We do not know his name. Before him was an upright panel of many buttons, lights, and switches. The operator of controls was carefully intoning the countdown. Years, months, and days of intense work had passed in carefully preparing the way for this great moment in history. Intently he listened-5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. He touched the switch, hundreds of technical devices of scientific genius became alive. A human being and a mass of machinery were hurled into the vastness of space. What a tremendous moment for the man who made the final decision, for the one who touched the "all go" button and for the one being sent.
Indeed, that was a great experience. However, transcending that is the greatness of the hour when a human being, chosen of God, stands as God's representative to invite his fellow men to accept the offered pardon, become adopted into the family of God, and receive eternal life.
"The highest of all sciences is the science of soul saving. The greatest work to which human beings can aspire is the work of winning men from sin to holiness. For the accomplishment of this work, a broad foundation must be laid."—The Ministry of Healing, p. 398.
To master a science requires years of patient experimentation and study. Dealing with the human mind and pressing for spiritual decisions is not only a science but a delicate art.
Much of this issue of THE MINISTRY is given to the study of the vastly important skill of how to obtain decisions for God.
Roy B. Thurmon states that general sermons and general calls seldom produce effective decisions for Christ. Read what he says about the Sabbath service sermon and what should be the aim of the preacher.
You will want to read the experience and decision methods used by our pioneers among the early Seventh-day Adventist churches. Many appeal sentences are suggested here. "A specific call each Sabbath, with the singing of an invitation hymn, is an open door into the church."
J. L. Shuler, with his many years of successful evangelism, shares with us effective steps in obtaining decisions, giving good examples and valuable suggestions. This is a "how" article.
L. O. N. Cummings discusses how Jesus dealt with men. "Our Saviour knew that for them to make a decision on any other basis than complete death to self would leave them unfit for heaven."
G. H. Rainey takes us into the home in face-to-face, personal evangelism. "A home-going pastor produces a churchgoing people." "Decision in the home" is well worth careful study.
As many of us have small churches under our spiritual care we will read with interest Walter M. Stark's ideas on how best to secure decisions when working with small groups. He relates one man's rather unique approach to a list of seventy names. Read about it in his interesting article. I think it is a good suggestion.
Roger Holley presents a description of the visiting techniques that he and his evangelistic team follow in diagnosing the degree of interest of a person, and when that interest is found how best to lead him to a full surrender.
In a brief, crisp style E. C. Ward emphasizes the value of progressive decisions —the ones obtained by going step by step into fundamental truths, the type of people with whom we deal, what we desire them to do, and how to get them to do it.
Every preaching service, each personal contact, presses upon us the solemn responsibility to challenge men, women, and children for the kingdom of God. What a privilege to share with them His love, and the assurance of His power, and of His will to save! Progressively, we are to lead them into the truths that pertain to eternal life. Many are as little children learning how to walk spiritually, and we must help them not only to give assent to truth but to make decisions that will allow the Master to transform them into beautiful sons and daughters of God. As they take the more simple steps, they will be strengthened and prepared to accept such major steps as the Sabbath truth, Christian stewardship, church membership, et cetera.
No experience in history is fraught with greater potential than the moment of decision. Yet we often have not because we ask not. A conference president was presenting a series of meetings in one of our churches. He noticed a couple in attendance who were obviously not members. On inquiring who they were he was told, "Oh, don't concern yourself with them. They have attended meetings here for years, but they do nothing about it. They just enjoy religious meetings." Nevertheless, this couple was baptized. What made the change? During a social gathering at the close of the campaign the man bore his testimony. He smiled courteously as he looked toward the one who had been the speaker and said: "I trust you will forgive me, Elder, but I have heard better preaching than yours, so that is not why my wife and I are here tonight. But you hunted for us. You sought us out. You were so intense and so persistent, and you invited us to come." Then his face grew thoughtful and he continued, "No one asked us before."
Shall we not re-examine our hearts to make certain that the Holy Spirit of God can guide us, speak to us and through us. to others. "Without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner won to Christ." May God give us a holy boldness as we do the King's business.