There is only one reason for the existence of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and that is to carry on an aggressive program to finish the work of God here on the earth. The very commission that Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 demands action of His people. He said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Should we fail to acknowledge this plainspoken command of the Lord Jesus Christ, God will dismiss us as His messengers, and if others fail to take our place, He will use the rocks to cry out the truth for this hour. "And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out" (Luke 19:39, 40).
The Harvest Is Ripe
We are standing on the threshold of eternity. Great events are taking place, showing us definitely that the end of the world (or the harvest) is upon us. "Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest" (Luke 10:2). To me this means that God intends to carry on an aggressive evangelistic program. The harvest is ripe, the work needs to be done, and more and more workers are to be added to the forces for the windup of His cause here on earth. Ellen G. White clearly states that "the time has come to make decided efforts in places where the truth has not yet been proclaimed."—Gospel Workers, p. 354.
It is time for us to lay definite plans for aggressive evangelism, and officers and workers should carry stirring messages to our churches to arouse them to the need of the world for the last warning message today.
A message that will arouse the churches is to be proclaimed. Every effort is to be made to give the light, not only to our people, but to the world. . . . Our own people need to have the light placed before them in clearer lines. . . . If our people were half awake, if they realized the nearness of the events portrayed in the Revelation, a reformation would be wrought in our churches, and many more would believe the message. We have no time to lose; God calls upon us to watch for souls as they that must give an account.—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 117, 118.
Proper Messengers in New Fields
God has placed different gifts in the church for a specific work. It is the business of every worker, regardless of the gift, whether he is a pastor, teacher, or evangelist, to give due attention to all branches of the work in the church. However, he should improve in a definite way the special gift with which God has endowed him if he wishes to please the Lord and make a success of his calling.
Let every messenger of God attend to his own specific work, and not rush into a work that is simply after his own wisdom and devising.—/bid., p. 210.
Jesus, who is the great General of His work, knows definitely where we may serve best. He will help us find the place where we can be of greatest service.
It is not my conviction that an evangelist is one who is qualified only in one branch of work. He must foster the work of the church in all its branches—in home and foreign missions, in training and educating the youth to give themselves in service at home and abroad. I mention this because our work today is well organized in its various departments and I do not wish to minimize the fact that the work should progress as a whole. I read in Gospel Workers, page 382:
Ministers should be guarded, lest they thwart the purposes of God by plans of their own. Many are in danger of narrowing down the work of God, and confining their labor to certain localities, and not cultivating a special interest for the cause in all its various departments.
I do think, however, that conference officials and executive committees who are guided by the Spirit of God will select men by God's appointment to do a distinct work in evangelism today. Ellen G. White asks:
When the Lord bids us proclaim the message once more with power in the East, when He bids us enter the cities of the East and of the South and of the West and of the North, shall we not respond as one man and do His bidding? Shall we not plan to send our messengers all through these fields and support them liberally? Shall not the ministers of God go into these crowded centers, and there lift up their voices in warning the multitudes? What are our conferences for, if not for the carrying forward of this very work? . . . But in order to meet the mind of the Lord, we shall have to plan for the carrying forward of a far-reaching and systematic work. We must enter into this work with a perseverance that will not allow of any slackening of our efforts until we shall see of the salvation of God. . The Lord desires us to proclaim the third angel's message with power. We cannot exercise this power ourselves, but we can choose men of capability and urge them to go into these avenues of opportunity and there proclaim the message in, the power of the Holy Spirit. We must plan to place in these cities capable men who can present the third angel's message in a manner so forcible that it will strike home to the heart. Men who can do this work we cannot afford to gather into one place to do a work that others might do.—Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 99, 100. (Italics supplied.)
Aggressive Conference Evangelism and Finances
An aggressive evangelistic program in a conference should not necessarily mean a great outlay of money. It is not the will of God that an evangelistic team should become so expensive to a conference that it uses up all the funds in the Lord's treasury, leaving nothing for the other men in the field. While it is true that we must take every justifiable means of bringing the truth of God before the people, and while we are employing the various modern inventions to attract and arrest the attention of the people, we should remember that these mechanical inventions will not take the place of the living preacher. Therefore, don't let us draw from the treasury for radio and newspaper advertising to such an extent that we injure our other brethren in the work. The Scriptures say, "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers [not radios and television] are few." Let us remember that.
In this age of extravagance and outward show, when men think it necessary to make a display in order to gain success, God's chosen messengers are to show the fallacy of spending means needlessly for effect.—Gospel Workers, p. Mb. (Italics supplied.)
Sometimes, however, we find ourselves unavoidably incurring heavy expenses in our attempt to carry on the work of God in a representative way in the cities; but we should not necessarily expect all the means to come from the treasury of the conference. A statement from Testimonies, volume 7, page 40 reads:
We all need to be wide awake, that, as the way opens, we may advance the work in the large cities. We are far behind in following the light given to enter these cities and erect memorials for God. . . . I am greatly encouraged to believe that many not of our faith will help considerably by their means. The light given me is that in many places, especially in the great cities of America, help will be given by such persons. (Italics supplied.)
The responsibilities of conference administrations continue throughout and after an evangelistic campaign, both financially and otherwise. Though all the workers in the field should be careful in the expenditure of unnecessary funds, it sometimes becomes necessary for the conference to assume its responsibility in definitely helping in a financial way in certain places rather than in showing a large surplus in the treasury.
Again quoting Ellen G. White we read:
Sometimes, when a work has been brought to a certain stage of development, and those who have labored earnestly in its behalf have called for further needed help, they have been repulsed, and have not been given the advantages that would have made their work effective. This has brought discouragement to their hearts, and has hindered the cause of God. Those who have been fearful of undertaking work in the great cities, because it means earnest labor and the investment of means, need to understand the magnitude of the gift that the Lord made in giving His Son to save the world. Our cities may be worked if men will trust in God, and labor earnestly and unselfishly.—Gospel Workers, p. 457.
Then again on pages 456 and 457:
In some conferences it has been considered commendable to save up means, and to show a large surplus in the treasury. But in this God has not been honored. It would have been better if the money thus laid by had been wisely expended in supporting diligent, efficient laborers in needy fields.
Thus we can see that in order for a conference to carry on an aggressive evangelistic program, the entire church—conference officials, ministers, and laity—must enter into harmonious action for the finishing of the work of God under His blessing.