Monday, May 7, 2012

"Personal Evangelism and Witnessing"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Evangelism and Witnessing
Lesson 6: "Personal Evangelism and Witnessing"

"God will give additional light, and old truths will be recovered, and replaced in the framework of truth; and wherever the laborers go, they will triumph. …
Every ray of light received is to be communicated to others.
 One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,--CHRIST OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
(Ellen G. White, Review and Herald Extra, Dec. 23, 1890)

Before one can effectively convey "the everlasting gospel" to someone else, the "glad tidings" must be understood (see Acts 13:32, 33). Let your own soul be won by the Good News. If the love of this truth is welcomed in your heart, nothing can stop it from flowing "out" in some way to others. Ponder this promise of Jesus: "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).
You can't "win souls" with bad tidings, only "glad tidings." Personal testimonies are certainly effective as long as they are CHRIST-centered, not ME-centered. If we truly believe the "glad tidings" our testimonies will bear witness to the change of heart that Christ has wrought in us.
Most have read this well-known quotation from Steps to Christ, but it is especially meaningful as we share the goodness of God with others: "Christ must be revealed to the sinner as the Saviour dying for the sins of the world; and as we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds, and the goodness of God leads us to repentance. In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition in the soul" (pp. 26, 27).
As Seventh-day Adventists we have been given a special and "most precious" message to share with the world. It is a fresh message from the Head of our church which has a presiding, practical power in the life. This "new" light is seeing Christ's sacrifice in connection with our cosmic Day of Reconciliation with God. Jesus has promised, "I will come again," and we believe it; that's why we are Seventh-day Adventists.
But before that day of His second coming will arrive there is something on God's agenda for today, His great promise: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, ..." (Mal. 4:5, 6). He will lead the honest in the world church into the one true miracle of His much more abounding grace: "turning hearts" in the great Day of Atonement. At last, Christ crucified and risen will be "lifted up" as He said He must be (John 12:32, 33).
The story of Elijah will shed light on the "message" that will "turn hearts" in these last days.
God honored the faith of the honest Jews of Christ's day and sent them "Elijah" in fulfillment of Malachi's promise because they sincerely expected that the coming of their Messiah would be "the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Even the disciples wondered "who" and "where" their "Elijah" was. Jesus told them not to look in their future; he had already come in the person of John the Baptist: "'Assuredly I say to you, among those born of women there has risen one greater than John the Baptist. ... And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come'" (Matt. 11:11-14).
But John's day was not "the great and dreadful day of the Lord." That day is now. Therefore we may expect "Elijah" to come as a messagein the same way that John's message was the fulfillment of Malachi's promise. "Behold the Lamb of God" (John 1:36).
Remember, Elijah is not dead; he was translated without seeing death, a "type" of those living today (dare we say, "us"?) who will welcome Jesus at His second coming in glory. The fruit of Elijah's ministry? Genuine reformation and revival. And God translated him! (2 Kings 2:11). Pretty good evidence of grace.
The common perception some have of "Elijah" is a fiery-tempered reformer who specializes in chopping heads off religious leaders with whom he disagrees--that is, prophets of Baal. But that is not a balanced view of Elijah's ministry. His primary work will be to "turn the hearts" of "fathers" and "children." That's what we call "reconciliation," and reconciliation is the same as "atonement," making the two to be one. According to the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, we are living in the great antitypical Day of Atonement which comes just before "the great and dreadful day of the Lord." In fact, today is that day, the special time of reconciliation, of turning hearts.
The message to come as a shaking message will "slay" the modern "prophets of Baal." "Elijah" won't need to decapitate anyone; each "prophet of Baal" will create reason for his own disappearing act: "There must be a refining, winnowing process in every church, for there are among us wicked men who do not love the truth or honor God." [1] "We are in the shaking time, the time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken." [2]
Therefore, it becomes clear that "Elijah's" work and message will be found in the unique remnant-church-truth of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. We must not forget that the three angels' messages of Revelation 14 are primarily directed to the Sunday-keeping churches, where the bulk of God's people are to be found.
Modern "Elijah" will proclaim nothing but positive "straight testimony. It will be the best Good News the world or the church has ever heard. His message will be the "third angel's message in verity," which will be a clearer concept of "the everlasting gospel" understood since Pentecost's message. The Protestant Reformers of the 16th century understood justification by faith clearly for their time, but they lived too soon to grasp the idea of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary in this Day of Atonement. Even Ellen Harmon failed to grasp it until after the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844. When she came to her 60s she eagerly welcomed a message brought by two young men (A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner) to the 1888 General Conference Session that brought a more clear understanding of justification by faith, the beginning of the Loud Cry of Revelation 18. She exclaimed with enthusiasm; it's initial "showers from heaven of the latter rain" (her words). [3]
The fruit of Elijah's earthly ministry? Genuine reformation and revival. A big job for one "prophet" to accomplish! And God translated him! (2 Kings 2:11). Pretty good evidence of grace. The already-translated Elijah will be "sent" to do the work worldwide as he was sent personally to encourage Christ at His Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-3). (That was a work of reconciliation!) Elijah will have "144,000" to help him (Rev. 14:1-5).
We appeal especially to young people: give your lives, not just a few days now and then in a mission trip somewhere, but to cooperate with "Elijah" in this grand work of telling the world this "heart-turning" message! You'll meet him some day; you'll be happy to have worked with him.
--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland
[1] Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, March 19, 1895.
[2] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 332, 1900.
[3] Letter to "Brethren who occupy Responsible Positions in the Work," Jan. 16, 1896, written from Avondale, Cooranbong, N.S.W.;The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1478.
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