REGARDLESS of how difficult evangelism becomes, in spite of how few may give themselves fully to it, regardless of how it seems to be overshadowed by institutionalism and departmentalism, it will increase until the world is enlightened with the glory of the righteousness of Christ for the consummation of the gospel.
During the past four years we have witnessed a resurgence of evangelism in the conferences of North America. This is a step in the right direction. Let us pray and work that under God this greater evangelistic thrust will swell into the total evangelism that will bring the finishing of the work, and the return of our Lord.
Make no mistake about this. It is a total evangelism under latter-rain power that will bring the finishing of the work. This total evangelism is long past due. It must come now, as time is running out. It will come on the part of everyone whom the Spirit uses to help finish the work. Every minister and layman should, in his sphere, focus on total evangelism in the seventies.
This should, under God, be given triple- A priority by every department, every publishing house, every school, and every minister and layman in his sphere. This certainly calls for some radical adjustments in relation to how it is in some areas today. But nothing short of such total evangelism will suffice for this final hour. How much longer shall we wait before moving for ward into it? The attainment of the Advent hope is bound up with total evangelism. Every Adventist should be ready now to act his part.
What future does evangelism have in this space age? The Bible shows that the everlasting gospel of the threefold message will triumph in a blaze of evangelism. Evangelism will increase more and more until the whole world is lightened with God's message. God has purposed this and it is sure to come.
This greater evangelistic thrust will and must precede the close of probation and the coming of the Lord. It is pictured in Revelation in these words: "After these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. ... I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:1-4).
This will bring a second Pentecost. Thousands will be converted in a day. The light of truth will penetrate everywhere. Every believer will be enlisted in the work of evangelism. Thousands of laymen will be seen going from home to home, opening the Word of God to everyone who will hear. The ministers will hasten from place to place and by a few sermons lead into baptism those who have received Bible studies from the consecrated laymen. The call of God is for every minister and lay man to fall in line now for this total evangelism.
My fellow ministers, what do you expect to be engaged in when Revelation 18:1, 2 is being fulfilled? Will you be hovering over a group of church members? Will you be promoting some good church items that are now keeping you from preaching the truth in season and out of season? In the final movements every minister who is called of God will focus on one item preaching the third angel's message with power from on high.
We are aware that the gifts of the Spirit include pastors and teachers in addition to evangelists. But a real pastor makes his work evangelistic. Paul assigned Timothy to pastoral work. But along with this he said, "Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Tim. 4:5).
Some hold too narrow a concept of what being filled with the Holy Spirit does for the fully-surrendered Christian. They think of it only in terms of being filled with holy joy and having full victory. But it does more than this. Look what happened when the disciples received the early rain. Did they go to the top of some mountain to enjoy happiness? No. They went to the people with the gospel. Ministers and church members engaged in total evangelism. They were all united in the greatest cause under heaven preaching the gospel, so that people around them could lay hold of salvation.
Jesus stressed that the main objective of receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit is power for effective witnessing for leading other souls to Him. He said:
Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Under the total evangelism of the early rain God's ministers refused to be diverted from full-time preaching even by the pressing demands of church business (Acts 6: 1-4). They found other men to take care of these increasing business items. So it will have to be in the Advent Movement before we will see the total evangelism for the finishing of the work.
We are called to give the last call to the marriage supper of the Lamb. According to Luke 14:21-23 the two items of haste and urgency characterize this call. "Go out quickly. . . . Compel them to come in." It is interesting to note how urgency is stressed by the evangelists of the evangelical churches. At the U.S. Congress on Evangelism in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in September of 1969, Dr. Oswald C. J. Hoffman said:
"This is no time to fool around. The time has come to get with the Lord and to go with him. . . . "The time has come to break out of the straitjacket we have drawn around ourselves. The time has come to get with Christ, and to go with him by every means that the modern world provides, by every means to have some, who will in their turn 'live up' their faith in Jesus Christ the Saviour as a witness to this generation." Quoted in Decision, January and February, 1970.
We live in a rapidly changing world. Many items are outmoded, discarded, superseded. But evangelism never will be outmoded. It is of increasing importance and of intensifying need the nearer we come to the end.
The way of life has been completely revolutionized since the threefold message came due in 1844. But the truths of this message become more applicable and relevant as time and the world rush onward. This underscores the increasing need for making the message known, as the only way of deliverance and victory.
This closing hour calls for more and more evangelism. "Evangelistic work, opening the Scriptures to others, warning men and women of what is coming upon the world, is to occupy more and still more of the time of God's servants." Evangelism, p. 17. "This message will go forth with in creasing importance till the close of time." Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 154.
Total Evangelism Will Finish the Work
Our day is the time of Romans 9:28. God "will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth." This text mentions two "shorts" in connection with the finishing of the work. We need short evangelistic campaigns that fit into this short work of the Lord, and into this, "cut ting it short," is the revelation and power of the righteousness of Christ.
Evangelism in the Final Movements
Here is the evangelism that is needed to fit into the tempo of these swift-moving times.
Servants of God . . . will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. . . . Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand. The Great Controversy, p. 612. (Italics supplied.) The short-term preaching campaign will be the order of the day in the finishing of the work. And God will give greater results than ever before witnessed.
Notice that this hastening from place to place to preach the message will not be left to two or three or four evangelists in a conference, as per our present trend. It says "by thousands of voices all over the earth" the warning will be given in public meetings, some in cottage meetings, some to one person at a time. The truth will be carried to every town and village.
This is the picture of evangelism for the finishing of the work as set forth by the Spirit of Prophecy thousands of laymen visiting families, presenting Bible studies. The ministers gathering these interested ones into short series of meetings to lead them into God's remnant. The ministers and the church members working together as God's evangelistic team for the final enlightenment of the world.
In the days of the apostles when the church members were scattered abroad by persecution, they "went every where preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). Everyone bore a powerful witness for the truth. There was a total evangelism that produced speedy results. Genuine conversions came quickly.
So it was under the early rain. And so it will be under the latter rain. There will be total evangelism by the ministers and church members. Results will come quickly. The short-term evangelistic campaign will come into its fullness for accomplishing the work of God.
At Pentecost one all-day meeting secured large results. In this time of the latter rain we should be ready to cooperate with the Holy Spirit for quicker results as we hasten on to the glorious climax of evangelism.
Thousands Converted Quickly
In the closing days thousands will be converted to the truth. "Thousands in the eleventh hour will see and acknowledge the truth. . . . These conversions to truth will be made with a rapidity that will surprise the church, and God's name alone will be glorified." Selected Messages, book 2, p. 16. (Emphasis supplied.)
In one case the church was so surprised by the rapid conversions in a campaign that at first they refused to agree to the converts' being baptized. Surely it is time to get in step with the rapid workings of the Lord.
It has been well said that the secret of success in the work of God is to know along which line God is moving, then move with God along that line. Since God is moving along the line of rapid conversions to the truth, we need to study carefully how to move along this line with God in making the short campaign count for the most in decisions and baptisms.
In subsequent articles certain evangelistic plans will be presented which we believe under God have in them the potential for securing more baptisms of adults in the short reaping campaign. They will show pastors and interns, who have not conducted a campaign, how to hold successful reaping campaigns and how, under certain conditions, decisions to unite with God's remnant may be secured in a few weekend meetings.