IT HAS been pointed out in a previous article how we need to give first place to those evangelistic methods that are designed to bring the truth from the Word in direct contact with the minds and hearts of the hearers. The people to whom we preach today in America are far more ignorant of the Bible than people were twenty-five or fifty years ago. This emphasizes the need and value in the preaching campaign of distributing Bible lessons dealing with the respective subjects as they are presented. Such a Biblical undergirding enhances the prospect of giving the hearers a better understanding of the various phases of the truth. Also it increases the prospect for decisions and baptisms.
Gift Bible Stimulates Regular Attendance
The offer of the gift Bible to those who attend ten times is helpful in maintaining a regular attendance. When they handle this Bible from meeting to meeting and mark it, their purpose is strengthened to keep on attending until they can take it home. Thus it sparks their interest in the meetings.
Helps Hold Attention
We all know that in the common method of preaching a man's mind may wander to something entirely removed from what you are presenting. But having a Bible in his hand, turning to the respective texts, reading them aloud with the speaker, and underlining certain parts of the texts keeps his mind focused where you want it—on what the Bible says. This attention begets increasing interest in the subject. This is a decided advantage. Also this plan of the Bible in the hand for underlining certain key words and phrases fits in very well with the use of the sixteen Truth for Today Bible Lessons, as mentioned in the former article.
How the Lessons Are Constructed
Each of the sixteen lessons consist of a series of pertinent questions focused on the main points of each subject. There are scores of questions that may be asked on these subjects. But out of these we have endeavored to use questions that lead into those items which the people need most of all to understand and accept concerning each phase of God's present truth. The questions and the Scripture texts are directed to the main issues of each subject.
It is important how the lessons are put together for implanting the essential truths in the mind and heart and for leading into obedience. After each question there is a Scripture reference that gives the most direct answer from the Word of God. After the Scripture reference the designated page where this text is found in the gift Bible is given.
A Special Feature for Impressing the Essential Truth
After each question are the words "My Bible Says" or "My Bible Shows." Then follows a statement of that phase of truth, with certain words to be filled in to complete the sentence.
When these words are filled in a direct Biblical answer to the question is presented. In many instances the words a person has underlined in his Bible are the words that are to be written in to complete the form. These statements are slanted to help a person convince himself of the essential truths. It thus prepares the way for him to make a favorable decision.
The sixteen lessons of the Truth for Today Bible Course do make the respective points of truth stand out distinctly and forcefully. This is a decided advantage for securing acceptance.
"If the truth presented could be made a little plainer, they would see it and take hold of it, and it would be like a nail fastened in a sure place."—Gospel Workers, p. 407 (1915 edition). "He should make the essential points of truth as distinct as mile-posts, so that the people cannot fail to see them."—Ibid., p. 168.
The lessons do help to fasten the main points of truth more firmly and clearly in the minds of the hearers than if we depended entirely on the sermons. Presenting the Lesson Subjects In using these lessons in the short campaign it is not necessary to use all the texts and questions as listed on the lesson sheet. This may be done if the minister desires. But it is necessary to use five or six of the texts listed on the lesson sheet, and have the audience turn to them in the gift Bible. Thus each person reads the truth in his own Bible. Also, later on at home he will know how to fill in the right words in the blank spaces. It is helpful to have a blackboard on the platform. Then as the minister announces the texts and page numbers in the gift Bible an assistant writes the text and page number on the blackboard.
The people should be directed to under line certain key words or phrases in these texts. Guard against too much underlining. Sometimes drawing a circle around one word in the text is more effective than underlining the entire verse, or a part of the verse. It is helpful to have them underline in many instances the very words that are needed on the lesson sheet to complete the sentence under My Bible Says.
It is good if the minister's presentations are in the form of teaching. This impresses the truth more vividly upon the hearers. Also it enables the minister to come closer to them. On some texts the audience may be asked to read them in unison. On other texts they can be asked to speak out a part of the text as the answer to a question raised by the minister.
It is well to tell the people before the study begins that a copy of the lesson will be given to them at the close of the study. Hence they will not need to take notes. They will have all they can do in turning to the respective references, reading them, and marking certain words in the texts.
Making an Appeal at the Close of Every Presentation
There should be a heart-to-heart appeal at the close of each lesson. This should be centered on an application of this respective phase of truth.
"In every address given, let there be an application of truth to the heart, that who soever may hear shall understand, and that men, women, and youth may become alive unto God."—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 258. (Italics supplied.)
"When the truth in its practical character is urged upon the people because you love them, souls will be convicted, because the Holy Spirit of God will impress their hearts."—Evangelism, p. 124. (Italics sup plied.)
Each study should be merged into an appeal so designed that nearly all will raise their hands to be remembered in prayer.
The lesson sheets are distributed by the ushers to the audience as they leave at the close of the study. The people are told to be sure to fill in the answers needed under My Bible Says, then to bring the filled-in lesson sheet with them to the next meeting so that they can check their answers when the minister reads each completed My Bible Says of this lesson.
Preceding the distribution it is well to announce that every person should take a copy. In case of husband and wife each should take a copy. Every child in the family who is old enough to understand should take a copy. This is necessary so that each may receive the three gift books that are awarded to those who complete the sentences under My Bible Says. Also we want each to use the lesson sheets, because there are two sheets in the course where they will be asked to indicate their decision to follow the truth.
It is good to point out to the people that they will find it helpful to buy an in expensive three-ring binder in which to insert the lessons as they receive them. A supply of these may be kept at the Bible counter where they can purchase them.
Each Checks His Own Answers
At the next meeting, before the minister presents the next study, he reads from each place on the previous lesson sheet under My Bible Says the correct answer filled in on the blank lines. Before he reads he asks each one to watch his own sheet and to check his own answers.
Before reading the answers it is well to state: "You may not have written in the exact words I have chosen, but the meaning of what you have written means the same as the words I have used. In this case count your answers as being correct."
When the minister finishes the reading he calls for a show of hands as to how many had every answer correct. Then he says, "Give yourself 100 on this lesson if you had every answer correct. But remember that the three gift books that are coming to you with the lessons will be given to you without regard to whether all your answers are correct. The only attached condition is that you fill in the blank spaces on each lesson."
A Sevenfold Impact of Truth
This plan provides a sevenfold impact of the truth upon the interested people. First, each hears the truth from the Word as the minister reads the respective texts. Second, at the same time he sees it in his Bible. Third, it is deepened as he under lines or circles certain words. Fourth, it is further impressed as he at home writes in the words needed under My Bible Says. Fifth and Sixth, it is impressed again as he hears the minister read the statements again and watches to see whether he has the right words filled in. Seventh, he has the summary of the truth on this subject for future reference.
When these sixteen lessons are used in the campaign our own people get more out of the meetings than if only a series of sermons are used. It helps them to know the certainty of the Advent faith. It leads them to cooperate more in the evangelistic program. Also, the use of these lessons can help them learn how to give Bible studies.
Next time we will show how the use of these lessons enables us to discover how, where, and when to appeal tor decision from the interested person.