Next to the Bible itself as a source for sermons we have the Spirit of Prophecy books that help to illuminate the Bible. One called to preach cannot afford to be without these valuable volumes. Several of the books by Mrs White can be especially helpful in the preparation of sermons. Since our preaching should center above all else on Jesus our Saviour, The Desire of Ages is indispensable and should become a familiar book. The most important lessons we draw on to illustrate our sermons will be from His life and teachings.
Life of Jesus
Preaching directly from the life of Jesus can be a most enriching experience. A wide variety of approaches may be used. Consider for example a few of the characteristics of His life on earth.
1. His supreme dedication to His mission.
a. The mission defined to seek and to save.
b. What He was willing to give up.
c. What He was willing to endure.
d. The ultimate price the cross.
2. His amazing condescension, compassion, and utter selfless ministry.
3. His complete dependence upon the Father.
a. Nights in prayer.
b. "Not my will, but thine be done."
4. His knowledge and use of the Word.
a. Studied Scriptures from earliest youth.
b. It was by the Word that He overcame temptation.
c. He pointed to Himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies as the evidence of His Messiahship.
d. He was the Word made flesh.
e. The impartation of the Word is the impartation of the life of Christ.
5. Christ among the people.
a. His attitude toward the most sinful.
b. His attitude toward His enemies those seeking His life, Judas, those who hanged Him on the cross.
c. His attitude toward the Samaritans, heathen, lower class, publicans, and sinners.
d. His attitude toward His disciples so "slow of heart to believe," so full of prejudice, so self-seeking, even in the shadow of the cross.
6. Christ's concern for the church.
a. Last months of ministry spent primarily in training disciples as the future leaders.
b. His prayer for unity (John 17).
c. No other plan than that the cause for which He laid down His life be carried on by those that would believe on His name. No other plan.
7. The supreme measure of His love.
These are only a few suggestions designed to stimulate the mind to the wide variety of experiences from which to draw in presenting Christ.
Each of the points above could be illustrated with numerous incidents from His life. The Gospels would be the principle source. The Desire of Ages gives the added insights of divine inspiration.
Parables of Jesus
Along with The Desire of Ages you will find Christ's Object Lessons exceptionally useful in preparing sermons from the life and teachings of Christ. Here the great spiritual lessons are drawn forth from the many parables that He gave.
Each of these parables could be developed into a good sermon. You may wish to choose three or four as a series to be presented on Sabbath mornings. With prayer meetings to plan for, such a series could be considerably longer.
Equally helpful as a supplement to The Desire of Ages is the little volume Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing. The Sermon on the Mount was the greatest sermon ever preached. Its lessons on practical Christianity are greatly needed today, and this volume is packed with practical sermon material drawn from the master Teacher.
In preaching from the life of Christ, or in drawing upon His life and ministry for illustrations, there are many further suggestions that come to mind. Take, for example, the miracles of Jesus.
These are also fine material for a prayer meeting series. Or consider the personal interviews of Jesus with Nicodemus, or with the woman at Jacob's well.
There are also His public discourses. Mention has already been made of the Sermon on the Mount. With the enrichment of Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing and other helps, this too could develop into a prayer-meeting series.
The second most important public discourse of Christ was the one preached in Capernaum on the bread of life. Recorded in John 6, this sermon created the crisis in Galilee that brought His public ministry virtually to an end. (See The Desire of Ages, chap. 41).
It is easy to see that one could preach for many months on Jesus alone, using the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy as the major sources of information.
For still further suggestions simply check the Spirit of Prophecy Index. Pages 447 and 448 of volume 1 outline the events of Christ's earthly life. On page 458 the many characteristics of His life and ministry are listed, fifty in all.
Few are fully aware of the tremendous library of information that God has blessed us with in the writings of Ellen G. White, and what remarkable insight this divine commentary gives to the Scripture.
Orley M. Berg, former Associate Editor of Ministry Magazine, is presently living in North Fork, CA.