Developing Interested Souls for Baptism

By John Thiel

This aspect of is now to develop the interested souls for baptism. We have learnt how to arouse their interest and that is to do with how to find them. Now that you found them, once you have captivated an interest, you then want to win them to a final decision. If you have captivated an interest they will say to you, I want more information, I want Bible study. When you have them at that position, now you have a prospective candidate for baptism. When a person asks for Bible studies, you have a positive candidate. Why do I say this? Bible study produces something.

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

This is a very important principle to embrace because most people do not register that Bible study is actually productive of new birth. Even the people who are asking for Bible study don’t realise this. Their motive is to know the truth intellectually. They don’t realise that as they study the Bible it is God’s word and remember God spoke and He created. That is what the study of the Bible produces. Those who study the Bible will be recreated. That is the new birth and this is how we are to approach our Bible studies with them even if they do not consider it to be so. The word of God produces new birth and that is how we approach it. They begin to feel from the communications made before hand and they will touch for it. In our missionary activities we are to have this prospective mentality to produce the right thing in their life.

As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. {DA 391.1}

We must study God’s word in a practical way for ourselves. It must be an experimental study and practise of Gods word. That is the way that God’s word is meant to be studied so when people want Bible studies, what the word of God had done for me, I must pass on to them as the living truth.

Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude. This is what it means to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” This is eating the Bread that comes down from heaven. {DA 391.1}

Christ had spoken a sacred, eternal truth regarding the relation between Himself and His followers. He knew the character of those who claimed to be His disciples, and His words tested their faith. He declared that they were to believe and act upon His teaching. All who received Him would partake of His nature, and be conformed to His character. This involved the relinquishment of their cherished ambitions. It required the complete surrender of themselves to Jesus. They were called to become self-sacrificing, meek and lowly in heart. They must walk in the narrow path travelled by the Man of Calvary, if they would share in the gift of life and the glory of heaven. {DA 391.2}

This is what is behind Bible study. Once they say they want Bible studies, ask the Lord, please help me to communicate the word of God as the man Christ Jesus. Because was He not the word? We are not just giving them information. If we do, we are missing the call.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, 

Jesus was the word that was living and as we study the word livingly, the people will discover the creative power of the word.

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

When the Word is presented in the way Gods true servants will present it, it will be the channel by which those who have receive that word, will receive Him and to them that received Him, He will give them power to become the sons of God. That is what Bible study is all about. They think that they are having an intellectual exercise; they will get a surprise as time goes on. If these people are not aware of it, it is better but the moment they say I want to be baptised, you have a problem as you will disappoint them because their expectation of baptism is different to what you are going to show them. I’ve had several experiences of this nature. They tell me I want to be baptised and I think wonderful. I had a phone call out the blue in Australia from a 17 year old girl. “I am ringing up as I want to be baptised.” I said, “who are you, where are you coming from?” “I am Catholic.” I said, “If you want to be baptised we need to study the Bible.” “Yes I want that.” So we started studying and as time went on it was getting more and more difficult as the word of God was calling her to change. It was a difficult case as she said towards the end I feel as though I have a gun to my head because if I don’t proceed I’m damned and if I do, I have to live with many changes. You have a problem. Ultimately she was baptised.

The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ (MS 148, 1897). {6BC 1075.7}

There are many baptisms in this age of the world that are of this nature and it is based on the fact that we studied in the Bible where we see it as a lecture book and it sounds reasonable and we say yes and we take the word of God as an academic exercise. We come to the conclusion now I know it and I believe it and I changed certain things in my life but I’m only partially converted. Then I go into the waters of baptism but I’m still alive as self is still alive and kicking. The old self must go and the new nature must take place and that comes through the study of the word. As a responsible agent as the oracles of God it is yours to articulate the word of God to bring about new birth.

How Jesus Did It

It must through the studies meet their internal need sand every study is carefully selected to create the progress of the death of self and the birth of the new person. That is a skill in itself, practical knowledge. Something that sparkles and shines, not a lifeless theory but a living force to change the life. As these people say, I want to have a Bible study, you need divine intuition.

This scripture brings to view the fact that there is most earnest work to be done. {7BC 953.5}

A minister who is studying or any person who is taking studies with people needs:

..and we need divine intuition that we may know how to work for souls ready to perish. There are souls to be plucked out of the fire, there are souls who are to be treated with the tenderest compassion. Workers are needed who have learned in the school of Christ His method of saving souls (Letter 7, 1895). {7BC 953.5}

In the study of the Bible we need that extra intuition. What does that word mean? The dictionary says: an immediate mental view or perception or discernment gained without reasoning and deduction or intervention of other ideas. An intuition is something which strikes you there and then as you are seeing an individual. That is what the Lord taught me when I was nursing because as I came to deal with a patient, I could set them at ease in the job I had come to do. As consequence of that, over the three years when I went canvassing, I knew how to speak to people. It helps you to see a person in front of you and you can quickly assess what to do with that person.

To win them or to know where they are at so we can commence Bible studies where they first need them. By prayer and opening the mind to ones personal relationship to God, you can then consider the candidate to understand the work that we have to do with that candidate who has asked for Bible studies. What do we do? Where is he at? We read something that bears this whole principle out. We are to be co-workers with Christ following a plan that is relevant to the situation.

Throughout the parable of the sower, Christ represents the different results of the sowing as depending upon the soil (the heart). In every case the sower and the seed are the same. Thus He teaches that if the word of God fails of accomplishing its work in our hearts and lives, the reason is to be found in ourselves. {COL 56.1}

Because the word of God creates.

But the result is not beyond our control. True, we cannot change ourselves; but the power of choice is ours, and it rests with us to determine what we will become. The wayside, the stony-ground, the thorny-ground hearers need not remain such. The Spirit of God is ever seeking to break the spell of infatuation that holds men absorbed in worldly things, and to awaken a desire for the imperishable treasure. It is by resisting the Spirit that men become inattentive to or neglectful of God’s word. They are themselves responsible for the hardness of heart that prevents the good seed from taking root, and for the evil growths that check its development. {COL 56.1}

You are in a position of helping people to come and for the word of God to fall into good ground. You make an assessment of this person the garden of the heart must be cultivated. You have a heart of stony ground material in front of you.

The garden of the heart must be cultivated. The soil must be broken up by deep repentance for sin. Poisonous, Satanic plants must be uprooted. The soil once overgrown by thorns can be reclaimed only by diligent labor. So the evil tendencies of the natural heart can be overcome only by earnest effort in the name and strength of Jesus. The Lord bids us by His prophet, “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.” “Sow to yourselves in righteousness; reap in mercy.” Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12. This work He desires to accomplish for us, and He asks us to co-operate with Him. {COL 56.2}

The sowers of the seed (the missionary) have a work to do in preparing hearts to receive the gospel. COL 57.1}

If I am an agent or servant of the Lord, to just give Bible studies where we think I just have to give them information, it will no doubt fail on the natural person’s heart. The person is asking for your careful work and under inspiration we are told it is a serious labour.

In the ministry of the word there is too much sermonizing, and too little of real heart-to-heart work. {COL 57.1}

Its so easy to do, just present the study and that’s it. No, it is heart to heart work.

There is need of personal labor for the souls of the lost. In Christlike sympathy we should come close to men individually, and seek to awaken their interest in the great things of eternal life. Their hearts may be as hard as the beaten highway, and apparently it may be a useless effort to present the Saviour to them; but while logic may fail to move, and argument be powerless to convince, the love of Christ, revealed in personal ministry, may soften the stony heart, so that the seed of truth can take root. {COL 57.1}

Can you see how much there is involved in really bringing people to baptism? Our studies must be carefully arranged so that whoever you meet, there are studies that will deal with the conditions of the people we are giving them to. Our studies need to be tailored to the individual. This is the word of the one who sows the seed, that he can remove the weeds so that the seed can grow. This is done not only in the study of the Bible, but also in personal ministry to the individuals and their personal interest. There is a labour, a one-to-one work. We are to come close to the individual.

So the sowers have something to do that the seed may not be choked with thorns or perish because of shallowness of soil. At the very outset of the Christian life every believer should be taught its foundation principles. He should be taught that he is not merely to be saved by Christ’s sacrifice, but that he is to make the life of Christ his life and the character of Christ his character. Let all be taught that they are to bear burdens and to deny natural inclination. Let them learn the blessedness of working for Christ, following Him in self-denial, and enduring hardness as good soldiers. Let them learn to trust His love and to cast on Him their cares. Let them taste the joy of winning souls for Him. …{COL 57.2}

We can’t tell people things, they won’t do it. They need to have the word of God placed before them and let them discover how the word can touch our lives. This is the way that we study the word with people, the word shows the people what to do. This is divine intuition. There are three different categories of people that can come to you for help.

From the World

The first type of person is one from the world who knows nothing of spiritual things. How do you study with these people? They need Bible study skills. Show them how the Bible makes sense. If you don’t know, how can you show them? Once they know that the Bible is beautiful in its harmony, then you help them understand the origin of sin and God’s dealing with it. Keep studying with them until they understand this. Then enter into prophecy and how it relates to what you have just shown them. Prophecy reveals how God deals with sin. Once they are secure with that, study the doctrines and standards that we are to put in practice. You cannot start that until they are in a position to deal with the changes that need to be made. Finally you show them the three angel’s message and the looking towards the Second Advent. In studying with these people you only use the Bible until you can bring them to an understanding of Ellen White’s writings as the Spirit of Prophecy. Then you can prepare them for baptism.

From Another Church

The second category of person is one that comes from another church. You need to asses their doctrines and their comprehension of their gospel. Deal very carefully with the errors that they hold. Charm them with the beauty of the Bible’s ability to reveal what it means for itself. They often rely on a minister’s interpretation. The Lord will help you do this if you ask for the intuition in prayer. Uphold the beauty of Jesus, the atonement, the nature of Christ and then you can finally show them that He had to die because we broke the law. Then you can go into the law. Reveal to them the true gospel, this is the first angel’s message. Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgement is come. The gospel leads to judgement. Then they can come to the real Jesus.

The Adventist

The third category is the Adventist. A lot of Adventists and reformers have a problem: Laodicea. Your first work is to help them discover the beauty of the pioneer Adventist message. Tailor make their studies. Don’t attack the churches they come from. Sometimes you can use the Spirit of Prophecy, but mostly use the Bible until you can be confident that they will receive Ellen White’s writings. Unveil the principles of original Adventism. Then reveal the dismantling of those doctrines in the Adventist church. One of the most important subjects in all of these studies is to reveal the 1888 message in its true light and grounding their faith in Ellen White’s writings.

In all three cases, articulate through the Word that the old natural man needs to die and a new birth needs to take place. That is the aim of all Bible study. What is the principal that underpins all of our communications?

Proverbs 18:24 A man [that hath] friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother.

We are trying to win friends for Christ so then we must show ourselves friendly. We must not be stiff. We must come close to the people and show them a friendly dialogue.

1 Peter 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by [your] good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all [men]. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

Daniel is a perfect representation of this. He honoured the king and the Chaldeans. Honour those people who are even misusing other people. Honour all men. By Daniel’s skilful handling of Nebuchadnezzar, he won the king over a long period of time.

Romans 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, [but] not to doubtful disputations.

This is very important. If you honour a person and they have differences of view, don’t get into disputations and don’t present to them something that isn’t absolutely clear from the Bible. There are certain things that we pick up personally from the Bible which is our personal opinion. Don’t present them. They are doubtful disputations. If we promote them, we will create doubtful disputations. These people are babes in Christ. The moment you throw these doubtful disputations, they are confused. This must be strictly avoided.

Jesus knew that they would spare no effort to create a division between His own disciples and those of John. He knew that the storm was gathering which would sweep away one of the greatest prophets ever given to the world. Wishing to avoid all occasion for misunderstanding or dissension, He quietly ceased His labors, and withdrew to Galilee. We also, while loyal to truth, should try to avoid all that may lead to discord and misapprehension. For whenever these arise, they result in the loss of souls. Whenever circumstances occur that threaten to cause division, we should follow the example of Jesus and of John the Baptist. {DA 181.4}

What does this mean? If you know that there is some danger in the subject that you are touching and you can see the storm is coming on a subject, you avoid it. You don’t let it take root like a bulldog holding on. You do what j did, you get away from that subject and stay away from it until the Lord settles the situation in such a way that everything is self evident. That is very important so we don’t create unnecessary confusion in souls that are in the balance. Sometimes we think that Jesus could have dealt with it, but he the wise teacher walked away from it.

I’ve practised this very much. Someone preaches something and you think, what was that for? Some come to me and say did you see that? It is nothing.  Let it pass.  The fact is that when something is presented that creates a conflict, if you pass it off as non-existent, it will die a natural death. But if you pursue it and start entering into the discussion as a servant of God, you will create a problem that you don’t know what the result will be of. It is far better to leave it. The Lord can work with you that will bring about a discovery pattern that will solve the whole problem without you touching it. God’s word will illuminate the error without having to address the error. People will say back there I said that but I can see it was wrong and it was peacefully discovered without any conflict. This is Christ’s way and it must be hung to as we are trying to win souls, break the hard hearts, and pull up the weeds. If you let anything interfere with that, we will create more weeds and harden the hearts. This is the wisdom that comes from Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Posted on October 3, 2011, in Missionary Studies, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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