V. THEMES ON THREE ANGELS' MESSAGES.
On no account should these subjects be presented unless the hearers have previously accepted Christ as their personal Saviour, have experienced true repentance, and have confessed their sins. Only when they have been truly converted so that the love of God throbs in their hearts can they be led to accept the decisive truths of the three angels' messages. We will now consider a few of the topics of this group in more detail.
The first subject, the book of Revelation in this era of revelation, consists of two parts :
I. An introduction to the book of Revelation, its author, the date of its composition, the origin and authenticity of the book, why it was written in symbols, and its proper interpretation.
2. A demonstration that Revelation is the guidebook for this age of confusion and uncertainty that leads up to the second coming of Christ, because it contains God's last message of warning to a perishing world. It should be pointed out that the summary of this exhortation is found in Revelation 14:6-16, emphasizing the fact that this message is for the world of today what Noah's message was for the antedeluvian world and what John the Baptist's was in announcing the first coming of Christ. The announcement should be made that future lectures would be dedicated to the exposition of the three angels' messages.
From the first lecture on the threefold message until the last, the complete message of Revelation 14:6-16 should be read at the beginning of each lecture, and then immediately the declaration should be made: "Tonight we will analyze the following point." In this way the threefold message will be engraved on the hearts of the hearers.
The second theme, Daniel 8, should analyze four points:
The third lecture explains the 2300 days. In it the following points should be established:
1. The restoration in 1844, in accord with prophecy, of the truths practiced by the blessed Virgin Mary, which were also preached by Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint John and the other apostles—the truths that had been cast down to the ground from the time of Constantine. (We explain it this way in order not to say, "by the church.")
2. The great importance of the year A.D. 34, that is to say, the close of the seventy weeks. Emphasis should be placed on the fact that on this date, for the children of God, a change took place in the church of God. The children of Israel, who up to this time had been considered as God's people, or church, were now rejected. Thus, the faithful believers had to change their religion from Judaism to Christianity. In the same way, from 1844 onward, the faithful believers should turn from Babylon the Great to the church that keeps all God's commandments. This explanation increasingly prepares the minds of the interested ones for a change of religion or church, and prepares them better to accept the Sabbath truth when this is presented to them.
In the fourth lecture, on the sanctuary, many valuable teachings can be brought out, especially for those of the Catholic faith, inducing them to see the truth as it is in Jesus. The Spirit of prophecy says, "The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith."—Evangelism, p. 221.
1. With the death of our Lord the service of the earthly sanctuary—including its altar of sacrifice, candlestick, mercy seat, censer, and the ministry of the high priest—was transferred to the heavenly sanctuary, so that the earthly sanctuary and all its ministry had expired; for after the death of Christ on the cross there were not to be on earth any further offerings of sacrifices, for which reason there is no need of an earthly priesthood.
2. By His death on the cross our Lord replaced the earthly sanctuary, or temple, with His church. And on the occasion of His ascension He gave the church, in place of the high priest and other priests, the apostles, pastors, prophets, and evangelists. (Eph. 4:8-13.)
If these points are carefully explained, bearing in mind the Catholic viewpoint and services, which as a matter of fact have a great similarity to the ancient rites of the sanctuary given to the Jews, the eyes of the hearers will be opened, and without the lecturer having said a single word against their priesthood and services, such as the mass, they will see the error these represent and recognize the pastors and evangelists as their spiritual guides.
The fifth theme is a digest of the history of the Advent Movement. Inasmuch as our enemies continually hold up to ridicule our message of the second coming of Christ, together with the great disappointment of 1844, the following points will prove of value:
1. Expound our history, beginning with the Millerite movement, in the light of the prophecy of Revelation io. Let them hear from our lips the truth regarding the great disappointment, and not merely the perverted account that has turned away so many interested ones.
2. Make plain that, according to prophecy, from this disappointment of the year 1844 would arise the people of God with the mission set forth in the words : "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." Rev. 10:11.
3. Show clearly that the Advent Movement fulfills exactly the specifications of the prophecy regarding the date of its origin, its spreading throughout the whole world, and the restitution and preaching of the "everlasting gospel." Information should be given, moreover, regarding the total number of workers in all the world, the number of languages and dialects in which the message is being given, and the number of publishing houses, colleges, schools, and sanitariums. This will produce confidence in the hearts of the hearers.
4. Then a call should be made to the audience to unite with the last church of God in the earth, which had its origin in 1844.
Nothing should be said yet about the Sabbath and other truths, but speak of the true church of God, by means of the truths presented up to this point, creating the desire in those present to unite themselves with that church. A call of this kind will make it easier later on to lead the hearers to decide to obey the fourth commandment.
The first lecture of this group deals with the evils brought about by the use of alcohol and tobacco. It is well to get the hearers to sign a pledge of total abstinence from these evil practices.
In the second lecture the evils of tea, coffee, and meat are dealt with. The prohibited meats should also be dealt with, as well as the great advantages of a diet based on milk products, eggs, green vegetables, and fruits, as compared with meat in general.
THE STATE OF THE DEAD.
It may surprise some that I place first of all under this heading the theme "The Good Angels." But it is a popular belief among Catholics that little children who have not yet become conscious of their responsibility before God are immediately transformed into angels when they die, and serve God in the eternal kingdom. For this reason it is well to make clear in the opening lecture on this theme that the little children who die while still irresponsible for their actions are not transformed into angels, for these are the fruit of a special creation previous and superior to man. Having disabused the minds of the hearers of this preconceived idea, you will find it much easier to induce them to accept the true doctrine regarding the state of the dead.
Moreover, it is possible to convert this theme into a very spiritual one, consoling and inspiring unlimited trust in God by proving with good illustrations and experiences taken from life that the good angels are all "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation."
VARIOUS THEMES LEADING TO CONFIRMATION.
The first theme deals with baptism. I. It is well to analyze and expound in the traditional manner the subject of baptism and its significance. 2. Recapitulate the Adventist doctrine: already presented, asking the audience how many of them are willing to yield their lives to the Lord, and by baptism die to sin and rise up to a new life. Ask all such to stand, and thus signify their willingness. 3. Those who rise should be invited to come forward to sign a parchment that contains the baptismal vow, which should have been placed on a table just in front of the lecturer's desk.
Then there are presented alternately subjects to increase confidence in the truth of the message, and others of a spiritual character with the purpose of still further deepening the spiritual experience. If we desire that many fully accept this great saving truth in our public efforts, we ought to get them to accept the various truths, and decide to practice them as they are presented. If this is done, a greater number will finally decide to keep the fourth commandment.
I realize that this list of subjects is not applicable everywhere; nor can it be employed by every evangelist. I know it has its defects, but I trust that as time passes, and greater experience is acquired, I shall be able to improve it.
An evangelist who loves God and wishes to see the early triumph of the message in all the world, so that the promise of our Lord's coming may be converted into a glorious reality, will always pray to God for wisdom to form better lists of subjects for his lectures. He will study continually the psychology of the public he seeks to win by his lectures, and will also be a profound student of present-day events in the field of international politics, and of social, economic, and religious life in the light of prophecy, in order to be prepared to present such themes to the public, as well as interest and captivate them in such a manner that an ever-increasing number of people may accept this precious truth.