By Ted N. C. Wilson
This article is adapted from a sermon given by Ted N. C. Wilson at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, on April 19, 2013. Elements of the oral style have been retained. The complete sermon text is available online at www.adventistworld.org andwww.adventistreview.org.
Martin Frobisher was an explorer and pirate, commissioned by England’s Queen Elizabeth I. In 1576 he turned prospector, assuring Elizabeth he had struck gold on Baffin Island, in the northern part of Canada. The queen sent him back, with instructions to return with gold. Arriving at Baffin Island, Frobisher packed his ships with 200 tons of what he believed to be gold ore. When he returned to England, Martin Frobisher learned he had brought back 200 tons (181 metric tons) of pyrite—“fool’s gold.”
The Encyclopedia Britannica makes this pointed observation about Martin Frobisher: his “single-minded pursuit of mineral treasure limited the exploratory value of his voyages, and, when the ores he brought back . . . proved to contain neither silver nor gold, his financing collapsed. . . . Frobisher was undoubtedly one of the ablest seamen of his time, but as an explorer he lacked the capacity for patient factual investigation.”*1
Looking for Authenticity
Isn’t authenticity what we are looking for today? In a world that is often more virtual than real, isn’t it refreshing to discover someone or something that is genuinely authentic?
No doubt the most important area for genuine authenticity is in the spiritual realm—our relationship with God and His Word, and how it affects our character.
No one who has ever lived on earth was more spiritually authentic than Jesus Christ. He was, and is, the One He claims to be—the Son of God. As we consider His earthly life, we see consistency—His words and actions always match.
The Authentic, Authoritative Word
He is the authentic Word of God—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus told a doubting Thomas who was looking for direction (John 14:6). Praying to His Father later that night, Jesus pleaded: “I have given them Your word. . . . Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:14-17).
When confronted by angry religious leaders, Jesus went to God’s Word for authority: “The Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. . . . But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. . . . Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:37-47).
Here, Jesus is authenticating the Pentateuch—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—and the book of Job. These writings of Moses, Jesus says, testify of Him. Jesus affirms that the Old and New Testament authenticate each other—if we don’t believe the “Old,” we won’t believe the “New”!
“The Bible is the most comprehensive and the most instructive history which men possess,” wrote Ellen White in Christian Education. “It [the Bible] came fresh from the fountain of eternal truth, and a divine hand has preserved its purity through all the ages. Its bright rays shine into the far distant past, where human research seeks vainly to penetrate. In God’s Word alone we find an account of Creation. Here we behold the power that laid the foundation of the earth, and that stretched out the heavens. Here, only, can we find a history of our race, unsullied by human prejudice or human pride” (pp. 37, 38).
Above Culture, Prejudice and Pride
"The Bible, like Jesus, rises above culture, prejudice, and pride."
The Bible, like Jesus, rises above culture, prejudice, and pride. It reveals to us the truth about ourselves, our world, and beyond. It is the authentic sourcebook in guiding us into authentic spirituality.
Let’s allow the Bible to interpret itself, verse upon verse and precept upon precept, using the historical-biblical approach to understanding Scripture. In contrast, the historical-critical method places the individual above the Bible in choosing what is truth. This method does not lead to a true understanding of Scripture, as the method is humanistically based, rather than biblically based.
“A great work can be done by presenting to the people the Bible just as it reads,” wrote Ellen White in Christian Service. “Admonish them to take the Bible as it is, to implore divine enlightenment, and then, when the light shines, to gladly accept each precious ray, and fearlessly abide the consequences” (p. 144).
If you want to know if the Bible is really God’s authentic, relevant word for us today, use the gold standard of prophecy! Study the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation and see how they accurately trace human history. Read the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament and be convinced that Jesus is the one. Many atheists have come to accept the Bible as reliable and authoritative based on the study of prophecy!
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,” wrote the apostle Peter, “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 1:19-21). This text does not mean God dictated every word to these men—but that He worked through the Holy Spirit to guide them.
Spend quality time with God’s authentic Word each day—you will be amazed at how relevant and timely His messages are. Participate with the world membership in “Revived by His Word” (www.revivedbyhisword.org), reading one chapter in the Bible each day.
A Spiritually Authentic Church
A spiritually authentic church is one whose teachings and people follow the “Faithful and True Witness” (Rev. 3:14, NKJV), that is, Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wondered why the Seventh-day Adventist Church exists? After all, 150 years ago there were many other denominations in existence—what would be the purpose of one more?
The purpose is to fulfill Bible prophecy and to stand up, speak out, and share with the world the message that God has for every person on this planet. We have a threefold mandate from heaven to preach the everlasting gospel and Christ’s righteousness; to boldly proclaim the fall of Babylon’s apostate religion; and to warn the world not to receive the mark of the beast, but instead be sealed with the seal of God’s everlasting mark of authority—the seventh-day Sabbath.
This is the message of Revelation 14. The giving of the three angels’ messages is the reason God raised up the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Everything is centered in Christ and His righteousness.
Is this authentic? Is this real? It is as authentic and real as the Bible itself. It comes from the revelation of Jesus Christ Himself, who “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).
My friends, we have the great privilege of belonging to something much larger than just another denomination or community of faith; we belong to the heaven-born Advent movement—the Seventh-day Adventist Church, God’s remnant church. A church that has been called by God at the end of time for a unique purpose. A church that does not rely on traditions or human reasoning but relies completely on the written Word of God as its sole foundation and the Living Word, Jesus Christ. This is a church that does not derive its power from itself but accepts fully the admonition of the Lord in Zechariah 4:6: “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Are We Authentic?
Are we, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, spiritually authentic? Are we who we say we are? Do we really believe that Jesus is coming soon? Or do we secretly hope that He will delay His coming so that we can carry out our own plans first?
Let’s ask the question: Are we truly the “remnant church”? Does God even have a “remnant church”? Revelation 12:17 tells us that Satan, “the dragon,” “was wroth with the woman [the church], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (KJV). And the “testimony of Jesus,” we are told in Revelation 19:10, “is the spirit of prophecy.”
What about this remnant idea? Doesn’t God love everyone? Of course He does. And He wants us to love everyone too, including people of other faiths, and those of no faith.
Are we “better” than everyone else? No! The remnant is not some exclusive club that is only open to a select few. It is open to everyone who loves Jesus, accepts Him as Lord of his or her life, and takes the Bible, including all 10 commandments, as their guide for life. And because we love people as Jesus does, we want to minister to their needs—physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually—and invite them to become a part of God’s remnant church.
Authentic Versus Counterfeit
It’s important to remember that for every good gift from God, Satan has a counterfeit. Often it appears to shine like gold, but no matter how beautiful the offer may appear, in the end Satan’s authentic counterfeit “bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:32).
We must take the time to develop the patience needed for factual investigation. God’s Word gives us the criteria for determining if something, or someone, is spiritually authentic or not. In Isaiah 8:20 we are warned: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
I invite you to follow Jesus Christ in living a life of spiritual authenticity; to truly be controlled by the Holy Spirit and being willing to be used by God in faithful service to Him, with the Word of God as your sure foundation.
In the wonderful book Christ’s Object Lessons we read:
“The subject of Christ’s teaching and preaching was the Word of God. He met questioners with a plain, ‘It is written.’ ‘What saith the Scriptures?’. . . At every opportunity, when an interest was awakened by either friend or foe, He sowed the seed of the Word. He who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Himself the living Word, points to the Scriptures, saying, ‘They are they which testify of Me’ (John 5:39). . . .
“Christ’s servants are to do the same work. In our day, as of old, the vital truths of God’s Word are set aside for human theories and speculations. Many professed ministers of the gospel do not accept the whole Bible as the inspired Word. One wise man rejects one portion; another questions another part. They set up their judgment as superior to the Word; and the Scripture which they do teach rests upon their own authority. Its divine authenticity is destroyed. Thus the seeds of infidelity are sown broadcast; for the people become confused and know not what to believe. There are many beliefs that the mind has no right to entertain. In the days of Christ the rabbis put a forced, mystical construction upon many portions of Scripture. Because the plain teaching of God’s Word condemned their practices, they tried to destroy its force. The same thing is done today. The Word of God is made to appear mysterious and obscure in order to excuse transgression of His law. Christ rebuked these practices in His day. He taught that the Word of God was to be understood by all. He pointed to the Scriptures as of unquestionable authority, and we should do the same. The Bible is to be presented as the word of the infinite God, as the end of all controversy and the foundation of all faith” (pp. 39, 40).
As we come closer to Christ’s soon coming, the choice is yours. Always base your life of spiritual authenticity on the sure Word of God’s gold. Christ tells us in Revelation 3:18: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich.” Let’s listen to God’s counsel for us as His remnant church in a Laodicean condition that we may be revived and reformed through the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result, you will never be deceived by fool’s gold, because God’s gold is tried in the fire and is absolutely authentic!
1 “Sir Martin Frobisher.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2013. www. Britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/220573/Sir-Martin-Frobisher.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.