Messenger of the Lord


General Topics

What were Mrs. White’s general topics? Her public messages, according to listeners, focused on joy, on lifting the downcast, and presenting the charm of a loving Lord. A typical sermon closing would be: “This life is a conflict, and we have a foe who never sleeps, who is watching constantly to destroy our minds and lure us away from our precious Saviour, who has given His life for us. Shall we lift the cross given to us? or shall we go on in selfish gratification, and lose the eternity of bliss? ...” 20 MOL 127.3

Ellen White preached most often from Isaiah in the Old Testament, and the Gospel of John in the New. The New Testament chapters that she used most often were John 15 (“I am the Vine ...”), 2 Peter 1 (ladder of Christian growth), and 1 John 3 (“What manner of love...”). 21 MOL 127.4

Ministers noted that her messages on the simplest of Bible topics, such as conversion, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the love of God, became unusually heart-searching moments that lifted their spirits with courage and deeper insights. At the last General Conference session she attended (1909), now 81, she asked to speak to the ministers. The ministers could think of many subjects on which they wanted her opinion. MOL 127.5

L. H. Christian reported that she chose John 3:1-5 as her text, focusing on “Ye must be born again.” The ministers were disappointed, feeling that the topic was not appropriate; they wanted something more solid. MOL 127.6

However, after two minutes Christian was saying to himself, “That is something new. That is deeper and higher and grander than anything I have ever read or heard on the topic of the new birth, and the new birth as a daily experience for the preacher.” MOL 127.7

Then he recorded his further thoughts: “I had never before, nor have I since, heard such a heart-searching and yet kind and beautiful presentation of the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming human lives into the glorious likeness of Christ as she presented to us.... When her talk was finished (it lasted less than thirty minutes), we preachers said, ‘That is the best for our own souls we have ever heard.’ It was not critical; it was not discouraging; it did not condemn us; but it did give us a glimpse of the heights of spiritual excellence to which we might attain and to which we ought to attain if we were really servants of Christ to lead people on to a living faith in the Lord Jesus.” 22 MOL 127.8

Interesting phenomena often occurred when Ellen White was in the pulpit. Occasionally she would stop her prepared message and recognize people in the audience that she had not seen before except in vision. At Bushnell, Michigan, on July 20, 1867, Ellen and James White found a spiritually bleak group outside under the trees. James reported that shortly after his wife began to speak, she laid aside her Bible and began to address those who recently had been baptized. Because she had not seen them before, except in vision, she “designated each brother and sister by his or her position, as the one by that tree, or the one sitting by that brother or sister of the Greenville or Orleans church, with whom she was personally acquainted, and whom she called by name.” MOL 127.9

For the next hour, she reviewed the cases, one by one, stating that the Lord had shown her their condition two years before, that while she was reading her text from the Bible their individual needs were illuminated “like sudden lightning in a dark night distinctly revealing every object around.” MOL 128.1

What was the response? Each person, when addressed, arose and “testified that their cases had been described better than they could have done it themselves.” Wrongs were righted and a reformation unfolded that led to a strong church. 23 MOL 128.2

Sometimes Ellen White was taken off in vision while preaching. At Lovett’s Grove, Ohio, mid-March, 1858, after her husband preached a funeral sermon, she was bearing her testimony on the cheery hope of the Second Advent. Then, she wrote later, “I was wrapt in a vision of God’s glory.” For the next two hours she remained in vision as those in that crowded schoolhouse watched with avid interest. That Lovett’s Grove vision has come to be known as “the great controversy vision.” 24 MOL 128.3