1. OUR FIRST INTEREST
a. What should be the first interest of every Christian? Of what does evangelistic ministry consist? Revelation 22:17.
“Whatever one’s calling in life, his first interest should be to win souls for Christ. He may not be able to speak to congregations, but he can work for individuals. . . . Nigh and afar off are souls weighed down by a sense of guilt. It is not hardship, toil, or poverty that degrades humanity. It is guilt, wrongdoing. This brings unrest and dissatisfaction. Christ would have His servants minister to sin-sick souls.
“The disciples were to begin their work where they were. The hardest and most unpromising field was not to be passed by. So every one of Christ’s workers is to begin where he is. In our own families may be souls hungry for sympathy, starving for the bread of life. There may be children to be trained for Christ. There are heathen at our very doors. Let us do faithfully the work that is nearest. Then let our efforts be extended as far as God’s hand may lead the way.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 822.
b. In what sense should every Christian feel constrained by the love of Christ? 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15, 19.
2. LEARNING IN THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
a. Why and how are we to be workers together with Christ? 2 Corinthians 6:1.
“We are to be workers together with God for the restoration of health to the body as well as to the soul.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 824.
b. How may we be more efficient coworkers in the plan of salvation? Colossians 1:9, 10.
“Mechanics, lawyers, merchants, men of all trades and professions, are educated for the line of business they hope to enter. It is their policy to make themselves as efficient as possible. Go to the milliner or the dressmaker, and she will tell you how long she toiled before she had a thorough knowledge of her business. The architect will tell you how long it took him to understand how to plan a tasteful, commodious building. And so it is in all the callings that men follow.
“Should the servants of Christ show less diligence in preparing for a work infinitely more important? Should they be ignorant of the ways and means to be employed in winning souls?. . .
“It is a lamentable fact that the advancement of the cause is hindered by the dearth of educated laborers. Many are wanting in moral and intellectual qualifications.”—Gospel Workers, pp. 92, 93.
c. How can we “go on unto perfection” in the school of Christ? Philippians 3:12–14; Hebrews 6:1.
“The cause of God calls for all-round men, who can devise, plan, build up, and organize. And those who appreciate the probabilities and possibilities of the work for this time, will seek by earnest study to obtain all the knowledge they can from the Word, to use in ministering to needy, sin-sick souls. A minister should never think that he has learned enough, and may now relax his efforts.”—Ibid., p.94.
3. SEARCHING FOR THE LOST SHEEP
a. What question did Jesus ask certain men who invested money in flocks and herds? Luke 15:4.
“In the parable [of the lost sheep] the shepherd goes out to search for one sheep—the very least that can be numbered. So if there had been but one lost soul, Christ would have died for that one.
“The sheep that has strayed from the fold is the most helpless of all creatures. It must be sought for by the shepherd, for it cannot find its way back. So with the soul that has wandered away from God; he is as helpless as the lost sheep, and unless divine love had come to his rescue he could never find his way to God.”—Christ Object Lessons, p. 187.
b. How does a true colaborer of Christ act and feel when one of his sheep is missing? Luke 15:5, 6.
“The shepherd who discovers that one of his sheep is missing does not look carelessly upon the flock that is safely housed, and say, ‘I have ninety and nine, and it will cost me too much trouble to go in search of the straying one. Let him come back, and I will open the door of the sheepfold, and let him in.’ No; no sooner does the sheep go astray than the shepherd is filled with grief and anxiety. He counts and recounts the flock. When he is sure that one sheep is lost, he slumbers not. He leaves the ninety and nine within the fold and goes in search of the straying sheep. The darker and more tempestuous the night and the more perilous the way, the greater is the shepherd’s anxiety and the more earnest his search. He makes every effort to find that one lost sheep.”—Ibid., pp.187, 188.
c. What is the meaning of 1 John 3:1; 4:19?
“We do not repent in order that God may love us, but He reveals to us His love in order that we may repent.”—Ibid., p.189.
4. THE LOST COIN AND THE PRODIGAL SON
a. What does the lost coin mentioned in the parable represent? Luke 15:8, 9.
“The lost coin represents those who . . . have no sense of their condition. . . . Their souls are in peril, but they are unconscious and unconcerned. . . . Even those who are indifferent to the claims of God are the objects of His pitying love. They are to be sought for that they may be brought back to God. . . .
“This parable has a lesson to families. In the household there is often great carelessness concerning the souls of its members. Among their number may be one who is estranged from God; but how little anxiety is felt lest in the family relationship there be lost one of God’s entrusted gifts. ”—Christ Object Lessons, pp. 193, 194.
b. In the parable, what two tasks were required of the housewife in order to find the lost coin? Luke 15:8 (second part).
“The woman in the parable searches diligently for her lost coin. . . . She will not cease her efforts until that piece is found. So in the family if one member is lost to God every means should be used for his recovery. . . . Let there be diligent, careful self-examination. . . . See if there is not some mistake, some error in management, by which that soul is confirmed in impenitence.”—Ibid., p.194.
c. How does the Lord deal with modern prodigal sons and daughters? Luke 15:11–32. What lesson should we learn from the attitude of the elder brother?
“When you see yourselves as sinners saved only by the love of your heavenly Father, you will have tender pity for others who are suffering in sin. . . . When the ice of selfishness is melted from your hearts, you will be in sympathy with God and will share His joy in the saving of the lost. . . .
“[Your brother] is bound to you by the closest ties; for God recognizes him as a son. Deny your relationship to him, and you show that you are but a hireling in the household, not a child in the family of God.”—Ibid., pp.210, 211.
5. THE WORK OF GOSPEL MINISTERS
a. Define the main work of a gospel minister. 2 Corinthians 12:10; 2 Timothy 3:10, 11; 4:5.
“The work of the gospel minister is ‘to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God’ (Ephesians 3:9). If one entering upon this work chooses the least self-sacrificing part, contenting himself with preaching, and leaving the work of personal ministry for someone else, his labors will not be acceptable to God. Souls for whom Christ died are perishing for want of well-directed, personal labor; and he has mistaken his calling who, entering upon the ministry, is unwilling to do the personal work that the care of the flock demands.
“The spirit of the true shepherd is one of self-forgetfulness. . . . By the preaching of the word and by personal ministry in the homes of the people, he learns their needs, their sorrows, their trials; and, cooperating with the great Burden Bearer, he shares their afflictions, comforts their distresses, relieves their soul hunger, and wins their hearts to God.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 527.
b. What other qualities are essential in ministry? James 3:1, 2, 13–18.
“There is tactful work for the undershepherd to do as he is called to meet alienation, bitterness, envy, and jealousy in the church, and he will need to labor in the spirit of Christ to set things in order.”—Ibid., p.526.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What does it mean to be constrained by the love of Christ?
2. What type of education does the gospel minister need and why?
3. How does a true colaborer of Christ act and feel when a sheep is missing from the flock?
4. Which qualities are often forgotten as requirements in the gospel ministry?
5. How essential are tact and wisdom in the gospel ministry?