On the Gaza Road

Where are the bible instructors?

J.L. Shuler, Bible Lecturer, Loma Linda, California

It happened one day on the Gaza road southwest of Jerusalem—the dialog of Philip with the treasurer of Ethiopia as they sat together in the seat of his moving chariot. This is a most striking illustration of the supreme need for and God-appointed place of the Bible instructor in His work of saving souls.

The treasurer was searching for the truth from the right source—the Holy Scriptures. When people do this, the ques­tion comes inevitably, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" It may be directed to him by one who is with him. But in nearly all cases it arises inwardly in his soul out of his longing for truth.The response, expressed or unexpressed. is "How can I, except some man should guide me?" How true this is! There are thousands of people today who have read the Bible through a number of times and yet have never discovered the present truth. How necessary it is for the one who longs for truth to be brought in contact with one who has the truth! This is the underlying theme of the book of Acts.It is right here where the Bible instruc­tor is not only God's helping hand for un­folding the fuller, needed knowledge of truth but also the tactful hand for leading into obedience to the truth. What if there had been no Bible instructor on the Gaza road that day? That soul would have been deprived of the immediate joy of salvation. Many in his country with whom he doubt­less shared his faith would have remained in darkness for a time.There are many everywhere today in the same situation as this treasurer was when the Bible instructor met him. "There are many who are reading the Scriptures who cannot understand their true import. All over the world men and women are look­ing wistfully to heaven. . . . Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in."—The Acts of the Apos­tles, p. 109.But where are the Bible instructors to gather them in? The harvest is truly great but the Bible instructors are few. They are getting fewer at the very time when their numbers should be increasing more and more as we near the end. We have been instructed by the Lord's messenger that the work of opening the Bible to needy souls should occupy more and more of our time as we near the end, not less and less as per the 1968 trend.

What is the remedy? How can we help more young women and young men to be­come Bible instructors? Every pastor ought to be alert to encourage likely young peo­ple to prepare to enter this important line of endeavor.

"If there were twenty women where now there is one, who would make this holy mission their cherished work, we should see many more converted to the truth."—Evangelism, pp. 471, 472.

Ellen G. White and Setting Up of Funds 

Ellen G. White was ready to do more than to make an appeal for more Bible instructors. She put up money to furnish the wherewithal to pay for more. "I wish to create a fund for the payment of these devoted women who are the most useful workers in giving Bible readings.".—/bid., p. 477.

She stressed the need for more Bible in­structors again and again. "They can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach."—Ibid., pp. 464, 465.

"There is a great work for women to do in the cause of present truth. Through the exercise of womanly tact and a wise use of their knowledge of Bible truth, they can remove difficulties that our brethren cannot meet."—Ibid., p. 491.

How often I have seen this happen! There are also interested women in homes where no man ought to go. A lady Bible instructor is a must.

When I was union evangelist for the Southern Union and the financial situa­tion permitted only one additional worker on the team to be supported by the union, I chose a first-class Bible instructor as the other member of the team. Many will say. "Poor judgment on your part." But I know this choice paid off well in the end results.

All evangelistic teams in the conferences ought to have a regular Bible instructor in every campaign. If there was this type of demand, more would be ready to give themselves to it. We say, "The call of the hour has always been met by the coming of the man." The same will be true for women Bible instructors.

Nothing Can Take Their Place

But Bible instructors should not be thought of merely in terms of our sincere women. Young men should be encouraged to make it their lifework.

We have been blessed with a number of good Bible correspondence courses. They have done an inestimable work in helping to win souls all over the world. I had the privilege of writing the first Bible course ever used in evangelism—The Home Bible Course, in 1937. But all these Bible courses cannot take the place of or fill the need for the tactful hand of the Bible instructor at the right time for leading interested ones into obedience to the truth.

You can shake apples off the tree in a short time but when we buy apples, we prefer those that are hand-picked. So it is with the hand-picked fruit of the Bible instructor.

"This house-to-house labor, searching for souls, hunting for the lost sheep, is the most essential work that can be done."­Ibid., p. 431.

Some who served in the capacity of Bi­ble instructors have been used of God to prepare a front-line evangelist for large re­sults in souls. Apollos, an eloquent man, mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. He taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. This was good so far as it went, but it did not go far enough for that day.

Then a husband-and-wife team of per­sonal workers—Aquilla and Priscilla—"took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." The result? "He mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18: 24-28). Let none take a twelve-inch ruler to measure the work and potential possi­bilities of the Bible instructor. May God give us many more of them.

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J.L. Shuler, Bible Lecturer, Loma Linda, California

August 1968

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