An Urgent Prophetic Calling
God guides His church PART 2
By Ted Wilson
This is the second part of an abridged version of “An Urgent Prophetic Calling: A Message From the General Conference President.”In the first part (February 2014) Wilson discussed how the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a prophetic movement with a prophetic calling. He reminded readers that the church is the body of Christ. While the church has experienced amazing growth, our greatest need is for revival and reformation and united prayer. For the full text and video, see adventistreview.org/an-urgent-prophetic-calling.—Editors
While there is much to be encouraged about, we face some enormous challenges. I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s admonition to the elders of the Ephesian church when he proclaimed, “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20, 21).
My love for the church and faithfulness to His Word compels me, as pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist believers worldwide, to share some of my concerns. Please note that I’m not suggesting that these spiritual challenges affect every church member, but they are serious enough to warrant concern.
Here are four great concerns for the church today. We could add additional ones, but let’s carefully look at these four:
- A loss of Seventh-day Adventist identity among some of our pastors and church members.
- The growing tide of worldliness in many of our churches.
- The danger of disunity.
- A spiritual complacency and apathy that leads to a lack of involvement in the mission of the church.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is much more than just another denomination. According to Revelation 10, it was born of God out of the disappointment of 1844, just as the New Testament church was born out of the disappointment of the cross in A.D. 31. In both instances the followers of Christ misunderstood prophecy and were bitterly disappointed. But out of those disappointments, God providentially raised up a divine movement of destiny to impact the world. According to Revelation 12:17 God’s last-day people would be characterized by keeping God’s commandments and having the testimony of Jesus, which the angel identifies in Revelation 19:10 as the gift of prophecy.
According to Revelation 14:6-12 God’s end-time church would: (a) proclaim the message of the everlasting gospel in the context of the three angels and the second coming of Christ; and (b) be calling “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (verse 6, KJV) to worship their Creator by keeping His Sabbath. No other religious movement in the world fits this pattern. No other church or denomination meets the criteria of Revelation 10, 12, and 14.
Neutralizing God’s Word
Now, here is precisely my concern: too many of our pastors and members have failed to recognize, or have forgotten, the divine prophetic calling God has given us as a church. There’s a growing tendency to minimize our differences with other denominations. Much of this comes from the neutralization of the Bible as God’s Word. It is so important that we base our beliefs on the Word of God, using the historical-biblical method of studying the Scriptures, and approaching prophetic understanding from the historicist perspective. God’s Word must be foundational to our belief, faith, and practical living. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth if we will study, pray, and listen to God’s voice.
The Whole Gospel
I’m reminded of Ellen White’s clear statement, “The whole of the gospel is embraced in the third angel’s message, and in all our work the truth is to be presented as it is in Jesus. . . . Let nothing lessen the force of the truth for this time. The third angel’s message must do its work of separating from the churches a people who will take their stand on the platform of eternal truth. Our message is a life and death message, and we” “are to present it in all its telling force. Then the Lord will make it effectual.”1
Seventh-day Adventists have been raised up, like Noah, to prepare the world for its final hours; and, like John the Baptist, to prepare the world for the coming of our Lord. We must never forget who we are and why we are here.
I appeal to you with all of my heart: Be faithful to the call God has given you as a Seventh-day Adventist. Embrace this message in its fullness and, filled with the Holy Spirit, go out to share it with the world.
Influence of the World
This leads me to my second concern: The growing influence of worldliness in our churches is alarming. Jesus stated it well when He prayed, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). The apostle John added, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever”(1 John 2:15-17).
The church has always faced the danger of losing its perspective and compromising in loyalty to Christ through a growing tendency to allow the world to shape its thinking. The closer we get to the end of time, the more the devil will redouble his efforts. I’m concerned about the almost-overwhelming tide of worldliness that is sweeping into some of our churches. Standards that were once cherished by Seventh-day Adventists in the areas of diet and dress, recreation and amusement, and Sabbathkeeping are fast becoming things of the past.
Salvation through Jesus Christ
Of course, we do not get to heaven by what we eat, or by how we show ourselves to be religious. We have salvation through the power and the blood of Jesus Christ. But once Christ comes into our lives and works in us in a powerful way, giving us justification, the same power brings sanctification, which helps us to then have the mind of Christ. Paul wrote, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Millions all over the world are looking for something different from what they have. Deep within, they are tired of the aching to satisfy their heart’s desires through the things of this world. They long for genuine, authentic Christianity. We will never reach them by compromising our God-given standards. This is no time to flirt with the devil’s dress, diet, amusement, and worldly influences. Christ living in our lives and dwelling in our hearts makes a dramatic difference in how we live.
Pulling the Curtain Aside
This leads me to another concern: the danger of disunity. In John 17 Jesus prayed for the unity of His church. One of the devil’s intentional strategies is to attack this unity. He knows that if the church is not united, it will not effectively accomplish its mission.
With prophetic insight, Ellen White gave us this divinely inspired counsel: “Unity is the strength of the church. Satan knows this, and he employs his whole force to bring in dissension. He desires to see a lack of harmony among the members of the church of God. Greater attention should be given to the subject of unity.”2 This beautiful quotation pulls the curtain aside and reveals the devil’s strategies. The evil one uses all of his forces to bring in dissention and conflict to neutralize the soul-winning efforts of God’s people.
This is a time for all to unite in Christ under the banner of His truth, to preach His message to the world. God has given to the Seventh-day Adventist Church a divinely inspired church organization, and mutual agreements called church policies, which under the guidance of the Holy Spirit are part of what helps to hold us together as a worldwide family. To discard or ignore these mutual agreements violates a sacred trust and creates unnecessary discord. I pray that every one of us will lay aside our personal opinions for the good of the body of Christ, and that we will, together, march forward to the kingdom of God.
Here is the last of my major concerns: The increased spiritual apathy and complacency prevalent in the lives of many. We need to examine our lives to make sure that God is working in us in a vital way. Recent surveys indicate that the overwhelming majority of church members believe the doctrinal essentials of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but there is a growing complacency about sharing their faith. They’re part of the culture of the uninvolved, rather than the culture of the involved. There is little passion for sharing their faith in Jesus Christ. There’s no urgency in their souls.
My brothers and sisters, without active involvement in the service of Christ, we will not grow spiritually. The prophet of God could not make it clearer when writing, “The very life of the church depends upon her faithfulness in fulfilling the Lord’s commission. To neglect this work is surely to invite spiritual feebleness and decay. Where there is no active labor for others, love wanes, and faith grows dim.”3 Involvement is the answer to apathy.
Evidence of the Holy Spirit
The task is great, but God is in control and leading His people. Does the church have challenges? Yes, but I see evidence of the Holy Spirit moving powerfully among His people. I see evidence of the Holy Spirit doing some special, exciting activity right now in His church, preparing a people for the soon coming of Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, I appeal to you, as I appeal to my own heart, to make a full, complete, total consecration to Christ. I appeal to you to embrace the prophetic calling that Jesus has given to His remnant church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I appeal to you to lift the standard high in your own life. I appeal to you to become actively involved in witnessing for your Lord, as we anticipate Christ’s soon second coming.
1Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases (Washington, D.C.: Ellen G. White Estate, 1981), vol. 1, p. 58.
2Ellen G. White, Selected Messages (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958), book 2, pp. 159, 160.
3Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 825.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.