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Spring 2006 Magazine: Enamored with Christ
Publish date: Oct 16, 2009
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His mouth most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend (Song of Solomon 5:16).
Have you ever noticed the enthusiasm of a new Christian, excited to share their newfound faith? They have such zeal to witness! They are certain that their whole family, their friends, and their neighbors will join them in no time…but so often they experience absolute rejection. Why?
Let’s say you were introduced this morning to a poultry man. You ask, “How long have you been in the poultry business?”
He says, “For ten years.”
“How many chickens do you have?” you ask.
“Well,” he says, “if all goes well this year, I hope to have my first chicken.”
You think to yourself, there is something wrong here. You must not have understood him. So you say to him, “You must have misunderstood my question. How long did you say you were in the business?”
“Ten years” is the reply again.
You know right away that something is wrong. “Have your ever thought maybe you need to change your method?”
Like the poultry man, there are many Christians today who have never hatched a chick. By that I mean they have not won one soul to Christ. They have the idea that the reason for their failure is that the world is so difficult nowadays. They have urged, nagged, scolded, condemned, and criticized, but with no results. Has it ever dawned on them that they had better change their method if they are going to be successful in leading a friend, relative, or neighbor to their wonderful Lord?
Some Christians try and make the choice for others. I don’t know about you, that method certainly would not interest me in the least. Don’t they realize that the decision to accept or reject Christ is a personal matter? And since that is true, the job of the Christian is to present Christ in the most attractive manner possible, so that the one to whom they are witnessing will, of their own volition, choose Him as their Lord and Saviour.
Methods of soul winning
Let’s look at Christ’s method. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus bids us, “Learn of me.”
In Hosea 2:14, God says, “I will allure her...and speak comfortably unto her.” In other words, Jesus is saying (as some margins suggest), I will speak “friendly” to her. Jesus is speaking here of a wanderer who has strayed so far from God that they are likened to Gomer, the wife of Hosea. Hosea’s wife was unfaithful to him. She went so far down into sin that he himself became so disgusted with her, that he sold her on the common slave market.
And who do you suppose went down to the slave market to buy her back? Hosea, her former husband. Can you imagine that? This is written for our learning and instruction that we might know the method of winning a soul to Christ. Hosea represents God a His love for lost humanity.
If you or I had gone out to bring back such a one, we might have boasted, “I tell you, I didn’t mince matters with her. I told her in no uncertain terms that she was a filthy sinner. I looked her straight in the eye–and she knew I meant business– and said to her, “Why don’t you smarten up and behave yourself?”
And then doubtless we would have reported it as “one missionary visit.” But the devil would say, “That visit belongs in my book. That was a visit for me.” And it would have been, wouldn’t it? But God shows us the way to win her back. Loathsome though her character may be, He declares, “I will allure her.” “I will speak to her heart.” That is God’s philosophy of soul winning.
I was brought up to believe that any use of the word “allure” was always connected with some form of immorality. I did not know that the word “allure” belongs in the vocabulary of God and Christ. But there we find it in the book of Hosea.
Ellen White, speaking of Jesus and His method, sums it up like this: “His blessings He presents in the most alluring terms” (DA, 826).
It does not merely say, “He presents His blessings.” That would be a good method to use in attracting souls to Jesus. It does even state that He presents His blessings in a beautiful way. That method would be better yet. But it is made very clear that Jesus presents His blessing “in the most alluring terms.” That is Christ’s method, and I thank God for it.
Christ tells us that the fundamental law of His government is love (1 John 4:8). Closely associated with love is the power of choice (Joshua 24:15). Love cannot function without choice. It is left for each one to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
Therefore, God cannot and will not, compel anyone. The right to choose is the sovereign right of every human being. Even God, almighty though He is, will not decide for us. We all know that. Then why should we try to decide for another, since even God will not? Jesus makes Himself and His blessings so attractive that the human soul will choose Him. There is nothing complicated about that method. It is very simple.
That religion which will not exert a regenerating power upon the world, is of no value. We cannot trust it for our own salvation. The sooner we cast it away, the better; for it is powerless and spurious (5T, 389).
If our methods have not saved others, then they cannot save us, so we had better get a new philosophy–a new religion.
So it is with the spurious religion of urging, of criticism, instead of love–denunciation instead of an alluring, winning philosophy that points Him who is “altogether lovely.” Let us cast away that spurious or counterfeit method and exchange it for Christ’s alluring method.
Could we now leave the cold, traditional sentiments which hinder our advancement, we would view the work of saving souls in an altogether different light (RH, May 6, 1890).
What about the warnings of Scripture?
Let us notice briefly some of the most severe warnings of the Bible and study them very carefully.
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins (Isaiah 58:1).
This is not commanding the church members to go out and condemn and denounce their unbelieving friends and neighbors. It is rather to show believers their transgressions and sins. This Scripture is not a command to denounce other people, but it is a rebuke to God’s professing people (Read Isaiah 58:1-7). According to these verses, God’s people have been denunciatory rather than kind and loving. They have had the spirit of condemnation, rather that the spirit of sacrifice. They love to examine the lives of others, rather than their own lives.
What a sad commentary! A group of people who themselves are a covetous, debating, condemning people, think that the very message that condemns them and is given to bring them to their senses, is directed to others. Thus it does them no good.
In Christ’s ministry He only denounced the denouncer, the hypocrites. Let us learn of Jesus. It is no wonder that Jesus pleads with His own Laodicean church:
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked... I will spue thee out of my mouth (Revelation 3:17,16).
So, the “Cry aloud, spare not” of Isaiah 58 is against a debating, covetous, professed Sabbath-keeping church.
What about Revelation 14:8: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen?” Revelation 14:6 gives the setting. It declares that we are to give the “everlasting gospel.” And the Gospel is “good news.” We had better be careful not to be so busy talking about “Babylon is fallen” that we fail to give the Gospel also. We must see there is a balanced message. The Gospel is the only hope for those who are in fallen Babylon. Therefore, to leave the Gospel out would be to defeat the whole purpose of the warning.
We should be as careful, as tactful, as full of wisdom, as was Jesus. But in order to be like Him, we must come to Him with our pride, our self-sufficiency, our superior attitude and fall at His feet in deep humility, asking His pardon for our unkindness in dealing with those who may not have received as much gospel light as we have.
Let us never forget that in the message to come out of Babylon, God uses the term “my people.” Therefore, we have no right to infer that people of another faith are not God’s people. The most severe warning of the Bible indicates that people of other faiths may be “my people.” When you and I visit with people of other religious faiths, let us never even think, much less infer, that they are not God’s people, as individuals.
Some time ago I read of a public gathering in a large auditorium. During the program some of the men back stage detected fire. Their first thought was that they must save the people in that auditorium. But how were they going to do it?
We will say that two men are discussing how to warn the people. The first says, “I will tell you what I think we should do. I believe I should stalk out on the stage, brush the master of ceremonies to one side without apology, since time is short, and shout, ‘fire! Fire! This building is on fire! Escape for your lives!’ I think that is what I had better do.”
“No,” says the second man, “I have a better way. Let me show you.” So he steps out on the stage and apologizes to the master of ceremonies for interrupting the gathering. Then he pulls out his watch and says to the people, “The laws of our city require that at certain times we have fire drills, so that we may know the procedure in case of an emergency and this is one of those appointed times.” And it would be, wouldn’t it?
“Listen closely as I give you the orders to be followed in vacating this auditorium. The elderly ladies will go first, then the mothers with small children. Then will follow the older children and the old men. The younger men and women will follow. Each will use the nearest fire exit. Now let us see,” he continues, “if we can vacate this auditorium in about two minutes.”
The directions were followed. Everyone was saved. Had the first method been used, pandemonium would have resulted, with the possibility of many being trampled underfoot in the wild effort to escape.
Had you been in that situation, which method would you have employed? Let us use as much wisdom and tact where eternal life is at stake. What do you say? The very foundation of the law of God’s government is love (Matthew 22:36-40). But love cannot operate without the power of choice.
Each soul must make his own decision, based on the dictates of his own conscience. Therefore, anything that savors of criticism, denunciation or belittling in order to bring about the decision we desire, is a form of force and not from God.
How then can we help a person to come to a decision for Christ? Only by using Christ’s methods:
His blessings He presents in the most alluring terms. He is not merely content to announce these blessings. He presents them in the most attractive way to excite a desire to possess them (DA, 826).
Only as we “excite a desire” to possess Christ can we expect souls to choose Him. By picturing Him as the beautiful One, we “excite a desire to possess” Him. By showing the advantages of the Gospel, we “excite a desire to possess” it. By making the truth attractive, we “excite a desire to possess” it. There is no other rule by which we have a right to represent Christ or His Gospel.
Controversy is out. Condemnation has no place in soul winning. Denunciation is foreign to the method by which Christ won the sinful, the wanderers, the lost, to Himself.
Christ reveals His methods when He states, “I will allure her.” That sounds like the father of the prodigal. He met his wayward son while he was yet a great way off. He kissed that unkempt face. He cleaned up that filthy body and in exchange for his rags, placed on him the best robe. He put new shoes on his feet. He rejoiced over him with singing. That is God! God knows how to attract the sinner.
The Scriptures declare that God does more than instruct. He reconciles. “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). What wonderful alluring power of the Gospel! Ours is not a ministry of denunciation or condemnation, but of reconciliation.
And all things are of
God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given
to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).
If Christ be in us the hope of glory, we shall discover such matchless charms in Him that the soul will be enamored (T.V.1, 162).
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