The Voice in Speech and Song


Chapter 53—The Real Proof of Preaching

Evidence of a Godly Life—It is not enough to argue in defense of the truth. The most telling evidence of its worth is seen in a godly life; and without this the most conclusive statements will be lacking in weight and prevailing power; for our strength lies in being connected with God by His Holy Spirit, and transgression severs us from this sacred nearness with the Source of our might and wisdom.—The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 2:998. VSS 301.1

Hypocritical Preaching—To preach what we do not practice, is but to confirm sinners in their impenitence. The most earnest exhortations to walk in the light will be unheeded, if the speaker himself neglects to follow the light which Christ has given.—The Review and Herald, June 20, 1882. VSS 301.2

Solidity of Character—Those who labor 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 fanaticisms, 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.—Evangelism, 170, 171. VSS 301.3

Need of Personal Experience—A clear, faithful testimony must be borne by every shepherd of the flock of God. The state of the heart is to be our first earnest concern. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” [Romans 10:10]. But mere speech is nothing. Preaching the Word, and then working contrary to the Word, makes that Word of none effect. Lip knowledge, forms and ceremonies, are of little value while Christ is not abiding in the soul. VSS 302.1

We are to watch for souls as they that must give an account. We must sanctify the Lord God in our hearts. Then we shall be men and women of faith, prayer, and power. There is a great work to be done. The heart must be faithfully sentineled, else pride and rebellion will bear rule within. Evils without will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in its own homemade fog, all the time charging upon someone else the result of its own unchristian course of action.—Manuscript 11, 1899. VSS 302.2

Christ As the Great Center—Those who have not worked in full consecration to God have lost much themselves, and have not been able to communicate to the church correct principles of Christianity. Self has not been hid in Christ. Those who handle sacred things are not growing in grace and in the knowledge of the deep truths of the Word of God, attaining to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. They fall short of the divine measure. Some have preached in the desk, but have failed to reach the people, because they have not had the sanctifying power of Christ in their own hearts. They have not come in personal contact with the people, and they have not been benefited as they might have been. Not all have presented Christ as the great Center to whom all must come, realizing that He is the Author and Finisher of their redemption, their all in all. The result of their labor makes it manifest that they have not the deep personal experience they should have, but need deeper piety and unselfish devotion to the work.—Manuscript 12, 1891. VSS 302.3

Failure to Practice the Word—Actions speak louder than words. The sermon that is preached in the pulpit is counteracted by the sermon that is preached in the lives of those who claim to be advocates of truth. It is because of a lack of the practicing of the words of Christ that a curse is coming upon our churches. If Christ is not living in His human agent, then when circumstances are favorable to their development the attributes of Satan will appear. A noble life is the most powerful sermon in favor of Christianity. If we would live such a life, our consciences must be quickened by continual contact with the Word of God. Our souls must be familiar with the heavenly standard, and we must avoid every course that diverges from the right.—Letter 71, 1895. VSS 303.1

Constant Growth in Grace—Unless there is constant growth in grace, we shall be wanting in words suitable for the occasion. 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. Commune with your own heart and then commune with God. Unless you do this, your efforts will be fruitless, made Christless by the unsanctified hurry and confusion of worldly things.—Manuscript 101, 1902. VSS 304.1

Preaching and Practicing—At this period of time every minister of Christ is to heed the charge Paul gave to Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself,” to your character, your words, your conduct, “and unto the doctrine” [1 Timothy 4:16]. The minister must practice the doctrine he preaches, else he needs that someone should teach him the first principles of pure doctrine.... VSS 304.2

The Lord has given me a message for you. Ministers of the gospel must keep self in continual subjection to Christ. But in your present state of mind you are not subject to the will or control of God. Self, poor, sick self, is revealed on every hand. When self dies, the peace of Christ will take possession of the soul. As long as you are a minister of the gospel, you are under the most solemn obligation to God to be wise, not in your own conceit, but wise in the wisdom of God. VSS 304.3

Every day hereditary tendencies to wrong will strive for the mastery. Every day you are to war against your objectionable traits of character, until there are left in you none of those things which need to be separated from you. Then you will think candidly and wisely how to take yourself to the Lord. You will foresee the evils which will come, unless you change by avoiding the cause which produces the effect. VSS 304.4

You need now to understand as never before the softening, subduing power of true, Christlike character. You need to understand the warfare in which we are engaged. The power of holy living is far ahead of all doctrinal discourses.... VSS 305.1

We need now as never before to pray with heart and voice for the Spirit of Christ to use us in His service through the sanctification of the Spirit. We need to pray that we may by uniting with our fellow workers build up God's kingdom. We are never to be satisfied with self, but are ever to press upward, seeking to attain higher fervency and greater zeal. Our heart's greatest desire should be to be found among the meek and lowly people of God. Then we can find souls and win souls. VSS 305.2

Those who minister in word and doctrine must first be partakers of the fruits of the Spirit. Bear this in mind. Bridle your disposition, and then peace and contentment will find room in your soul. If you wish your heart to overflow with the love of God, cultivate grateful thanksgiving for the unspeakable privilege of knowing the truth. If you would lose sight of self by beholding Christ, you would be changed from glory to glory, from character to character, and would rejoice in His redeeming love. VSS 305.3

We have no time for fretting over ourselves, no time to look on the dark side. There are souls to be saved. We must live in Christ and Christ must live in us, else we shall preach and labor in vain. Those who are brethren in the faith must stand together in oneness, striving to answer Christ's prayer to His Father. Let us stop fretting. Let us put away all jealousy, all evil surmising. Let us put on Christ and walk in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Preach the Word. Practice the Word. Then souls will be converted. VSS 305.4

At present your spiritual condition is a stumbling block to your best efforts. We have the most sublime truths ever given to men. How are we handling them? In Christ, dead to self, open your mouth, and God will fill it. Christ will impress the minds of your hearers. VSS 306.1

Cooperation with God means His cooperation with us. Cooperation with our brethren gives standing room for every one who does the work. Cooperation is now greatly needed. Seek not for the highest place. If you do, you will be given the lowest place. Have courage in the Lord. But do not think that you are the only agent through whom He will work. For Christ's sake do your best, without speaking one ungrateful word to God or to your brethren. Then the Lord will bless you. We have not a moment to waste in regrets or recrimination. VSS 306.2

Take not your troubles to man, who may have no greater wisdom than you yourself. Take your troubles to Him who hears and answers prayer. Labor, labor with this poor soul and that poor soul. Keep your head out of books and your hand from writing. Seek the salvation of those who are ready to perish. How earnestly should we be engaged in laboring for souls as they that must give an account.—Letter 119, 1900. VSS 306.3

Impact of Jesus’ Love on the Speaker's Heart—There have been entire discourses, dry and Christless, in which Jesus has scarcely been named. The speaker's heart is not subdued and melted by the love of Jesus. He dwells upon dry theories. No great impression is made. The speaker has not the divine unction, and how can he move the hearts of the people? We need to repent and be converted—yes, the preacher converted. The people must have Jesus lifted up before them, and they must be entreated to “Look and live.”—Selected Messages 3:184. VSS 307.1

Character As the Exemplar of Teacher's Words—A dignified authority is required in the teacher, else he lacks that ability which will make him a successful teacher. The children are quick to discern any weakness or defect of character in the teacher. The deportment is making its impression. The words which you utter will not give them the right mold unless they see in your character the model.—Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 98. VSS 307.2

Teacher's Deportment, Student's Reverence for God—The one who shall accept the responsibility of teacher, if not fully qualified, if he senses the responsibility of his position, will do his utmost to learn. He will cultivate reverence, cheerfulness, and firmness. Let the deportment be of that character that your class will be educated to have solemn thoughts and reverence toward God. While the ideas may be presented in simplicity, the language, when speaking of God, of Christ, His sufferings, His resurrection, as realities to you, should carry the minds up high above earthly things, and make them feel that they are in the presence of the Infinite One.—Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 97. VSS 307.3