly upon topics in which all feel an interest, and which will not lead directly and pointedly to the subjects of disagreement," because there are many truths "which are dear to all Christians."
Those who follow out this instruction will also do their preaching in the manner set forth in the following quotation:
"Decided proclamations of truth are to be made. But in regard to this work, I am instructed to say to our people, Be guarded. In bearing the message, make no personal thrusts at other churches. Speak the truth in tones and words of love. Let Christ be exalted. Keep to the affirmative of truth. Never leave the straight path God has marked out, for the purpose of giving someone a thrust. That thrust may do much harm, and no good. It may quench conviction in many minds. Let the truth tell the story of the inconsistency of error."—Mrs. E. G. White in Review and Herald, Oct. 7, 1902.
We are told that "the great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in" the churches that constitute Babylon, and will be called out during the latter rain. (See The Great Controversy, p. 390.) It is also stated that the majority of these are in the Protestant churches. (See page 383.) Since this is true, it is evident that the Lord must have many ministers still in Babylon who are to feed His people till the time comes when they will, with their ministers, be called out. How do we know who among these ministers are God's own men? Should we not make every effort to be friendly with all of them, and give them favorable impressions of the truth and its advocates?
Such a vision has changed my entire attitude toward other ministers. I no longer look upon all of them as false shepherds to be attacked and shunned, but as men whose acquaintance it is my duty and privilege to cultivate, knowing that someday many of them will help proclaim the final warning message and go through with God's remnant people to the kingdom. I have had sweet Christian fellowship with many of these men, and have seen prejudice broken down and a different attitude assumed toward our work and message. On more than one occasion these ministers have asked me for literature to help them prepare sermons on certain subjects. We would all be much encouraged if we knew how many thousands of ministers are getting much of their sermon material from our literature. They are thus preaching more and more of our message in preparation for the time when they, like Joseph and Nicodemus, will take a bold and open stand with the advent people.
May the Lord help us as ministers to do our full duty toward these other shepherds and their flocks, who are not yet of the same fold, but who will someday obey the divine call, "Come out of her, My people."
Taylor G. Bunch