Who shall join the army of lay Bible instructors? In Training Light Bearers. page 15, there is a quotation from the Signs of the Times, dated October 18, 1883, announcing a Bible institute, with S. N. Haskell in charge. The announcement read, "'Not only young men and women are wanted, but men of mature years ; even if their heads are sprinkled with gray hairs, they are none too old to visit families and tell what God has done for them, and read the Scriptures.'"
None are too young or too old if they have a Christian experience, understand the message, and are teachable. God is depending upon the laity to help finish the work. "The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church-membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers."—Testimonies, vol. 9, co. 117.
On page 9 of Training Light Bearers we glean this from the definition for a Bible reading: A Bible reading is a method of personal work whieh involves the reading of the Bible; "it specifically applies to the question-and-answer method of Bible study."
Keep always to the affirmative was Christ's method. It is the best way to meet our opponents. Jesus said, "It is written."
Qualifications of Bible Instructors
It was the prophet Isaiah who said, "Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters." Isa. 32 :20. Because Bible instructors have to mingle with the mixed multitudes, certain qualifications or personality traits will be called into action.
These qualifications, either natural or acquired, together with divine help and guidance, will enable one to cope with every mind, disposition, and circumstance on the broad highway of life.
The first qualification of every worker in God's cause is conversion. In volume 9 of the Testimonies we read:
"The remnant people of God must be converted people. The presentation of this message is to result in the conversion and sanctification of souls... A solemn responsibility rests upon those who know the truth, that all their works shall correspond with their faith, and that their lives shall be refined and sanctified, and they be prepared for the work that must rapidly be done in these closing days of the message." —Page 554.
Another important qualification is friendliness. (Prov. 18 :24.) If we are not friendly in the home, with our neighbors, and in the church, how shall we win souls? Surely a soul winner must be friendly and be able to approach people in a pleasing manner. It too often happens that new members and visitors attend our meetings and find that the members do not speak to them. This should never happen.
After pointing out the need of friendliness to my class, and urging that we ought to shake hands with as many as possible at our services, the very next Sabbath I had one of the sisters taking the course come to me and say, "I shook hands with ten people today." Last Sabbath she was shaking hands with people and was looking so happy.
In Gospel Workers are given other essential qualifications : "The laborer for souls needs consecration, integrity, intelligence, industry, energy, and tact. Possessing these qualifications, no man can be inferior; instead, he will have a commanding influence for good."—Page III. A call to the Bible work is not only a call to service but a call to a definite service that will develop our characters.
In the first chapter of Training Light Bearers we read of the early history of the Bible-reading work as it came to our denomination. Elder Haskell was the one who was impressed with this "heaven-born idea." (See Gospel Workers, p. 192.) Personal work is defined as the art of reaching the heart. In Christ's Object Lessons, page 229, is found Christ's method of reaching the heart:
"The Lord desires that His word of grace shall be brought home to every soul. To a great degree this must be accomplished by personal labor. This was Christ's method. His work was largely made up of personal interviews. He had a faithful regard for the one-soul audience. Through that one soul the message was often extended to thousands."—Page 229.
Surely Christ has set the example for Bible instructors. Most of our audiences are only one-soul. The one-soul audience afforded Jesus with wonderful experiences. Such experiences may be ours. What a wonderful incentive to work, when perhaps through the one soul won to Christ the message may be extended to thousands.