Guarding Proper Approaches

Jesus Studied Natural Train of Thought—The beneficent operations of nature are not accomplished by abrupt and startling interpositions; men are not permitted to take her work into their own hands. God works through the calm, regular operation of His appointed laws. So it is in spiritual things. Satan is constantly seeking to produce effects by rude and violent thrusts; but Jesus found access to minds by the pathway of their most familiar associations. He disturbed as little as possible their accustomed train of thought, by abrupt actions or prescribed rules. He honored man with His confidence, and thus placed him on his honor. He introduced old truths in a new and precious light. Thus, when only twelve years old, He astonished the doctors of the law by His questions in the temple. Ev 139.5

Jesus assumed humanity, that He might meet humanity. He brings men under the transforming power of truth by meeting them where they are. He gains access to the heart by securing sympathy and confidence, making all feel that His identification with their nature and interest is complete. The truth came from His lips beautiful in its simplicity, yet clothed with dignity and power. What a teacher was our Lord Jesus Christ! How tenderly did He treat every honest enquirer after truth, that He might gain admission to the sympathies, and find a home in the heart.—Manuscript 44, 1894. Ev 140.1

Results Determined by Approaches—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.... It depends very much on the way we take hold to labor whether we shall have souls as the result of our efforts.—Manuscript 14, 1887. Ev 140.2

Sound Methods for Meeting Prejudice—Brethren, you who go forth to labor for those who are bound in chains of prejudice and ignorance, need to exercise the same divine wisdom that Paul manifested. When you are laboring in a place where souls are just beginning to get the scales from their eyes, and to see men as trees walking, be very careful not to present the truth in such a way as to arouse prejudice, and to close the door of the heart to the truth. Agree with the people on every point where you can consistently do so. Let them see that you love their souls, and want to be in harmony with them so far as possible. If the love of Christ is revealed in all your efforts, you will be able to sow the seed of truth in some hearts; God will water the seed sown, and the truth will spring up and bear fruit to His glory. Ev 140.3

Our ministers need more of the wisdom that Paul had. When he went to labor for the Jews, he did not first make prominent the birth, betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, notwithstanding these were the special truths for that time. He first brought them down step by step over the promises that had been made of a Saviour, and over the prophecies that pointed Him out. After dwelling upon these until the specifications were distinct in the minds of all, and they knew that they were to have a Saviour, he then presented the fact that this Saviour had already come. Christ Jesus fulfilled every specification. This was the “guile” with which Paul caught souls. He presented the truth in such a manner that their former prejudice did not arise to blind their eyes and pervert their judgment.—Historical Sketches, 121, 122 (1886). Ev 141.1

Caution in Presenting Opening Subjects—The greatest care is needed in dealing with these souls. Be always on guard. Do not at the outset press before the people the most objectionable features of our faith, lest you close the ears of those to whom these things come as a new revelation. Ev 141.2

Let such portions of truth be dealt out to them as they may be able to grasp and appreciate; though it should appear strange and startling, many will recognize with joy that new light is shed on the Word of God. Whereas if truth were presented in so large a measure that they could not receive it, some would go away and never come again. More than this, they would misrepresent the truth, and in their explanation of what was said they would so wrest the Scriptures as to confuse other minds. We must take advantage of circumstances now. Present the truth as it is in Jesus. There must be no combative or controversial spirit in the advocacy of truth.—Manuscript 44, 1894. Ev 142.1

Study Community Needs Before Choosing Subjects—Become acquainted with the people in their homes. Test the spiritual pulse and carry war into the camp. Create an interest. Pray and believe, and you will gain an experience which will be of value to you. Do not take up subjects which are so deep that they require mind struggles to comprehend. Pray and believe as you work. Awaken the people to do something. In the name of the Lord work with persevering intensity.—Letter 189, 1899. Ev 142.2

Preparing the Soil for the Good Seed—Remember that great care is to be exercised in regard to the presentation of truth. Carry the minds along guardedly. Dwell upon practical godliness, weaving the same into doctrinal discourses. The teachings and love of Christ will soften and subdue the soil of the heart for the good seed of truth.—Letter 14, 1887. Ev 142.3

Do Not Arouse Controversy and Opposition—Learn to meet the people where they are. Do not present subjects that will arouse controversy. Let not your instruction be of a character to perplex the mind.—Testimonies For The Church 6:58 (1900). Ev 142.4

Do not arouse opposition before the people have had opportunity to hear the truth and know what they are opposing.—Testimonies For The Church 6:36 (1900). Ev 143.1

Do Not Drive People From the Truth—Upon us there rests the solemn responsibility of presenting the truth to unbelievers in the most forcible manner. How careful we should be not to present the truth in a way that will drive men and women from it. Religious teachers stand where they can do great good or great evil.... Ev 143.2

The Lord calls upon us to come to the banquet of truth, and then go out into the highways and hedges, and compel souls to come in, by presenting the great and wonderful offering that Christ has made to the world. We are to present the truth in the way that Christ told His disciples to present it—in simplicity and love.—Letter 177, 1903. Ev 143.3

Considering Pastors of Other Denominations—It should ever be manifest that we are reformers, but not bigots. When our laborers enter a new field, they should seek to become acquainted with the pastors of the several churches in the place. [See also pp. 562-564, “Ministers of Other Denominations.”] Much has been lost by neglecting to do this. If our ministers show themselves friendly and sociable, and do not act as if they were ashamed of the message they bear, it will have an excellent effect, and may give these pastors and their congregations favorable impressions of the truth. At any rate, it is right to give them a chance to be kind and favorable if they will. Ev 143.4

Our laborers should be very careful not to give the impression that they are wolves stealing in to get the sheep, but should let the ministers understand their position and the object of their mission—to call the attention of the people to the truths of God's Word. There are many of these which are dear to all Christians. Here is common ground, upon which we can meet people of other denominations; and in becoming acquainted with them we should dwell mostly upon topics in which all feel an interest, and which will not lead directly and pointedly to the subjects of disagreement.—The Review and Herald, June 13, 1912. Ev 143.5

Avoid Unnecessary Barriers—We should not, upon entering a place, build up unnecessary barriers between us and other denominations, especially the Catholics, so that they think we are their avowed enemies. We should not create a prejudice in their minds unnecessarily, by making a raid upon them. There are many among the Catholics who live up to the light they have far better than many who claim to believe present truth, and God will just as surely test and prove them as He has tested and proved us.—Manuscript 14, 1887. Ev 144.1

Spiritual Eyesight Needed—Time, precious time, has been lost. Golden opportunities have passed by unimproved, because of a lack of clear spiritual eyesight and wise generalship to plan and devise ways and means to frustrate the enemy and preoccupy the field.... Ev 144.2

Slumbering watchmen, what of the night? Do you not know the time of night? Do you feel no burden to lift the danger signal and give the warnings for this time? If you do not, come down from the walls of Zion, for God will not entrust you with the light He has to give. Light is only given to those who will reflect that light upon others.—Manuscript 107, 1898. Ev 144.3