The Voice in Speech and Song


Section 6—Content of Our Discourses

Chapter 54—Christ the Sum and Substance

Glory of the Incarnate God—If Jesus were made the sum and substance of every discourse, sinners would be convicted. By the message borne they would know what they must do to be saved. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. Who can declare the glory of the incarnate God? What language can describe it? It is not the men learned in this world's wisdom who have true eloquence.—Manuscript 176, 1899. VSS 311.1

Foundation of the Gospel—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.—Gospel Workers, 158. VSS 311.2

True Example for Ministers—Will not our ministers wrestle in earnest prayer that they may have a holy unction, that they may not bring unimportant, unessential things into their labor at this important time? Let them not bring into their ministerial labors that which can be heard in any of the denominational churches. Let them ever keep before their hearers an uplifted Saviour, in order to prevent their converts from attaching themselves to the man, to bear his mold and copy his ways in their manner of conversation and conduct. The Lord has a variety of workers, who must impress the people in various lines. One man's ways are not to be considered perfect and to be adopted exclusively in any congregation. Christ is our Example.—Manuscript 21a, 1894. VSS 311.3

Simple Lessons of Christ—In the name of Jesus Christ, I would appeal to the church who has been made the depository of deep and precious truths. God has given treasures to the church not to be hoarded, not to be buried in the earth, but to be imparted to others, that others may be enriched as well as ourselves. How shall we work? Let both laymen and ministers follow the example of Christ. Let them meet the people where they are. I would entreat you to labor in word and doctrine; do not get above the simplicity of the work. Do not soar away above the minds of the common people so that they cannot follow you, and if they did follow you, would neither be benefited nor blessed. Teach the simple lessons of Christ. Tell the touching story of His life of self-denial and sacrifice. Tell of His humiliation and death. Tell of His resurrection and ascension, of His intercession for them in the courts of God. Tell them that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” [John 3:16].—Manuscript 38, 1894. VSS 312.1

Spiritual Nourishment—Of all professed Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. Our ministers should ever be able to direct men and women to Christ, to the One who Himself declared, “I am the Bread of life.” Let those who minister to the spiritual necessities of the people, read to them the words of Christ: “I am the living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever: and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” ... VSS 313.1

Often there are delivered to the people discourses destitute of the Bread of life, the food essential for spiritual growth. Those who have been appropriating for themselves the Bread of life, will be able to break it to others.... VSS 313.2

I have felt very sad as I have seen ministers walking and working in the light of the sparks of their own kindling; ministers who were not obtaining spiritual nourishment from Christ, the Bread of life. Their own souls were as destitute of the heavenly manna as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. In their hearts Christ was not an abiding Presence. How could they speak intelligently of Him whom they had never known by experimental knowledge?—Manuscript 21, 1891. VSS 313.3

Practical Lessons Along With the Prophecies—A few forcible remarks upon some point of doctrine will fasten in the mind much more firmly, than to bring in a mass of matter where nothing lays 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. There should ever be the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of God upon our own heart. The self-denial and the sufferings of Christ should be brought into our labors, and the great love wherewith He has loved us appear in all our efforts.—Letter 48, 1886. VSS 313.4

Christ in the Heart—Discourses that have little of Christ and His righteousness in them are given in the desk. They are Christless sermons. To preach in the demonstration of the Spirit is completely beyond the power of those who are without Christ. They are feeble, empty, and without nourishment. They have no Christ to carry with them in private life. They are full of boasting, of pride, of self-esteem, speaking evil of things of which they have no real knowledge. They manifest an impatience of everything that does not follow in their line. They will even scoff and mock at sacred things, because they do not see that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. They degrade themselves by perverting and falsifying truth.—Manuscript 15, 1886. VSS 314.1

The Spirit's Power—Merely to speak to beautiful things that please the ear and attract attention should not be our purpose. We are to present Christ and Him crucified, that souls who are dead in trespasses and sins may be alarmed and quickened. Those who seek to teach others need to be converted to Christ; they need to plead with God that He will imbue them with His Holy Spirit before they can lift up Christ as the sinner's only hope. Flowery speeches, pleasing tales, anecdotes, and stories do not convict the sinner. Men listen to such words as they would listen to a pleasant song, and the laborers gather but few sheaves into the garner. The message 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” [John 3:16]. And the truth will subdue and tender the soul of the teacher because he feels its practical utility.—Manuscript 12, 1891. VSS 314.2

Life-Healing Balm From the Cross—The cross, the cross of Calvary presented again and again, plainly dwelt upon in every discourse, will prove the life-healing balm, will reveal the beauty and excellence of virtue. Those who quibble over the authenticity of the Scriptures and question the authority of revelation will not be influenced.—Manuscript 20, 1893. VSS 315.1

Jesus in the Discourse—“And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” [John 17:3]. The eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This theme will quench unbelief; and yet, sad to say, Jesus has been dropped out of many, many discourses that have been preached by Seventh-day Adventist ministers. And why? Because these ministers had not Jesus abiding in their hearts by faith; they were not clothed with Christ's righteousness.—Manuscript 16, 1890. VSS 315.2