The Bible Instructor's Parish
GRACE C. FOLKENBERG: Bible Instructor, Southern California Conference
The slogan to "Double Our Membership" finds a ready response in the hearts of all. We would all delight to see strong evangelistic meetings in every city and hamlet the world around, and thousands, yes, millions of earnest people accept the last message for a dying world.
Without doubt the Bible instructors are put ting their all into this endeavor, but we fully realize that while many are coming into the fold, we are also losing many who were with us. How can we conserve our own readers? How can we help our church members, especially those new in the faith, to be consecrated, ear nest Christians? As Bible instructors, how far does our parish reach?
There is no question but that we do have a very definite responsibility toward those we have helped to come into the faith. Our obligation and interest do not cease when they are baptized and are members of the church. This is the time they need us most. Although they have been attending Sabbath school and church before baptism and have become acquainted with some of our faithful church members, and are beginning to feel at home in the church, it is well to continue with the studies for a time and to call as often as possible.
A part of our instruction should be to ex plain that though we have some of the finest people in the world in the church, they are still in the growing-up process. They have not reached perfection, but are growing in grace day by day. Doubtless we shall all disappoint one another and grieve Jesus many times before He comes to take us home. We do not all have the same weaknesses, and when someone in the church manifests a weakness we are to pray for him. This timely instruction has kept many new converts from becoming discouraged over the faults of others.
We should encourage our people to study the Sabbath school lessons every day, and put them to work in the more simple offices in the church as quickly as possible. They can do Ingathering, read the mission story, and so forth.
Personally, I like to telephone these new people and visit them often. In this way I try to keep in touch with those with whom I have studied in the various churches in Los Angeles. I also visit those who have moved out into the surrounding small cities. Those farther away, in an adjoining conference, I visit about twice each year. I save three days of my vacation for this trip, and try to slip in another three days between Christmas and New Year's Day, while my regular work is disrupted.
In this rush trip to another conference I visit nine or ten small cities that are close together. It gives me only a little time at each home, but long enough to learn of my spiritual children's joys and sorrows and their Christian experience, and to have prayer with them. I usually call the pastor in charge to learn whether there is specific need. Sometimes there are discouraged ones who haven't been to church for some time. I go over their problem with them, and we pray about it together. We then have a wonderful time. I find my people are greatly benefited, I am happy because I know how they are, my own experience is strengthened, and I return to Los Angeles with a new zest and power to take up my work.
We can write to those who are too far away to be visited. Even a post card thrills their hearts. The Morning Watch Calendar makes them a nice gift. One of our most successful workers likes to send a mimeographed letter as often as possible to her people, and has had some very definite results from it.
Then there is prayer. Very early in my ministry I was made aware of the efficacy of prayer. A mother and her daughter were safely in the church, and I thought they would not need my prayers now; I would pray for other people. The mother met me in the foyer of the church and asked me, "Why did you stop praying for me?" I stammered my reply, and she said, "I knew the very day you stopped praying for me." Needless to say, she went back on my prayer list. But how can we pray for so many people scattered over so great a distance? I take them by cities or conferences, a few at one time by name, and then ask God's blessing on them all from Dan to Beersheba.
Our parish will include anyone new in the faith with whom we may not have studied or any human being that needs help. By showing our interest in them, by being kind and friendly, and by helping them to get acquainted with the other church members, we make their lot easier and their Christian experience hap pier. As we attend large meetings and camp meetings we can keep our eyes open for those who appear lonely and discouraged, and be ready to speak the word in due season.
It is difficult to keep in touch with the hundreds with whom the Lord has permitted us to study, and has rewarded us by bringing them into His church. I am persuaded that if we do all we can to keep them close to the Master, our own experience will be deepened and the number of backdoor departures will be lessened.
Evangelism While Traveling
By: Louise C. Kleuser
Enjoying people as I do, long-distance trips usually produce new friendships. Some months ago as I started from New York for the West Coast, upon entering the train I began to study my Sabbath school lesson. Opposite was an elderly Baptist minister taking the same route. His wife, though not with him on this trip, is one of the leading secretaries of the women's division of the Council of Churches as well as the editor of its leading missions magazines.
Before we reached Los Angeles this minister and I had spent many profitable hours together, and with a new appreciation for each other's work. We discussed, first of all, the doctrines held in agreement, and next in a friendly mood challenged each other on some conflicting ideas. Then he inquired into our denominational attitude on church federation, in his mind a most important step. I suggested that he could readily conclude that our views would require some forethought on this question. Soon he was making some jottings he wanted to present to the council committee on his return.
This worker had spent thirty years as a State secretary of his denomination. He is a man of influence. Incidentally, I profited much from his discussion of the duties of field secretaries. I also learned how the Baptists take care of their aging workers.
This providential acquaintance presented an opportunity I had long sought for my own work, and I am now in touch with his wife, an outstanding leader among church women. Learning to "be instant in season, out of season" is vital to us all. We little know the results of such contacts.
Importance of Knowing the Truth
MAYME CLEMENTS: Bible Instructor, North Ireland Mission
[EDITORIAL NOTE.—This outline, sent to us by Mayme Clements, of Ireland, has point and practical value. We feel that our Bible instructors around the world will appreciate seeing that our work for souls has unity of purpose. Everywhere men and women must be led out of their shallow thinking to explore the truth that sanctifies. A good study, Miss Clements!—L. c. K.]
Among the multitudinous theories and traditions of men expounded today, the only safe course for the soul that is earnest in its seeking is to follow the way of the Saviour.
I. OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO TRUTH.
1. Jesus is the way. He is revealed in the Scriptures. John 14:6; 5:39.
2. We are to be intelligent witnesses. 1 Peter 3:15.
3. It is necessary to study the Word of truth diligently. 2 Tim. 2:15.
4. It is essential not only to believe but also to love the truth. 2 Thess. 2:10-13.
5. What is sanctifying truth? John 17:17.
6. The right way to discern the truth of any doctrine is to "prove all things." 1 Thess. 5:21.
7. It is proved by the law and the testimony. Isa. 8:20.
8. Truth should be received with confidence, as God's message personally. John 7:17; 1 Thess. 2:13.
9. Continuing in true doctrine leads to salvation. 1 Tim. 4:16; Acts 20:32.
10. This salvation is wrought by the Word through the new birth. 1 Peter 1:22, 23.
11. All God's Word is truth. 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
12. A solemn charge to preach the Word. 2 Tim. 4:1-4.
II. THE ABIDING TRUTH.
1. It will never pass away. Matt. 24:35.
2. Of the many professing to be followers of the Lord, who only are the true disciples? John 8:31, 32.
3. Who will be accepted of the Lord? Isa. 26:2.
III. INSTRUCTION FOR CHRIST'S FOLLOWERS TODAY.
Looking for Jesus, we must have our faith built up unto eternal life. Jude 20, 21.
The Human Will in Conversion
MAYBELLE VANDERMARK: Instructor in Religion, Washington Missionary College
[EDITORIAL NOTE.—In dealing with Presbyterians and some others, the Bible instructor is confronted with a definite problem pertaining to the human will. It is then that the teacher needs to understand the solution to the problem as backed by the Spirit of prophecy. The following study was designed primarily to help the Bible teacher understand the issues involved before organizing a Bible reading for her Calvinistic reader. To see the application of the Spirit of prophecy on some Bible texts, such as Matthew 18:8, 9, opens for the teacher broad vistas of thought. Although the free use of Mrs. White's writings would not be practicable in studying with non-Adventists, these sound principles of reasoning on the human will can be of advantage to the teacher in the selection of other applicable texts. Miss Vandermark's study is of value to all ministers and Bible instructors for groundwork on a subject upon which there is much hairsplitting. —L. c. K.]
TEXT: "If thy hand . . . causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee. . . . And if thine eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee." Matt. 18:8, 9, R.V.
Surrender of will represented as plucking out eye or cutting off hand. Often it seems to us that to surrender the will to God is to consent to go through life maimed or crippled. But it is better, says Christ, for self to be maimed, wounded, or crippled if thus we may enter into life. That which we look upon as disaster may be highest benefit. (Mount of Blessing, p. 95.)
I. WHAT Is THE WILL?
1. Will is the power to choose. Isa. 1:18, 19; John 7:17.
2. "This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, of choice."— Ministry of Healing, p. 176.
3. "The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power which works in the children of men unto obedience."—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 513.
II. STATUS OF THE WILL.
1. "The heart is ... desperately wicked." Jer. 17:9.
2. Tendency to evil is as natural as spots on a leopard. Jer. 13:23.
3. "This will . . . was at the Fall of man given unto the control of Satan."—Ibid., p. 515.
4. Unaided human will has no real power to resist and overcome evil. Defenses of soul broken down. Man alone has no barrier against sin. (Ministry of Healing, p. 429.)
5. When left to follow our own inclinations, to go just where our will would lead us, we fall into Satan's ranks, and become possessors of his attributes. (The Desire of Ages, p. 329.)
NOTE: It takes no exercise of the will to choose devil's side. The unexercised will is already Satan's property. Unless committed to God, we are under Satan's control. Rev. 22:17; Eze. 18:30-32.
III. YIELDING TO CHRIST AT CONVERSION.
1. Yielding heart to God is surrender of will. Prov. 23:29.
2. God has made arrangements whereby we may choose Jesus as our king and be free of Satan's domination. Infinite sacrifice of God in giving Jesus, beloved Son, to become a sacrifice for sin, enables Him to say, " 'Yield yourself up to Me; give Me that will; take it from the control of Satan, and I will take possession of it; then I can work in you to will and to do My good pleasure.' "—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 515.
ILLUSTRATION: The valuable Ruhr Valley, too weak and small to be an independent nation. Falls under domination of one of two strong nations that are enemies of each other. Ideal situation would be for people to weigh desirability of leadership of one nation over the other, and be allowed to choose. Suppose one of nations already has control, and it is a cruel, selfish, destructive domination. People have been deceived into believing that they are really controlling themselves and that to do differently would be to give up their own self-government. Suppose the other great nation, by sacrificing its beloved prince, makes arrangements whereby people of Ruhr can live free from extortion, cruel domination, and selfishness. Arrangement is made; all little valley has to do is to decide to be a part of the better country. Once it decides, the great king will take over, supplying their needs, developing their finest characteristics, leading them into a happiness far greater than they have ever experienced before.
IV. WAY TO COMPLETE VICTORY.
1. May be as drastic as cutting off of the hand or the plucking out of the eye, but this is only way to victory in Jesus. Matt. 18:8, 9, R.V.
2. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matt. 16:24.
3. "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Verse 25.
4. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24.
5. "He that loveth his life shall lose it." Verse 25.
6. "If you cling to self, refusing to yield your will to God, you are choosing death."—Mount of Blessing, p. 96.
V. ACCEPTING CHRIST'S WILL.
1. When we yield, Jesus will control our thoughts and acts. Eph. 3:20; 1:5, 6; Col. 1:29; Phil. 2:13.
2. Not able of yourself to bring your purposes, desires, inclinations into submission to will of God; but if you are willing to be made willing, God will accomplish the work for you, even "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Cor. 10:5. (Mount of Blessing, pp. 204, 205.)
3. By yielding will to Christ we ally ourselves with divine power. We receive strength from above to hold us steadfast. A pure and noble life, a life of victory over appetite and lust, is possible to everyone who will unite his weak, wavering human will with the omnipotent, un wavering will of God. (Ministry of Healing, p. 176.)
4. Only through surrender of our will to God is it possible for Him to impart life to us. (Mount of Blessing, p. 96.)
5. When He gives you the mind of Christ your will becomes as His will, and your character is transformed to be like Christ's character. (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 515.)
VI. FURTHER EXERCISE OF WILL.
1. "Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first - work."—Steps to Christ, p. 74.
2. Be steadfast in keeping the will on the Lord's side. (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 514.)
3. "Talk faith. Keep on God's side of the line. Set not your foot on the enemy's side, and Jesus will be your helper. He will do for you that which it is not possible for you to do for yourself."—Ibid.
4. We are to be laborers together with God. 1 Cor. 3:9.
5. Yield your will to will of Jesus Christ; and as you do this, God will immediately take possession. Your whole nature will then be brought under control of Spirit of Christ, and even your thoughts will be subject to Him. (Ibid.)
VII. WILL OF CHRIST IN Us.
1. At last we shall find that Jesus has so identified Himself with us that when obeying Him we are but carrying out our own impulses. (The Desire of Ages, p. 668.)
2. Seed that fell to earth is risen again into new ness of life. What appeared to us to be like cutting off an arm becomes greatest blessing and benefit. Having cast off our will, we have gained eternal life.
3. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in." Rev. 3:20.
VIII. APPEAL: It is high time for us to exert our wills, to choose God as our leader, Jesus as our king.
"Shall we not open the human heart,
Swing the doors till the hinges start;
Stop our worrying, doubt, and din,
Hunting heaven and dodging sin?
There is no need to search so wide,
Open the door and stand aside—
Let God in!"
—CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN.