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Evangelism

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    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....Ev 174.4

    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 mold 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.Ev 175.1

    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 Parents, Teachers, and Students, 253-255 (1913).Ev 175.2

    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.Ev 175.3

    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.”Ev 176.1

    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.”Ev 176.2

    Here is another forcible statement: “A good shepherd,” says a writer, “should always have abundance of bread in his scrip, and his dog under command. The dog is his zeal, which he must lead, order, and moderate. His scrip 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.Ev 176.3

    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.Ev 176.4

    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....Ev 176.5

    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.Ev 177.1

    The preacher should endeavor 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.Ev 177.2

    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.Ev 177.3

    Sermons With Fresh Ideas—Never weary the hearers by long discourses. This is not wise. For many years I have been laboring 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.Ev 178.1

    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 and Gospel Workers, 258 (1896).Ev 178.2

    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 centered.... 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.Ev 178.3

    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.—The Review and Herald, April 23, 1908.Ev 178.4

    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 Parents, Teachers, and Students, 255 (1913).Ev 179.1

    No Compromise—We are not to cringe and beg pardon of the world for telling them the truth: we should scorn concealment. Unfurl your colors 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.Ev 179.2

    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.Ev 179.3

    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.Ev 179.4

    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 labored 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.—Manuscript 82, 1894.Ev 179.5

    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.Ev 180.1

    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.Ev 180.2

    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 For The Church 7:272 (1902).Ev 180.3

    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 For The Church 7:251 (1902).Ev 180.4

    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.Ev 181.1

    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.Ev 181.2

    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 center.—The Review and Herald, March 24, 1896.Ev 181.3

    “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.Ev 182.1

    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.Ev 182.2

    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....Ev 182.3

    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.—Manuscript 82, 1894.Ev 182.4

    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....Ev 183.1

    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.—The Review and Herald, September 11, 1888.Ev 183.2

    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....Ev 183.3

    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.Ev 183.4

    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....Ev 184.1

    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 labor with such solemnity as Christ manifested in His teachings. The right mold must be placed upon every presentation of Bible truth.—Letter 366, 1906.Ev 184.2

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