1. REACHING THE UNREACHED
a. Describe the Lord’s plan for His sheep who are outside His fold. Ezekiel 34:12–14. What was the modern-day messenger of God bidden to say about this need?
“As I traveled through the South on my way to the Conference, I saw city after city that was unworked. What is the matter? The ministers are hovering over churches, which know the truth, while thousands are perishing out of Christ. If the proper instruction were given, if the proper methods were followed, every church member would do his work as a member of the body. He would do Christian missionary work. But the churches are dying, and they want a minister to preach to them. They should be taught to bring a faithful tithe to God, that He may strengthen and bless them. They should be brought into working order, that the breath of God may come to them. They should be taught that unless they can stand alone, without a minister, they need to be converted anew, and baptized anew. They need to be born again.”—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1750.
“The world is to be warned. Ministers should work earnestly and devotedly, opening new fields and engaging in personal labor for souls, instead of hovering over the churches that already have great light and many advantages.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 255.
2. STRENGTHENED BY SERVICE
a. What saving light must be given to every person on earth? Isaiah 42:6; Mark 16:15. How have we as individual believers often neglected this duty—especially when assembled in larger congregations?
“The commission of Christ is to be carried out to the letter. God’s people must consecrate to Him their means and their capabilities. The faithful soldiers of the cross of Christ are to go forth without the camp, bearing the reproach and following in the path of self-denial trodden by the Redeemer.
“The ministers who are hovering over the churches, preaching to those who know the truth, would better go into places still in darkness. Unless they do this, they themselves and their congregations will become dwarfed. Our religion has become weak and sickly because the members of the church have left their first love. They might be strong men and women in Christ if they would obey the Lord’s directions. . . .
“The world is perishing in sin. How much longer will you allow yourselves to be held from the great, needy vineyard, when the history of this world is so near its close?”—The Review and Herald, February 9, 1905.
“There are many of the members of our large churches doing comparatively nothing, who might accomplish a good work, if, instead of crowding together, they would scatter into places that have not yet been entered by the truth.”—Ibid., November 26, 1914.
b. What must every minister and layperson keep in mind? Isaiah 43:11.
“The people of God who have had light and knowledge have not carried out the high and holy purposes of God. They have not advanced from victory to victory, adding new territory, lifting up the standard in the cities and their suburbs. Great spiritual blindness has been shown by those who have had great light flashed upon them by the Lord, but who have not advanced in the light to greater and still greater light. Church members have not been encouraged to use spir-itual nerve and muscle in the work of advancement. . . .
“In every church young men and young women should be selected to bear responsibilities. Let them make every effort to qualify themselves to help those who know not the truth. God calls for earnest, whole-souled workers. The humble and contrite will learn by personal experience that beside Him there is no savior.”—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 139.
3. REFRESHMENT FOR THE THIRSTY
a. What does God promise to do for those who seek to carry out His will wholeheartedly? Isaiah 44:3, 4.
“We are taught in God’s word that this is the time, above all others, when we may look for light from heaven. It is now that we are to expect a refreshing from the presence of the Lord. We should watch for the movings of God’s providence as the army of Israel watched for ‘the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees’ (2 Samuel 5:24)—the appointed signal that heaven would work for them.
“God cannot glorify His name through His people while they are leaning upon man and making flesh their arm. Their present state of weakness will continue until Christ alone shall be exalted; until, with John the Baptist, they shall say from a humble and reverent heart: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30). Words have been given me to speak to the people of God: ‘Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary. Let humanity stand back, that all may behold Him in whom their hopes of eternal life are centered.’ . . .
“It is to the thirsting soul that the fountain of living waters is open. . . . [Isaiah 43:3 quoted.] To souls that are earnestly seeking for light and that accept with gladness every ray of divine illumination from His holy word, to such alone light will be given. It is through these souls that God will reveal that light and power which will lighten the whole earth with His glory.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 728, 729.
b. Describe the folly of the world in trusting to their idols. Isaiah 44:9, 14–17; 46:5–8. What refreshing news do these idol worshippers need to hear? Isaiah 44:22; Psalm 103:11–13.
“God longs to breathe into prostrate humanity the breath of life. And He will not permit any soul to be disappointed who is sincere in his longing for something higher and nobler than anything the world can offer. Constantly He is sending His angels to those who, while surrounded by circumstances the most discouraging, pray in faith for some power higher than themselves to take possession of them and bring deliverance and peace. In various ways God will reveal Himself to them and will place them in touch with providences that will establish their confidence in the One who has given Himself a ransom for all, ‘that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments’ (Psalm 78:7).”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 377, 378.
4. ENLARGING OUR BORDERS
a. What does God want His despised, forsaken remnant to do? Psalm 5:11; Isaiah 54:1.
“All the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah is applicable to the people of God, and every specification of the prophecy will be fulfilled.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1148.
b. Explain the assurance given to those who open their hearts and homes to others. Isaiah 54:2, 3; Hebrews 13:1, 2.
“God has given me a message for His people. They must awake, spread their tents, and enlarge their borders. My brethren and sisters, you have been bought with a price, and all that you have and are is to be used to the glory of God and for the good of your fellow men. Christ died on the cross to save the world from perishing in sin. He asks your cooperation in this work. You are to be His helping hand. With earnest, unwearying effort you are to seek to save the lost. Remember that it was your sins that made the cross necessary. When you accepted Christ as your Saviour you pledged yourself to unite with Him in bearing the cross. For life and for death you are bound up with Him, a part of the great plan of redemption.
“The transforming power of Christ’s grace molds the one who gives himself to God’s service. Imbued with the Spirit of the Redeemer, he is ready to deny self, ready to take up the cross, ready to make any sacrifice for the Master. No longer can he be indifferent to the souls perishing around him. He is lifted above self-serving. He has been created anew in Christ, and self-serving has no place in his life.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 9, 10.
c. What amazing promises are associated with this type of missionary work? Isaiah 54:4, 5, 10, 17.
“God’s everlasting arm encircles the soul that turns to Him for aid, however feeble that soul may be. The precious things of the hills shall perish; but the soul that lives for God, unmoved by censure, unperverted by applause, shall abide forever with Him.”—Ibid., vol.4, p. 328.
5. PROMISING PROSPECTS AHEAD
a. What does God want us to be to those around us, and what assurances are there for those who undertake this work? 2 Chronicles 16:9; Isaiah 11:10–13; 57:13, 14.
“The groups of missionaries in heathen lands have been likened by the prophet to ensigns set up for the guidance of those who are looking for the light of truth. . . .
“The day of deliverance is at hand. . . . Among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, He sees men and women who are praying for light and knowledge. Their souls are unsatisfied; long have they fed on ashes. See Isaiah 44:20. The enemy of all righteousness has turned them aside, and they grope as blind men. But they are honest in heart and desire to learn a better way. Although in the depths of heathenism, with no knowledge of the written law of God nor of His Son Jesus, they have revealed in manifold ways the working of a divine power on mind and character.
“At times those who have no knowledge of God aside from that which they have received under the operations of divine grace have been kind to His servants, protecting them at the risk of their own lives. The Holy Spirit is implanting the grace of Christ in the heart of many a noble seeker after truth, quickening his sympathies contrary to his nature, contrary to his former education.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 375-377.
“The Lord sends the message, ‘Take up the stumbling-block out of the way of my people.’ Earnest effort is to be put forth to counterwork the influences that have kept back the message for this time. A solemn work is to be done in a short space of time.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1148.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. If we are truly converted, what should we be willing to do in our churches?
2. Explain the disadvantage of large congregations.
3. To whom only will light be given, and what will they do with this light?
4. In what ways can I “enlarge” my “tent” for the Lord?
5. What steps can we take to help those who are blindly groping for light?