A united, culturally sensitive church. What a blessing and privilege to be part of God’s mission, sharing the good news of Christ’s love and His soon return
The Great Task Before Us
Being a united, culturally sensitive church
By Ted N. C. Wilson
This article is adapted from a sermon given by Pastor Wilson on January 30, 2016, in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. Elements of oral style have been retained.—Editors.
What a blessing and privilege to be part of God’s mission, sharing the good news of Christ’s love and His soon return in these last days of earth’s history! But if we don’t go out of our way to come into contact with people, how will they know?
In Luke 15:1, 2 we read, “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to [Jesus] to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them.’ ”
The rabbis were angry and shared their disgust. “This man associates with sinners and even eats with them.” Throughout history, whenever selfish, self-centered interests take control of the heart, various classes have developed: those who have and those who have not; those who are educated and those who didn’t have those advantages; those who are exclusive and those who have no one to speak for them; saints and sinners. Certainly we are all sinners and need to come to the foot of the cross every day, accepting Christ’s robe of righteousness and His transforming power. We are to humble ourselves every day before the Lord. No one is immune from self-seeking and self-centered thinking.
As mission-minded Seventh-day Adventists, let’s learn through the Holy Spirit’s guidance how to use cross-cultural understanding in proclaiming the three angels’ messages of God’s love and Christ’s soon return. Let’s be more sensitive to differing cultures and settings, realizing that the Advent message is the same everywhere, but the method of sharing it can vary greatly. Let’s also be sensitive to local settings so that our behavior doesn’t stand in the way of our important work.
I remember arriving in Moscow to take up my work in the Euro-Asia Division, whistling down the division office hallway. A church official quietly cautioned me that whistling indicated that you were an uneducated person, and some people believed that whistling summoned evil spirits. For three years I had the hardest time not whistling. But I carefully complied, since that behavior could have hurt my ability to influence God’s work positively.
Another lesson I learned in avoiding a misunderstanding was to pray in the proper manner. I was praying one day with my hands behind my back. I was later instructed by the same leader that you always pray with your hands folded in front of you, otherwise you show disrespect to God. I quickly adapted, since it was not a moral issue.
It’s important to humble ourselves and do away with ethnocentric thinking, asking God to help us modify behavior that may inhibit our efforts to lift up Christ. Christocentric thinking must take the place of anything that brings friction and misunderstanding. Let our offices, homes, churches, and interactions be filled with the great themes of the Advent message, with Christ and His righteousness at the center. All our internal and external squabbles and jostling for prominence will sink away when Jesus in His fullness, with all His precious doctrines, ts lifted up.
Doctrine and Belief
In all cultures Christ’s teachings and doctrine are core to what we believe and share. Saying that all we need to do is focus on Jesus and not His doctrines is to accept a superficial manner of belief without the solid substance of Christ’s message. Doctrine and belief emanate from Christ. His fullness and rich breadth of love signifies the enormous field of truth that is Christ. Ellen White observed: “Christ is the center of all true doctrine.”1 Jesus is the rich embodiment of Christ-centered doctrine and belief. Never let anyone suggest that we need to eliminate doctrine to see Christ. Christ and His doctrines go together to produce the Advent message that we proclaim today as a unified, cross-cultural church.
In various places I see detrimental effects of the emerging church movement pushing its way even into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This movement focuses on experiential understanding, and much less on the cognitive, Bible-based beliefs that we hold dear and that are vital for our close relationship with Christ every day.
Be very aware of this subtle effort to diminish biblical, doctrinal belief thus crippling the Seventh-day Adventist message by neutralizing our distinctive message. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s leading in helping us to work cross-culturally in proclaiming the distinctive three angels’ messages and counteracting mystic and emerging church influences.
The Great Task Before Us
The great mission before us as a united, culturally sensitive church is to fully embrace the task God has entrusted to us for these last days. We must never veer away from the truth as it is in Jesus. Everywhere we look, the world seems to be disintegrating. Now is the time to rally in a culturally sensitive way to God’s unique call.
You and I are part of the last proclamation of hope for the world, the culmination of Revelation 14. We are not to hesitate in our final proclamation of this Advent message. Ellen White challenged us: “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.”2
The unfortunate fact is that Seventh-day Adventists in various places are succumbing to “political correctness,” pressure, and conformity to unbiblical moral and social changes, in addition to a neutralizing of precious biblical truths. Let’s stand firm on all God’s truths and principles for personal and church life as we cross-culturally interact with people, pointing them to the One who brings everything into perspective. The Lord’s coming is soon, and we all must follow Christ’s example, making cross-cultural connections with all who will listen. We must socialize with them for mission under the leading of the Holy Spirit. We can’t witness by proxy. We can’t give a personal testimony by remote control. We can’t socialize by using a drone. To make an impact, we must come into contact with people.
Research shows that personal contact, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, is the greatest single factor in bringing people to Christ and our beliefs centered in Him. We need television, radio, Internet, publications, community services, health outreach, and many other ways to draw attention to truth, but it finally comes down to personal interaction and witness.
Seeking the Lost
Christ had a burning desire to see all people saved. He didn’t look with indifference at those who were sinners and outcasts. God asks us to follow His example in seeking the lost, reaching souls with cross-cultural sensitivity and love, and to be active participants in the last proclamation to this world.
As we become closer to our Savior, are we taking on His character of love for others? Are we willing to do anything necessary to seek out those who wander away from truth?
“Every soul whom Christ has rescued is called to work in His name for the saving of the lost,” wrote Ellen White. “When you turn from those who seem unpromising and unattractive, do you realize that you are neglecting the souls for whom Christ is seeking? . . . Angels pity these wandering ones. Angels weep, while human eyes are dry and hearts are closed to pity. . . . O for more of Christ’s spirit, and for less, far less, of self!”3
Our work is to follow Christ’s example in daily interfacing and proactively seeking those who need to hear of God’s grace and power that will change their lives. Whether by telephone, e-mail, letter, personal contact, public meetings, God wants us to socialize with others as Christ did, carefully and prayerfully pointing people to complete Bible truth and a knowledge of Christ’s plan for their redemption, culminating with His soon Second Coming. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to help us socialize in the right way with the right approach, recognizing that we too are all sinners in need of Christ’s saving power.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Christ agonized for you and me. Ellen White described it: “He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He . . . left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission.”4
Christ offers a cross-cultural mission to us today—Total Member Involvement in God’s remnant church, empowered to proclaim the last message of love and warning. Christ went to the cross, died for us, rose for us, is interceding in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary now for us, and will soon return to take us home to heaven.
I can’t wait! Let’s prepare for His soon coming, and let’s prepare others by befriending them for mission.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
1 Ellen G. White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1913), p. 453. 2 Ellen G. White, Evangelism (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1946), p. 179. 3 Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), pp. 191, 192. 4 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 693.
The compassionate Christ is more than an ideal. He’s s role model.
Being like Jesus
By Ted N. C. Wilson
One of the greatest themes in the Bible is that of compassion. We see it written on the pages of Scripture again and again, especially in describing the character of God. “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Ps. 86:15).
“For the Lord will judge His people, and He will have compassion on His servants” (Ps. 135:14). “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy” (Ps. 145:8). Perhaps one of the most beautiful passages is found in Micah 7:18, 19: “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
A Gift Given to All
Interestingly, of the 50 times the word “compassion” appears in the Bible (27 times in the Old Testament and 23 in the New),1 the first mention of the word involves a person considered a pagan and outsider, a Gentile woman. We are given a glimpse of the scene in Exodus 2:5, 6: “Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’ ”
Compassion is not only part of the fabric of God’s character but also a gift He endows to every human being: the ability to have a sympathetic awareness of the distress of others, along with a desire to alleviate it.2
Because compassion is such an intricate part of who God is, throughout history Satan has sought to destroy and obliterate that characteristic in God’s children. Wars, famines, violence, and the desensitization of society through various media, power-grabbing, pride, self-centeredness, escapism, covetousness, nihilism, and more—all are calculated to turn our thoughts from the plight of others to ourselves and erase all compassion from our hearts.
Jesus provides the antidote for a world seriously lacking compassion. Through His life and teachings, Jesus taught what it means to be “moved with compassion.” In Mark’s Gospel we see a leper coming to Jesus, “imploring Him, kneeling down . . . and saying to Him, ‘If you are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed’ ” (Mark 1:40, 41).
Following the untimely death of John the Baptist, when Jesus and His disciples tried to go to “a deserted place in the boat by themselves,” thousands of people ran to the other side of the lake to meet them. When Jesus saw the “great multitude, [He] was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:32, 34). Later that day He fed the entire multitude from five loaves and two fish. “So they all ate and were filled” (verse 42).
Modeling True Compassion
While the ministry of Jesus certainly involved meeting the physical needs of people, He modeled true compassion by caring for their spiritual well-being and directing them to the only source of truth.
Stressing this point in His magnificent sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’. . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:31-33).
The compassion of Jesus is complete. While He doesn’t ignore the temporal needs of people, His ultimate concern is for their eternal spiritual welfare. This complete compassion is what He calls His followers to exhibit as they seek to minister for Him (see Matt. 9:35-38).
Desperate for Hope
Afari3 was from a Middle Eastern country whose dominant religion was hostile to Christianity. Her husband allowed her to work in a beauty salon where she would interact only with other women. Life at home was miserable. Afari’s husband frequently beat her and humiliated her.
Feeling hopeless, Afari seriously considered suicide. About this time one of her clients at the salon noticed Afari’s sadness. Having no one else in whom she could confide, Afari shared her troubles with this woman. The two became close friends, and eventually the woman invited Afari to a secret home group where she learned about Jesus. She was given a Bible and treasured it as her most precious possession.
Because compassion is such an intricate part of who God is, Satan has sought to destroy and obliterate that characteristic in God’s children.
Sadly, Afari’s husband found the Bible and beat her mercilessly, theatening to kill her. Miraculously she escaped and ran to her parents’ home. Afari was able to contact her Christian friend, who quickly helped her escape to a neighboring country. From there Afari entered Europe as a refugee.
Soon after arriving in Europe, Afari met up with two friends who had fled the same country because of religious persecution. These friends had come in contact with Seventh-day Adventists and told Afari, “This church is exactly what you are looking for.” They found that Adventists not only cared about their physical needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter, but provided the spiritual nourishment they so desperately craved.
Afari says that she loves attending the Adventist church. It is where she has “found love, peace, hope, and kindness. They help me understand that I am not alone. I feel safe now,” she says. One of the Adventist leaders in this city explains their compassionate approach: “We know that providing only the humanistic elements doesn’t satisfy. If we focus only on physical and social needs, they don’t get what they truly need. Spiritual needs are a top priority.”
Godly Compassion Not Optional
For Christians, godly compassion is not optional. Since the beginning, God has called His followers to be like Him, to “do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
In reflecting on the compassionate work given to God’s people, Ellen White wrote: “The unselfish labor of Christians in the past should be to us an object lesson and an inspiration. The members of God’s church are to be zealous of good works, separating from worldly ambition and walking in the footsteps of Him who went about doing good.
“With hearts filled with sympathy and compassion, they are to minister to those in need of help, bringing to sinners a knowledge of the Savior’s love. Such work calls for laborious effort, but it brings a rich reward. Those who engage in it with sincerity of purpose will see souls won to the Savior, for the influence that attends the practical carrying out of the divine commission is irresistible.”4
God is calling each one of us, wherever we are, to participate in Total Member Involvement as we show His complete compassion to a world in need. Let’s ask Him to fill us with His Holy Spirit so that we can have the wisdom and compassion only He can give.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In the New King James Version.
Paraphrased from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compassion.
Not her real name.
Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), pp. 109, 110.
The best way to share our faith is to reflect Christ’s character in our own lives....
Being Like Jesus
Speaking the truth in love.
By Ted N. C. Wilson
One of the most important verses in the Bible is found in 1 John 4:8: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus repeatedly stressed the importance of love. When asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?” (Mark 12:28), Jesus responded by quoting a well-known passage from Deuteronomy: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30, 31).
After washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus told them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35).
The beloved apostle John echoes this important theme in 1 John 4:7, 8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
John continues in verse 16: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (verses 16-19).
A Beautiful Diamond Like a beautiful diamond, God is multi-faceted. The God of love is also the God of truth. We read in Deuteronomy 32:4 that “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.”
The changelessness of God’s love is balanced by the changelessness of His truth. “For I am the Lord, I change not,” He says in Malachi 3:6. God doesn’t change, so His truth remains the same.
In His prayer to the Father, Christ stated, “They [His followers] are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:17, 18, KJV).
God’s Word—the Bible—is His truth, and because it is His truth, it is changeless. Jesus sends His believers out to share His truth. And because His truth runs contrary to the world, it’s often met with hostility and rejection. Nevertheless, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
Speaking the Truth in Love Jesus gives many examples of how to speak the truth in love. One of the best known is in John 4, where Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
The Jews avoided interactions with Samaritans because they considered them to have an impure, twisted form of religion. But Jesus reached out to everyone. He knew He had a work to do in Samaria and trusted God to lead Him. Furthermore, He wanted to set an example for the disciples, revealing that their work would be broader than just to Israel.
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He thirsted not only for a cup of water, He longed to heal her soul. Because Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth in love, an encounter that began with a simple request turned into an effective two-day evangelistic outreach.
A Difficult Conversation The conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well wasn’t easy; Jesus had to say some hard things. He wanted her to see her need of the living water He had to offer, and how the way she had lived her life up to that point had been keeping her from Him.
After the woman expressed a desire for the living water Christ was offering, He gently brought her need to the forefront. “Go, call your husband,” He said, “and come here” (John 4:16).
Admitting that she didn’t have a husband, Jesus responded, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (verses 17, 18).
The truth hurt, and the woman didn’t want to talk about what she had hoped would remain secret. Seeking to divert the conversation, she brought up a long-standing theological controversy: “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship” (verses 19, 20).
Jesus didn’t dismiss the diversion immediately, but instead watched for an opportunity to again bring the truth home to her heart. “Woman, believe Me,” He told her, “the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father” (verse 21).
But Jesus goes farther, stating: “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews” (verse 22).
This was a hard truth for a Samaritan to hear, nevertheless it was important. Paul acknowledged this truth in Romans 3:1, 2: “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.”
In Spirit and Truth As Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, he sought to lift her thoughts above form, ceremony, and controversy. He longed to free her from the bondage of sin and prejudice.
“The hour is coming, and now is,” Jesus continued, “when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23, 24).
True worship, Jesus said, is in spirit and truth—you can’t just have the spirit or just the truth. You must have both. “In spirit” means to be in accordance with God’s spirit of love and following His way. Truth is always according to His Word; that’s where truth is defined.
Those who worship in spirit and truth are the true worshippers that the Father seeks. God is the focus; He’s the source of truth, and it’s His Spirit that draws us to worship, know, and love Him.
People with a great message to share like us do not have to be persuaded at all...
Sharing the Wealth
Are You the Millionaire Next Door?
By Ted N. C. Wilson
In 1996 university professor Thomas J. Stanley and his former student, William D. Danko published a book entitled The Millionaire Next Door. Their research-based work has sold more than 3 million copies and has become a classic on finances. In their book the authors explain that most truly wealthy people don’t live the way the rich are portrayed on television or in films: in big houses, driving fancy cars, dressed in expensive clothing. Instead, the truly rich live much more frugally, work hard, live in ordinary houses, and don’t continually give money to their adult children. It’s possible, they say, that people living next door to a millionaire may be unaware how wealthy their neighbor actually is.
But what about those who are spiritually wealthy? What about those who are sons and daughters of the King of the universe, the one who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10)? What about those who “have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7)?
Could it be that those with whom we come in contact, those living beside us, are unaware of the spiritual treasures God has bestowed upon His people for these last days to share this eternal wealth with others?
A Weighty Responsibility
“We have a message from the Lord to bear to the world, a message that is to be borne in the rich fullness of the Spirit’s power,” wrote Ellen White.1 “Upon us rests the weighty responsibility of warning the world of its coming doom. From every direction, from far and near, are coming calls for help. God calls upon His church to arise and clothe herself with power. Immortal crowns are to be won; the kingdom of heaven is to be gained; the world, perishing in ignorance, is to be enlightened.”2
Jesus challenged His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matt. 9:37). James admonishes believers to be “[doers] of the work” (James 1:25). Jesus Himself said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
I challenge you to become involved in the daily mission of the church far more than you ever have before. Pastors and lay members, young and old, are to work together in soul winning. We are counting on you! God is counting on you! Evangelism is the lifeblood of the church. All of us are to be in involved in it—through personal witnessing, small group evangelism, or public evangelism in its various forms—even if you think it won’t work in your area. Adapt your methods, but reach out. Do something for Jesus! Every effort under God’s guidance to reach the hearts of people will bear fruit. Let the Holy Spirit revolutionize your thinking. Take the church’s mission of outreach into your hands on a daily basis, working closely with church leaders and pastors. Let it be total participation, no one left out, everyone a missionary.
You Are God’s Messenger
You don’t need to be a minister in order to win people to Christ. Ellen White wrote: “Every one who names the name of Christ is expected by God to engage in this work. The hands of ordination may not have been laid upon you, but you are none the less God’s messengers. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, if you know His saving power, you can no more keep from telling this to someone else than you can keep the wind from blowing. You will have a word in season for him that is weary. You will guide the feet of the straying back to the fold. Your efforts to help others will be untiring, because God’s Spirit is working in you.”3
Let’s do something for Jesus and for others. Rather than look inward and criticize the local church and its activities, reach out to others for Christ, and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t needed. Work closely with your pastor, local church, and conference. The Holy Spirit will empower you as heaven’s messenger to your neighborhood. As you work with Him revival and reformation will become something very personal and real.
That marvelous volume, Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, tells about our special work in Total Member Involvement. Note these urgent reminders: “The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world.”4 “Let us remember that a Christlike life is the most powerful argument that can be advanced in favor of Christianity. . . . Men will believe, not what the minister preaches, but what the church lives.”5 “Christ’s work is to be our example. . . . His life was one of unselfish service, and it is to be our lesson book.”6 “If every church member were a living missionary, the gospel would speedily be proclaimed in all countries, to all peoples, nations, and tongues.”7 “God’s people are to be so earnest and faithful in their work for Him that all selfishness will be separated from their lives. His workers will then see eye to eye, and the arm of the Lord, the power of which was seen in the life of Christ, will be revealed. Confidence will be restored, and there will be unity in the churches throughout our ranks.”8 “It is not learned, eloquent speakers that are needed now, but humble, Christlike men and women, who have learned from Jesus of Nazareth to be meek and lowly, and who, trusting in His strength, will go forth into the highways and hedges to give the invitation: ‘Come; for all things are now ready.’?”9
A Mighty Example
Andressa became a mighty example of Total Member Involvement at the age of 13. Her first contact with the Adventist Church was through her grandmother and a small Bible study group. She enjoyed it so much she decided to start a small group herself. “But first,” she said, “I need to get baptized [and] give my life to Jesus so the children that I’ll teach will also follow my example.”Andressa was baptized, and the very next Thursday she started her small group. The number of children coming to her Bible study continued to grow rapidly, up to 45! There were so many that Andressa encouraged the group to split into smaller groups. One young person said, “Andressa showed me I could create my own small group. . . . Everybody should create a small group; it’s an extension of the church. It’s an extension from God.”
In addition to her small group ministry, Andressa was involved in many more outreach activities. In a video interview she described her week: “On Sundays I go to the radio station and start with a devotional. There’s a segment for children, where I tell Bible stories. On Mondays I go to school, and in the afternoon we do a lot of missionary work. On Tuesdays I visit the nursing home. We sing, play, and pray. Some of the people there are lonely, and sometimes they open up to us. On Wednesdays [a group] meets at my house to make crafts that we can sell, and that’s good, because the people in this group don’t have a lot of money. On Thursdays in the afternoon I preach to the children in my home. In the evening we go to homes of some of the church members and play music for them. On Fridays [I have] a small intercessory prayer group. Intercessory prayer is really interesting because a lot of prayer requests are answered. Prayer is powerful. On Sabbaths I wake up earlier and invite some children to go to the church with me. This is what my week is like!”
Andressa is certainly an example of Total Member Involvement! Her schedule might intimidate many adults. Despite her age, it would seem as if she’s done more than people who are older. “Jesus is coming,” Andressa said. “He is showing us the signs. The prophecies—they are being fulfilled. If we do not do our part now, maybe tomorrow time will run out.”
Time Is Running Out
Sadly, time did run out for Andressa. One Sabbath morning when she was going to preach at her church, the car she was riding in collided with a truck. Four women died, including Andressa, who was 14 years old. She accomplished a lot in her short life. More than 100 people were baptized because of her witness, and countless others continue to be inspired by her example. What about you? Are you willing to be totally involved for Jesus? Are you ready to share the treasure you have? As we see the end of time approaching, let’s renew our efforts to be involved in all that God intends for His remnant church: every member involved in lifting up and sharing Christ, His Word, His righteousness, His sanctuary service, His saving power in the great controversy, His three angels’ messages, His health message, His last-day mission to the world, and His soon second coming.
Reach the World for Jesus
Soon we’ll look up and see Jesus appearing in the clouds of heaven, as He said he would. He will come to take us home. It will be the culmination of His redemptive work using every willing follower to reach the world for Him. I appeal to each of us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be part of Total Member Involvement. The latter rain of the Holy Spirit is approaching, and with it the great proclamation to every person on earth in anticipation of Christ’s soon return. By God’s grace, let’s be a part of it!
If you’d like to learn more, I encourage you to watch the five-minute video in which Mark Finley, Duane McKey, and I explain more about how you can be a part of Total Member Involvement. It’s available on Vimeo at: vimeo.com/144789637 or on YouTube at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxNfaJO-Hqk.
1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 7, p. 18. 2 Ibid., p. 16. 3 Review and Herald, Nov. 24, 1904. 4 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 19. 5 Ibid., p. 21. 6 Ibid., p. 31. 7 Ibid., p. 32. 8 Ibid., p. 33. 9 Ibid., p. 36.
Followers of Christ are faithful to His Word. This is the real commitment we must have.
Because He Is Faithful.
By Ted N. C. Wilson
Last month in this column we looked at the foundation of our salvation—Christ our righteousness. This is one of three components of a healthy Christian life that we as a church will be focusing on during the next five years. The other two components are faithfulness and total member involvement.
You may have read my article “Called to Faithfulness: Now Is the Time,” in which we discussed how God is calling His remnant people everywhere to be faithful to Him through our connection and communion with Him each day (published July 2015; www.adventistworld.org/2015/july/called-to-faithfulness.html).
In this month’s article I would like to focus on one especially important aspect of faithfulness—being faithful to God’s Holy Word, the Bible.
Our Sacred Responsibility
One of the biggest battles we face is over the authority of the Word of God. The devil has always hated God’s Word and does everything to neutralize its effect. As Seventh-day Adventists, it is our sacred responsibility to protect, lift up, and promote the lifesaving power of the sure Word.
The world around us is falling apart. People are distraught about security and personal safety. They wonder what horrible event will next take place during normal daily activity. Millions of migrants are trying to escape the brutality and uncertainty of ruthlessness and total confusion. The unknown has become the enemy.
People don’t think the world around them is going in the right direction, and they are right. We’re living in the end of time according to Seventh-day Adventist prophetic interpretation and correct hermeneutical application of Scripture. What is needed isn’t a political, military, or social solution, but a return to a sure foundation—God’s sure Word.
Certainty of God’s Word
The apostle Peter shares tremendous encouragement about the certainty of God’s Word: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. . . . And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16-21).
People have always needed a sure foundation. The sure word of prophecy is something we can count on, and it’s needed today more than ever. The Bible provides the only hope for the future as it points to the gospel message of Christ, His righteousness, His salvation, His ministry in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, and His final redemption of His people at His second coming. It’s our enormous privilege to share this message through the power of the Holy Spirit.
People of the Book
Seventh-day Adventists have long treasured the Bible and have been known as “people of the Book.” However, in this age of relativism with no absolutes, are we still known as “people of the Book”? Of course, we don’t believe in “bibliolatry.” We don’t worship the Bible: we worship the “Word” that was made flesh—Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is the “Word,” and what’s in His book is important. What a privilege to hear the Word of God, to listen to its instruction, to understand its directives for living the victorious life through Christ’s justifying and sanctifying power.
How We Read God’s Word
The Word of God, however, is being ignored more and more. It’s becoming fashionable to misinterpret and misapply what is plainly indicated in Scripture. It’s being reinterpreted by those who participate in the higher criticism or historical-critical approach to Scripture—those who place themselves above Scripture as they interpret according to their own standards and approaches.
How we read God’s Word is important because how we read it helps us to know truth from error. The church will be deluged with apostasies and false doctrine. But the Word of God stands sure, and His church will be triumphant against the attacks of the devil.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we should carefully adhere to the Bible study methods outlined in this document. We’re to follow the historicist view of prophecy and biblical understanding. Don’t let anyone turn you from the historicist understanding and the historical-biblical interpretation of Scripture. Be faithful, and stand firm for God’s Word.
Note the following inspired instruction about accepting the Bible as it reads: “God requires more of His followers than many realize. If we would not build our hopes of heaven upon a false foundation we must accept the Bible as it reads and believe that the Lord means what He says.”*
Products of Heavenly Inspiration
As we face the last days of earth’s history, we know there will be a determined effort by Satan to destroy the effectiveness of the Bible—and the Spirit of Prophecy. We see the neutralization of God’s Word all around us. The historical-critical method applied to the Word of God reduces its effectiveness as authoritative. It’s Satan’s plan to undermine God’s plain “Thus saith the Lord.” We’ve seen determined efforts by some to attack the Spirit of Prophecy and make it “of none effect.”
The Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy are both products of heavenly inspiration and are thus accurate accounts describing the great controversy between good and evil—between Christ and Satan. This is why the devil is determined to destroy the truth found in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Thankfully, the devil will not succeed, but in the process many people will be deceived. God has given us a mandate from heaven to be faithful defenders of His Word because it’s been shown to be true and changes people’s lives. The dilemmas of this world tell us we are at the edge of eternity. God wants to work in and through us.
We are living in the Laodicean last-day period when Christianity is often very superficial. The devil will try everything to distract us from the Bible and the truth. Every possible means will be used: recreation, media, amusements, work, music, disagreements and internal fighting, false teachings, family discord, economic problems—anything that will take time away from God’s Word.
Responding in Faithfulness
Nevertheless, God is faithful to us. Through His power, let’s respond in faithfulness to Him. He calls us to be faithful in our personal relationship with Him, faithful to His Word, faithful in daily Bible study, faithful in the study of the Spirit of Prophecy, and faithful in our constant prayer life. In a world filled with ever-increasing violence, bombings, shootings, and tragic death all over the globe, let’s be faithful to God’s plan of restoration at His soon second coming. Jesus tells us: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
By God’s grace, let’s champion the Word of God and lift up Christ, who is the Word. Let’s make the Bible come alive and make it the foundation of our belief. We are facing a battle, and we must know what we believe in. There are absolutes, and they are found in the Word of God. Now is the time for faithful adherence to His Word. Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev. 3:11). Let’s be faithful to God and His Word!
*Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif., Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 5, p. 171.
As we begin this new year, now is an excellent time to consider a foundational aspect of salvation: Christ and His righteousness.
Christ, Our Righteousness
What are you wearing to the wedding?
By Ted N.C. Wilson
As we begin this new year, now is an excellent time to consider a foundational aspect of salvation: Christ and His righteousness. Matthew records a fascinating parable of Jesus involving a wedding and proper wedding attire. In Matthew 22 we read that a great wedding was arranged by the king. There’s a lot of excitement as the king prepared this celebration for his son. He “sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding” (verse 3). Sadly, those who received the invitation weren’t excited about attending. Can you imagine a king inviting people to a wedding, and they didn’t want to come? We should keep in mind that this parable has meaning for us today. Jesus is calling us to His wedding feast. Are we coming?
The Reception Receptions can be a challenge. If you’ve ever prepared one, you know. We’ve had two wedding receptions in our home and one at the church, and I’m glad people came to the wedding receptions for our daughters. But in this parable not only did the guests not show up—they didn’t even appreciate the king’s generous invitation. “They made light of it and went their ways” (verse 5). Are we so busy with life, trying to negotiate the twenty-first century, that we’re too busy to come to the most important meal God will ever serve?
Rejecting the King In the parable, those who received the wedding invitation seized the king’s servants, treated them cruelly, and killed them. When you go out as God’s colaborers, be prepared to be refused, to be tormented, to be shunned, and maybe even to be killed. The Christian church as a whole, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church specifically, have had their share of martyrs. Let’s not be afraid about the future. Don’t be afraid regarding the prophetic unfolding of what we know is going to take place. We are assured of Christ’s presence until the very end of time (see Matt. 28:20). Anyone watching current events will know that prophecy is being fulfilled just as God foretold. We are not living in normal times. When the king in the parable heard how his servants were treated, he was furious. He sent out his armies, destroyed the murderers, and burned their city (Matt. 22:7).
Starting Over Then the king started over. He told his servants, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. . . . Go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding” (verses 8, 9). Many people came—both bad and good—and the wedding hall was filled with guests (verse 10). Today as God’s message is proclaimed, there will be people who aren’t aligned with God’s holy Word but will be part of those who come. To the very end of time there will be the good and the bad, the wheat and the tares. But there will be a shaking. In fact, I believe the shaking has begun. The world has crept into the church in such an incredible way. There’s only one way you and I can prevent ourselves from being swept up with erroneous ideas, with cultural implications, with a twist that will push us against God’s Word. There’s only one way from being shaken out, and that is complete reliance upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We must receive Christ’s justifying power, His sanctifying power, His reviving and reforming power.
Claim His Promises The Bible is filled with beautiful promises showing what Jesus can and will do for us when we accept His robe of righteousness: “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). The apostle Paul encourages us to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). And John the revelator tells us exactly who we are, and how we are to be remedied from the terrible curse of self-centeredness: “Buy from Me gold . . . , that you may be rich; . . . white garments, that you may be clothed . . . ; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:18, 19).
Proper Attire Returning to the parable, we see that what happened next is actually a fascinating explanation of Christ’s ministry. We read that when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man not wearing a wedding garment. “Friend,” he asked, “how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” (Matt. 22:12). The man was speechless. This poor fellow, even though he’d been given a perfect suit, didn’t accept and wear it. The King not only invites strangers (that’s you and me) to the wedding of His Son—He also provides the proper clothing as a gift. When Christ provides His robe of righteousness, it’s a perfect fit, and it fits everyone! We just have to accept it and put it on.
Delving Deeper That magnificent book Christ’s Object Lessons delves deeply into the parables of Christ, further illuminating the many valuable lessons found there. There we read that the wedding garment represents “the pure, spotless character which Christ’s true followers will possess.”1 And that character is not our character; it’s Christ’s. “It is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal Savior.”2 Do we really believe this? The chapter also includes this wonderful promise: “Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make us meet [prepared] to appear in God’s presence. This covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting, believing soul. . . . This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impart to us. ‘All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags’ (Isa. 64:6). . . . By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments.”3 Don’t fall for the trap people set up when they say, “It’s impossible to keep the commandments; it’s impossible to live a perfect life.” It’s true that we can’t live a perfect life on our own—there’s no possible way! But when we wear the robe of Christ’s righteousness, we appear to the heavenly Father as perfect.
Sanctification Moves In Then something else happens. Sanctification starts to move in, and that is Christ’s righteousness as well. Ellen White wrote: “When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. . . . Righteousness is right doing, and it is by their deeds that all will be judged. Our characters are revealed by what we do. The works show whether the faith is genuine.”4 We read further: “The man who came to the feast without a wedding garment represents the condition of many in our world today. . . . They do not realize their need of Christ or exercise faith in Him. They have not overcome their hereditary or cultivated tendencies to wrongdoing. Yet they think that they are good enough in themselves, and they rest upon their own merits instead of trusting in Christ. Hearers of the Word, they come to the banquet, but they have not put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness.”5 Let Seventh-day Adventists be known as people who trust, not in their own merits, but only in the merits of Jesus Christ! As Ellen White wrote: “It is in this life that we are to put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness. This is our only opportunity to form characters for the home which Christ has made ready for those who obey His commandments. . . . Take heed lest you be found at the King’s feast without a wedding garment.”6
Moving Forward As we move forward, are you willing to receive from the hand of Christ His covering garment that will enable you to be a co-laborer with heaven? Accepting the beautiful gift of Christ’s robe that covers and transforms us into His image is foundational to becoming a follower of Christ. May we be so filled with the power of the Holy Spirit that people will say, “Those Seventh-day Adventists know Jesus. He lives in their hearts, and they are the greatest proclaimers of Christ’s righteousness.”
1-Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), p. 310. 2-Ibid. 3-Ibid., 311, 312. 4-Ibid., p. 312. 5-Ibid., p. 315. 6-Ibid., p. 319.
It is no accident that at the beginning, and near the end of Christ’s earthly ministry, weddings were the focal point of lessons Christ wanted to teach His followers.
Dispel the Darkness Let your light shine.
By Ted N. C. Wilson
It is no accident that at the beginning, and near the end of Christ’s earthly ministry, weddings were the focal point of lessons Christ wanted to teach His followers.
The first, at the wedding of Cana, was a lesson in faith, trust, and obedience—faith that God can supply needs, trust that He will do what is best, and obedience in following God’s instructions—even when those instructions might seem not to make sense, such as asking the servants to fill the vessels with water (see John 2:1-11), when they needed unfermented wine.1
The second lesson was brought home one evening as Jesus and His disciples sat on the Mount of Olives, where they had a clear view of the hills and valleys surrounding Jerusalem. The sun had just set, and the sky was painted with the colors of dusk.
Taking in the beautiful scene, the group noticed a home, brilliantly lit. They heard sounds of laughter and noticed 10 young women, dressed in white, and holding brightly burning lamps while standing outside. Clearly it was a wedding party, waiting for the bridegroom’s arrival.
Jesus takes in the familiar, festive scene and uses the occasion to teach His disciples throughout the ages some important lessons.
We know the story, recorded in Matthew 25:1-13, well. Often referred to as the parable of the 10 virgins, it tells the story of five wise and five foolish young women who were waiting for the bridegroom to appear. While all had lamps that were burning, only the wise ones brought enough oil to last through the night.
The Wise Ones
While this parable is full of meaning, let’s consider for a few moments the important work of the wise women. First, their lamps were lit, and they had enough oil to keep their lights shining, even through the darkest of nights.
In the Bible, oil often represents the Holy Spirit (see Zech. 4:1-6). Before we can let our lights shine, we need to be filled with this special oil. In the book Christ’s Object Lessons Ellen White beautifully explains how the Holy Spirit prepares us to shine:
“So the followers of Christ are to shed light into the darkness of the world. Through the Holy Spirit, God’s Word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. By implanting in their hearts the principles of His Word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God. The light of His glory—His character—is to shine forth in His followers. Thus they are to glorify God, to lighten the path to the Bridegroom’s home, to the city of God, to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”2
Today a misunderstanding about God and His character enshrouds the world in darkness. God is calling each one of us to let our lights shine brightly for Him, not only for the sake of brightness, but—just as the wise women in the parable did—to light the way for others to find their way to the Bridegroom, Jesus, and to the Bridegroom’s home, heaven.
How to Let Our Lights Shine
But how do we let our lights shine? We are told, “Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. . . . There are many from whom hope has departed. Bring back the sunshine to them. Many have lost their courage. Speak to them words of cheer. Pray for them. There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the Word of God. Upon many is a soul sickness which no earthly balm can reach nor physician heal. Pray for these souls, bring them to Jesus.”3
Take the Call
Let’s take this call from God personally and seriously. We can do nothing of ourselves. Only as we lean completely on the Lord for His direction and leading can we follow His call. Christ and His righteousness must permeate our lives.
The world is awash in existential behavior, with many people thinking that everything is relative, but it is not! There are absolutes, and they are found in the Word of God. Jesus tells us, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev. 3:11). We Seventh-day Adventists are called to be faithful to God.
Working Hand in Hand
I challenge you to become involved in the daily mission of the church far more than you ever have before. We are counting on you! God is counting on you! Evangelism is the lifeblood of the church. All of us are to be in involved, through personal witnessing, small group evangelism, or public evangelism in its various forms. I invite you to become involved, even if you think it won’t work in your area. Adapt your methods, but reach out. Every effort, under God’s guidance, that you make in reaching the hearts of people will bear fruit.
Church leaders and church members are to work hand in hand for mission outreach. Ellen White wrote: “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.”4
Revolutionize Your Thinking
Let the Holy Spirit revolutionize your thinking. Take the church’s mission of outreach into your hands on a daily basis, working closely with church leaders and pastors. Let it be total participation, no one left out, everyone a missionary, total member involvement. Do something for Jesus and for others. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t needed; the Holy Spirit will empower you as heaven’s messenger to light your neighborhood. Revival and reformation will become personal and real.
“It is the privilege of every soul to be a living channel through which God can communicate to the world the treasures of His grace,” wrote Ellen White. “There is nothing that Christ desires so much as agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and character. . . . All heaven is waiting for channels through which can be poured the holy oil to be a joy and blessing to human hearts.”5
Jesus challenges us with this truth: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:37, 38). And in James 1:25 we are admonished to be “a doer of the work.”
The Edge of Eternity
We are at the edge of eternity. Truly, Jesus is coming soon! God wants to work in and through us. If ever there were a time to let our lights shine for Jesus, it is now (see 1 Peter 2:9)!
We are told that “it is not learned, eloquent speakers that are needed now, but humble, Christlike men and women, who have learned from Jesus of Nazareth to be meek and lowly, and who, trusting in His strength, will go forth . . . to give the invitation: ‘Come; for all things are now ready’ (Luke 14:17).”6
Jesus is coming soon! Lift your light high and share it in practical ways, pointing those around you to the One who has given us salvation and has promised to take us home soon! This is your church and your work as you lean completely on Christ, total member involvement. This is our work, entrusted to us from heaven itself. May God guide each of us in the days ahead as we “reach the world” for Christ. Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!
1-See Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 149. 2-Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), p. 414. 3-Ibid., pp. 417, 418. (Italics supplied.) 4-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 9, p. 117. 5-E. G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 419. 6-E. G. White, Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 36.
In last month’s World Vista column, we looked at God’s call to faithfulness, faithfulness to Christ, to His Holy Word, to His church and prophetic movement, and much more.
A faithful Mission
Answering the call
By Ted N.C. Wilson
In last month’s World Vista column “Called to Faithfulness: Now Is the Time”, we looked at God’s call to faithfulness, faithfulness to Christ, to His Holy Word, to His church and prophetic movement, and much more.
Jesus Christ is our role model and Savior. Through His righteousness and grace we can be faithful because He is faithful.
Praise God He has called us to be a people, a church, with a mission. And what a wonderful mission it is, a mission to bring hope and healing to a dying world, a mission to proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages, a mission to share the wonderful news of Christ’s soon return.
This divinely-appointed mission is the reason the Seventh-day Adventist Church exists, and it is a calling given to everyone—women and men, young people, children—regardless of age or gender.
Mission and Theology
Our unique, God-given mission springs from Revelation 14:6-12—the Three Angels’ Messages—God’s important messages for these last days of earth’s history. Some people may say these messages are politically incorrect and not advisable to preach. But I tell you that the Three Angels’ Messages are the most important messages to share. They are our theology and mission, and the reason for God’s wonderful remnant church. Seventh-day Adventist theology and mission are inseparable.
Everyone Is Needed
To reach the more than 7 billion people in the world for Christ and the important truths revealed in His Word, every Seventh-day Adventist is called to play an important part in God’s final mission of mercy to this dark world.
We are told, “The light that God has given His people is not to be shut up within the churches that already know the truth. It is to be shed abroad into the dark places of the earth. Those who walk in the light as Christ is in the light will co-operate with the Saviour by revealing to others what He has revealed to them. . . . In the world today men and women are absorbed in the search for worldly gain and worldly pleasure. There are thousands upon thousands who give no time or thought to the salvation of the soul. The time has come when the message of Christ’s soon coming is to sound throughout the world. Unmistakable evidences point to the nearness of the end.”1
This work is not just for ordained ministers, but for everyone who believes and knows the truth. We are called to work together in fulfilling this important mission. Lay members are vitally important in carrying forward the truth for this time.
In your places of work, in social interactions, in your day-to-day activities, reveal the attractiveness of Christ and others will be drawn to know the source of your peace and happiness. Be willing to share the hope that is within you: the hope of Jesus’ soon return.
We must remember that the ability to accomplish this work is not in human beings, or in programs or policies. The power and truth presented are found in the Word of God, in the Spirit of Prophecy, in earnest prayer, and in the Holy Spirit. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6)
Our biblical message unites us as a worldwide people and guards us from isolating ourselves from society and from each other.
People of the Book
We are living in a time when many people do not want to hear the straight Word of God. They want to hear only what sounds good to them. Church members, preach the Word in season and out of season. Live like the Lord is coming soon, because He is!
We are to rely completely on the Lord and His precious Word. Let’s increase the understanding that we are “people of the Book,” accepting God’s precious Word with the clear hermeneutical understanding that we use the historical-biblical approach for interpreting its messages. We do not accept the historical-critical method, which places human interpretation above the Bible interpreting itself.
As historicists, we believe that the Bible explains biblical prophecy with the understanding that the waymarks of history and the fulfillment of prophecy are clearly indicated and permeate history. We stand on the sure Word of prophecy.
We also accept fully the wonderful counsels given to us through the writings of Ellen White. The Holy Word and the Spirit of Prophecy empower us to accomplish our great work in announcing Christ’s return.
Agents for Christ
As ministers and lay members work hand in hand, let’s share this heavenly message in every way possible; through small groups, personal witnessing, public evangelism, publications, social media, and many other ways, including through the effective comprehensive health-ministry. Let’s prepare people for Christ’s soon coming by doing what God has asked, empowered, and equipped each of us to do.
An amazing promise is found in Christ’s Object Lessons: “It is the privilege of every soul to be a living channel through which God can communicate to the world the treasures of His grace, the unsearchable riches of Christ. There is nothing that
Christ desires so much as agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and character. There is nothing that the world needs so much as the manifestation through humanity of the Saviour’s love. All heaven is waiting for channels through which can be poured the holy oil to be a joy and blessing to human hearts” (p. 419, emphasis supplied).
Challenging Times Ahead
As the conflict between truth and error intensifies, a shaking will take place in God’s church. Ellen White predicted, “As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. . . . They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren.”2
Those who hold fast to their Savior, and refuse to abandon the truths found in the Three Angels’ Messages, realize that they must perform their duty in presenting these messages and leave the results with God. With “faces lighted up” they will “hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. . . . Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. . . . Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.
The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. . . . The rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. . . . Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord’s side.”3
My brothers and sisters, this is the exciting future for which you and I are being empowered and equipped to finish God’s great work as we proclaim these mighty messages. Only by relying completely on Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit will we be able to accomplish anything. God is preparing us for something unusual: the outpouring of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit.
Mission-minded fellow believers, all heaven is waiting. Are we ready to answer heaven’s call? Are we willing to dedicate ourselves fully to the Lord and allow Him to work through us to reach those who are perishing? Jesus is coming soon!
1 Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 24, 25. 2 The Great Controversy, p. 608. 3 Ibid., p. 612.
Ted N.C. Wilson has been president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists since 2010.
Faithfulness is a prominent theme throughout the Bible.
Called to Faithfulness
Now Is the Time
By Ted N. C. Wilson
Faithfulness is a prominent theme throughout the Bible. In the Psalms we read of God’s faithfulness: “Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures” (Ps. 119:90, NIV); “O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You” (Ps. 89:8). The prophet Isaiah wrote, “O Lord, You are my God. . . . Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isa. 25:1). In the New Testament we read that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). In Revelation, Jesus Christ is described as “Faithful and True” (Rev. 3:14; 19:11).
The importance of faithfulness is reflected in the words of Jesus: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10); in His commendation “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23); and in His promise in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Faithfulness is identified as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The Bible describes many of God’s faithful followers, and today He still has His faithful ones. Ellen White reminds us:
“Christ is present at every assembly and at every private interview. He has made His people the depositaries of rare blessings. He has given them gems and treasures richer than gold; and every faithful colaborer with God is to work the mine of truth and bring the treasures to view. . . . Amid the scorn of men, suffering worldly loss, they have manifested steadfast integrity. . . . They stand true as the needle to the pole, as faithful workers, as standard-bearers for God, in principle firm as a rock.”1
Prophecy Being Fulfilled As Seventh-day Adventists with a clear prophetic perspective, we can see that the second advent of Christ is fast approaching! We can immediately recognize that Matthew 24 and Revelation 13 are being fulfilled now. The world is in disarray. No one can solve the insurmountable problems facing countries and people groups. Unrest, butchery, and treachery are all around. It isn’t difficult to imagine “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26).
Social trends continue to defy biblical truth and heavenly principles. For those who are carefully observant, recent ecumenical trends are astounding, pointing to the fulfillment of Revelation 13:3.
Call to Faithfulness God is calling His remnant people everywhere to be faithful to Him through our connection and communion with Him each day. It is only through connecting to the Vine that we can be fruitful and faithful in this age of unfaithfulness.
We are called to faithfulness—faithfulness to Christ, to His Holy Word; to His church and prophetic movement; to His biblical plan for the family; to His sanctuary message; to public and personal witnessing for Him; to belief in and use of the Spirit of Prophecy; to the proclamation of His three angels’ messages; to Christian stewardship; to living the Christian life; to Christian humanitarian service; and to sharing the promise of Christ’s soon return. He is our role model and our Savior. Through Christ’s righteousness and grace we can be faithful because He is faithful.
What a privilege to place ourselves in the hands of One who is faithful, knowing that whatever may happen, God is faithful and just. Whatever we face, we can rely on God’s faithfulness to ultimately bring us home to His eternal kingdom when Christ returns.
Your faithfulness is essential to God’s proclamation to the universe. Because of His faithfulness, He has followers who are faithful. Solomon declares that “a faithful ambassador brings health” (Prov. 13:17). Be an ambassador for Christ as you bring physical, mental, social, and spiritual health to others. Share Christ’s righteousness and His comprehensive health ministry as you engage in His plans for mission to the cities and every place on earth. God promises that “a faithful man will abound with blessings” (Prov. 28:20). Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 4:2: “Moreover it is required . . . that one be found faithful.”
Nehemiah’s Example One of the most poignant examples of faithfulness is that of Nehemiah, a faithful man of God serving in the palace of the Persian king. Nehemiah 1:4 records that when Nehemiah heard about the broken-down wall of Jerusalem, he “sat down and wept.” He then turned his pleading heart to the Lord in prayer.
As you face challenges, be fervent in prayer. Plead with the Lord for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit so that we can figuratively repair God’s wall today with Holy Spirit power.
Nehemiah received permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. Three days after arriving, Nehemiah challenged the Jewish nation: “Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach” (Neh. 2:17). Their response was “Let us rise up and build” (verses 18).
Beware of Cynics But beware of the cynics of today, represented by Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, who laughed at and despised Nehemiah. Take courage from God and join with Nehemiah in saying, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build” (verse 20). The construction progressed quickly because “the people had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6).
When the enemies of God heard of this progress, they made plans to attack. Nehemiah pleaded with the Lord through prayer and then positioned the people saying, “Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (verse 14). They divided the task of defense and construction so that all participated. “Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon” (verse 17).
In your faithfulness to God, with one hand do the work of God, and in the other hold the Word of God, your weapon of heavenly authority. Lean completely on the Lord in your faithful service saying, along with those who worked on the wall of Jerusalem, “Our God will fight for us” (verse 20). Let’s work in that same spirit, with one mind of faithfulness to God’s request that we proclaim the three angels’ messages with Holy Spirit power.
A Special Work “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists . . . have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.”2
Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem didn’t give up. Beware of those who try to dissuade or distract you from your great task as a Seventh-day Adventist just before Christ’s coming. Ask God to strengthen your hands and do His great work in faithfulness to Him. God will reward your faithfulness as He did Nehemiah’s. “So the wall was finished. . . . And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it . . . they perceived that this work was done by our God” (Neh. 6:15, 16).
When God shows His mighty hand in your work of faithfulness, give Him all the glory and people will see that He is working through you. “Like Nehemiah, God’s people are neither to fear nor to despise their enemies. Putting their trust in God, they are to go steadily forward, doing His work with unselfishness, and committing to His providence the cause for which they stand.”3
Stand firm for God’s truth and proclaim His Word, as Nehemiah and a host of others have. You are important and critical to the last proclamation of the three angels’ messages. God is counting on you.
1 Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, Jan. 21, 1890. 2 Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 9, p. 19. 3 Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1917), p. 645.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The hope of the second coming of Christ has burned in the hearts of His people ever since His disciples stood gazing upward, watching their Lord ascend in the clouds. Surely, they hoped, He would return in their lifetime.
Arise, Shine, Jesus Is Coming!
A Call to Action
By Ted N. C. Wilson
The hope of the second coming of Christ has burned in the hearts of His people ever since His disciples stood gazing upward, watching their Lord ascend in the clouds. Surely, they hoped, He would return in their lifetime.
Through the centuries, faithful believers clung to the promise given by Jesus: “I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
Charles Wesley, the great eighteenth-century hymn writer, put this long-held desire into words with his hymn “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.”
During the Second Great Awakening of the early nineteenth century, “Jesus is coming soon!” was the cry on the lips of Baptist preacher William Miller and countless others as they delved into the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. When, after the Great Disappointment, a group of people came together to search the Scriptures, they reaffirmed the imminence of their soon-coming Savior, and in 1860 chose the name Seventh-day Adventist to reflect the centrality of this hope.
Today in 2015, does this hope of a soon-coming Christ still burn within our hearts? After all, some may say, past generations have expected Jesus to come in their lifetimes but He didn’t, so why should I expect Him to come in my lifetime?
Where Is the Promise?
As human beings, we find it easy to succumb to the temptation of thinking that life is going to continue on just as it has in the past. We see these kinds of thoughts specifically mentioned in 2 Peter 3:4: “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
From a purely secular standpoint, and even from a personal standpoint, we might be tempted to think this way at times. But even in my lifetime I’ve seen the transition from days when life seemed to just roll along and you could count on things—life was fairly predictable and dependable—to now, where life is filled with uncertainty and the norm is the unexpected.
Everywhere you look—if you are looking—you will see that from a political standpoint there are no more solutions. From a financial standpoint, we teeter between the edge of financial collapse and momentary prosperity, and we don’t know from day to day which one is going to take control. From a social and moral standpoint we see morality crumbling throughout the earth. From an ecumenical standpoint, things are happening at lightning speed as the pope and other religious figures reach out to leaders of many faiths, seeking a “reconciliation.”
One of the Biggest Dangers
But if we aren’t awake—if we aren’t looking—we won’t recognize the world in which we’re living. And that is one of the biggest dangers of thinking that Jesus isn’t coming soon, it’s an invitation to be so fully engaged with the world that our minds will become numbed by its consuming business and pleasures. Everything will appear as if life is going on as it always has, when in fact enormous changes are taking place.
This is why Jesus indicates in Revelation 3:14-22 that we, in this end-time setting, are Laodicean and desperately need revival and reformation. Jesus says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (verse 18).
That is why the Lord patiently waits at the doors of our hearts and knocks, saying, “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (verse 20). Jesus wants to return, but waits for us to humble ourselves before Him so that He can use us to share His last-day messages with the world in anticipation of His soon, second coming.
We are told that “Satan exults as he sees that he is successful in keeping minds from a consideration of the solemn, important matters that have to do with eternal life. He seeks to crowd the thought of God out of the mind, and to put worldliness and commercialism in its place. . . . It is his studied purpose to lead men to forget God and heaven. . . . And to this end he brings forward enterprises and inventions that will so occupy men’s attention that they will have no time to think of heavenly things.”
Describing the very time in which we are living, Ellen White emphasized this point in The Great Controversy: “Satan invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. . . . He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth. . . . The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the world of truth” Let’s be aware of the closeness of Jesus’ second coming, and plead for the outpouring of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit!
A Call to Action
The theme of the General Conference session in San Antonio this summer is a call to action: “Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!”
In the very last chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus proclaims three times that He is “coming quickly.” This means that in the cosmic timetable it is soon. As we know from Daniel and Revelation, there are no more prophetic pinpoints after 1844. We recognize that we are living in the tips of the toes of the image of Daniel 2, and that the next event will be that stone cut out without men’s hands—symbolizing the second coming of Christ.
So how do we “arise and shine” in preparation for Jesus’ return? Guidance is given to us in Testimonies for the Church: “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.”
Seventh-day Adventists have long understood that their very character and unique mission springs from Revelation 14:6-12—the three angels’ messages—God’s Word for these last days of earth’s history. Some people may say these messages are politically incorrect and not advisable to make known. I want to tell you the three angels’ messages are the most important messages to share. They are our theology and mission and the reason for God’s wonderful remnant church.
The three angels’ messages are directly related to Christ’s second coming as the events they describe immediately precede His coming. This is why sharing these messages now is so important—eternal destinies are at stake!
We Are All Called
This is a calling for all Seventh-day Adventists, not just for ministers and evangelists. No one is excluded from this very important work. We are all called to find creative, effective, loving, and Christlike ways to share the important, lifesaving messages of Revelation 14 with those around us. It may begin with a friendship, or in a healthful cooking class, at a center of influence, or in the workplace, wherever you may find yourself, spend time with God each day in His Word and in prayer, asking Him to show you how to reach those with whom you come into contact. Watch for divinely arranged encounters where you have opportunity to minister and share the truth as it is in Jesus.
One Day Soon
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is coming soon! What a day that will be when Jesus returns! Christ’s second coming will be the culmination of God’s finished work!
One day soon we will see in the eastern sky a small, dark cloud about half the size of a man’s fist. It will get larger and larger and brighter and brighter, all of heaven poured out for this climax of earth’s history. Everyone will see Him at the same time through a miracle of heaven. And there, seated in the middle of millions of angels, will be the One we have been waiting for—not the humble broken Lamb, not the High Priest, but the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ our Redeemer! We will look up and say, “This is the God we have waited for” (see Isa. 25:9). Christ will look down and say, “Well done, good and faithful [servants]. . . . Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matt. 25:21), and we will rise to meet the Lord in the air to go home to be with Him forever!
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
Are You Ready?
Let’s dedicate our lives, energies, talents, resources, and time to finishing God’s work so we can go home! God has promised to give you His power to finish His work. He will pour out the latter rain to proclaim the three angels’ messages and finish His work as a united church.
Are you ready for Jesus to come? Are you ready for mission? Are you ready to do whatever it takes to proclaim God’s last-day message to the millions and millions of searching souls in the cities and rural areas in your part of the world? Are you ready to participate in comprehensive health ministry, helping people to live life to the fullest here and for eternity? Are you ready to plead with the Lord for revival, reformation, and the latter rain of the Holy Spirit as we proclaim Bible truth? Are you ready to march forward in God’s mission?
Let’s all arise! Shine! For Jesus is coming!
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.