The minister has been called of God to do the most sacred work committed to man. He is an ambassador for Christ, and therefore represents God's government. He stands for and upholds the principles upon which that government has been established. As an ambassador-he must put aside his own interests and notions, and set forth those principles which are vital in the advancement of the government he represents.
Furthermore, the minister must at all times be "a man of God," and as such, proclaim God's truths or messages as He wants them proclaimed. The minister is God's spokesman. He must ever be conscious of the fact that the Lord desires to speak through him. This being true, we immediately see the importance of advertising and presenting the truths the Lord has given us in a way that will demand respect and reflect dignity. In our evangelistic topics we must appeal to the thoughtful, reasoning mind rather than cater to the base and the sensational.
There is a decided conviction on the part of many of our believers that, in their advertisements and presentation of subjects, some of our ministers have drifted away from the simplicity of our fundamental truths and from the dignity with which those truths should be announced and preached. These ministers no doubt feel that in order to get a large audience, they must advertise spectacular and catchy subjects. Often these are announced in such a way that those who read them are bewildered as to the intent. They do not know whether the subject to be given will be of a religious or a political nature. The way some subjects are announced, the reader is inclined to believe that the lecture is to be one of entertainment.
We would do well to bring all our advertisements of the truths we wish to present in harmony with the seriousness of the times in which we live. The world is doomed. What we do we must do quickly, and in such a way as to cause the honest in heart to find God and His blessed saving truth. Our announcements should be of such a nature that they will stand as a witness in the day of judgment against those who will finally be lost.
The greatest drawing force we have is the plain truth God has given us, and the messenger of the Lord says,
"The truth should be clothed in chaste, dignified language; and the illustrations used should be of a like character."—Gospel Workers, p. 166. This instruction should be kept in mind, not only when we preach the truths of God, but also when they are announced or advertised... Time and again we have been admonished by the Spirit of prophecy to present our message in simplicity and in power. Too many, however, choose another way. They substitute the spectacular, the sensational, for the better way. God, who knows the end from the beginning, foresaw this danger and therefore sent us the following message:
"A new order of things has come into the ministry. There is a desire to pattern after other churches, and simplicity and humility are almost unknown. The young ministers seek to be original, and to introduce new ideas and new plans for labor. Some open revival meetings, and by this means call large numbers into the church. But when the excitement is over, where are the converted ones ? Repentance and confession of sin are not seen. The sinner is entreated to believe in Christ and accept Him, without regard to his past life of sin and rebellion. The heart is not broken. There is no contrition of soul. The supposed converted ones have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.
"The Old and New Testament Scriptures show us the only way in which this work should be done. Repent, repent, was the message rung out by John the Baptist in the wilderness. Christ's message to the people was, 'Except ye repent, Ye shall all likewise perish.' Luke r3 :5. And the apostles were commanded to preach everywhere that men should repent.
"The Lord desires His servants today to preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession. We want old-fashioned sermons, old-fashioned customs; old-fashioned fathers and mothers in Israel. The sinner must be labored for, perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until he shall see that he is a transgressor of God's law, and shall exercise repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ."—Ellen G. White, undated MS. iii. (See also Evangelism, p. 179.)
As ministers we would do well to give earnest heed to the foregoing instruction, and determine to launch out on a program in our evangelistic efforts that will be in harmony with God's message to us. We cannot and we must not ignore the fact that the truths which make genuine Christians are the ones known as the fundamental doctrines of the denomination. Nonessentials, catchy subjects, farfetched ideas never bring men and women to their knees and cause them to cry out, "What must I do to be saved?" As ministers, we represent the denomination, and as such we must advertise and present the doctrines that have made us a separate people, and do it in a way that will uphold the dignity and ideals of the denomination.
It is most important that we present the subjects that are known among us as fundamental truths—truths that must be accepted if the listener hopes to be saved in the kingdom of God. These doctrines must ever be kept before the people. Often too much time is given to the preaching of nonessentials. Statements are made in lectures that do not represent the teaching of the denomination. And yet the denomination is judged by what is said. Questionable statements lead to confusion. They take the mind off the all-important truths. This pleases Satan, for he does not want the people to know the truth of God in all its purity.
Our influence is far-reaching. The message we give is measured or judged to a large extent by the way we present it, not only in the pulpit but in our announcements. Is this not the time of all times when we should announce and present our fundamental truths in a way that will cause those who listen to us to see Christ, instead of having their attention attracted to us? Self must be hid Christ, the center and the life of every truth, must be exalted and proclaimed as the only One who can save from sin.
"A hundred thousand souls a day
Are passing one by one away;
Oh, church of Christ,
What wilt thou say
When in the awful judgment day
They charge thee with their doom?"