An Urgent Prophetic Calling
God guides His church PART 1
By Ted Wilson
This is the first part of an abridged version of “An Urgent Prophetic Calling: A Message From the General Conference President.” The second part will appear in the March 2014 World Vista. The full text and video of the president delivering this message may be viewed at adventistreview.org/an-urgent-prophetic-calling.—Editors
My brothers and sisters in Christ, it gives me, as president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, great confidence to know that this church is in God’s hands. He is its founder, leader, and its true head. He has continually guided this movement in the past, is daily sustaining it in the present, and will powerfully lead it into the future. Our Creator, Redeemer, and coming King is the church’s only hope for today, tomorrow, and forever. He has providentially raised this church up for a unique mission, and it will not fail in rising to the destiny for which Christ created it.
Seventh-day Adventists are a prophetic movement with an urgent prophetic calling. We’re not just another denomination on the landscape of religious movements. We are a divine end-time movement with an end-time purpose, message, and mission for the entire world.
This doesn’t mean that the church does not have its challenges. It does. I will discuss this frankly in the next World Vista. But in the midst of challenges, the Holy Spirit is working powerfully; and the ultimate triumph of the church is certain.
The Church Is the Body of Christ
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of [hell] shall not prevail against it.” This church is not some human, man-made, bureaucratic organization, as some would have us believe. According to the Savior’s own words, He has built His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
In 1 Corinthians 12 the church is described as the body of Christ. In Ephesians 5 the church is the bride of Christ. In 1 Peter 2 the church is the household of Christ. In 1 Peter 2:9 the apostle proclaims that the people of God are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people.”
Triumphing Over the Powers of Hell
Christ holds His church in His hands. It is His fortress, His city of refuge on a planet in rebellion. It is a light in the darkness, a beacon in the night, and a shining light on the dimly lit pathway ahead. In The Acts of the Apostles we read: “Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted. He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition.”1
In these climactic hours of earth’s history, we see evidence that God’s truth is triumphing over the powers of evil and clear indications that Christ is leading His church. Let me share with you some amazing facts: In 1863 there was one Seventh-day Adventist for every 373,000 people in the world. Today, there is one Seventh-day Adventist for just under every 400 people in the world. It took this church 92 years to reach its first million members. Now we baptize 1 million people every year. We have nearly 25 million people attending our 70,000-plus churches in more than 200 countries. The Holy Spirit is moving in remarkable ways.
Revival and Reformation
During the past few years we’ve been emphasizing revival, reformation, and mission. By “revival” we mean a daily spiritual awakening in the hearts and minds of each one of us. By “reformation” we mean a deepening spiritual commitment to do God’s will, and the daily alignment of our lives, in everything we do, to please Jesus. Reformation occurs when we surrender our will to His will every day. He then gives us an understanding of what His mission is for us as individuals and as a church.
Does the Seventh-day Adventist Church need revival and reformation? Or is this simply another denominational program? God’s messenger, Ellen White, leaves no doubt when she declares, “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. Our heavenly Father is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer.”2
A Heart Longing
Without divine, supernatural power, God’s work will not be finished in our lives, and it certainly will not be finished in this world. We are simply no match for the forces of evil. I long for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my own life; and I long for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in all His fullness for the finishing of God’s work on this earth, so that Jesus can come. Our greatest, most urgent, most pressing need is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Will you join me, and other Seventh-day Adventist leaders and members from around the world, in humbling our hearts before God in earnest prayer, seeking for the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit? God is calling us to a deeper commitment in these critical hours of earth’s history. This is a time for complete dedication to Christ and His message.
Uniting in Prayer
Revival takes place when we spend time with God in prayer and Bible study. This is the reason the church launched the 7-7-7 prayer initiative (www.revivalandreformation.org/777). Many thousands of Seventh-day Adventists are participating in this prayer experience and are being renewed.
Thousands more are participating in Revived by His Word (revivedbyhisword.org), a daily Bible study program to lead the church through the entire Bible by the General Conference session in 2015. Church leaders in Brazil reported that so many people were tweeting about their Revived by His Word experiences that for a time the number of tweets ranked third in the entire nation of Brazil!
Revival is taking place around the world. The Holy Spirit is being poured out on groups of young people who are seeking God in prayer, studying His Word, and witnessing to the glory of His name. I am so encouraged when I see young people totally committed to the cause of Christ.
Results of Revival and Reformation
Revival and reformation always lead to witnessing and evangelism. There can be no genuine revival without a renewed passion for soul winning. When God does something in us, He will do something through us. Like Peter, we declare, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). With Paul we proclaim, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16). And with John we cry out, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you” (1 John 1:3).
All great revival and reformation movements in history have been accompanied by great periods of evangelism and outreach. This was true in New Testament times, in the sixteenth-century Reformation, and later. It was true also with the Second Great Awakening in North America and, subsequently, in the early history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Without revival and reformation, our witnessing activities will be powerless. Evangelism without revival produces meager results. The work of God is to be carried on to completion by the cooperation of divine and human agencies.
When revival and reformation do not find expression in witnessing, they soon degenerate into mere sentimental talk, and eventually die out altogether. All our members can be missionaries called by God to share their faith.
Reaching the Cities
The church has launched Mission to the Cities as a major emphasis in reaching the millions of people in about 650 of the world’s largest cities. Last year about 400 major evangelistic series were held simultaneously in New York City as part of a comprehensive evangelistic approach. Pastors and laypeople from around the world made a significant impact for Jesus Christ, through His power. This comprehensive approach included equipping hundreds of laypeople to witness in harmony with their God-given gifts. As a result of these massive efforts, more than 4,700 people have been baptized already.
Cities around the world are in the midst of similar events and are having similar results. Tens of thousands are being baptized; and this is just the beginning. Combined with Mission to the Cities, the church is launching a comprehensive health ministry, modeled after the ministry of Christ.
God is doing so much in this church. At times it just overwhelms me. There is too much to mention here. One of the projects that indicates God’s mighty moving is the Great Controversy Project. We set a goal of distributing 50 million copies, and a faith goal of 100 million. But through God’s power and intervention, we have distributed—you have distributed—more than 140 million copies of The Great Controversy in various versions. Praise God for this incredible expansion of His work. These books are being read by millions and making such a difference! There is so much to be encouraged about as God’s prophetic movement anticipating Christ’s soon return!
1Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), pp. 11, 12.
2Ellen G. White, Selected Messages (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958, 1980), book 1, p. 121.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.