In a previous article we noted from the Scriptures how Jesus, the apostle Peter, and John the Baptist approached the public in their evangelism on the basis of presenting the heaven-sent message for their respective hours. In the present article I purpose to list some of the advantages of the use of the message approach of Revelation 14:6-12 in evangelism, and to offer some suggestions on the use of this approach.
We have been instructed that "the third angel's message must be presented as the only hope for the salvation of a perishing world. The theme of greatest importance is the third angel's message, embracing the messages of the first and second angels." Evangelism, p. 196. There are four main advantages in using this message approach of Revelation 14:6-12 in the first meeting.
I. It will help to allay the denominational prejudices that we must encounter.
When we identify the meetings beforehand as being sponsored by Seventh-day Adventists it eliminates opposition and antipathy arising on the ground that we are sneaking in to steal sheep under a false front, or that we are deceiving people by a disguised approach. And when we use the message approach in our preliminary advertising and in the first sermon, it at once lifts our campaign above the narrow limits of denominationalism. We show from Revelation 14:6 that this threefold message is God's special gospel message for every people and nation. It is for every church and religion, and for those who may not belong to any church.
We declare that the purpose of these proposed meetings is to explain God's universal message for our day. This helps to relegate the denominational rivalries to the background. It gives us a clear common ground on which to meet other denominations, having a message from God for all people not to condemn all other beliefs or to trouble the churches, but to extend the help of the heaven-sent message to all. It makes our evangelism stand on its own foundation as an appeal to all, both religionists and non-religionists.
2. It makes our evangelistic meetings unique in all the field of evangelism, with an appeal above all other evangelistic meetings.
No other people are attempting to preach this threefold message to the people of every nation. This at once marks our meetings as different from any ordinary revival, or from any other evangelistic meetings. This of itself is a drawing factor for securing a regular attendance.
People today are looking for a man who has a heaven-sent message of hope, certainty, and security for this troubled hour. Through the message approach the hearers are led to see that we are not here merely to lecture on a variety of apparently detached Biblical subjects, but that the proposed addresses are to be a step-by-step unfolding of the message of Revelation 14:6-12, which God has appointed for this hour. When the people see this they will put forth special effort to come and hear every presentation in the campaign. Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic preaching should be not merely a series of Bible lectures but a step-by- step unfolding of God's everlasting-gospel message, leading men to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
3. It enables us to capitalize on the prophetic basis of our teaching and movement.
People are troubled about the meaning and outcome of the unprecedented happenings of our day. The answer to their inquiries can be found only in the prophetic messages. The message approach on these matters will arouse, build, and hold interest.
4. It will help the hearers in making their decision to become Seventh-day Adventists, and especially in making that decision more promptly.
The divine authority of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and of its ministers grows out of Revelation 14:6-12. This prophecy indicates that, beginning with the arrival of the judgment-hour in 1844, a God-ordained movement would arise, by which this threefold message will be preached to every nation. So in deter mining what religious faith to espouse there is really only one question to settle: Is the Seventh-day Adventist Church this God-ordained movement of Revelation 14:6-12? Everything turns on this pivotal point.
By using this message approach at the first meeting, the 1844 date and the subject of the judgment can be presented early in the campaign, and the hearers can be led to see for themselves, early in the series, that the advent movement is this God-ordained movement, which was due to come in the closing age for the consummation of the work of the gospel. This helps them to decide quickly to take their stand with this movement. This prophetic basis is the only real basis for one's becoming an Adventist. If this Advent Movement is the fulfillment of Revelation 14:6-12, then the only consistent course for those who see this is to unite with it. It offers a sound, solid, satisfactory basis for such a decision. When the people are convinced that the preaching is God's message for this hour, that becomes a powerful incentive for immediate and favorable decision. (See Matt. 21:25-27.)
We do have many disadvantages in our evangelism, but why not study to make the most of our advantages? In view of these four advantages of using the message approach of Revelation 14:6-i2 why not capitalize on this feature more than we have heretofore?
Suggestions for Using the Message Approach
1. The first subject of the campaign may be advertised as "The Impending Climax of All History," or "The Glorious Outcome of the Present Upset Situation," or "Why Doesn't God Do Something?" or "The Way of Jesus in 1950," or "The Most Important Prophecy for 1950."
2. The sermon may emphasize the following points:
If ever the world needed a message from God, to show men the way out, it needs one now. In previous similar crises God sent a message to fit man's need. Examples: The days of Noah before the Flood. (Heb. 11:7.) The time preceding the manifestation of the Messiah at the first advent of Jesus. (John I -.19-21,.)
3. In using Revelation 14:6-14 there is a certain advantage in giving verse 14 first, which presents Christ coming on the cloud. Then raise the question, What message is to be preached to the people of every nation in the closing period of the gospel, just prior to the return of Jesus? Then present the message from verses 6-12.
It should be made plain that this message is not some new gospel but the everlasting gospel, the saving gospel of Christ's blood, His grace, and His righteousness, in God's own appointed setting for this closing period, in which we are now living. It is the way of Jesus for 1950. It includes all the truths Christ has ever revealed to man.
It is well to show that this message presents God's remedy for earth's troubles, and the solution to the problems which are crushing mankind. It is designed of God to give man certainty in this time of uncertainty, security in this time of insecurity. Its acceptance will give us hope and peace in these days of stress and test. It furnishes the answers to the questions that are uppermost in men's minds today.
Then raise all manner of questions concerning the items mentioned in the message. When did the hour of God's judgment begin? How are people saved and made ready for the judgment? What does it mean to worship Him that made heaven and earth? What is meant by Babylon's being fallen? What is meant by the beast? the image? the mark? What is meant by the warning to worship not the beast?
State that the purpose of these meetings is to search the Word of God and learn what these things mean. These items will be taken up from time to time as the meetings move forward. Announce the next few subjects, and show their relation to the message of Revelation 14:4-14.
Mention that the people whom these meetings represent ardently believe that this; is God's message for our day, and are dedicating all their energies to proclaim it in all the world It is just as important for us to understand and heed this message as it was for the people of Noah's time to know and heed the message about the coming Flood, (i Peter 3:20.)
It will be well to have ready a tract like Has God a Message for Today?" which covers the saliant points you have made in the sermon, and give a copy to all as they leave the meeting. Or the tract may bear the same title as that of the opening sermon. One of our publishing houses could, very well prepare a general tract that could be used for this opening meeting anywhere.
4 It may be well to follow this message approach with a sermon which shows that the everlasting gospel is based on seven facts about the person of Christ His incarnation, sinless life, atoning death, bodily resurrection, literal ascension, priestly mediation, and Second Ad vent Follow this with a sermon on the purpose of Christ's coming. Then follow along with the signs of the times, heaven, Daniel 2, Daniel 7, Daniel 8, and the sanctuary (showing when the hour of God's judgment came), the Sabbath (identifying it as the sign of the worship of the Creator), the immortality question, the remnant church, Babylon, and so on.
We recognize that there are countries where a direct Biblical approach to evangelism may not be the most favorable method. But in these lands where a direct Biblical approach is in order we do well to take advantage of this message approach from Revelation 14:6-12.