Nothing is clearer in the Acts of the Apostles than that the disciples after Pentecost had success in gospel service. Everywhere they went God rained fire upon their Word and sanctioned the truth which they preached by tremendous moral and spiritual upheavals.
B. T. ROBERTS.
Bishop Roberts has put the matter of success very succinctly: |If the lawyer must win his case and the doctor cure his patient in order to be successful, the minister and worker must save souls if they in their calling are to be said to be successful.| But alas, saving souls is precisely what we are not doing. Thank God! there is here and there a man who stands out as a soul-saver. But the average minister is not distinguished for revivalism so much as proficiency in making a church social a |blooming success.|
We all want to seem to succeed. We shun and dread the appearance of failure. When a church begins to rot instead of grow it is natural for us to do our utmost to find out some way of excusing the retrogression without admitting our failure to reach men with the gospel. There are evangelists, who in the palmy days of their power had wonderful, heaven-gladdening revivals, who have ceased to wield |the sword of the Lord and of Gideon,| and, in order to cover their spiritual nakedness, are forced to resort to finger-raising, card-signing methods for stuffing and expanding |the big revival.| There is no more sobbing, no more desperate praying, no more shouting; all is |decent and in order,| as well it may be, for all is dead.
QUESTION OF EVANGELISM.
Honor to soul-saving! Show us the man who wins men to our Master, that we may clasp his hand and look into his face. Right here hangs all the discussion about evangelism. If the evangelist gets men soundly and scripturally converted and sanctified, let us bid him Godspeed! If he only amuses them and deals in paltry three-cent sensationalism, away with more of the same sort of stuff which we already have in so many pastors!
THE DIVINE RECIPE.
One thing is certain: God intends success and only success for His people. If, as His children, we fail, it must be because we have not followed the divine recipe for power and accomplishment. It was because the one hundred and twenty obeyed Christ and tarried at Jerusalem that God used the early Church to whip the Roman Empire.
|HOW TO SUCCEED|
|How to Succeed,| used as the title for a book, will make any book sell, though it be as dry as a patent-office report. People want to know how to succeed in the world. How strange then that ministers and churches who are brilliant and conspicuous failures should shun the preaching of Pentecost -- the one cure for failure and the sole guarantee of success.
How many times some of us have sighed over our inefficiency! How frequently, in default of apparent results, we have been forced to console ourselves with the thought that we are |sowing seed| and that there will be an abundant harvest at no distant date! Thank God! there is success for us all. Pentecost will give it to us.
JOHN THE BAPTIST.
We do not mean by success financial opulence. A man may be a success and yet as poor as John the Baptist lunching on dried locusts and honey-comb. One may be as wealthy as Croesus and yet be an awful failure. A church may be rich and increased with goods and incur the Laodicean curse.
Neither does success mean a great and highly-trumpeted statistical report to lug to conference. Some of our most inspiring |successes| are all right on paper, but in reality they are stuffed and padded scandalously. No, success in Christian work is to |turn many to righteousness,| save souls, and secure the sanctification of believers. If we do not see such results following our labor, we have either missed God's plan as to our selection of a field or we are not living in the present enjoyment of the Pentecostal Baptism.
THE EPOCHAL EXPERIENCE.
The preachers and evangelists who have won great successes in the calling of sinners to repentance have almost without exception testified to having received an |enduement| or |anointing| subsequent to their conversion. The Caugheys, the Moodys, the Whitefields, the Wesleys, the Foxes, the Earles, though in some instances they have not believed in holiness according to the Wesleyan view, have all had an epochal event after which their work and works were effective and startling.
THE EFFECT OF PENTECOST.
Pentecost coming to a mission-worker will fill his heart with enthusiasm and energy, and give him a host of jewels washed from the mire and shining like meteors. The same experience coming to a mechanic will fire him with a love for Jesus and a solicitude for souls that will make him pray and fast and weep and work for his fellow-laborers, for his neighbors, and for his friends. The Spirit coming to a gifted singer will cause her to consecrate her voice, like Rachel Winslow in Sheldon's |In His Steps,| so that with holy melody she will reach hearts hitherto hard and untouched.
THE PASSION FOR SOULS.
One of the conditions of success in soul-saving is a passion for the salvation of immortal men and women. Full salvation always brings this, and as long as a worker lives in its plentitude and enjoyment he is consumed with a burning, longing, panting thirst for souls.
THE GIGANTIC LANDSLIDE.
The ministers of early Methodism and early Quakerism were not of the sort who congregate in groups and discuss the relative desirability of various appointments. They did not spend their leisure in jesting, punning and guffawing, but in praying, studying, and working, for even their vacations were turned into days of toil. They spent their all in one endeavor -- to save men from a yawning Pit and a lurid Hell. Nowadays we live in perpetual relaxation and recreation. Smooth, insipid preachers talk to shallow, giddy audiences, and the whole thing is on a gigantic landslide. Lord, save! or death and damnation are sure.
THE UNCERTAIN FAITH.
There can be no successful denial of the assertion that real soul-absorbing earnestness in religion is dying out. We sometimes mock at the Herculean labors of men like Owen, and Baxter, and Calvin, and Edwards. But though these men were perhaps more or less legalistic and at times a little narrow, yet one thing is sure, they made religion the business of life, and went at it with zest, enthusiasm, and determination. Your modern |Christian| has |certain intellectual difficulties|; is |not fixed in belief concerning Socinianism|; does |not like the old idea of the Atonement|; in fact, is in a state of fusion so far as his belief and faith are concerned. Men do not give their life's blood for matters in which they have only a half-faith. But when one is convinced that men are dying in the dark and that their salvation depends in a measure on one's activity and fidelity, then one is hot with zeal and fire from hat to heel and set to working for God and eternal souls.
WEEPING OVER CHORAZIN.
This is the explanation of the zeal of men who are |burning for Jesus.| This is the reason men so frequently wear out in short order after they are sanctified. They are dipped in fellowship with Christ's sorrow, and beholding Him weeping over modern Capernaums and Chorazins their hearts are melted at the sight, and they speed away to preach the gospel of the lovely Son of God.
No wonder success comes to the sanctified man. Indwelt by the Shekinah, filled with the Holy Ghost, his whole being energized with power and force, |whatsoever he doeth prospers.|