Importance of the Manner of Presenting Truth. -- The manner in which the truth is presented often has much to do in determining whether it will be accepted or rejected.-- Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 404, 405. (1880)
It is to be regretted that many do not realise that the manner in which Bible truth is presented has much to do with the impressions made upon minds, and with the Christian character afterward developed by those who receive the truth. Instead of imitating Christ in His manner of labour, many are severe, critical, and dictatorial. They repulse instead of winning souls. Such will never know how many weak ones their harsh words have wounded and discouraged.-- Historical Sketches, p. 121. (1886)
Startling Messages. --Most startling messages will be borne by men of God's appointment, messages of a character to warn the people, to arouse them. And while some will be provoked by the warning, and led to resist light and evidence, we are to see from this that we are giving the testing message for this time. . . . We must also have, in our cities, consecrated evangelists through whom a message is to be borne so decidedly as to startle the hearers.-- Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 137. (1909)
With Certainty and Decision. --There is a living power in truth, and the Holy Spirit is the agent that opens human minds to the truth. But the ministers and workers who proclaim the truth must show certainty and decision. They are to go forth in faith, and present the Word as though they believed it. Try to make those for whom you labour understand that it is God's truth. Preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This will confront Satan's lies.-- Letter 34, 1896.
The Word of the Living God. --If your way of presenting the truth is God's way, your audience will be deeply impressed with the truth you present. The conviction will come to them that it is the word of the living God, and you will accomplish the will of God in power.-- Letter 48, 1902.
Big Ideas of Scripture Truth. --You do not present yourself, but the presence and preciousness of truth is so large, why, it is so far-reaching, so deep, so broad, that self is lost sight of. . . . Preach so that the people can catch hold of big ideas and dig out the precious ore hid in the Scriptures.-- Manuscript 7, 1894.
Meetings to Witness Deep Movings of Spirit. --At our meetings held in the cities, and at our camp meetings, we do not ask for great demonstrations, but we ask that the men who come before the people to present the truth shall be in earnest, and shall reveal that God is with them. There must be a special seeking after God, that the work of the meeting may be carried on under the deep movings of the Holy Spirit. There must be no mingling of the wrong with the right.-- Review and Herald, July 23, 1908.
More Activity and Zeal. --We need to break up the monotony of our religious labour. We are doing a work in the world, but we are not showing enough
activity and zeal. If we were more in earnest, men would be convinced of the truth of our message. The tameness and monotony of our service for God repels many who are looking to see in us a deep, earnest, sanctified zeal. Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service, and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We need spiritual moisture; and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts.-- Review and Herald, May 26, 1903.
Calm, Earnest Reasoning. --It is not excitement we wish to create, but deep, earnest consideration, that those who hear shall do solid work, real, sound, genuine work that will be enduring as eternity. We hunger not for excitement, for the sensational; the less we have of this, the better. The calm, earnest reasoning from the Scriptures is precious and fruitful. Here is the secret of success, in preaching a living personal Saviour in so simple and earnest a manner that the people may be able to lay hold by faith of the power of the Word of life.-- Letter 102, 1894.
Present the Evidences of Truth. --People cannot be expected to see at once the advantage of truth over the error they have cherished. The best way to expose the fallacy of error is to present the evidences of truth. This is the greatest rebuke that can be given to error. Dispel the cloud of darkness resting on minds by reflecting the bright light of the Sun of Righteousness.-- Pacific Union Recorder, Oct. 23, 1902.
Win Confidence of the People. --Those who labour for Christ should be men and women of great discretion, so that those who do not understand their doctrines may be led to respect them, and regard them
as persons void of fanaticism, void of rashness and impetuosity. Their discourses and conduct and conversation should be of a nature that will lead men to the conclusion that these ministers are men of thought, of solidity of character, men who fear and love their heavenly Father. They should win the confidence of the people, so that those who listen to the preaching may know that the ministers have not come with some cunningly devised fable, but that their words are words of worth, a testimony that demands thought and attention. Let the people see you exalting Jesus, and hiding self.-- Review and Herald, April 26, 1892.
No Long, Far-fetched, Complicated Reasoning. -- Christ seldom attempted to prove that truth is truth. He illustrated truth in all its bearings, and then left His hearers free to accept or reject it, as they might choose. He did not force anyone to believe. In the sermon on the mount He instructed the people in practical godliness, distinctly outlining their duty. He spoke in such a manner as to commend truth to the conscience. The power manifested by the disciples was revealed in the clearness and earnestness with which they expressed the truth.
In Christ's teaching there is no long, far-fetched, complicated reasoning. He comes right to the point. In His ministry He read every heart as an open book, and from the inexhaustible store of His treasure house He drew things both new and old to illustrate and enforce His teachings. He touched the heart, and awakened the sympathies.-- Manuscript 24, 1891.
Simple, Forcible Doctrinal Teaching. --A few forcible remarks upon some point of doctrine will fasten it in the mind much more firmly than if such a mass of matter were presented that nothing lies out clear
and distinct in the mind of those ignorant of our faith. There should be interspersed with the prophecies practical lessons of the teachings of Christ.-- Letter 48, 1886.
God Will Give Fit Words. --What a privilege it is to labour for the conversion of souls! Our calling is high. . . . To fit us to do this work, He will strengthen our mental faculties as verily as He did the mind of Daniel. As we teach those in darkness to understand the truths that have enlightened us, God will teach us to understand these truths still better ourselves. He will give us apt words to speak, communicating to us through the angel standing by our side.-- Manuscript 126, 1902.
Less Controversy-More of Christ. --We need far less controversy, and far more presentation of Christ. Our Redeemer is the centre of all our faith and hope. Those who can present His matchless love, and inspire hearts to give Him their best and holiest affections, are doing work that is great and holy.-- Colporteur Evangelist, pp. 60, 61. (1902)
The many argumentative sermons preached seldom soften and subdue the soul.-- Letter 15, 1892.
Do Not Rail. --Those who advocate the truth can afford to be fair and pleasant. It does not need the human mixing in. It is not for you to use the Holy Spirit of God, but it is for the Holy Spirit to use you. . . .
Be careful that you do not rail once. We want the Holy Spirit of God to be life and voice for us. Our tongue should be as the pen of a ready writer, because the Spirit of God is speaking through the human agent. When you use that twit and fling, you have stirred in some of yourself, and we do not want anything of that mixture.-- Manuscript 7, 1894.
Do Not Attack Authorities. --Our work is not to make a raid on the Government but to prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The fewer attacks we make on authorities and powers, the more work will we do for God. . . .
While the truth must be defended, this work is to be done in the spirit of Jesus. If God's people work without peace and love, they work at a great loss, an irretrievable loss. Souls are driven from Christ even after they have been connected with His work.
We are not to pass judgement on those who have not had the opportunities and privileges we have had. Some of these will go into heaven before those who have had great light but have not lived up to the light. If we wish to convince unbelievers that we have the truth that sanctifies the soul and transforms the character, we must not vehemently charge them with their errors. Thus we force them to the conclusion that the truth does not make us kind and courteous, but coarse and rough.
Some, easily excited, are always ready to take up the weapons of warfare. In times of trial they will show that they have not founded their faith on the solid rock. . . .
Let Seventh-day Adventists do nothing that will mark them as lawless and disobedient. Let them keep all inconsistency out of their lives. Our work is to proclaim the truth, leaving the issues with the Lord.
Do all in your power to reflect the light, but do not speak words that will irritate or provoke.-- Manuscript 117a, 1901.
Presenting Truth in Fierce Way. --In the past you have presented the truth in a fierce way, using it as if it were a scourge. This has not glorified the Lord.
You have given the people the rich treasures of God's Word, but your manner has been so condemnatory that they have turned from them. You have not taught the truth in the way that Christ taught it. You present it in a way that mars its influence. . . . Your heart needs to be filled with the converting grace of Christ.-- Letter 164, 1902.
Present the Truth Tenderly. --Let every minister learn to wear the gospel shoes. He who is shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace will walk as Christ walked. He will be able to speak right words, and to speak them in love. He will not try to drive home God's message of truth. He will deal tenderly with every heart, realizing that the Spirit will impress the truth on those who are susceptible to divine impressions. Never will he be vehement in his manner. Every word spoken will have a softening, subduing influence. . . .
In speaking words of reproof, let us put all the Christlike tenderness and love possible into the voice. The higher a minister's position, the more circumspect should he be in word and act.-- Manuscript 127, 1902.
Reclaim Rather Than Condemn. --All whose hearts are in sympathy with the heart of Infinite Love will seek to reclaim, and not to condemn. Christ dwelling in the soul is a spring that never runs dry. Where He abides, there will be an overflowing of beneficence.-- Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 39. (1896)
The Evangelistic Sermon
Simple Speech; Clarity of Expression. --The Lord wishes you to learn how to use the gospel net. Many need to learn this art. In order for you to be successful
in your work, the meshes of your net--the application of the Scriptures--must be close, and the meaning easily discerned. Then make the most of drawing in the net. Come right to the point. Make your illustrations self-evident. However great a man's knowledge, it is of no avail unless he is able to communicate it to others. Let the pathos of your voice, its deep feeling, make its impression on hearts. Urge your students to surrender themselves to God. . . .
Make your explanations clear; for I know that there are many who do not understand many of the things said to them. Let the Holy Spirit mould and fashion your speech, cleansing it from all dross. Speak as to little children, remembering that there are many well advanced in years who are but little children in understanding.
By earnest prayer and diligent effort we are to obtain a fitness for speaking. This fitness includes uttering every syllable clearly, placing the force and emphasis where it belongs. Speak slowly. Many speak rapidly, hurrying one word after another so fast that the effect of what they say is lost. Into what you say put the spirit and life of Christ. . . . To those who hear, the gospel is made the power of God unto salvation. Present the gospel in its simplicity.-- Counsels to Teachers, pp. 253-255. (1913)
Attention to Sermon Preparation. --The discourses given upon present truth are full of important matter, and if these discourses are carefully considered before being presented to the people, if they are condensed and do not cover too much ground, if the spirit of the Master goes with the utterances, no one will be left in darkness, no one will have cause to complain of being unfed. The preparation, both in preacher and hearer, has very much to do with the result.
I will here quote a few words that have come under my notice just now: "I always know by the length of Cannon's sermon whether he has been much from home during the week," said one of his flock. "When carefully studied, his discourses are of a moderate length, but it is almost impossible for his hearers to forget the teachings conveyed in them. When he has had no time for preparation, his sermons are unreasonably long, and it is equally impossible to get anything out of them which will stick to the memory."
Another able minister was asked how long he was accustomed to preach. "When I prepare thoroughly, half an hour; when only partially, an hour; but when I enter the pulpit without previous preparation, I go on for any length of time you like; in fact, I never know when to stop."
Here is another forcible statement: "A good shepherd," says a writer, "should always have abundance of bread in his script, and his dog under command. The dog is his zeal, which he must lead, order, and moderate. His script full of bread is his mind full of useful knowledge, and he should ever be in readiness to give nourishment to his flock."-- Letter 47, 1886.
Guard Spiritual Digestion. --"I do not like to go much beyond the half hour," said a faithful and earnest preacher, who certainly never gave to his hearers that which cost him nothing in the preparation. "I know that the spiritual digestion of some is but weak, and I should be sorry for my hearers to spend the second half hour in forgetting what I had said in the first, or in wishing that I would cease when I had given them as much as they could carry away."-- Letter 47, 1886.
Cut Down Your Lengthy Discourses. --Some of your lengthy discourses would have far better effect upon
the people if cut up into three. The people cannot digest so much; their minds cannot even grasp it, and they become wearied and confused by having so much matter brought before them in one discourse. Two thirds of such long discourses are lost, and the preacher is exhausted. There are many of our ministers who err in this respect. The result upon them is not good; for they become brain weary and feel that they are carrying heavy loads for the Lord and having a hard time. . . .
The truth is so different in character and work from the errors preached from popular pulpits that when it is brought before the people for the first time, it almost overwhelms them. It is strong meat and should be dealt out judiciously. While some minds are quick to catch an idea, others are slow to comprehend new and startling truths which involve great changes and present a cross at every step. Give them time to digest the wonderful truths of the message you bear them.
The preacher should endeavour to carry the understanding and sympathies of the people with them. Do not soar too high, where they cannot follow, but give the truth point after point, slowly and distinctly, making a few essential points, then it will be as a nail fastened in a sure place by the Master of assemblies. If you stop when you should, giving them no more at once than they can comprehend and profit by, they will be eager to hear more, and thus the interest will be sustained.-- Letter 39, 1887.
Reputation of Being an Interesting Speaker. --Put into your work all the enthusiasm that you can. Let your discourses be short. There are two reasons why you should do this. One is that you may gain the reputation of being an interesting speaker. Another
is that you may preserve your health.-- Letter 112, 1902.
Sermons With Fresh Ideas. --Never weary the hearers by long discourses. This is not wise. For many years I have been labouring on this point, seeking to have our brethren sermonize less, and devote their time and strength to making important points of truth plain, for every point will be assailed by our opponents. Everyone connected with the work should keep fresh ideas; . . . and by tact and foresight bring all that is possible into your work to interest your hearers.-- Letter 48, 1886.
Apply Truth to Heart. --In every address given, let there be an application of truth to the heart, that whosoever may hear shall understand, and that men, women, and youth may become alive unto God.-- Testimonies to Ministers, p. 258. (1896)
Easy to Comprehend. --Preach the Word so that it will be easy to comprehend. Bring the people right to Jesus Christ, in whom their hopes of eternal life are centred. . . . As you bring to them the Word of God, presenting it in a simple style, the seed will grow, and after a time you will have a harvest. The seed sowing is your work; the propagation of the seed is the Lord's divine work.-- Letter 34, 1896.
Practical Godliness in Every Discourse. --It is harder to reach the hearts of men today than it was twenty years ago. The most convincing arguments may be presented, and yet sinners seem as far from salvation as ever. Ministers should not preach sermon after sermon on doctrinal subjects alone. Practical godliness should find a place in every discourse.-- Review and Herald, April 23, 1908.
Preach Realties of the Message. --On a certain occasion, when Betterton, the celebrated actor, was dining with Dr. Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop said to him, "Pray, Mr. Betterton, tell me why it is that you actors affect your audiences so powerfully by speaking of things imaginary." "My lord," replied Betterton, "with due submission to Your Grace, permit me to say that the reason is plain; it all lies in the power of enthusiasm. We on the stage speak of things imaginary as if they were real; and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary."-- Counsels to Teachers, p. 255. (1913)
No Compromise. --We are not to cringe and beg pardon of the world for telling them the truth: we should scorn concealment. Unfurl your colours to meet the cause of men and angels. Let it be understood that Seventh-day Adventists can make no compromise. In your opinions and faith there must not be the least appearance of waverings: the world has a right to know what to expect of us.-- Manuscript 16, 1890.
Our World-wide Message. --We are one in faith in the fundamental truths of God's Word. . . . We have a world-wide message. The commandments of God and the testimonies of Jesus Christ are the burden of our work.-- Letter 37, 1887.
Preaching for a Revival. --Repent, repent, was the message rung out by John the Baptist in the wilderness. Christ's message to the people was, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:5. And the apostles were commanded to preach everywhere that men should repent.
The Lord desires His servants today to preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession. We want old-fashioned sermons, old-fashioned
customs, old-fashioned fathers and mothers in Israel. The sinner must be laboured for, perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until he shall see that he is a transgressor of God's law, and shall exercise repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. -- Undated Manuscript 111.
Comforting, Powerful Preaching. --You should have a clear apprehension of the gospel. The religious life is not one of gloom and of sadness but of peace and joy coupled with Christlike dignity and holy solemnity. We are not encouraged by our Saviour to cherish doubts and fears and distressing forebodings; these bring no relief to the soul and should be rebuked rather than praised. We may have joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let us put away our indolence and study God's Word more constantly. If we ever needed the Holy Ghost to be with us, if we ever needed to preach in the demonstration of the Spirit, it is at this very time.-- Manuscript 6, 1888.
A Cheerful Present-Truth Message. --Now, just now, we are to proclaim present truth, with assurance and with power. Do not strike one dolorous note; do not sing funeral hymns.-- Letter 311, 1905.
How to Preach on Calamities. --Uplift those who are cast down. Treat of calamities as disguised blessings, of woes as mercies. Work in a way that will cause hope to spring up in the place of despair.-- Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 272. (1902)
Hurry Produces Tame Discourses. --When you hurry from one thing to another, when you have so much to do that you cannot take time to talk with God, how can you expect power in your work? The reason so many of our ministers preach tame, lifeless discourses is that they allow a variety of things of a
worldly nature to take their time and attention.-- Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 251. (1902)
Avoid Sickly Discourses. --Short, plainly made points, avoiding all rambling, will be of the greatest advantage. God would not have you exhaust your energies before you come into the meeting, either in writing or in any other employment, for when you come with a tired mind you give a very imperfect discourse to the people. Put your freshest energies into the work and let not the slightest dullness of imperfectness be seen in any of your efforts.
If from any cause you are tired and exhausted, for Christ's sake do not attempt to give a discourse. Let another who is not thus exhausted speak, short, to the point, or else have a Bible reading; anything but sickly discourses. These will do less harm where all are believers, but when the truth is to be proclaimed before a people who are not in the faith, the speaker must prepare himself for the task. He must not ramble all through the Bible but give a clear, connected discourse, showing that he understands the points he would make.-- Letter 48, 1886.
Artificial Embellishments. --God calls upon the ministers of the gospel not to seek to stretch themselves beyond their measure by bringing forward artificial embellishments, striving for the praise and applause of men, being ambitious for a vain show of intellect and eloquence. Let the minister's ambition be carefully to search the Bible, that they may know as much as possible of God and of Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. The more clearly ministers discern Christ, and catch His spirit, the more forcibly will they preach the simple truth of which Christ is the centre.-- Review and Herald, March 24, 1896.
"Eloquent" Sermons. --The minister may make a high range into the heavens, by poetical descriptions and fanciful presentations which please the senses and feed the imagination, but which do not touch the common life experience, the daily necessities; bringing home to the heart the very truths which are of vital interest. The immediate requirements, the present trials, need present help and strength--the faith that works by love and purifies the soul, not words which have no real influence upon the living daily walk in practical Christianity.
The minister may think that with his fanciful eloquence he has done great things in feeding the flock of God; the hearers may suppose that they never before heard such beautiful themes, they have never seen the truth dressed up in such beautiful language, and as God was represented before them in His greatness, they felt a glow of emotion. But trace from cause to effect all this ecstasy of feeling caused by these fanciful representations. There may be truths, but too often they are not the food that will fortify them for the daily battles of life.-- Manuscript 59, 1900.
Introducing Side Issues. --Brethren should not feel that it is a virtue to stand apart because they do not see all minor points in exactly the same light. If they agree on fundamental truths, they should not differ and dispute about matters of little real importance. To dwell on perplexing questions, that after all are of no vital consequence, tends to call the mind away from truths vital to the saving of the soul. Brethren should be very modest in urging these side issues which often they do not themselves understand, points that they do not know to be truth and that are not essential to salvation. . . .
I have been shown that it is the device of the enemy
to divert men's minds to some obscure or unimportant point, something that is not fully revealed or is not essential to salvation. This is made the absorbing theme, the "present truth," when all the investigations and suppositions only serve to make matters more obscure and to confuse the minds of some who ought to be seeking for oneness through sanctification of the truth.-- Undated Manuscript 111.
Preach Testing Truths. --If we allow the mind to take its own course, there will be countless points of difference which may be debated by men who make Christ their hope, and who love the truth in sincerity, and yet who hold opposite opinions upon subjects that are not of real importance. These unsettled questions should not be brought to the front, and urged publicly, but should, if held by any, be done quietly and without controversy. . . .
A noble, devoted, spiritual worker will see in the great testing truths that constitute the solemn message to be given to the world, sufficient reason for keeping all minor differences concealed, rather than to bring them forth to become subjects of contention. Let the mind dwell upon the great work of redemption, the soon coming of Christ, and the commandments of God; and it will be found that there is enough food for thought in these subjects to take up the entire attention. -- Review and Herald, Sept. 11, 1888.
Voice in Sermon Delivery. --Preach short, govern your voice,[* SEE ALSO PP. 665-670, "THE VOICE OF THE GOSPEL WORKER."] put all the pathos and melody into it you can, and this terrible exhaustion that is liable to come through long, protracted preaching will be avoided. . . .
Much of the effect of discourses is lost because of the manner in which they are delivered. The speaker frequently forgets that he is God's messenger, and that
Christ and angels are in his audience as listeners. His voice should not be raised to a high key, shouting out the truth as through a trumpet; for this is more nervous power than the calm spirit and power of the Holy Ghost. Jesus, the greatest Teacher the world ever knew, was calm, earnest, and impressive in His discourses. He is our example in all things.-- Letter 47, 1886.
Violent Gesticulations. --The Lord calls upon you to make decided improvement in your manner of presenting the truth. You need not to be sensational. Preach the Word, as Christ, the Son of God, preached the Word. Violent gesticulations detract greatly from the impressions the truth would make upon human hearts, and lessen the force of the demonstrations of the Spirit of God. They efface the solemn impressions regarding God's Word that holy angels desire shall be made upon minds. . . .
My brother, the Lord has given me a message for you. The gospel minister is engaged in a very solemn, sacred work. In every meeting where the Word of God is taught, angels are present, and those who conduct these meetings are to labour with such solemnity as Christ manifested in His teachings. The right mould must be placed upon every presentation of Bible truth.-- Letter 366, 1906.
Christ the Centre of the Message
Jesus Christ the Great Centre of Attraction. --The third angel's message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and this truth must be brought before the world; but the great Centre of attraction, Jesus Christ, must not be left out of the third angel's message....
The sinner must ever look toward Calvary; and with the simple faith of a little child, he must rest in the merits of Christ, accepting His righteousness and believing in His mercy. Labourers in the cause of truth should present the righteousness of Christ.-- Review and Herald, March 20, 1894.
Lift Up Christ. --Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ ascended into the heavens, Christ coming again, should so soften, gladden, and fill the mind of the minister that he will present these truths to the people in love and deep earnestness. The minister will then be lost sight of, and Jesus will be made manifest.
Lift up Jesus, you that teach the people, lift Him up in sermon, in song, in prayer. Let all your powers be directed to pointing souls, confused, bewildered, lost, to "the Lamb of God." Lift Him up, the risen Saviour, and say to all who hear, Come to Him who "hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us." Let the science of salvation be the burden of every sermon, the theme of every song. Let it be poured forth in every supplication. Bring nothing into your preaching to supplement Christ, the wisdom and power of God. Hold forth the word of life, presenting Jesus as the hope of the penitent and the stronghold of every believer. Reveal the way of peace to the troubled and the despondent, and show forth the grace and completeness of the Saviour.-- Gospel Workers, pp. 159, 160. (1915)
In Every Discourse. --More people than we think are longing to find the way to Christ. Those who preach the last message of mercy should bear in mind that Christ is to be exalted as the sinner's refuge. Some ministers think that it is not necessary to preach repentance and faith; they take it for granted that their hearers are acquainted with the gospel, and that
matters of a different nature must be presented in order to hold their attention. But many people are sadly ignorant in regard to the plan of salvation; they need more instruction upon this all-important subject than upon any other.
Theoretical discourses are essential, that people may see the chain of truth, link after link, uniting in a perfect whole; but no discourse should ever be preached without presenting Christ and Him crucified as the foundation of the gospel. Ministers would reach more hearts if they would dwell more upon practical godliness.-- Gospel Workers, pp. 158, 159. (1915)
Preaching Christ From Experience. --It should be the burden of every messenger to set forth the fullness of Christ. When the free gift of Christ's righteousness is not presented, the discourses are dry and spiritless; the sheep and the lambs are not fed. Said Paul, "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." There is marrow and fatness in the gospel. Jesus is the living centre of everything. Put Christ into every sermon. Let the preciousness, mercy, and glory of Jesus Christ be dwelt upon until Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. . . .
Let us gather together that which our own experience has revealed to us of the preciousness of Christ, and present it to others as a precious gem that sparkles and shines. Thus will the sinner be attracted to Him who is represented as the Chief among ten thousand and the One altogether lovely. The cross of Calvary is a pledge to us of everlasting life. Faith in Christ means everything to the sincere believer. The merits of Jesus blot out transgressions, and clothe us with the robe of righteousness woven in the loom of heaven. The crown of life is presented before us as
the honour to be given at the end of the conflict. These precious truths are to be set forth in living characters. -- Review and Herald, March 19, 1895.
The Themes for Our Discourses. --These are our themes--Christ crucified for our sins, Christ risen from the dead, Christ our intercessor before God; and closely connected with these is the office work of the Holy Spirit, the representative of Christ, sent forth with divine power and gifts for men.-- Letter 86, 1895.
His pre-existence,[* SEE ALSO PP. 613-617, "MISREPRESENTATION OF THE GODHEAD."] His coming the second time in glory and power, His personal dignity, His holy law uplifted, are the themes that have been dwelt upon with simplicity and power.-- Letter 83, 1895.
Affirmative Message. --Bear with a certain voice an affirmative message. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. There is power in the exaltation of the cross of Christ. . . .
Christ is to be preached, not controversially, but affirmatively. Take your stand without controversy. Let not your words at any time be uncertain. The Word of the living God is to be the foundation of our faith. Gather up the strongest affirmative statements regarding the atonement made by Christ for the sins of the world. Show the necessity for this atonement and tell men and women that they may be saved if they will repent and return to their loyalty to God's law. Gather all the affirmatives and proofs that make the gospel the glad tidings of salvation to all who receive and believe on Christ as a personal Saviour.-- Letter 65, 1905.
Sermon Like the Offering of Cain. --Many of our ministers have merely sermonized, presenting subjects in an argumentative way, and scarcely mentioning the
saving power of the Redeemer. Their testimony was destitute of the saving blood of Christ. Their offering resembled the offering of Cain. He brought to the Lord the fruit of the ground, which in itself was acceptable in God's sight. Very good indeed was the fruit; but the virtue of the offering--the blood of the slain lamb, representing the blood of Christ--was lacking. So it is with Christless sermons. By them men are not pricked to the heart; they are not led to inquire, What must I do to be saved? Of all professing Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world.-- Gospel Workers, p. 156. (1915)
In a Clear, Simple Manner. --Ministers need to have a more clear, simple manner in presenting the truth as it is in Jesus. Their own minds need to comprehend the great plan of salvation more fully. Then they can carry the minds of the hearers away from earthly things to the spiritual and eternal. There are many who want to know what they must do to be saved. They want a plain and clear explanation of the steps requisite in conversion, and there should not a sermon be given unless a portion of that discourse is to especially make plain the way that sinners may come to Christ and be saved. They should point them to Christ, as did John and with touching simplicity, their hearts aglow with the love of Christ, say, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." Strong and earnest appeals should be made to the sinner to repent and be converted.-- Review and Herald, Feb. 22, 1887.
The Truth as It Is in Jesus. --Teach the simple lessons given by Christ. Tell the story of His life of self-denial and sacrifice, His humiliation and death, His resurrection and ascension, His intercession for
sinners in the courts above. In every congregation there are souls upon whom the Spirit of the Lord is moving. Help them to understand what is truth; break the bread of life to them; call their attention to vital questions.
Many voices are advocating error; let your voice advocate truth. Present subjects that will be as green pastures to the sheep of God's fold. Do not lead your hearers into waste tracts, where they will be no nearer the fountain of living water than they were before hearing you. Present the truth as it is in Jesus, making plain the requirements of the law and the gospel. Present Christ, the way, the truth, and the life, and tell of His power to save all who come to Him. The Captain of our salvation is interceding for His people, not as a petitioner to move the Father to compassion, but as a conqueror, who claims the trophies of His victory. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him. Make this fact very plain.
Unless ministers are guarded, they will hide the truth under human ornamentation. Let no minister suppose that he can convert souls by eloquent sermons. Those who teach others should plead with God to imbue them with His Spirit, and enable them to lift up Christ as the sinner's only hope. Flowery speeches, pleasing tales, or inappropriate anecdotes do not convict the sinner. Men listen to such words as they would to a pleasant song. The message that the sinner should hear is, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."-- Gospel Workers, pp. 154, 155. (1915)
Christ's Love Uplifted. --In order to break down the barriers of prejudice and impenitence, the love of Christ must have a part in every discourse. Make
men to know how much Jesus loves them, and what evidences He has given them of His love. What love can equal that which God has manifested for man, by the death of Christ on the cross? When the heart is filled with the love of Jesus, this can be presented to the people, and it will affect hearts.-- Letter 48, 1886.
The Cross Foundation of Every Discourse. --The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption--the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.-- Gospel Workers, p. 315. (1915)
Christ and His Righteousness. --Christ and His righteousness--let this be our platform, the very life of our faith.-- Review and Herald, Aug. 31, 1905.
The Third Angel's Message in Verity. --Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel's message, and I have answered, "It is the third angel's message in verity."-- Review and Herald, April 1, 1890.
It Presents an Uplifted Saviour. --This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love
for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.
The uplifted Saviour is to appear in His efficacious work as the Lamb slain, sitting upon the throne, to dispense the priceless covenant blessings, the benefits He died to purchase for every soul who should believe on Him. John could not express that love in words; it was too deep, too broad; he calls upon the human family to behold it. Christ is pleading for the church in the heavenly courts above, pleading for those for whom He paid the redemption price of His own lifeblood. Centuries, ages, can never diminish the efficacy of this atoning sacrifice. The message of the gospel of His grace was to be given to the church in clear and distinct lines, that the world should no longer say that Seventh-day Adventists talk the law, the law, but do not teach or believe Christ.
The efficacy of the blood of Christ was to be presented to the people with freshness and power, that their faith might lay hold upon its merits. . . .
For years the church has been looking to man, and expecting much from man, but not looking to Jesus, in whom our hopes of eternal life are centred. Therefore God gave to His servants a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the third angel's message, in clear, distinct lines.-- Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91-93. (1896)
Christ vs. Penance. --When the third angel's message is preached as it should be, power attends its
proclamation, and it becomes and abiding influence. It must be attended with divine power, or it will accomplish nothing. . . .
Penances, mortifications of the flesh, constant confession of sin, without sincere repentance; fasts, festivals, and outward observances, unaccompanied by true devotion--all these are of no value whatever. The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient; He made a whole, efficacious offering to God; and human effort without the merit of Christ, is worthless. . . .
The plan of salvation is not understood to be that through which divine power is brought to man in order that his human effort may be wholly successful. . . .
Without the transforming process which can come alone through divine power, the original propensities to sin are left in the heart in all their strength, to forge new chains, to impose a slavery that can never be broken by human power.-- Review and Herald, Aug. 19, 1890.
A Present-Truth Message. --We thank the Lord with all the heart that we have precious light to present before the people, and we rejoice that we have a message for this time which is present truth. The tidings that Christ is our righteousness has brought relief to many, many souls, and God says to His people, "Go forward."-- Review and Herald, July 23, 1889.
A Message for the Churches and New Fields. -- Ministers are to present Christ in His fullness both in the churches and in new fields, that the hearers may have an intelligent faith. The people must be instructed that Christ is unto them salvation and righteousness. It is Satan's studied purpose to keep souls from believing in Christ as their only hope; for the blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin is efficacious in behalf 193
of those only who believe in its merit.-- Gospel Workers, p. 162. (1915)
Some Listening to the Last Sermon. --God would draw minds from the conviction of logic to a conviction deeper, purer, and more glorious. Often human logic has nearly quenched the light that God would have shine forth in clear rays to convince men that the Lord of nature is worthy of all praise and glory, because He is the Creator of all things.
Some ministers err in making their sermons wholly argumentative. There are those who listen to the theory of the truth, and are impressed with the evidences brought out; then, if Christ is presented as the Saviour of the world, the seed sown may spring up and bear fruit to the glory of God. But often the cross of Calvary is not presented before the people. Some may be listening to the last sermon they will ever hear, and the golden opportunity lost, is lost forever. If in connection with the theory of the truth, Christ and His redeeming love had been proclaimed, these might have been won to His side.-- Gospel Workers, pp. 157, 158. (1915)
Prophetic Preaching that Arrests Attention
Call Attention to Prophecies. --The followers of Christ are to combine in a strong effort to call the attention of the world to the fast-fulfilling prophecies of the Word of God.-- Manuscript 38, 1905.
Prophecy Alone Holds the Answer to the Questions of thinking People. --The prophecies which the great I AM has given in His Word, uniting link after link in the chain of events, from eternity in the past to eternity in the future, tell us where we are today in
the procession of the ages, and what may be expected in the time to come. All that prophecy has foretold as coming to pass, until the present time, has been traced on the pages of history, and we may be assured that all which is yet to come will be fulfilled in its order.
Today the signs of the times declare that we are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Everything in our world is in agitation. Before our eyes is fulfilling the Saviour's prophecy of the events to precede His coming: "Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. . . . Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."
The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognise that something great and decisive is about to take place,--that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis.
The Bible, and the Bible only, gives a correct view of these things. Here are revealed the great final scenes in the history of our world, events that already are casting their shadows before, the sound of their approach causing the earth to tremble, and men's hearts to fail them for fear.-- Prophets and Kings, pp. 536, 537. (1916)
Give the Trumpet a Certain Sound. --There are many who do not understand the prophecies relating to these days, and they must be enlightened. It is
the duty of both watchmen and laymen to give the trumpet a certain sound. Be in earnest, "cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins."-- Letter 1, 1875.
Crowd in Clear-cut Prophetic Truths. --The perils of the last days are upon us, and in our work we are to warn the people of the danger they are in. Let not the solemn scenes which prophecy has revealed, be left untouched. If our people were half awake, if they realized the nearness of the events portrayed in the Revelation, a reformation would be wrought in our churches, and many more would believe the message.
We have no time to lose; God calls upon us to watch for souls as they that must give an account. Advance new principles, and crowd in the clear-cut truth. It will be as a sword cutting both ways. But be not too ready to take a controversial attitude. There will be times when we must stand still and see the salvation of God. Let Daniel speak, let the Revelation speak, and tell what is truth. But whatever phase of the subject is presented, uplift Jesus as the centre of all hope, "the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright and morning Star."-- Testimonies to Ministers, p. 118. (1896)
In a Fresh, Impressive Way. --Do not let the teaching be done in a dry, abstract way, which has been the manner of teaching in too many cases, but present the truths of God's Word in a fresh, impressive way. . . .
The book of Revelation must be opened to the people. Many have been taught that it is a sealed book; but it is sealed only to those who reject light and truth. The truth it contains must be proclaimed, that people
may have an opportunity to prepare for the events which are so soon to transpire. The third angel's message must be presented as the only hope for the salvation of a perishing world.-- Letter 87, 1896.
Three Messages Important. --The theme of greatest importance is the third angel's message, embracing the messages of the first and second angels. All should understand the truths contained in these messages and demonstrate them in daily life, for this is essential to salvation. We shall have to study earnestly, prayerfully, in order to understand these grand truths; and our power to learn and comprehend will be taxed to the utmost.-- Letter 97, 1902.
Prophecy the Foundation of Our Faith. --Ministers should present the sure word of prophecy as the foundation of the faith of Seventh-day Adventists. The prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation should be carefully studied, and in connection with them the words, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew is presented to me again and again as something that is to be brought to the attention of all. We are today living in the time when the predictions of this chapter are fulfilling. Let our ministers and teachers explain these prophecies to those whom they instruct. Let them leave out of their discourses matters of minor consequence, and present the truths that will decide the destiny of souls.-- Gospel Workers, p. 148. (1915)
Truths That Concern All Living Today. --We are to proclaim to the world the great and solemn truths of Revelation. Into the very designs and principles of the church of God these truths are to enter. A benediction is pronounced upon those who pay due regard to this communication. The blessing is promised
to encourage a study of this book. We are by no means to become weary of looking into it because of its apparently mystical symbols. Christ can give us understanding. . . .
There should be a closer and more diligent study of the Revelation, and a more earnest presentation of the truths it contains--truths which concern all who are living in these last days.-- Manuscript 105, 1902.
A Message for the Whole World. --The vision that Christ presented to John, presenting the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, is to be definitely proclaimed to all nations, people, and tongues. The churches, represented by Babylon, are represented as having fallen from their spiritual state to become a persecuting power against those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. To John this persecuting power is represented as having horns like a lamb, but as speaking like a dragon.-- Testimonies to Ministers, p. 117. (1896)
Receiving Congregational Response. --Brother -----'s meetings were largely attended, and the people listened to his words with spellbound interest; the interest continued from first to last. With his Bible in his hand, and basing all his arguments on the Word of God, Brother ----- traced out before them the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. His own words were few; he made the Scriptures themselves explain the truth to the people. After giving them the truth, Elder ----- would draw an expression of opinion from his congregation. "Now," he would say, "those who see the truth of what I am saying, raise your hands"; and in response many hands would be raised. I can only poorly represent to you the interest his work has created.-- Letter 400, 1906.
Modern Attitude Toward Prophetic Truth. --As of old, the plain testimony of God's Word was met with the inquiry, "Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed?" And finding how difficult a task it was to refute the arguments drawn from the prophetic periods, many discouraged the study of the prophecies, teaching that the prophetic books were sealed, and were not to be understood. Multitudes, trusting implicitly to their pastors, refused to listen to the warning; and others, though convinced of the truth, dared not confess it, lest they should be "put out of the synagogue." The message which God had sent for the testing and purification of the church, revealed all too surely how great was the number who had set their affections on this world rather than upon Christ. The ties which bound them to earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward. They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdom, and turned away from the heartsearching message of truth.-- The Great Controversy, p. 380. (1888)
Familiar With Every Line of Prophetic History. -- Young men who desire to give themselves to the ministry, or who have already done so, should become familiar with every line of prophetic history.-- Gospel Workers, p. 98. (1915)
Increased Light on the Prophecies. --Increased light will shine upon all the grand truths of prophecy, and they will be seen in freshness and brilliancy, because the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness will illuminate the whole.
Do we believe that we are coming to the crisis, that we are living in the very last scenes of the earth's history? Will we now awaken and do the work which this time calls for, or will we wait till the things which I have presented come upon us?-- Manuscript 18, 1888. 199
Prophecies Already Made Plain. --The Lord wants all to understand His providential dealings now, just now, in the time in which we live. There must be no long discussions, presenting new theories in regard to the prophecies which God has already made plain. Now the great work from which the mind should not be diverted is the consideration of our personal safety in the sight of God. Are our feet on the rock of ages? Are we hiding ourselves in our only refuge? The storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it? Are we one with Christ as He is one with the Father? Are we heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ? Are we working in copartnership with Christ?-- Manuscript 32a, 1896.
Teach Lessons of Christ. --The apostle presents a solemn charge to every minister of the gospel. He arrays them before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, to preach the Word, and they are not to show a partiality for merely the prophecies and the argumentative portions of the Scriptures, but the greatest and most important lessons that are given us are those given us by Jesus Christ Himself.-- Manuscript 13, 1888.
Restraining Without Obscuring Truth
Strongest Meat Not for Babes. --Let the truth be presented as it is in Jesus, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Speak of the love of God in words easy to be understood. Bible truth, presented in the meekness and love of Jesus will have a telling influence upon many minds.
Many souls are hungering for the bread of life. Their cry is, "Give me bread; do not give me a stone. It is bread that I want." Feed these perishing, starving souls. Let our ministers bear in mind that the strongest meat is not to be given to babes who know not the first principles of the truth as we believe it. In every age the Lord has had a special message for the people of that time; so we have a message for the people in this age. But while we have many things to say, we may be compelled to withhold some of them for a time, because the people are not prepared to receive them now.-- Review and Herald, Oct. 14, 1902.
Prepare the Soil Before Sowing the Seed. --In labouring in a new field, do not think it your duty to say at once to the people, We are Seventh-day Adventists; we believe that the seventh day is the Sabbath; we believe in the nonimmortality of the soul. This would often erect a formidable barrier between you and those you wish to reach. Speak to them, as you have opportunity, upon points of doctrine on which you can agree. Dwell on the necessity of practical godliness. Give them evidence that you are a Christian, desiring peace, and that you love their souls. Let them see that you are conscientious. Thus you will gain their confidence; and there will be time enough for doctrines. Let the heart be won, the soil prepared, and then sow the seed, presenting in love the truth as it is in Jesus.-- Gospel Workers, pp. 119, 120. (1915)
Guard Against Closing the Listeners' Ears. --Last night in my sleeping hours I seemed to be in meeting with my brethren, listening to One who spoke as having authority. He said: "Many souls will attend this meeting who are honestly ignorant of the truths which will be presented before them. They will listen and
become interested, because Christ is drawing them. Conscience tells them that what they hear is true, for it has the Bible for its foundation. The greatest care is needed in dealing with these souls.
Do not at the outset press before the people the most objectionable features of our faith, lest you close their ears to which these things come as a new revelation. Let such portions of truth be dealt out to them as they may be able to grasp and appreciate; though it should appear strange and startling, many will recognise with joy the new light that is shed on the Word of God, whereas if truth were presented in so large a measure that they could not receive it, some would go away, and never come again. More than this, they would misrepresent the truth.-- General Conference Bulletin, Feb. 25, 1895.
Here a Little, and There a Little. --Those who have been educated in the truth by precept and example should make great allowance for others who have had no knowledge of the Scriptures except through the interpretations given by ministers and church members, and who have received traditions and fables as Bible truth. They are surprised by the presentation of truth; it is as a new revelation to them, and they cannot bear to have all the truth, in its most striking character, presented to them at the outset. All is new and strange and wholly unlike that which they have heard from their ministers, and they are inclined to believe what the ministers have told them, that Seventh-day Adventists are infidels and do not believe the Bible. Let the truth be presented as it is in Jesus, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little.-- Undated Manuscript 79.
Take One Point at a Time. --Teachers of the Word of God are not to keep back any part of the counsel
of God, lest the people shall be ignorant of their duty and not understand what is the will of God concerning them, and stumble and fall into perdition. But while the teacher of truth should be faithful in presenting the gospel, let him never pour out a mass of matter which the people cannot comprehend because it is new to them and hard to understand. Take one point at a time, and make that one point plain, speaking slowly and in a distinct voice. Speak in such a way that the people shall see what is the relation of that one point to other truths of vital importance. . . . It will be difficult to create prejudice in the hearts of those who are seeking for truth as for hidden treasure, if the speaker will hide himself in Christ; for he will then reveal Christ, not himself.-- Manuscript 39, 1895.
Dwell on the Affirmative Truths. --Dwell not on the negative points of questions that arise, but gather to your minds affirmative truths, and fasten them there by much study and earnest prayer and heart consecration. Keep your lamps trimmed and burning; and let bright rays shine forth, that men, beholding your good works, may be led to glorify your Father which is in heaven.
The Great Teacher held in His hand the entire map of truth, but He did not disclose it all to His disciples. He opened to them those subjects only which were essential for their advancement in the path to heaven. There were many things in regard to which His wisdom kept Him silent. As Christ withheld many things from His first disciples, knowing that then it would be impossible for them to comprehend them, so today he withholds many things from us, knowing the capacity of our understanding. -- Review and Herald, April 23, 1908.
Christ's Parables and Symbols. --We should seek to follow more closely the example of Christ, the great Shepherd, as He worked with His little company of disciples, studying with them and with the people the Old Testament Scriptures. His active ministry consisted not merely in sermonizing but in educating the people. As He passed through villages, He came in personal contact with the people in their homes, teaching, and ministering to their necessities. As the crowds that followed Him increased, when He came to a favourable place, He would speak to them, simplifying His discourses by the use of parables and symbols.-- Letter 192, 1906.
Charts Should Be Used. --You have given much study to the matter of how to make the truth interesting, and the charts you have made are in perfect accord with the work to be carried forward. These charts are object lessons to the people. You have put intensity of thought into the work of getting out these striking illustrations. And they have a marked effect as they are presented to the people in vindication of truth. The Lord uses them to impress minds. Instruction has been given me clearly and distinctly that charts should be used in the presentation of truth. And these illustrations should be made still more impressive by words showing the importance of obedience. -- Letter 51, 1902.
Prophecies Taught by Simple, Inexpensive Charts. --The use of charts is most effective in explaining the prophecies relating to the past, the present, and the future. But we are to make our work as simple and inexpensive as possible. The truth is to be explained in simplicity. In no case are we to follow the example
of outward display set by the world.-- Manuscript 42, 1905.
Effective Use of Appropriate Devices. --Elder S is now making an effort in Oakland. . . . He has pitched his tent in a central location and has secured a good hearing, better than we had expected.
Brother S is an intelligent evangelist. He speaks with the simplicity of a child. Never does he bring any slur into his discourses. He preaches directly from the Word, letting the Word speak to all classes. His strong arguments are the words of the Old and the New Testaments. He does not seek for words that would merely impress the people with his learning, but he endeavours to let the Word of God speak to them directly in clear, distinct utterance. If any refuse to accept the message, they must reject the Word.
Brother S dwells especially upon the prophecies in the books of Daniel and the Revelation. He has large representations of the beasts spoken of in these books. These beasts are made of papier-mache, and by an ingenious invention, they may be brought at the proper time before the congregation. Thus he holds the attention of the people, while he preaches the truth to them. Through this effort hundreds will be led to a better understanding of the Bible than they ever had before, and we trust that there will be many conversions.-- Letter 326, 1906.
A Sound Pedagogical Principle. --The labours of Elder S remind me of the labours put forth in 1842 to 1844. He uses the Bible, and the Bible alone, to prove the truth of his arguments. He presents a plain "Thus saith the Lord." Then if any oppose his words, he makes it plain that they must have their controversy not with him.
He has large lifelike representations of the beasts and symbols in Daniel and the Revelation, and these are brought forward at the proper time to illustrate his remarks. Not one careless or unnecessary word escapes his lips. He speaks forcibly and solemnly. Many of his hearers have never before heard discourses of so solemn a nature. They manifest no spirit of levity, but a solemn awe seems to rest upon them.-- Letter 350, 1906.
Catholics Attracted by Symbols. --Elder S is arousing a good interest by his meetings. People of all classes come out to hear, and to see the life-size images that he has of the beasts of Revelation. A great many Catholics come to hear him.-- Letter 352, 1906.
Methods to Be Used in Closing Work. --I am pleased with the manner in which our brother [Elder S] has used his ingenuity and tact in providing suitable illustrations for the subjects presented--representations that have a convincing power. Such methods will be used more and more in this closing work. -- Manuscript 105, 1906.
Young Men Study How to Present Symbolic Truth. --The Lord has been working with Elder S, teaching him how to give to the people this last warning message. His method of making the words of the Bible prove the truth for this time, and his use of the symbols presented in Revelation and Daniel, are effective. Let the young men learn as for their lives what is truth and how it should be presented. We are living in the last days of the great conflict; the truth alone will hold us securely in this time of trouble. The way should be prepared for Elder S to give the message, and our young men should attend his evening meetings. -- Letter 349, 1906.
Workers to Originate Devices. --Let the workers for God manifest tact and talent, and originate devices by which to communicate light to those who are near and to those who are afar off. . . . Time has been lost, golden opportunities have been unimproved, because men have lacked clear, spiritual eyesight, and have not been wise to plan and devise means and ways whereby they might preoccupy the field before the enemy had taken possession.-- Review and Herald, March 24, 1896.
Devices to Teach, Not Entertain. --By the use of charts, symbols, and representations of various kinds, the minister can make the truth stand out clearly and distinctly. This is a help, and in harmony with the Word of God. But when the worker makes his labours so expensive that others are unable to secure from the treasury sufficient means to support them in the field, he is not working in harmony with God's plan.
The work in the large cities is to be done after Christ's order, not after the order of a theatrical performance. It is not a theatrical performance that glorifies God, but the presentation of the truth in the love of Christ.-- Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 142. (1909) Stories, Anecdotes, Jesting, and Joking [* SEE ALSO PP. 640-644, "AVOID JESTING AND JOKING."]
An Ambassador for Christ. --The minister of the gospel who is a labourer together with God, will learn daily in the school of Christ. . . . No light, trifling words will fall from his lips; for is he not an ambassador for Christ, bearing a divine message to perishing souls? All jesting and joking, all lightness and trifling,
is painful to the cross-bearing disciple of Christ. He is weighed down by the burden he feels for souls. Constantly his heart is drawn out in prayer to God for the gift of His grace, that he may be a faithful steward. He prays to be kept pure and holy, and then refuses to rush heedlessly into temptation.
He heeds the injunction, "As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." . . . Keeping close to his Master, he receives words from Him to speak to the people. Lifting as Christ lifts, loving as Christ loves, working as Christ works, he goes about doing good. He strives with all his power for self-improvement, that by precept and example he may lead others to a purer, higher, nobler life.-- Review and Herald, Jan. 21, 1902.
Leave a Solemn Impression. --Ministers are not to preach men's opinions, not to relate anecdotes, get up theatrical performances, not to exhibit self; but as though they were in the presence of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are to preach the Word. Let them not bring levity into the work of the ministry, but let them preach the Word in a manner that will leave a most solemn impression upon those who hear. -- Review and Herald, Sept. 28, 1897.
Impress Strangers With Character of the Truth. -- It is God's will that all parts of His service shall be managed in an orderly, becoming manner, which will impress those strangers who may attend, as well as the regular attendants, with the elevated, ennobling character of the truth and its power to cleanse the heart.
In His providence God impresses people to attend our tent meetings and church services. Some come from curiosity, others to criticise or ridicule. Often
they are convicted of sin. The word spoken in the spirit of love makes a lasting impression on them. How carefully, then, should these meetings be conducted. The words spoken should be of authority, that the Holy Spirit can impress them on minds. The speaker who is controlled by the Spirit of God has a sacred dignity, and his words are a savour of life unto life. Let not unsuitable illustrations or anecdotes be introduced into the discourse. Let the words spoken be for the edification of the hearers.-- Letter 19, 1901.
The Illustrations Christ Used. --His [Christ's] messages of mercy were varied to suit His audience. He knew "how to speak a word in season to him that is weary"; for grace was poured upon His lips, that He might convey to men in the most attractive way the treasures of truth. He had tact to meet the prejudiced minds, and surprised them with illustrations that won their attention.
Through the imagination He reached the heart. His illustrations were taken from the things of daily life, and although they were simple, they had in them a wonderful depth of meaning. The birds of the air, the lilies of the field, the seed, the shepherd and the sheep,--with these objects Christ illustrated immortal truth; and ever afterward, when His hearers chanced to see these things of nature, they recalled His words. Christ's illustrations constantly repeated His lessons. -- The Desire of Ages, p. 254. (1898)
Depreciating the Message. --We do not want to lose sight of the peculiar sacredness of this mission of ministering in word and in doctrine to the people. It is the work of the minister to speak the words of truth to the people, solemn, sacred truth. Some form the habit of relating anecdotes in their discourses, which have a tendency to amuse and remove from the
mind of the hearer the sacredness of the word which they are handling. Such should consider that they are not giving to the people the word of the Lord. Too many illustrations do not have a correct influence; they belittle the sacred dignity that should ever be maintained in the presentation of the Word of God to the people.-- Review and Herald, Feb. 22, 1887.
Very Cheap Fodder. --There are men who stand in the pulpits as shepherds, professing to feed the flock, while the sheep are starving for the bread of life. There are long-drawn-out discourses, largely made up of the relation of anecdotes; but the hearts of the hearers are not touched. The feelings of some may be moved, they may shed a few tears, but their hearts are not broken. The Lord Jesus has been present when they have been presenting that which was called sermons, but their words were destitute of the dew and rain of heaven. They evidenced that the anointed ones described by Zechariah (see chapter 4) had not ministered to them that they might minister to others. When the anointed ones empty themselves through the golden pipes, the golden oil flows out of themselves into the golden bowls, to flow forth into the lamps, the churches. This is the work of every true, devoted servant of the living God. The Lord God of heaven cannot approve much that is brought into the pulpit by those who are professedly speaking the word of the Lord. They do not inculcate ideas that will be a blessing to those who hear. There is cheap, very cheap fodder placed before the people.-- Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 336, 337. (1896)
Strange Fire. --The object of your ministerial labours is not to amuse. It is not to convey information alone, not merely to convince the intellect. The preaching of the Word should appeal to the intellect and impart
knowledge, but it comprises much more than this. The heart of the minister must reach the hearts of the hearers. Some have adopted a style of preaching that does not have a right influence. . . .
The minister is using strange fire when he mixes storytelling with his discourses. . . . You have men of all classes of minds to meet, and as you deal with the Sacred Word, you should manifest earnestness, respect, reverence. Let not the impression be made upon any mind that you are a cheap, surface speaker. Weed out storytelling from your discourses. Preach the Word. You would have had more sheaves to bring to the Master if you had constantly preached the Word. You little understand the soul's great need and longing. Some are wrestling with doubt, almost in despair, almost hopeless. . . .
God is offended when His representatives descend to the use of cheap, trifling words. The cause of truth is dishonoured. Men judge of the whole ministry by the man whom they hear, and the enemies of the truth will make the most of his errors.-- Letter 61, 1896.
Hungry for the Bread of Life. --Keep your stories to yourself. The people are not soul-hungry for these, but they want the bread of life, the word that liveth and abideth forever. What is the chaff to the wheat? -- Letter 61, 1896.
Burden of Conviction Lost by Cheap Nonsense. -- After a good work has been done, the ones who have been awakened to a sense of sin should be taught how to take hold of the arm of the Lord. But if the good impressions made are not followed up with true, earnest efforts, no permanent good is accomplished. The result might be very different, did not a desire for
amusement divert the mind from the contemplation of serious things. . . .
Amusement is not to be interwoven with instruction in the Scriptures. When this is done, the hearers, amused by some cheap nonsense, lose the burden of conviction. The opportunity passes away, and no one is drawn by the cords of love to the Saviour.-- Manuscript 83, 1901.
Free From Cheap, Common Expressions. --The messages of truth are to be kept entirely free from cheap, common words of human devising. Thus forcible impressions will be made upon hearts. Let not our ministers cherish the idea that they must bring forth something new and strange, or that cheap, common expressions will give them influence. Ministers are to be the mouthpiece of God, and they must eradicate from their speech every expression that is cheap or common. Let them be careful lest by attempting during their discourse to cause laughter, they dishonour God.
Our message is a solemn and sacred one, and we must watch unto prayer. The words uttered must be of such a character that through them God can make an impression on heart and mind. Let the ministers of the gospel be sanctified through the truth.-- Letter 356, 1906.
False Tests and Man-Made Standards
Teach Fundamental Truths. --Those who would labour in word and doctrine, should be firmly established in the truth before they are authorized to go out into the field to teach others. The truth, pure and unadulterated, must be presented to the people.
It is the third angel's message that bears the true test to the people. Satan will lead men to manufacture false tests, and thus seek to obscure the value of, and make of none effect, the message of truth.
The commandment of God that has been almost universally made void, is the testing truth for this time. . . . The time is coming when all those who worship God will be distinguished by this sign. They will be known as the servants of God, by this mark of their allegiance to Heaven. But all man-made tests will divert the mind from the great and important doctrines that constitute the present truth.
It is the desire and plan of Satan to bring in among us those who will go to great extremes--people of narrow minds, who are critical and sharp, and very tenacious in holding their own conceptions of what the truth means. They will be exacting, and will seek to enforce rigorous duties, and go to great lengths in matters of minor importance, while they neglect the weightier matters of the law--judgement and mercy and the love of God. Through the work of a few of this class of persons, the whole body of Sabbathkeepers will be designated as bigoted, Pharisaical, and fanatical. The work of the truth, because of these workers, will be thought to be unworthy of notice.
God has a special work for the men of experience to do. They are to guard the cause of God. They are to see that the work of God is not committed to men who feel it their privilege to move out on their own independent judgement, to preach whatever they please, and to be responsible to no one for their instructions or work. Let this spirit of self-sufficiency once rule in our midst, and there will be no harmony of action, no unity of spirit, no safety for the work, and no healthful growth in the cause. There will be false teachers, evil workers who will, by insinuating
error, draw away souls from the truth. Christ prayed that His followers might be one as He and the Father were one. Those who desire to see this prayer answered, should seek to discourage the slightest tendency to division, and try to keep the spirit of unity and love among brethren.-- Review and Herald, May 29, 1888.
Little Fables--Not Worth a Straw. --We are not to give the call to those who have received the truth and understand it, to whom it has been repeated over and over again till someone thinks he must bring in something original. He brings in little fables which are not worth a straw. These he brings forward as tests God has given, when Satan has originated them to divert minds from the true tests God has given.-- General Conference Bulletin, April 16, 1901.
New and Strange Human Tests. --No one is to put truth to the torture by placing a forced, mystical construction upon the Word. Thus some are in danger of turning the truth of God into a lie. There are those who need in their hearts the touch of the divine Spirit. Then the message for this time will be their burden. They will not search for human tests, for something new and strange. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the test for this time, and all connected with this great memorial is to be kept before the people.-- Undated Manuscript 111.
Freedom From Human Suppositions. --The work of God is a great work. Wise men are needed, to keep Bible principles free from a particle of worldly policy. Every worker is being tested. Paul speaks of those who bring to the foundation wood, hay, and stubble. This represents those who bring in as truth that which is not truth, even their own suppositions and fabrications. If these souls are saved, it will be as by fire, 214
because they conscientiously thought they were working in harmony with the Word. They will only be as brands snatched out of the burning.
The work which might have been pure, elevated, and noble, has been mingled with fallacies brought in by men. Thus the beauty of the truth has been marred. Nothing stands forth untainted by selfishness. The mingling of these fallacies with the work of God makes that which should stand out clearly and distinctly before the world, a jumble of conflicting principles in its practical working.-- Letter 3, 1901.
Preach the Word. --I have words to speak to the young men who have been teaching the truth. Preach the Word . You may have inventive minds. You may be expert, as were the Jewish teachers, in getting up new theories; but Christ said of them, "In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matt. 15:9. They presented to the people traditions, suppositions, and fables of all kinds. The forms and ceremonies they enjoined made it simply impossible for the people to know whether they were keeping the Word of God or following the traditions of men.
Satan is well pleased when he can thus confuse the mind. Let not ministers preach their own suppositions. Let them search the Scriptures earnestly, with a solemn realization that if they teach for doctrine the things that are not contained in God's Word, they will be as those represented in the last chapter of Revelation. Let those who are tempted to indulge in fanciful, imaginary doctrines sink the shaft deep into the mines of heavenly truth, and secure the riches which mean life eternal to the receiver. Precious treasure will be secured by those who study God's Word with earnestness,
for heavenly angels will direct the search.-- Undated Manuscript 111.
When Men Weave in Human Threads. --When men begin to weave in the human threads to compose the pattern of the web, the Lord is in no hurry. He waits until men shall lay down their own human inventions and will accept the Lord's way and the Lord's will.-- Letter 181, 1901.
Making a World of an Atom. --O how many might do a noble work in self-denial and self-sacrifice, who are absorbed in the little things of life! They are blind and cannot see afar off. They make a world of an atom and an atom of a world. They have become shallow streams, because they do not impart to others the water of life.-- Manuscript 173, 1898.
Message Impaired by One-Idea Men. --There was precious talent in the church at -----, but God could not use these brethren until they were converted. There were some who had capabilities to help the church, but who needed first to set their own hearts in order. Some had been bringing in false tests, and had made their own ideas and notions a criterion, magnifying matters of little importance into tests of Christian fellowship, and binding heavy burdens upon others. Thus a spirit of criticism, fault-finding, and dissension had come in, which had been a great injury to the church. And the impression was given to unbelievers that Sabbathkeeping Adventists were a set of fanatics and extremists, and that their peculiar faith rendered them unkind, uncourteous, and really unchristian in character. Thus the course of a few extremists prevented the influence of the truth from reaching the people.
Some were making the matter of dress of first importance, criticizing articles of dress worn by others,
and standing ready to condemn everyone who did not exactly meet their ideas. A few condemned pictures, urging that they are prohibited by the second commandment, and that everything of this kind should be destroyed.
These one-idea men can see nothing except to press the one thing that presents itself to their minds. Years ago we had to meet this same spirit and work. Men arose claiming to have been sent with a message condemning pictures, and urging that every likeness of anything should be destroyed. They went to such lengths as even to condemn clocks which had figures, or "pictures," upon them. . . .
A few in ----- had gone so far as to burn all the pictures in their possession, destroying even the likenesses of their friends. While we had no sympathy with these fanatical movements, we advised that those who had burned their pictures should not incur the expense of replacing them. If they had acted conscientiously, they should be satisfied to let the matter rest where it was. But they ought not to require others to do as they had done. They should not endeavour to be conscience for their brethren and sisters. -- Historical Sketches, pp. 211, 212. (1886)