When Jesus ascended to heaven in 31 a.d., the man that would become the chiefest of the apostles, the one who would write more than half of the books of the New Testament, was not yet a Christian. In fact, he was a bitter opponent who became so insolent against Christians that he was responsible for murdering many of the believers.
But the Spirit of God was in search of this man’s soul. In the first paragraph of the book Sketches from the Life of Paul, Ellen White describes it this way: “Beneath the blindness and bigotry of the zealot and the Pharisee, Infinite Wisdom discerned a heart loyal to truth and duty. And the voice from Heaven made itself heard above the clamors of pride and prejudice. In the promulgation of the gospel, Divine Providence would unite with the zeal and devotion of the Galilean peasants, the fiery vigor and intellectual power of a rabbi of Jerusalem. To lead the battle against pagan philosophy and Jewish formalism, was chosen one who had himself witnessed the debasing power of heathen worship, and endured the spiritual bondage of Pharisaic exaction.”
The Spirit of God is still in search of men like this—men who have theological training and are highly educated, whose education has been influenced by the popular religious teachers of today. The Spirit of God is searching for these men just as He searched for the apostle Paul nearly 2,000 years ago. Some are being found. The writer was happy, several weeks ago, to meet a pastor from Tennessee and another from Florida who not only have begun to keep the Sabbath but also are leading the faithful of their flocks to do the same. God has many more of these people that He is going to reach. Many minds are searching the Scriptures and being pricked in conscience that they are not completely following all of the Bible’s teachings.
We are told that the apostle Paul “had struggled entire nights against conviction.” Ibid., 24, 25. Many people, today, are in this struggle. Maybe there is one near you. They may not respond right away—it took a few years and some very rocky road before the apostle Paul responded. But if we are afraid of clergymen and never give them any literature to help them, how will they find the truth?
We recently learned of a church whose pastor is using material in his worship services from the Steps to Life television programs. As we keep sowing our seed, the Lord will send a harvest. Do not be afraid of the pastors in your area. Become friends with them—take them a loaf of homemade bread to open your friendship, and ask the Lord to lead you to an “apostle Paul” who can multiply your efforts a hundred-fold.
This will happen, and we want to cooperate with the Lord in making it happen. That is why, as 2004 begins, we are starting to provide academic training for people who are or who want to become ministers. There are many ministers desiring more academic training, and the training offered by Steps to Life is being used right now to help preachers from other churches learn about the Three Angels’ Messages and about God’s last-day people. If you know or meet a minister who is interested in further training, call or write to Steps to Life for enrollment information.
We are looking for the apostle Pauls of our time—those who right now are the bitterest enemies of the truth but who will in the future become its champions. Will you join us in the search?