"For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified- (1 Cor. 2:2). Only with this thought as our primary motive and desire will we have true success in obtaining public decisions. Every call, every appeal, should draw someone closer to Christ.
The first and perhaps the most important step in obtaining the right kind of public decision is the preparation of the evangelist's own heart to make sure that his life and motives are right with God. Paul says, "Let a man examine himself" (1 Cor. 11:28). We may ask ourselves, "What is my real motive in obtaining public decisions? Is it to get as many to come forward as possible so that it will impress the church members and the brethren what a great evangelist I am?"
If we are primarily interested in quantity rather than quality, we will use unsanctified psychological techniques to persuade people to do what we want them to do; therefore because of our persuasion they may not choose Christ willingly. At other times the temptation may come to refrain from making a call. The time, the conditions, do not seem appropriate and we do not want to suffer public defeat and loss of personal prestige. We may feel it is up to us to do the winning and persuading, forgetting that "the battle is the Lord's" and that we must trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring fruitage. These and many other temptations must be overcome if we would be successful in obtaining truly lasting and sincere public decisions.
Jesus Christ, the greatest evangelist, should be our example in obtaining public decisions. By materialistic standards of success, Jesus was a failure. Few made public decisions in His meetings and asked to be baptized. It wasn't His speaking ability or power to hold crowds that was lacking, for He attracted and held thousands spellbound by the power of His discourses. It was the way in which He made His public calls that seemed to hold so many back.
Let us examine one of these calls made in Luke 14;25-35. Here we find that instead of promising a crown or reward Jesus paints a picture of a cross. Sacrifice would be the lot of the one who would be His follower. He challenged the very seat of sin, the selfish carnal nature, demanding its death and replacement by the Godlike characteristic of complete self-sacrificing love. Jesus made it clear in His call that it is not sufficient to strike down the outward symptoms of sin as did the Pharisees. He showed that sin is not so much what we do as what we are. Sin wants to kill God so that the false god of self can do what it wants to do, whereas righteousness reveals the will to die to self that only God's will may be done. This was the standard Jesus presented in His calls to sinful men.
Our Saviour knew that for them to make the decision on any other basis than complete death to self would leave them unfit for heaven. Heaven and the presence of God became unbearable to Lucifer and his rebellious companions because they chose to serve self. Christ undoubtedly could have baptized thousands if He had made an easier way for them to accept Him. But He knew that one man fully dedicated and consecrated to God's service is worth many times more than a thousand lukewarm professors. After Pentecost we see fruits of Christ's wisdom in calling His converts into this experience of complete self-sacrificing love, for these mighty men of God gave their lives unflinchingly to preach His truth, and thousands were converted.
Gideon's army is another example of God's longing for total consecration in His followers. In neither case could God have worked so mightily if Jesus or Gideon had compromised and lowered the standard for the sake of large numbers.
As we study the methods of Jesus we should desire to be like Him as we challenge souls to accept the highest Christian experience. In doing this our public calls will bring eternal results, and even though for a while they may be less in number, those that respond to this challenge will be men and women of God and will strengthen Christ's church. They will also inspire the older members to a deeper consecration. This will prepare the church for the outpouring of the latter rain, which will be much greater than Pentecost. Then we shall have public decisions by the thousands. These new believers will determine to live only for Jesus and to reflect His image fully.