"MINISTERS have no license to behave in the desk like theatrical performers, assuming attitudes and making expressions merely for effect. They are not actors, but teachers of truth. Un dignified, boisterous actions lend no force to the truth uttered; on the contrary, they disgust men and women of calm judgment and right views." Gospel Workers, p. 172.
Using Common Fire
"Some ministers make the mistake of supposing that success depends on drawing a large congregation by outward display, and then delivering the message of truth in a theatrical style. But this is using common fire instead of the sacred fire of God's kindling. The Lord is not glorified by this manner of working. Not by startling notices and expensive display is His work to be carried to completion, but by following Christlike methods. 'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.' It is the naked truth which, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cuts both ways, arousing to spiritual life those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Men will recognize the gospel when it is brought to them in a way that is in harmony with God's purposes." Ibid., p. 383.
Tears, Laughter—and Driftwood
"There are in the ministry men who gain apparent success by swaying minds through human influence. They play upon the feelings at will, making their hearers weep, and in a few minutes laugh. Under labor of this kind, many are moved by impulse to profess Christ, and there is thought to be a wonderful revival; but when the test comes, the work does not endure. Feelings are stirred, and many are borne along by the tide that seems to be setting heavenward; but in the strong current of temptation they quickly float back as driftwood. The laborer is self-deceived, and he misleads his hearers." Ibid., p. 382.
Work in Humility
"Carry forward your work in humility. Never rise above the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Not in the art of display, but in lifting up Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer, will you find success in winning souls. As you work for God in humility and lowliness of heart, He will manifest Himself to you.
"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 labors 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.
"Do not divest the truth of its dignity and impressiveness by preliminaries that are more after the order of the world than after the order of heaven. Let your hearers understand that you hold meetings, not to charm their senses with music and other things, but to preach the truth in all its solemnity, that it may come to them as a warning, arousing them from their deathlike sleep of self-indulgence. It is the naked truth that like a sharp, two-edged sword cuts both ways. It is this that will arouse those who are dead in trespasses and sins." Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 142, 143.
Amusing Stories Out of Place
"Neither is it the object of preaching to amuse. Some ministers have adopted a style of preaching that has not the best influence. It has become a habit with them to weave anecdotes into their discourses. The impression thus made upon the hearers is not a savor of life unto life. Ministers should not bring amusing stories into their preaching. The people need pure proven der, thoroughly winnowed from the chaff. 'Preach the word,' was the charge that Paul gave to Timothy, and this is our commission also. The minister who mixes story-telling with his discourses is using strange fire. God is offended, . . . when His representatives descend to the use of cheap, trifling words." Testimonies to Ministers, p. 318.
"Ministers should not make a practice of relating irrelevant anecdotes in connection with their sermons; for this detracts from the force o£ the truth presented. The relation of anecdotes or incidents that create a laugh or a light thought in the minds of die hearers is severely censurable. The truth should be clothed in chaste, dignified language; and the illustrations used should be of a like character." Gospel Workers, p. 166.
A Joking Minister Out of Place
"What can the minister do without Jesus? Verily, nothing. Then if he is a frivolous, joking man, he is not prepared to perform the duty laid upon him by the Lord. 'Without Me,' says Christ, 'ye can do nothing.' The flippant words that fall from his lips, the trifling anecdotes, the words spoken to create a laugh, are all condemned by the word of God, and are entirely out of place in die sacred desk." Testimonies to Ministers, p. 142.
A Sacred, Heavenly Mold
"I have a message for those in charge of our work. Do not encourage the men who are to engage in this work to think that they must proclaim the solemn, sacred message in a theatrical style. Not one jot or tittle of anything theatrical is to be brought into our work. God's cause is to have a. sacred, heavenly mold. Let everything connected with the giving of the message for this time bear the divine impress. Let nothing of a theatrical nature be permitted, for this would spoil the sacredness of the work.
"I am instructed that we shall meet with all. kinds of experiences and that men will try to bring strange performances into the work of God. We have met such things in many places. In my very first labors the message was given that all theatrical performances in connection with the preaching of present truth were to be discouraged and forbidden. Men who thought they had a wonderful work to do sought to adopt a strange deportment and manifested oddities in bodily exercise. The light given me was, 'Give this no sanction.' These performances, which savored of the theatrical, were to have no place in the proclamation of the solemn messages intrusted to us.
"The enemy will watch closely and will take every advantage of circumstances to degrade the truth by the introduction of undignified demonstrations. None of these demonstrations are to be encouraged. The precious truths given us are to be spoken in all solemnity and with sacred awe." MS. 19, 1910.
Give Not Glory to Man
"Paul, when speaking to the Corinthians, says, 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.' This is what Christ taught His disciples: 'Without Me ye can do nothing.' Paul would impress upon the minds of the ministers and people the reason why the gospel was com mitted to weak and erring men, that man might not receive the honor due to -God only, but that God might receive all the glory. The ambassador is not to congratulate himself, and take to himself the honor of success, or even to divide the honor with God, as if by his own power he had accomplished the work. Elaborate reasoning or argumentative demonstrations of doctrines seldom impress upon the hearer the sense of his need and his peril. Simple, brief statements, from a heart made soft and sympathetic by the love of Christ, will be as the grain of mustard seed, to which Christ Himself likened His utterances of divine truth. He throws into the soul the vital energy of His Spirit, to make the seed of truth germinate and bear fruit.
"Will my brethren take heed that no glory is given to men? Will they acknowledge that Christ does the work upon the human heart, and not they themselves? Will my ministering brethren plead with God alone in secret prayer for His presence and His power? Dare not to preach another discourse until you know, by your own experience, what Christ is to you. With hearts made holy through faith in the righteousness of Christ, you can preach Christ, you can lift up the risen Saviour before your hearers; with hearts subdued and melted with the love of Jesus you can say, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!"" Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 154, 155.