Friday, August 28, 2020

1888 Message Study : Developing a Winning Attitude




"Developing a Winning Attitude".  No, it's not the title of the latest "self-help" best-seller, but a lesson on "Developing a SOUL-Winning Attitude"!


If you aren't in the habit of reading the SS lesson, and haven't read it this week, then I want you, right now, to STOP, go read this SS lesson, and then come back to our SS Insight for this week.


This week's lesson is excellent.  Please, please don't miss reading it.


The lesson points out, "the last place the disciples expected to find hearts receptive to the gospel was in Samaria."  We might need to ask ourselves, where do we believe our "Samaria" to be?  What is the "last place" that we expect to find hearts "receptive to the gospel"?  Atheism?  Islam?  Young people?  LGBTQ+?  Wealthy, worldly, and well-educated?  Etc?


Do we believe that the only potentially promising field is disgruntled Catholics and open-minded Protestants?  And beyond that, we have little hope of finding "hearts receptive to the gospel", just as the disciples had little hope?


The lesson goes on to point out, "Jesus saw what the disciples did not see: receptive hearts. . . .  When our eyes are divinely anointed by the Holy Spirit, we see possibilities where others see only difficulties.  We see a rich harvest of souls for the kingdom of God where others see only barren fields."


Ellen White supports the lesson's idea: "never regard the most hardened sinner as beyond the reach of the grace of God . . .  (God) can bring the most selfish, sin-hardened soul to Christ."


Never forget Romans 2:4!  ". . . the goodness of God leads to repentance".  No matter what or where our "Samaria" is, when we present the "goodness of God", meaning the "good news" about God, ALL will be led to repentance.


Notice how E.J. Waggoner powerfully unpacks this verse:


"And we need not try to improve on the Scriptures, and say that the goodness of God tends to lead men to repentance. The Bible says that it does lead them to repentance, and we may be sure that it is so. Every man is being led toward repentance as surely as God is good. But not all repent. Why? Because they despise the riches of the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God, and break away from the merciful leading of the Lord. But whoever does not resist the Lord, will surely be brought to repentance and salvation." {July 19, 1894 EJW, PTUK 452.6}


Notice two things about how Jesus talked with the woman at the well that led to His success with her:


  1. He didn't allow their new friendship to be immediately strained by a controversial theological point – in this situation, "where is the right location for worship" (today we might debate what's the right style of worship – not a debate for early relationships).  She was attempting to use a theological debate to divert the conversation away from her awakening conscience.  She thought, "if I can change the subject to something impersonal and theological, then we won't continue on this path of conversation about my need for 'living water'".  May we have this wisdom to build confidence and comfort and friendship, before engaging on more difficult topics.  As Ellen White said, "There is common ground, upon which we can meet people of all 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." PUR, June 22, 1905 par. 3}.

Common sense, yes?


  1. Notice the woman's testimony to the others in her city.  ""Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"  Very few of us would be eager to be around someone who knew, "all things that I ever did"!  Why?  Because very often we still feel a sense of guilt and shame for what we've done in the past, and we fear rejection and shame from others if they "knew all that we ever did".  Yet, this woman with a history of multiple failed and most likely multiple adulterous relationships, felt safe in Christ's presence to the point that she wanted to introduce Him to her neighbors!


Notice how Pastor Finley, the lessons principal contributor, articulates this point.  "you are accepted in Christ, who knows all about the things that others might not know anything about.  Yes, He knows all of that, and, yet, He accepts you anyway, not because of your own goodness but because of His."  May people have this same safety and acceptance with each of us.  This ought to be one of the fruits of belief in the 1888 message gospel truths.


Ellen White gets to the core of the evangelistic success of Jesus, and calls us to the same evangelistic approach:


"If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."  (9T 189).


Complicated formula isn't it!  Humble, kind, courteous, tenderhearted, pitiful.  The key to evangelistic success.  Doable?  Yes!


Notice – one hundred baptisms where now there is one – by being humble, kind, courteous, tenderhearted, and pitiful!  If you had 5 baptisms last year in your local church, you would have had 500!  The Seventh-day Adventist church has nearly 25 million (25,000,000) adherents.  Is it conceivable that if the attitude and principles outlined above – humility, kindness, courtesy, tenderheartedness, pity – were adhered to, we would have 100x our current membership?  Instead of 25 million, there would be 2.5 BILLION (2,500,000,000) Seventh-day Adventists?  The gospel IS the power!


Is it possible that too often we've preached doctrine - merely, but haven't preached OR LIVED Christ?  Is there a difference between "the truth", and "the truth as it is in Jesus"?  Is it true that, "the strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian"? {MH 470.1}.  Is it possible to be able to articulate the mechanics and specifics of the gospel, and yet be infantile in our experience and revelation of the gospel?


          It's time to grow up.

          It's time to "develop a (soul) winning attitude".

          What does that look like?  Humility, kindness, courtesy, tenderheartedness, pity.

          How can we experience it?  Romans2:4 – "the goodness of God leads to repentance" as sure as God is good!


~Bob Hunsaker