Editorial

Evangelism '72 Means Action!

THE call has sounded. The action has been taken. The plans are moving for ward with a great spirit of enthusiasm, co operation, and coordination. Prospects are bright, for the Lord is truly leading His church. Great things are about to take place. Once again North America will lead out in a program of all-out soul winning. . .

THE call has sounded. The action has been taken. The plans are moving for ward with a great spirit of enthusiasm, co operation, and coordination. Prospects are bright, for the Lord is truly leading His church. Great things are about to take place. Once again North America will lead out in a program of all-out soul winning.

Evangelism '72 is no longer just a visionary concept. Specific and well-thought-out plans are being laid. Committees are at work to implement every aspect of the program voted at the Autumn Council. The president of the General Conference is supporting it, and the vice-president of the General Conference for North America is the guiding voice in the program. Administrators and ministers in the field, pastoral and departmental, along with church officers and members, are seeing in Evangelism '72 the beginning of a great advance that will not end until the work is finished and Jesus comes.

This is a time when every pastor, every church officer and conference administrator, is concerned with one basic objective. We must present in the most certain, appealing, and clear-cut way we can the blessed good news of the soon coming of our Lord. We must not depend upon others to do this for us. We must not expect the minister to do it by himself. This mission—the true mission of the church—requires that every worker, every member, every agency, every institution, and every other aspect of our great world work shall be concentrated on this one great challenge. Young and old must become participants, not merely spectators. There is need for the enlistment of every member, followed by training programs in every church. We must get the good news out. We have a message of hope tor the world that is long overdue.

We must think in terms of entering the dark areas around us. There can no longer be dark counties nor unentered communities. The messenger of the Lord saw light communicated to every village and town. It is essential that we follow this pattern. It is necessary for our large churches to become so burdened for these areas around them that hundreds of their members will move out into the needy sections and begin a work for the Lord there. These should be encouraged not only by word but by financial assistance until the newly formed company they establish becomes a full-blown church able to carry the financial responsibilities that are normal in every church.

Conferences must study anew the territory for which they are responsible and plan a well-organized, coordinated program to reach the whole field. It may be that special appropriations will have to be made, but the best investment we can make is in the extension of the Lord's work beyond our present borders. Our great cities must be made to swarm with new churches and members bearing witness for the Lord and His saving truth. Let us not worry about what to do with the new members who come in from such a thrust, for the Lord will open the way when we begin to move forward in harmony with His command.

Evangelism '72 must contemplate reaching every man, woman, and child in the North American Division. Every home must be contacted and every person have a chance to receive the light. This will require that children will work for other children. Youth will work for other youth and older people will work for men and women in their own age group. In addition to all this, everyone must be working for everyone else without regard to age or circumstances.

Then, too, the church must become a suitable place into which to bring new members. The coldness, indifference, and unconcern that is found in some places must melt away before the warmth of the love of Jesus Christ in the lives of His people. Through the church is to be revealed to men and women everywhere the final and full display of the power, glory, and love of the Lord Jesus. Revival must take place soon or it will be too late for some. Reformation is imperative now or many new members will become discouraged as they see the gap be tween what we teach and profess and how we live. In fact, it is in this area that we find much of the reason for our apostasies and our meager results in the past.

We have heard people say, "Evangelism doesn't pay. People who are baptized just do not stick. They come in the front door and go out the back door. The days of evangelism are past." This raises some pertinent questions. Who told anyone to open the back door in the first place? Who showed the new ones where it was? What caused them to pass from front to back and then go on out? Why has evangelism not succeeded any more than it has?

The servant of the Lord has given us light on this question which we need to take seriously to heart.

The Lord has His representatives in all the churches. These persons have not had the special testing truths for these last days presented to them under circumstances that brought conviction to heart and mind, therefore they have not, by rejecting light, severed their connection with God. Many there are who have faithfully walked in the light that has shone upon their pathway. They hunger to know more of the way and works of God. All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the very verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in.—Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 70, 71.

Why must they wait? Why cannot the Lord now gather them in?

The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear?— Ibid., p. 371.

Where is the problem? Certainly not with the message, nor with the Lord. It is not with the Holy Spirit. It is not with those honest souls outside the church. It is not with the people who are crying to God for light and truth and the Holy Spirit. The problem is found in the church itself. The unconverted members of the church and those who were once converted but who have backslidden are, in the opinion of God, responsible to a large degree for the apostasies among us, as well as for the small returns from our evangelistic endeavors. This the church must be led to see and fully understand, then remedy.

The answer is clear. We must experience revival. We must repent of our sins. We must be reconverted. A genuine reformation must take place among us. We must settle in our hearts that we will do whatever the Lord tells us to do. We must no longer hold back. We must walk in all the light that God has given in every area of our Christian experience. We must turn aside from the cheap and sinful practices of the world, its lustful entertainments and soul-destroying sin, and come into the full relationship of sons and daughters of God. We must re member the Sabbath to keep it holy. We must stop doing our own ways and finding our own pleasures. We must change our habits of eating and drinking and bring our lives into harmony with the inspired counsels. We must change our modes of dress and bring our lives into conformity with God's standards of modesty and heart purity. We must sense that spiritual life is nurtured by feeding on the Word of God and prayer, and we must make ample pro vision for these spiritual exercises in our daily program. We must begin to be in daily practice what we know we must be if we are to be ready for the soon coming of our Lord.

Our homes must again become centers of piety, purity, and love. Worship—morning and evening—is still possible even in this bustling age. Children need it in the face of the evil that constantly confronts them. Fathers need it as they go forth to do battle with sin. Mothers need it as they meet the trials of their busy home life. Parents must provide time for their children, and children for their parents. The Elijah message envisions a great turning of the hearts of parents toward their children and the children will respond by turning their hearts to their parents. This must take place soon, for a terrible threat hangs over our homes— "lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Mal. 4:6).

All of us, ministers and members, must become deadly in earnest about the fulfillment of our mission. Time is short. Dangers are arising from every source. Problems of every sort are intensifying on all hands. What we fail to do in peace and prosperity will have to be done in the midst of the most severe and difficult trials and perils. Why, oh, why do we delay? For what are we waiting? May God help us one and all to sense that this is our glorious hour. This is the day. We are the people. The time and the men have met. They have been brought together for such an advancement of the cause of God as has not been witnessed since the days of the apostles. God help us to throw ourselves—body, soul, and spirit— into this mighty crusade to reach the world before it is everlastingly too late.


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March 1971

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