Reaching Men for Christ
By M. K. Eckenroth
The greatest crisis of the hour since Calvary is for men and women to be confronted by the awful meaning of that sacrifice, brought to reverence its Victim, and accept its salvation. The Advent preacher has never faced such an alarmingly indifferent, reckless, casual, and even hostile generation of judgment-bound souls as in these days of the soaring sixties. To turn mankind to the One to whom they are indebted for life, substance, and existence is such an overwhelming and staggering task that it is almost easy for the preacher to feel excused who shrinks from its exacting demands. However, from its demands no man of God is excused. Indeed, all too many contemporary workmen for Christ seem content with rising gains on graph charts and have a corresponding unconcern for the decline in per capita soul-winning activities. We have come to a time when it is fashionable to speed up the processes of missionary and soul-winning service so that a minimum of time, energy, and investment is called for. Oh, the travesty of being content with one hour of literature distribution on a Sabbath afternoon once or twice a year; of timing the public meetings to a few weeks; of scheduling services for such hours as will not conflict with popular TV programs, sports events, or nonsensical or even lurid theatrical productions! That a preacher should give his time to such things stirs deep revulsion within me.
The natural tendency is to seek for the development of some mystical bag of tricks to produce quickly the same results achieved by the long night prayer seasons, many personal interviews, the Bible studies, or the patient step-by-step unfolding of the truth for the world’s last hour. Mind you, this is not intended to discredit the adoption of newer methods or the use of modern inventions with its natural corollary of methodological adaptations. Rather, it is an appeal to complement the instruments of modernity with those spiritual functions that cannot be abandoned without imperiling the spiritual vitality of the preacher, the individual church member, or the whole church. The evangelistic invitation is of paramount importance. Its languishing disuse today accounts largely for the paucity of souls won on a per-capita basis. We simply are not letting our light shine through endless, continuous, and never-ceasing witnessing and invitations for our Lord.
The Tragedy and Triumph of the Cross
Salvation is a work of grace alone. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9). From ancient times the sense of being lost marked the anguished cry of the doomed. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20).
The only answer to this sense of loss is an acquaintance with the Man of Calvary. “Bear with a certain voice an affirmative message. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. There is power in the exaltation of the cross of Christ. . . . Let not your words at any time be uncertain.” —Evangelism, p. 187.
Preach the Message of Joy Which Is Contagious
“He shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). The seeing of the Lord and gladness are natural corollaries. “The religious life is not one of gloom and of sadness but of peace and joy.”—Ibid., p. 180.
“Strive to arouse men and women from their spiritual insensibility. Tell them how you found Jesus, and how blessed you have been since you gained an experience in His service. Tell them what blessing comes to you as you sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn precious lessons from His Word. Tell them of the gladness and joy that there is in the Christian life. . . . As it is done, many will awake as from a dream.”—Ibid., p. 486.
The Scriptures speak of joy in Christ (1 Peter 1:8); of great joy that His name brings (Acts 8:8); of greater joy in His service (2 John 4); and of the greatest joy known to man (1 Thess. 2:19, 20). This is the first law of larger harvests of souls! The dolorous note, the downcast pessimist, the calamitous essayer, cannot inspire, ennoble, and convince the masses. Treat calamities for what they really are, and nothing else. “Treat of calamities as disguised blessings, of woes as mercies. Work in a way that will cause hope to spring up in the place of despair.”—Evangelism, p. 180. “Do not issue notices so worded as to create an alarm.” —Ibid., p. 130. The alarmist finds it hard going in a world almost stoic in its fatalistic concept of “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Sinners must know of the futility of the happiness born of this concept. They must know and they must see demonstrated the greater joy.
Christ Is the Power of Persuasion
The victory in seeing sinners won to the truth is the result of an accurate presentation of Christ Jesus our Lord. “We are to stand in this world as though there were all around us the purchase of the blood of Christ, and as though it depended very much upon our words, deportment, and manner of labor, whether these souls shall be saved or not.”—Ibid., p. 140.
A positively frightening statement appears in Testimonies, volume 6, page 57, which analyzes for us perhaps the great reason for no greater power: “‘Those who will study the manner of Christ’s teaching, and educate themselves to follow His way, will attract and hold large numbers now, as Christ held the people in His day. At every meeting, Satan will be on the ground, that with his hellish shadow he may obtrude himself between man and God, to intercept every ray of light that might shine on the soul.'”
Oh, my brethren, let us determine to be preachers of power, filled with the Holy Spirit, and move men to salvation. Here is the formula—”The mystery of the incarnation of Christ, the account of His sufferings, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension, open to all humanity the marvelous love of God. This imparts a power to the truth.”—ELLEN G. WHITE in Review and Herald, June 18, 1895.
Steps to Christ
The methodologies of the Master Soul Winner and Teacher never grow old or become outdated. The principles employed by the Saviour of the world to win men back to Himself are abiding principles for all time. These marvelous principles are outlined succinctly in Evangelism, pages 486-488. Reduced to a few words, Christ’s ten great fundamentals are listed as follows:
1.Patient love 7. Earnestness
2.No austerity 8. Cheerfulness
3.No bigotry 9. Simplicity
4.Inspired trust 10. Intense desire to save
6.New life possible
What a marvelous fruitage is bound to result when our approach to mankind is cast within this broad framework.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
It is impossible to overestimate the place of the Holy Spirit in soul-winning work. This is the one precious promise made to the minister in respect to his work that is not promised, at least in the same manner, to any other worker group in the world. This is as it should be, for there are no other workers who need to depend with so much absolute abandon upon the Holy Spirit as the ones in quest of souls.
The Holy Spirit brings a new sense of sin, and without this sense of guilt no man is truly penitent. The Holy Spirit brings the promise of hope. The Holy Spirit gave the apostles power. The Holy Spirit makes the truth impressive. The Holy Spirit reveals doctrinal truths. The Holy Spirit makes appeals effective. The Holy Spirit touches invisible chords.
Closely associated with the appeal is the dynamic untapped source of power available to all through an earnest prayer life.
“Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.”—Evangelism, p. 459. This then is the great reservoir of persuasive power held in readiness and available to the soul winner today.
“Let ministers and evangelists have more seasons of earnest prayer with those who are convicted by the truth. Remember that Christ is always with you. The Lord has in readiness the most precious exhibitions of His grace, to strengthen and encourage the sincere, humble worker.”—Ibid., p. 155. My own personal experience in Christ and evangelistic work has proved this to be true so many times. I have witnessed more souls won to the truth while in prayer either in the home or in a public meeting than at any other time under any other circumstance. What a source of power the Advent preacher has at hand!
We sometimes fear we should not prematurely make a call for decisions. This must always be balanced by the greater fear that our hesitancy to give the invitation may prevent people from doing that for which they are prepared. To stir people by the dynamic preaching of the great Advent message without giving them a chance to do something about it leaves men far worse off than they were before. We must preach persuasively. We must appeal passionately. Time is running out. “He that winneth souls is wise.”
The above article, “Reaching Men for Christ” was written by M. K. Eckenroth. The article was excerpted from www.ministrymagazine.org web site. May 2016.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”