by Carmen Holland

Nowadays, most state-of-the-art organizations have mission statements. Most of these are high-minded, eloquent statements of intent. By reading one, you can easily understand an organization's intentions and priorities.

However, a true mission statement is not a list of intentions or objectives. A true mission statement articulates the reasons why an organization exists. It is more about why they are here than what they intend to do.

We Seventh-Day Adventists define ourselves by our intentions and our objectives: keep the Sabbath, live the "health message," love our neighbors, reflect Jesus. We have, however, lost sight of our mission — the reasons why we, as a denomination, exist.

Don't ignore the obvious. Look at our name. As Seventh-Day Adventists, our mission — the reason why we exist — is to tell the world about the Second Advent of Christ, and of the role that the seventh day Sabbath will have in identifying allegiance to God's Word over the traditions of men, as the last day events unfold.

Take a deep breath.

I'm not saying that our message isn't Jesus Christ, and him crucified. It is. I'm not saying that the most important thing that anyone could ever discover isn't the love of Christ and the gift of salvation thru His sacrifice. It is.

But those fundamental truths are not our mission. They are not why the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination exists. Other Christian churches, along with ours, preach the gospel of Christ. Preaching that gospel is the collective mission of the body of Christ — the Christian Church.

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church exists to deliver a very specific message at a very specific time.

The value of any forecast (or prophecy) depends on two things: accuracy and timeliness. In other words, a forecast of rain is useless if it is either wrong or late. The weather man can be right about the rain, but still useless if he tells you that it will definitely rain — yesterday.

As the "last day church," our message is useful for the same reasons. An accurate interpretation of the Book of Revelation (augmented by books like The Great Controversy) is useless if we tell people after the prophecies are fulfilled. It is not enough to "have the truth." The value of our message is a function of both truth and timing.

Have we intentionally lost sight of our mission? In trying to become a mainstream denomination, have we co-opted the larger mission of the body of Christ and set aside the unique mission assigned to us? Have Seventh-Day Adventists have become the messengers of, "It's gonna rain — yesterday?"

Breathe again.

The notion of mission implies more than intent. Mission implies expectation. When a captain gives a private a mission to take territory, the expectation is that it will be done. Not attempted, not in-process, but accomplished.

President George W. Bush took a great deal of flak for declaring "mission accomplished" in Iraq while the fighting persisted. By declaring the mission to be accomplished, Mr. Bush inadvertently prompted the press to chart a new statistic: "casualties since the president declared ‘mission accomplished.'" The statistic exists because it contradicts the notion of accomplishment.

Commitment to a mission creates a sense of urgency and expectation: a reason for self-sacrifice. A clear mission provides a focal point for everything an organization does. A clear mission gives a private direction, even when the captain provides no specific orders.

Think about it: when was the last time you heard a sermon on the essential teaching of Adventism: the Third Angel's Message? If you were not Adventist and visited and Adventist church only one time, would you leave with a clear understanding of the link between the last day events and the Sabbath? We've even changed our logo from three angels sounding their trumpets to a more vague, not threatening flame.

Why is this? Mission drift. As a denomination, we have drifted away from our unique mission and move to safer, lukewarm objectives.

This dilution of the mission is not, I believe, a purposeful, malicious plot by our leadership. I believe the "mission drift" is a result of our church's growth as an institution.

In the movie, "The Shawshank Redemption," Morgan Freeman's character, a wizened old inmate, describes himself as being "an institutionalized man." That is, he had been imprisoned for so long, that he had become more comfortable with the rules and routines of prison than he was with the options of a free man.

Seventh-Day Adventists are at a turning point. We are perceived by many as "institutionalized." We are more comfortable with occupying till He comes that we are with entrepreneurial evangelism. We are more interested in pursuing objectives (tithe growth, baptisms) or in the politics of the General Conference than we are in accomplishing our mission. All of this looks like work, but it also avoids the focused pursuit of our mission.

I recognize the dynamic because I am an institutional man. I have worked in corporate America, the U.S. Government, and the ivory tower of academia. The common currency in all three is dedication to the perpetuation of the institution. Put simply, the first job of an institutional manager is to maintain the organization itself.

As Adventists, our mission is not to maintain the organization. Our mission is to prepare people for the end of the world. It is not a mainstream, non-confrontational mission. It is the work of the Marines, not the Coast Guard.

Our distraction with institutional issues is not a coincidence. The Church of Laodicea is defined by its lukewarmness (Revelation 3: 14-16). The love of the world and the things in it makes the status quo attractive. Our complacency is predicted in the same book that contains the core message of our mission (Revelation 14: 9-12).

Those prophecies need not become our fate. Indeed, the prophecies were given to us to ensure that they not become our fate.

Our new GC President has called Adventists back to the basics. Though well intended, this has, in my opinion, been used by both conservative and liberal Adventists to seed the seemingly never-ending discussion about the role of E.G. White in the church. My wish is that, instead of arguing about what a return to the good-ole-days means for the church, we would focus our energies on how to prepare mankind for the end-of-days. That is why we, as a denomination, exist.

Ironically, one prophecy is, indeed, intended as our fate. It has been predicted that laymen would finish the work of the church. Our willingness to walk in faith with God to fulfill the mission He's assigned to us is all that stands between us and "mission accomplished!"

Comments


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Herbert Douglass says:

What a breath of fresh air! Preston has raked off the protective debris that always gather on top of an organization's core mission. Often, we can see the damage of being "institutionalized"–as Preston has shown, but to think about what's underneath the visible "action" is often painful. From the beginning, we must think of ourselves as a Movement, not another Church! We were commissioned to run out of business asap.That mission is to prepare people to be transparent and translated, not just to live 9-10 years longer! That mission is to unfold the Great Controversy drama, showing how each of us is acting out daily which side we are on. God will have a people finally through whom He witnesses, who say that which is right about God in a dreary world that has dark thoughts about Him, even though they believe in Someone who died on a Cross. God will have His people finally who can rightly represent Him–and that will be a rare moment in this world's history. Cheers, Herb


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 johnmclarty says:

"I'm not saying that our message isn't Jesus Christ, and him crucified. It is. I'm not saying that the most important thing that anyone could ever discover isn't the love of Christ and the gift of salvation thru His sacrifice. It is.

But those fundamental truths are not our mission."

Do you really mean to argue that our mission and message are separate from "the most important thing that anyone could ever discover"? Our mission is to help people discover the second most important thing? The third most important thing?

Why would a church devote itself to something that is not "the most important thing anyone could ever discover"?

I preach on distinctly Adventist beliefs like Sabbath, judgment and the grief of God because I see them as subsets of "the most important thing," not because our mission is something different from the most important thing.

It would be a curious world, indeed, if the God-given mission of a Christian church was about "preparing people for the end" instead of helping them discover the most important thing anyone could ever discover. Should we still call ourselves a church (as opposed to a para-church ministry) if teaching spiritual practices (like the Sabbath) and hermeneutical specialities (like our interpretation and application of Rev. 14:6-14) was regarded as more central to our mission than helping people discover God is love and they are beloved?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Preston says:

To johnmclarty,

I'm not saying that our message isn't Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. It is. I'm not saying that the most important thing that anyone could ever discover isn't the love of Christ and the gift of salvation thru His sacrifice. It is.

But those fundamental truths are not our mission."

Yes, that is exactly what I am positing. The point is to differentiate between our message as Christians and our mission as a denomination. Our message, like that of all Christian churches is Christ, and Him crucified. That is the most important thing that any Christian can communicate to another human. However, that is not the reason that this denomination exists.

As part of the body of Christ, we have a unique function and a particular role (see 1 Corinthians 12: 12 -29). Our mission is like that of any specialized part of the physical body. Though the brain may be central — and the most essential member (like the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified) the feet have a function/mission as well. Progress can be made without them, but that is not what was intended, by design.

As, perhaps, some of our brethren of other denominations were given light to see was was written about grace, we Adventists have been given a mission in regard to what has been written in Scripture about the Sabbath and its connection to identifying truth in the last days before the Second Advent. Delivering that message is, in my view, the mission of this denomination, in the context of the body of Christ.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

We cannot deny that institutionalism is what drives the church and the status quo is pre-eminent in the minds of the world leaders. How can it be otherwise? Their missio is not always the mission of the church as defined above. Their mission is to keep the church alive and growing and do whatever is necessary to achieve those ends.

I agree whole-heartedly with John: We have diluted the Christian message to a set of extraneous beliefs that have been purposely encapsulated in the name: it is the Sabbath which is at the forefront and the raison de'etre that Adventism was begun and still exists. The Second Advent follows. The D&R prophecies should be so far down on the list and minor bits of knowledge for a Christian to believe that they become extraneous–which they are–to the Christian life.

How does understanding the prophecies are knowing how and why one should observe a day, become Christian necessity? How does it demonstrate the one manner in which the world is to know we are Christians? Love, as Christ and the apostles said, is the one, most important evidence that one is a Christian. The attacks often made on other Christians, on their not keeping the "right" day is an abomination! Never, where we told by Christ or the apostles that we should confront anyone on a day. Never, where we told that we should proclaim that all who failed to recognize the "right" day would be doomed to Hell! Neither did Christ or the apostles tell us to warn everyone that their names could come up in judgment WHILE THEY ARE ALIVE and may be found wanting!

Their entire message was to come to Christ, and believe on him. The NT revealed Christ as fulfilling the Law, which had been the Jews' icond, replaced by Christ for Christians. No longer would the Law continue to be preached, but Christ and Him alone. How far the church has strayed from its original mission!


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Preston says:

Dear Elaine,

You have made some arguments that I have purposefully chosen not make, as I believe they are distractions. I never said that one could not be a Christian if they did not know certain prophecies nor did I say that one could not become a Christian if they chose not to observe they day that I do. That would be presumptuous.

The point I do not wish Adventists to avoid is that the reason we exist as a denomination is to point to the connection between the Sabbath and false teachings in the context of the second coming. The entire message of Christ is, indeed, to come to him. Equipping men and women to distinguish between Christ and those who falsely represent Him is on the critical path to facilitating that process.

You assert that we never were we told by Christ or His apostles that we should confront anyone regarding day of worship or that we were never instructed to proclaim that all who failed to recognize the "right" day would be doomed to hell. However, the Adventist interpretation of the Scriptures disagrees, at least in part, with your second assertion. Revelation 13:12-18 points to those who will receive the mark of the beast. Revelation 19:20 and Revelation 20:9 describe the punishment of those who are DECEIVED and receive the mark of the best.

Clearly, you, nor I (nor any Bible pounding Adventist) can judge who is deceived and will thus, receive this mark. But as SDA's, we believe that this mark is connected to those who, in the last days, are exposed to the the truth of God's Word as marked by His commandments — particularly the Sabbath (which, indeed does NOT save you, but does identify with whom your allegience lays), and reject it for the traditions of men: Revelation 14: 9-12. Jesus spoke the complete second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. And, clearly, at least the Apostle John thought something was up.

One can argue as to whether this interpretation is correct or not. That is not my task, here. However, for those of us who accept it as fact, it becomes — or should become a mission.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 David Hamstra says:

Firstly, I appreciated your succinct, direct approach to the question of our church's mission, Preston. Secondly, I have a nit to pick.

If you were not Adventist and visited and Adventist church only one time, would you leave with a clear understanding of the link between the last day events and the Sabbath?

The answer is no, at least not if this hypothetical non-Adventist visited my church. For at least two reasons:

To convincingly articulate the Adventist teaching on the subject to someone who presumably has next to no familiarity with it requres more time than the 30 (+/- 5) minutes I take to preach my sermons.
Feeding a congregation a balanced spiritual diet requires that if someone visits my church, likely I or my elders would be preaching on a different subject.

Yet, in spite of the above, in the coming weeks, I will be preaching on the Sabbath and Rev 14 as part of an onoing series of sermons on the Sabbath.

David Hamstra


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 mccarys6 says:

Gary McCary

I'm not sure that "we" have lost sight of our mission. Rather, could it be that "we" comprise many constituencies, and as a result "we" have MANY different missions? What I mean is, Adventism (16 million strong) is no longer made up of North American farmers and day-laborers who all believe the same things, theologically.

Many members have a greater perspective of history than our forebears. We now know that there have been differing definitions of the word "Anti-Christ" in nearly every century since the first century. We know that Christ hasn't returned–and may not return for hundreds or thousands of years. We know that EGW says NOTHING about Islamic Terrorism in The Great Controversy–even though THAT entity is the driving evil in the world today.

And so apocalyptic certainty ain't what it used to be. The mantra that we are the "remnant" doesn't seem to fit in a pluralistic world-view. Many SDA churches still believe in the 19th century mission of the founders of our denomination. But many others don't share that vision of mission. Many missions are locally-based, trying to meet community needs. The mission of a local church might not be the mission of a local church 10 miles away.

Perhaps the church needs to re-evalute its "mission" in the light of present REALITIES.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Preston makes an important point which I never realized before. So I looked up the Adventist Mission Statement which reads:

Our Mission

The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to make disciples of all people, communicating the everlasting gospel in the context of the three angels' messages of Revelation 14:6-12, leading them to accept Jesus as personal Savior and unite with His remnant Church, discipling them to serve Him as Lord and preparing them for His soon return. https://adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main-stat1.html

What is notable about this statement is that it includes a code. The average reader Christian or otherwise would not know what is meant by the context of the three angels messages of Revelation 14. So we have a mission statement that is cryptic. A statement that requires a kind of secret knowledge to even understand the Adventist mission.

I think that is a serious problem as most people don't realize that the three angels messages are most often used as code words for the doctrines of the SDA church. But of course if you read the texts in Rev 14 you quickly realize when they say the context of Rev. 14 they are not referring to what the texts actually say.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Preston says:

Thanks, David, for the love.

You are right to pick that nit. I posed a non-trivial problem without offering a suggestion or a solution. However, I would like to leave that problem on the table. Assuming, for the moment, that the mission is commonly accepted, how could we wet a first time visitor's appetite for more information about both the benefits and prophetic ramifications of the Sabbath?

I'll ask some young people. I'm far to wedded to the Old School offer a creative solution.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

" how could we wet a first time visitor's appetite for more information about both the benefits and prophetic ramifications of the Sabbath? "

With inflation, that now is the million dollar question; but more relevant: how has it been working for the past five years, particularly in the NAD and Europe? "Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results….."


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 klriley says:

Perhaps if, when people first visit a SDA church on Sabbath, they saw people who were blessed by Sababth-keeping, they would come and ask us to preach, or, better still, discuss, the Sabbath to/with them. If our churches were full of Christians who obviously know God and demonstrated the Sabbath had a part to play in that, we'd likely have people demanding we share our understanding of the Sabbath with them. Maybe if we were obviously living as if we believe Jesus could or might come back any time, they might ask about that too.

Kevin


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Preston says:

Ron,

Thanks for providing this important piece of background.

The dynamic you describe is, perhaps, either the source or a symptom of the naval-gazing approach that causes us to preach more to the choir than to the pews — and to the street. I'll steer clear of "the remnant conversation," as, in my opinion, that is another huge distraction. It combines an institutional imperative (remnant and, thus, exceptional), with an outward-focused one (e.g., "preparing them for His soon return"). My wish is to focus on the outward-focused aspect of the mission.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 J Christian says:

Dear Brother Preston:

I can appreciate your position on the distinctiveness of Adventist theology, for you faithfully describe historic Adventism. My question is, how long will the end time play by play scenario remain distinct and relative as the growing evidence of the secular New Age/New World Order, Radio Frequency I.D. marking system continues to be tested in preparation to become the societal means of maintaining medical records, survillance, and access to automatic banking which will enable the implantee to buy and sell? Already today we are a 97% cashless society, and for $40 bucks you can have your pet implanted with a R.F.I.D. at a local vet. Already 2.5 million people in the United States and Mexico have been implanted, and are testing the R.F.I.D. system. The word "mark" in Greek denoted a physical mark demonstrating ownership over a slave. Guess where the R.F.I.D. is being implanted? In the right hand, or in the hairline of the forehead.

While the Adventist Church remains reticient to inform its people of such developments because they do not "line up" with the historic "prophetic position" of the denomination, other pockets of Christianity are seeing unprecented revival of Biblical proportions leading to unheard of conversions of Muslims, Jews, Brits, and even Laodicean Americans, etc…

The Latter Rain is falling, Joel chapter 2 is being fulfilled. I encourage every Seventh-day Adventist to go back to their Bibles, drop to their knees, and say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening?" 1 Samuel 3:10


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 David Hamstra says:

I think one way to whet people's appetite for the prophetic ramifications of the Sabbath is to not focus exclusively on the eschatological prophetic, but also include the social prophetic dimensions of the Sabbath. Last week I preached about the Sabbath command as it relates to the second table of the law, how all people become equal before God when we cease from economic activity on the 7th day, and how that reality relates to the other six days of the week. Lev 25 and Is 58 were my main passages. EGW says that our people need to hear the message of the whole chapter of Is 58 over and over again. Our problem is we think the first part of Is 58 and the last two verses are talking about different things, when in fact they are talking about the same thing.

The Sunday legislation that has recently been proposed in the EU is being put forward as a workers rights measure. If Adventists can't show how the 7th day Sabbath addresses that legitimate concern as well as protecting individual liberty of conscience, how can we expect to have a leg to stand on when things really get bad?

Well now I'm rambling, but I hope there's a valuable point or two in there for somebody.

David Hamstra


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 EdD says:

Stephen,

I hope you'll forgive me if I suggest that you're talking about the same type of thing I did in my recent column. Our mission–"what we're about"– is a function of our identity– "who we are." And once again I suggest that we are people of "present truth." "Present truth" is what God is sayi8ng to people here and now. But I would posit that present truth challenges the church AND the world. "Judgment begins at the house of God." But it doesn't stop there.

In my analysis, one major group of the church suggests that science and social justice challenge the church, and when we accept those notions we will become truly enlightened. The other group believes that some imagined 'pure' and earlier (never specified, but somewhere in the mid-20th century) form of Adventism primarily challenges the church, and that when we conform to that imaginary model, the world will conform to us.

I propose that present truth challenges us first, to understand its implications and apply it to ourselves, and that when we deal with our own challenges, then and only then we have something to contribute to the larger world.

And yes, I have a candidate for what that might be, in the advanced world–the world where I live. I suspect it also speaks to other places, but as I indicated elsewhere, I believe that present truth means different things in different settings. I believe we are still the Elijah movement, and that the Elijah message confronts our culture, indeed, virtually every major issue that faces our culture today. It certainly confronts the church, and it dramatically confronts the world at large.
Ed Dickerson, AToday Web Columnist   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=38


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"all people become equal before God when we cease from economic activity on the 7th day."

If this ever truly occurred: everyone on the planet, even everyone in a city or town, it would be as described by an article a number of years ago in Adventist Today: "Thank God for the Gentiles." It described what it would be like to live in a city where everyone ceased work, according to the commandment. It doesn't take a crreative imagination to envision what would occur when all the postal workers, fire and police protection workers, drug stores, not to mention all the other serivces that are necessary for running a city.

Is this what is desired? All work cease one day a week–and the same day?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 mccarys6 says:

Gary McCary

Most long-time SDA's know how our forebears interpreted the 3 Angels Messages of Rev. 14. But is it possible that that interpretation needs to be updated in light of present realities? Must we hold on to the Founders interpretation. Are prophecies open to RE-INTERPRETATION? Jesus certainly seems to re-interpret "the abomination of desolation," spoken of by the prophet Daniel. He applies it to THEIR day, and warns his audience to "flee to the mountains" when they see it happening.

EGW updates that interpretation to refer to HER day. Maybe we need to update the interpretation for OUR day (and maybe that interpretation will sound a lot different from how it sounded in the 19th century). Just a thought.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 15th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

klriley,

You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. The mission, however it is defined, would be enhanced if those to whom we witness—and those who witness us—while experiencing the love that we have and display for them, and witnessing the love we have for each other, also perceived us as being richly—and perhaps uniquely—blessed by the observance of the truths we espouse.

That said, it may be better to think of “the mission” as outlined by Preston, and that the church itself defines, as the distinctive role we are called to play.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger  https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 16th, 2011 David C. Read says:

"As Adventists, our mission is not to maintain the organization. Our mission is to prepare people for the end of the world. It is not a mainstream, non-confrontational mission. It is the work of the Marines, not the Coast Guard."

Preach it, brother! We must not let the institutions of Adventism smother the mission of Adventism, and that seems to be what is happening today.

The Sabbath message by itself is not what is central to Adventism. Rather, it is the prophetic role of the Sabbath as the seal of God and mark of God's end-time people that is the essence of Adventism.

The Seventh-day Baptists had the Sabbath message long before the SDA church ever came into existence. But while there were 6,000 Seventh-day Baptists in 1840, there were only 4,800 in 2000. They had the truth, but they never wanted to tell anyone about it. It was the Adventists who placed the Sabbath at the center of our prophetic interpretation, and the centerpiece of our urgent last day message.

It was Joseph Bates who put the Sabbath truth (that he learned from SDB Rachel Oakes) together with the new understanding of the 2300 day prophecy as pointing to the beginning of the anti-typical Day of Atonement, the investigative judgment in heaven, and also saw how together they constituted the fulfilment of the first angel's message of Rev. 14:7: "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." In doing this, Bates gave the Sabbath truth a distinctively Adventist, end-time urgency. Hence, the 1844/Investigative Judgement doctrine and the Sabbath became the twin pillars of Adventism, and the keys to our understanding of the Book of Revelation.

It is important to note that our message is as biblical now as it was in the 19th Century, and did not come from Ellen White. As George Knight demonstrates in "The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism," by 1847, Joseph Bates had already put the twin pillars together and developed a great controversy theology from the Bible without the benefit of Ellen White.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 16th, 2011 Preston says:

To All —

As a marketing professional, I've often wondered, what is so hard about "selling" the Sabbath? After all, if I ran for president on the platform that everyone would get one free holiday — every week, for life, I'd at least get a strong following. Somehow, we seem to have made this blessing a curse (or at least something to be resisted).

Some of you have offered a construct that clarified what I may have implied. That is, the Sabbath has two functions: one (at the same time) by commandment and personal (in terms of benefit); the other prophetic (in terms of clarifying the authenticity of God's will in the last days).

Perhaps if we frame the Sabbath this way (I'm sure others could do a much better job of it), we could more easily communicate the currency of the Sabbath in context of both one's personal relationship with God and its larger prophetic role. This might provide a "new" perspective for those stuck in the "law-was-nailed-to-the-cross" spin cycle (vis'-a-vis the Sabbath).


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 17th, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Dear Preston

Preach on Brother. Praise the Lord! Amen! (Yeah, I clapped my hands when I read this and thanked Jesus that all is not lost. Christianity isn't about been a victims of sin support group, it is about celebrating our victory over sin in Christ and telling others of this joy.)

Indeed, your words have been like a breath of fresh air, leaving no stone unturned but repositioning our church's focus to its mission et al.

Many Adventists it seems are not looking 'up' for solutions but down: to man. They're turning to Institutionalism and Intellectualism, which have their place; but somehow miss the central focus of our mission to "go into all the world" and preach the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Your article lifts us up and points to Jesus who has called us into His marvellous light to be light bearers for Him. This is what Adventism is about…

Three points: I particularly like the title "Have we lost sight of our mission?” which immediately reveals our impaired vision and blindness which in turn points us to the remedy for this blindness.

You make reference to our church logo. I have always wished that the cross would be made bigger or even equal in size to the Bible and the fire; but if possible bigger, and yeah, those three angels do symbolize our mission too.

Are there more sinners in the world today? If yes (of course yes), then there's more work to be done, faster, efficiently; but more importantly, with Jesus in our hearts and not Him waiting on the outside to come in!

I've realised that the furthest distance God can be from man, is just outside the human heart. (I hope Elaine sees this last line)

God Bless

Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 16th, 2011 shane dresen says:

'Away with the old lines' has always intrigued me, EGW said this at the end of a series of meetings in Austrailia held by W.W. Prescott. Instead of taking the old line of charts/beasts/confrontive 3 angels sort of style, Prescott presented Jesus in such startling freshness that seemed to completely disarm the people of prejudice 'even turning the traditional Adventist Saturday-Sunday polemic into a remarkable Gospel presentation.'

EGW ecstatically saw this Christ-centered evangelism as a pattern for the whole church..'away with the old lines'. One of our finest historians has detailed this process in the link sdanet.org/atissue/trinity/valentine.htm

'If I be lifted up I will draw all unto Me' is still center, still true. But deep in the DNA of adventism is pride in our specialness. That is our Achilles heel. This is our dilemma

shane dresen


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 16th, 2011 Harlen Miller says:

Read the article yesterday, mulling it all day, and without reading all the responses yet–have to say: Then we will continue to reach only the churched, who have already bought into Jesus, and are willing to consider a different set of doctrines (ours). That leaves out a whole bunch of society who haven't bought into Jesus, yet. What of them? I've heard SDA pastors say their best converts were members who were strong in their previous church. But what about the UNchurched? And the 'left-the-church' (SDA) who are still Christ's disciples? Making disciples of Jesus seems to me different from convincing of doctrinal denominational differences. If one becomes a Christ-follower, it contains the "Ill return part". And He specifically said "No one knows the time or the hour, only the Father." Let's leave that to Him. Meanwhile, let's figure out a way to make more disciples of Jesus: churched, unchurched, left-the-church (SDA).


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 16th, 2011 Harlen Miller says:

Furthermore, if Matthew 28:19, 20, were followed, as a sequence, look what happens: 1. Go and make disciples of all nations; 2. baptizing them in the name…; 3. and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (the disciples). First comes the discipling, then baptizing, then teaching them all things. If our denominational mission starts with 'teaching them all things', by who and when does the discipling take place?

I contend we SDAs need more of the meeting up with Jesus, and becoming followers of Him. If our worship services concentrated on meeting up with Jesus, and our Sabbath School classes were focused on the teaching all things (including topical classes in addition to quarterly-based classes), I think both would be revived and find their true purpose.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 16th, 2011 Ian Rankin says:

Have we lost sight of our mission?

In attempting to analyse 'mission' and provide an answer as to what we should do about what we see as unfinished business, are we forgetting that it is not our mission, it is God's mission?

The power is His, the plans are His, we are the necessary instruments.

I believe that to fulfil God's purposes for a purified universe, many things have to happen, each one thing contributing to a successful conclusion. I think one of the summary statements that should be a focus for us is Eph 4:11-16, particularly when read alongside the material in Great Controversy 389-390 which includes the statement, 'they look in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they are connected'.

How can the call to come out of Babylon be meaningful unless it eminates from a group who are presenting what those in Babylon are earnestly seeking?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 17th, 2011 Preston says:

Harlan,

No one can doubt the truth of what you have said here. It is Christ's prescribed sequence for evangelism. That, I believe, is the over-arching mission of the Christian church, including SDAs.

However, the prophetic role of our denomination, in my opinion, is to clarify the authentic voice of God for those who are seeking Him. The mark of the beast will be given to those who are DECEIVED (Revelation 19:20). So it might be that the role of the Adventist Church, in the body of Christ, is to prevent (or minimize the effects of) this deception.

The filter that separates those who, in the last days, are listening to (and obeying) the authentic voice of God are, per Revelation 14:12. That is, those "keep the commandments of God" as given in Exodus 20, "and have the testimony of Jesus." It seems many Christians, by definition, "have the testimony of Jesus." The differentiator, for many, will be "keeping the commandments of God," as opposed to the traditions of men. The seventh-day Sabbath is the point of differentiation between the two.

Making that distinction — at the right time (e.g. the last days — whenever they may be), is, I believe, the reason this denomination exists, and, thus, its mission.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 17th, 2011 klriley says:

The only problem with taking Matt 28:19, 20 as sequential is that it doesn't read that way in the Greek. The only command in the sentence is to make disciples. Going, baptizing and teaching is how you make disciples, not steps in a sequence. But that still does not allow for our church's mission to be reduced to merely teaching those who are already disciples. Too often lately there seems to be a debate about whether we must give priority to being Christian (preach the gospel as in Matt 28, believe in R by F, etc) or Seventh-day Adventist (the 3 angels, apocalypticism, etc). I believe making that dichotomy is a dangerous thing. For Seventh-day Adventists, being Christian (with all that implies) should not be an optional extra.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 17th, 2011 Herbert Douglass says:

I am following this thread with great interest. As I said earlier, Preston has helped us to figure out why we are still on this planet. Adventists need not be as lost, or at least, rudderless as others. The Great God of the Universe is everyone's Heavenly Father–everyone's! He wants everyone to live eternally. Everyone since childhood has been listening to His Spirit, the Light that lighteth everyone who has ever lived. His basic message, "Don't resist the Light." No one is lost because he/she is a sinner–one is lost because he/she did not take advantage of the means God has placed within our reach to enable everyone to become a willing, loyal Christian. Getting the character of God right just happen to be the wonderful news that we can hear–and that is the core mission of the Adventist Church, IMO. Cheers, Herb


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 19th, 2011 wfnoel says:

Preston,

Hurrah! Bravo! Tell it like it is!

Your discussion reminded me of a couple years ago when I sat on a plane next to a young man who soon revealed that he was the son of a retired senior church worker and struggling to remain Adventist. I did not share until just before we landed that I was Adventist. Along the way I shared the joy that God had put in my life and asked leading questions designed to get him to reveal points about his spiritual experience. When I asked what he believed, his response was largely negatives, things his church was against. He recognized this and was looking for a solution to turn them into positives. I couldn't resist asking him, "I hear what your church is against. Can you tell me what your church is FOR?" He had to think long and hard to answer. So I interrupted his discomfort to share what my relationship with God drives me to favor and how God has given me a Holy Spirit-empowered ministry that is improving lives. You should have seen the look of amazement on his face when I finally told him I was Adventist! He couldn't believe an Adventist could have the experience with God that I was having!

Christianity is meaningful only when it is empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is attractive only when others can see how it has changed your life. We can get lost in arguing about doctrines and traditions. Or, we can get lost in the transforming power of Jesus. Only then will we really know our mission.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 19th, 2011 Harlen Miller says:

Harlen

Oh, yes! Amen and Amen to THAT!


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 19th, 2011 hdmaldo says:

What a truly magnificent discussion…THIS is what our mission is about! We are opening eyes and hearts to our lord Jesus Christ with these, our words and how else do we "make disciples" but by spreading the good news. Our views in discussion is also good news! It is ALL good…God is also listening in. Our great and grand commission (Matthew 28) was to talk and encourage others to listen and follow in the footsteps of Christ. In it's most simplistic form, these comments are made to urge us all on to continue the mission started here. Just talk and share, a simple message and mission of implanting seeds that only God knows when they will germinate. let's not "get lost in arguing about doctrine and traditions" as a previous comment stated let's just talk (go ye therefore) and share (teaching all nations)…a mission that came directly from our Lord's mouth. His mission should be, without a doubt, our mission.

hdmaldonado


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 19th, 2011 RonCorson says:

So I put out a blog on the subject of this article

https://cafesda.blogspot.com/2011/02/adventist-mission-statement-gospel.h…


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 19th, 2011 David C. Read says:

Ron, in your desire for Adventism to be just another evangelical denomination, you represent many cultural Adventists. Many are uncomfortable with Adventism's distinctive interpretations of prophecy, particularly its claim to be the remnant.

But Adventism's pioneers were very clear that, while not rejecting the truths established by previous reformers–salvation by faith alone (Luther), free will to respond to the gift of salvation (Arminius, Wesley) the value of prayer and piety (Wesley), Baptism by immersion (Williams), etc.–they were finding new truths in Scripture that had particular urgency: present truth.

Were it not for present truth, there would have been no need to establish a new denomination. Those newly uncovered Scriptural truths were what drove the movement from the beginning, and they continue to be the reason for the Adventist church to exist as a separate denomination.

In my opinion, now is not the time to try to make the Adventist Church into just another evangelical Christian denomination. The world hurtles rapidly toward the Second Coming, and prophecies are being fulfilled. The bi-polar world of the Cold War vanished, leaving the U.S. as the sole superpower. The scourge of Islam, which so punished the Christian world during the 1260 years of its papal-dominated darkness, is of-a-sudden rejecting its secular rulers and re-uniting under the banner of jihad.

State-enforced religious observance does not seem to be in prospect in the United States, but who knows what will happen in the near future? Perhaps the need to suppress a re-vivified, violent, aggressive Islam will discredit the very idea of freedom of religion and eventually lead to calls for a state-sponsored universal religion. I can't help but believe that the rapid and extremely ominous developments in the Muslim world will play a role in turning the United States into a persecuting power that sets up a church/state combination that is an "image of the beast" (the original beast being Rome).


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 20th, 2011 RonCorson says:

David Read wrote:

Were it not for present truth, there would have been no need to establish a new denomination.

You do realize that "present truth" is just another code word for the distinctive Adventist beliefs. It is a claim to special authority or revelation by the SDA church so that they can interpret the gospel via Adventist distinctives. But really does the Gospel which survived 1800 years without the Adventist distinctives really need to be redefined by Adventists. Our understanding of God constantly must be challenged and redefined but not by a particular denomination because they make claims to remnant special truth status. They are simply placing themselves as the Old Roman Catholic church as the official interpreter of truth.

See my article on Present truth


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 20th, 2011 Harlen Miller says:

Harlen

David Read: BUT, if a person hasn't passed through the theological trail that you've delineated, and bumps into our Adventism WITHOUT IT, how is he to understand us? Somewhere in our SDA life, those milestone points have to be passed on and assimilated before understanding SDA. THAT's MY point, and where, too often, we SDAs miss golden opportunities.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Preston says:

Harlen,

This is a point that I am not completely comfortable with — although I believe, given our mission, it is likely true. Adventists are, within the body of Christ, like the Marines. We are few (and much too proud), and have been given a difficult task that not many would volunteer to do — one which calls for great personal sacrifice. As such, I am not sure that our ranks are supposed to grow as at the same pace as the larger body of Christ.

I think (and I could be wrong, but just consider this) that given the prophetic mission or role that we will have in the last days, our role is, primarily, to witness to the churched. That is, to witness to those who have been brought to Christ through other channels, but are deceived by false teachings (e.g. the False Prophet and the Beast) that create confusion regarding God's authentic voice.

This is a disconcerting model. But look at our church objectively. It's not hard to believe that its evangelistic upside is limited. Our culture is not for the average spiritual palate. It COULD be that Joel Osteen, T.D Jakes, et al, are supposed to have the big nets. Our job may be (to continue the analogy) to clean the fish.

Given our role prophetic role in the last days, perhaps our time has not yet come.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Harlen Miller says:

Harlen

Preston–Thank you for that response. You have defined an issue that I have rarely seen/heard discussed or defined this way–WHO is our target audience? You have stated here, boldly, I think, "the churched". I anxiously wait to see responses to that, because I think there can be a lot of discussion about that. Are we SDAs to leave the 'unchurched' untouched? Unreached out to?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Are we to leave the 'unchurched' untouched""

Not according to the Great Commission: "This Gospel shall be preached to ALL the world"

If the "Gospel" as some have defined it, it is only apocalyptic: last day events; the mark of the beast; the ultimate salvific act in Sabbath, where was this ever mentioned in the Bible as the Gospel? The Gospel is Good News; all the apocalyptism is bad news, terrible warnings and frightening scenes of judgment and hell fire.

Where are we EVER told to go only to those in other churches? Is this not the perfect description we've been given as sheep-stealers? Paul, who went to the "unchurched" said those who brought you the message of Jesus Christ may have had different ways but God makes things grow. On the foundation of Jesus Christ no one can lay other whan which has already been laid.

When Adventists speak of conversion, it is not a conversion to Christ but a conversion to Sabbath, the distinctive doctrines of Adventism. This is why their target audiences are nearly always Christian: they merely add more encumbrances to the simple Gospel. How many SDA converts are being made among Muslims? Hindus? Daoists? Sheep stealing is still a very apt description and why so many other churches resent the intrusion into their congregations which Adventists have crowed about.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Elaine

Regarding your blanket statement –> "Sheep stealing is still a very apt description and why so many other churches resent the intrusion into their congregations which Adventists have crowed about."

[John 10:3-5] To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

Sheep stealing can never be a plausible argument against calling souls to Christ. He is the Good Shepherd and the sheep hear His voice. The owner of the sheep does not need to steal what already belongs to Him. He has called Seventh-day Adventists and others in general to preach the good news of salvation to all the world (churched and unchurched) and more specifically called SDA's to call precious souls out of Apostate religions including Apostate Christianity. [Matt 10:6, Matt 15:24, John 10:3-5, John 10:16, John 10:27, John 21:16, Rev 18:4]

Your fellow sheep

Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

This is detestable! To call other Christians "apostates" is despicable! If I were a Christian, hearing this description by an evangelist, I would immediately walk out. How insulting and arrogant for any Christian body to label all others as apostates! For shame!

Where did this originate? Did Jesus or the disciples ever call anyone apostate? It has been INTERPRETED by the "unique" SDA method, to label anyone who does not accept Adventism. We, alone, are the only ones who have not apostasized!

We are the chosen few,

All others will be damned,

There is no room in heaven for you,

We can't have heaven crammed.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Dear Elaine

You can plainly see that I did not call 'other Christians apostates' nor 'all others' but this is what I wrote–> Sheep stealing can never be a plausible argument against calling souls to Christ. He is the Good Shepherd and the sheep hear His voice. The owner of the sheep does not need to steal what already belongs to Him. He has called Seventh-day Adventists and others in general to preach the good news of salvation to all the world (churched and unchurched) and more specifically called SDA's to call precious souls out of Apostate religions including Apostate Christianity.

  • I have not referred to Apostate Christians but to Apostate Christianity and have called the Christians and 'others' within these insitutions 'precious souls' in reference to sheep in the context of my comments.
  • Rev 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. –> This text clearly indicates spiritual apostasy.
  • Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. –> This text calls God's people (or God's sheep?) to come out of Apostasy, both churched and unchurched.
  • Rev 14:9 follows with the third angels message which warns of the Apostasy of worshipping the beast and his image.
  • 1Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
  • 1Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
  • Luke 13:27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
  • 2Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
  • Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many

Seventh-day Adventists have heeded the call to come out of the erroneous unbiblical teachings of Apostate Christendom and out of other religious persuasions. This calling out and warning is a solemn message and the SDA Church has been doing just that, at a slower pace though, due to its lukewarm condition.

Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 klriley says:

Our pioneers, whom I assume had some idea of what their mission was, did not restrict their mission to the 'churched'. They had more success among such, but they early sent missionaries to Africa, Asia and the Pacific islands where no Christians existed. The idea that we should concentrate on calling Christians (and, therefore, saved people) to a better knowledge of doctrine while leaving the unchurched (and presumably lost) people to continue on their way to hell seems more like a perversion of the gospel than some 'higher calling'. If we are Christians, then the Great Commission applies to us. Any other calling is secondary, although not necessarily unimportant.

Kevin


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Apostate Christianity" is a descriptive term for who? Or what? Some Christians but not all?

What is YOUR definition of "apostate Christianity" and if that adjective is one used to describe Christianity or those who are non-SDA Christians?

For one to apostasize, it implies leaving a former religion. Is this the conversion that Adventists seek: to leave one's former religion and join Adventism? Surely, Adventism has taught that is the ONLY TRUE religion that keeps all the commandments (code for Sabbath) and not meaning Christ's commands of loving one another. There is a great difference, IMHO. This DOES make sabbath observance most salvific, regardless of what may be protested. If someone is a lovely Christian in another denomination, when he hears about Sabbath, and does not accept and being observing it, that person will be doomed–if belief in Revelation is the "Gospel" for Adventism.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 RonCorson says:

Preston writes:

I think (and I could be wrong, but just consider this) that given the prophetic mission or role that we will have in the last days, our role is, primarily, to witness to the churched. That is, to witness to those who have been brought to Christ through other channels, but are deceived by false teachings (e.g. the False Prophet and the Beast) that create confusion regarding God's authentic voice.

I see where you are going as it is a natural consequence of seeing the gospel as defined by Adventist doctrines but if indeed that gospel is defined by Adventist doctrines then how can these other people really be Christians at all. As you say they are brought in believing in false teachings. The teachings of the false prophet and the Beast which would mean they are actually followers of the anti-christ. So would not the logical conclusion to your system of thought be that only the gospel is found in Adventism and her doctrinal interpretations which have made her the remnant and the official church of Rev. 14.

In which case it would not be sheep stealing because the people in the other Christian churches are in fact deceived followers of anti-christ. They have no knowledge of the real Christ and His teachings, they are as lost until they accept Adventist doctrines as the pagan or any other world religionist.

Therefore for nearly 1800 years until the Adventist church began there have been no real Christians. Adventism has arisen to restore Christianity to the world. Those who don't follow Adventism as Ellen White explained continue to worship God but it is actually the anti-christ they are worshiping because Christ left that room and they are deceived by Satan. Which would seem to indicate that there really is no salvation apart from the SDA church.
—–
Many look with horror at the course of the Jews in rejecting and crucifying Christ; and as they read the history of His shameful abuse, they think they love Him, and would not have denied Him as did Peter, or crucified Him as did the Jews. But God who reads the hearts of all, has brought to the test that love for Jesus which they professed to feel. All heaven watched with the deepest interest the reception of the first angel's message. But many who professed to love Jesus, and who shed tears as they read the story of the cross, derided the good news of His coming. Instead of receiving the message with gladness, they declared it to be a delusion. They hated those who loved His appearing and shut them out of the churches. Those who rejected the first message could not be benefited by the second; neither were they benefited by the midnight cry, which was to prepare them to enter with Jesus by faith into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. And by rejecting the two former messages, they have so darkened their understanding that they can see no light in the third angel's message, which shows the way into the most holy place. I saw that as the Jews crucified Jesus, so the nominal churches had crucified these messages, and therefore they have no knowledge of the way into the most holy, and they cannot be benefited by the intercession of Jesus there. Like the Jews, who offered their useless sacrifices, they offer up their useless prayers to the apartment which Jesus has left; and Satan, pleased with the deception, assumes a religious character, and leads the minds of these professed Christians to himself, working with his power, his signs and lying wonders, to fasten them in his snare. Some he deceives in one way, and some in another. He has different delusions prepared to affect different minds. Some look with horror upon one deception, while they readily receive another. Satan deceives some with Spiritualism. He also comes as an angel of light and spreads his influence over the land by means of false reformations. The churches are elated, and consider that God is working marvelously for them, when it is the work of another spirit. The excitement will die away and leave the world and the church in a worse condition than before. Early Writing page 260
—-


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Preston, exactly what is your view of the mission of the SDA church? Is this a description:

"there really is no salvation apart from the SDA church."

Isn't this the logical conclusion from what you have written?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Preston says:

To be clear(er), I believe people can be brought to Christ by other (non-SDA) ministries or channels. I personally believe people can and will be saved who never heard the term "Seventh-Day Adventist" or never considered the fact that a day other than Sunday is the Sabbath. The gospel is Jesus and Him crucified. Many ministries and denominations (some mentioned earlier) do a fine job of introducing non-believers to the gospel of Christ. They are Christians and convert others to authentic Christianity.

We are, as Adventists, part of the body of Christ, with, I believe, a specific last day prophetic function and role. What I am positing is that PERHAPS the PRIMARY prophetic role (or mission) of Adventism is to, in the last days, differentiate between the authentic voice of God and the counterfeit, as described in Revelation. Those who would likely be DECEIVED by the beast, the image of the beast, and the false Prophet are, likely, "churched" people who believe they are already listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Many of those same people are, presently, confused regarding "the state of the dead" and which day is God's Sabbath. These issues point to a prophetic deception with eternal repercussions.

Indeed, I believe we have a particular function (mission) and message in regard to clarifying between the true and false voice of God in the last days. However, Adventism is not way to salvation. Jesus is. Adventists (generally?) believe that the two issues mentioned above will play an increasing larger role in defining who is in submission to God's will and who prefers the traditions of men. Clarifying those issues, for all who are focused on them, is, I believe, the primary reason the SDA denomination exists.

I resist the notion that we (Adventists) are exceptional in terms of being the way to salvation. Again, Jesus is The Way. Our role is not to judge who will be saved. Our mission is to minimize the number who are deceived and lost because of that deception. I do believe we have an exceptional role and responsibility to clarify, for those who want to know, who God is and who the beast and his image are.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Preston says:

Dear Elaine,

For the record, those are NOT my words, nor the intent of what I wrote.

The short version of my personal beliefs, vis'-a-vis Adventism is this: there is no salvation apart from Christ; our mission as Christians is to share the love and knowledge of Christ and the gift of salvation by His death for our sins and His Resurrection; our role/mission as Adventists in the body of Christ is to ensure that we and our brothers and sisters are worshipping Christ and not a false version of Him.

Blessings.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 22nd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Dear Elaine

Firstly let me state that the calling out involves coming out of one position into another. Usually the one who calls out others have them (by their own decision) come into the position of the caller. The Seventh-day Adventist Church offers this position as a place for those called out to come into.

Remember too, that the SDA church was founded by non-SDA’s and still have many diverse people groups from different races, cultures and languages coming into this church. Those born in Adventism too, will have to make a decision to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour just like everybody else and heed the warning this church proclaims just like everybody else.

I will even state further that there are souls within Adventism who have apostatized and many others in the process of apostasy, who have their names still on the church books. I have been one of those who apostatized in my youth and maybe I’ll tell you my testimony sometime (and yeah, Ellen White writings had a direct influence leading me back to Jesus my Saviour).

I have never come across a single official statement (or unofficial for that matter) that explicitly states that “joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church will save you”. So the ‘Third Angels Message’ of Rev 14:9,11 is warning to the world (churched and un-churched including Adventists) that those who hear the call and that of the other preceding Angelic Messengers, must heed or accept the consequences of rejecting.

The Sabbath, which is a memorial of creation, will be the test that will determine those who obey the Creator of heaven and earth; the sea and all that in them is: and those who accept a spurious man-made decree to honour a man-made institution by attempting to change the laws of God, hence those accepting the latter receive the mark of the beast.

This is from the Bible and not from the SDA Church. I know its hard to understand and except but that’s just the way it is. God has to be the Author and finisher of our faith and I hope that you too be part of this Remnant Church that God has called out as a movement of destiny…

Your Brother in Christ
Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 23rd, 2011 RonCorson says:

Preston wrote:

The short version of my personal beliefs, vis'-a-vis Adventism is this: there is no salvation apart from Christ; our mission as Christians is to share the love and knowledge of Christ and the gift of salvation by His death for our sins and His Resurrection; our role/mission as Adventists in the body of Christ is to ensure that we and our brothers and sisters are worshipping Christ and not a false version of Him.

So Christians then according to your most recent explanation is to share the love and knowledge of Christ and the gift of salvation. But the subset of Adventists unlike the larger Christian group, Adventists are to make sure that the Christians are not worshiping a false version of Christ.

Which would lead to the question how does one know that the Adventist version of Christ is correct over what the larger group of Christians believe about Christ? It appears that the answer to that is that because the Adventists have a unique interpretation of eschatology wherein they see the Seventh day Sabbath as the seal of God and Sunday church as the mark of the Beast. So that the Adventist view of the correct version of Christ is based not upon the reality of what Christ has revealed about Himself but about the interpretation of coming events symbolically written about in the book of Revelation. Which realistically could take any number of forms and was actually seen as fulfilled historically in various forms like the Roman Catholic church, and the Ottoman Empire then the communists and now appearing to be possibly fulfilled by Islam once again but a new form of Islam.

All of that of course puts us back to the gospel as viewed exclusively by the Adventist doctrines. The gospel not as presented in the Bible but as presented in the context of the Adventist view of what they predict will happen and what they see as themselves revealed in Rev. 14.

Do you not seriously see the problem with this type of view yet?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 23rd, 2011 Preston says:

Ron,

We apparently believe in very different things.

God bless.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 23rd, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Trevor,

With the very slight possible exception of the “Remnant Church” reference, I cannot find anything with which I disagree in your most recent post on this thread. However, could it also simply be that while the Adventist message is for everyone, the Adventist denominational organization is not; and that certain final prophetic movements will have to take formation until the message is accepted/appreciated by those for whom it is intended (i.e., everyone)?

This is why, in my view, our role is to get the message out to as many as humanly possible, and the Lord will do the rest—in His time. This is why while baptisms are always good; they should not be the be all and end all of what we do, nor the measure of success of our “efforts.”

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 23rd, 2011 RonCorson says:

Preston wrote:

We apparently believe in very different things.

Indeed that is true and the only real reason I see for the difference is that I am willing to examine the consequences of the logic you have taken and see that it is not consistent with the gospel at all. That much of your reasoning is based simply upon the traditions and acceptance of certain presuppositions which are far from factual.

The bottom line is that you present a denomination that I don't want to be a part of, though I have been part of this denomination all my life. When a denomination loses sight of the gospel and sees itself as integral to the gospel without any real evidence and precious little reasoning other then it's tradition as seeing itself as the fulfillment of Rev. 14 and it's own status as the remnant then it has lost it's mission. When Christianity is not your primary mission you are no longer Christian.

The sad thing is your side is winning, your side is the side of the current church leadership and major publications. So ultimately not only will you drive your fellow Christians out of the Adventist church you will present a church that is so logically flawed that it will fall in upon itself.Ultimately destroying the denomination you hope to save. Because when you don't carry your logic to its logical conclusion you don't see the very conclusion of your organization. As the organization simply becomes another part of the problem rather then offering solutions because the good news of Jesus is the solution but you have taken that away and replaced it with works and sabbath keeping and assumptions based upon eschatology of 150 years ago.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 23rd, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

This denomination is part of the body of Christ, as are all Christians. Its mission is to teach and preach Jesus and demonstrate His love, as is the mission of all Christians. Jesus nevertheless revealed “unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” (Revelation 1:1) It is within this context that this denomination has a particular role to play.

So, we share a common mission with all Christians, and we have a particularly prophetic role to play within the mission. We (as a denomination) are here because the Revelation of Jesus Christ is part of His message.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 23rd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Dear Br Foster

I mention the Remnant Church as a point of reference to those who are called out of a former position and who accept to be part of a Church that Biblically fulfills the position of what Rev 12:17 offers to precious souls searching and accepting the truth for this time. The Seventh-day Adventist Church still holds to the validity of the Ten Commandments as binding on all mankind throughout the ages and who are blessed with the Gift of Prophecy which narrows it down to Seventh-day Adventists as a remnant in this regard. (I haven’t come across any other institutions, denominations or religions that fulfill this, even in recent years, which from this unique position as a church, provides a place for those who respond to the Three Angels of Rev 14 to come into.) Of course we celebrate even when souls join other churches and are ‘saved’. God has faithful souls in these churches too and Adventists have never disputed this or taught otherwise as you know.

I agree fully to our church’s position that “Adventists repudiate emphatically and unequivocally any thought that they alone are children of God and only have a claim upon heaven. We believe that all who worship God in full sincerity, that is, in terms of all the revealed will of God that they understand, are presently potential members of that final ‘remnant’ mentioned in [Rev 12:17] "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

So yes, you are right, that God has an invisible Church that makes up the Body of Christ which is not restricted to only Seventh-day Adventists but those who are faithful to Him according to the light they have received. This alone is God’s prerogative and this is what I believe.

PS. – Phew! As a newcomer to this blog I have quickly realised that this is where we meet the 'heavies' from both sides and those in between. My contribution or comments are from the perspective of a sinner who has been saved through Jesus Christ. I am humbled to see such prominent persons on this blog who are, and could be, such wonderful ambassadors for Christ. The only big title behind my name which I claim to hold is "Chief of Sinners" and I thank God that he has remedy for this condition of which I have readily embraced and want to keep encouraging others to do so. As one currently involved in a church planting effort and working mostly with unchurched and unbaptised churched souls, I don't deal with regular discussions of this nature and level. I am concerned that while these forums may have good intent of allowing free thinking discussion, does what we say and promote, bring glory and honor to God, and is it Christ centered and within the borders of our faith and teachings as a church. I am glad to note however that there are still many who hold true to the faith and belief of Seventh-day Adventists on this forum, without getting dragged into the poles of extreme positions. We need to remember too that just passed the USA, "there is a land that is fairer than day". 😉

Your Brother in Christ
Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 24th, 2011 klriley says:

>> We need to remember too that just passed the USA, "there is a land that is fairer than day". 😉 >>
I am sure many Canadians would say "Amen!" to that 🙂

Of course, if you really want to see heaven on earth, you do need to head to the South Pacific.

Kevin


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 24th, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Kevin

Hmm…

South Pacific? Tempting. … But I'm talking passed the South Pacific too! 😉

Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 24th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Dear Brother Hammond,

It is a privilege and honor to join you, as I most often do, in total agreement. (Well…almost, we participants on this site are not as smart as we think we are—especially me! No false modesty there either. I would also contend that, most regrettably, I am the actual chief of sinners.)

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger    https://www.atoday.com/blogs/stephen-foster


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 24th, 2011 mbuhler says:

Brother Preston,

Although I am rather late to this party, I will weigh in nonetheless.
You assert that we Seventh-day Adventists have "lost sight of our mission" and have succumbed to "mission drift". Putting it rather bluntly you said: "As a denomination, we have drifted away from our unique mission . . .".

Initially you set forth your opinion of our "unique mission" with these words: "As Seventh-Day Adventists, our mission — the reason why we exist — is to tell the world about the Second Advent of Christ, and of the role that the seventh day Sabbath will have in identifying allegiance to God's Word over the traditions of men, as the last day events unfold."
You further asserted that the mission was not only to deliver this very specific message, but at a "very specific time" (albeit that this supposedly "very specific time" was never identified with any specificity).

Your description of the "unique mission" later morphed to the following: "Our mission is to prepare people for the end of the world. It is not a mainstream, non-confrontational mission. It is the work of the Marines, not the Coast Guard."

You later repeated that recharacterization of the "unique mission" in your summarization: "My wish is that, instead of arguing about what a return to the good-ole-days means for the church, we would focus our energies on how to prepare mankind for the end-of-days. That is why we, as a denomination, exist."

I can not buy your asserted "mission statement" for our church, in either formulation, nor your characterization of it as being for a "very specific time" although you never identified what I would consider a "very specific time". It is much too limiting of a view of the denomination's reason for existence. To accept your assertions would mean that the asserted "mission" of the Seventh-day Adventist church has been virtually irrelevant for every Seventh-day Adventist who has died over the last 150-plus years, and in retrospect will also turn out to have been virtually irrelevant for every Seventh-day Adventist who will in the future die before the actual "end of the world" or the "end-of-days", whenever that might turn out to be.

From my perspective the simple reality is that none of those who have already gone to their rest, nor most of those who in the future will go to their rests, needed or will need to be prepared for the "end of the world". If that is indeed the primary mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, then I would submit that such supposed mission was in fact, and will in the future be, completely irrelevant to them. Instead, I would suggest that those already dead needed, and those who will yet die need, to be prepared for the end of their own lives, whether prematurely or at a ripe old age, rather than for some eventual "end of the world", of which we haven't the faintest notion when it might occur.
In that regard, I believe it is unproductive, and perhaps even counterproductive, to continually hype the "soon coming" of Christ and to focus most of our attention on events surrounding the end of the world. It has been almost 2,000 years since Christ left. Furthermore, it has already been over 165 years, at least six or seven generations, since modern adventists began predicting and warning again of the "soon coming" of Christ. It is simply impossible to maintain a perpetual sense of urgency about anything, including the return of Christ and the end of the world. Our continously repeating the "soon coming" mantra, and focusing on "end of the world" events, to the virtual disregard of the here and now, does not make their or our disappointed predictions of a "soon coming" any more correct or persuasive or credible. This is especially so in the face of the demise of multiple generations of Seventh-day Adventists since the "soon coming" and the warnings of the end of the world have been proclaimed and are being proclaimed by them and us. The continuous use of the term "soon coming" loses all credibility in light of our historical reality. Our church needs to refocus its message on being right with God, here and now and continuously, regardless of when Christ eventually returns.

Thus I would submit that a proper "mission statement" of the Seventh-day Adventist Church needs to be, and if necessary needs to be reformulated to be, primarily relevant to every member's and prospective member's life here and now, rather than being primarily in reference to a correct understanding of the seventh day Sabbath and its significance at some nonpredictable "end of the world" that could occur decades, centuries or even millenia from now. My Adventist grandfather, born in 1900, told me before he died that his father never let him attend school beyond Grade 4 because there was no point in doing so – the world was so bad that the Lord had to return imminently – so school was a waste of time. That was before World War I. Indeed it was 100 years ago. Needless to say, in light of his experience, shared with me, it is an imperative for me that the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church needs to be relevant now to my life, and also to the life of anyone whom I may try to disciple and introduce to this church, regardless of how long from now the end of the world might ultimately occur and Christ returns.

I wonder if you, Brother Preston, haven't actually come around a bit in that direction in your thinking, notwithstanding the somewhat strident assertions in your original article. I have hope that this may be the case because in your February 22 response to Elaine Nelson your reformulated or recharacterized statement of the mission of our church seemed to reflect what I consider to be some "mission drift" in a positive direction when you said: " . . . our role/mission as Adventists in the body of Christ is to ensure that we and our brothers and sisters are worshipping Christ and not a false version of Him." That is not where you started out. The restatement is at least a start in the right direction to a more wholistic, less limiting approach than your original assertions of the mission and reason for existence of our church. That reformulation or recharacterization of the "mission statement" would at least render the "mission" of the church more relevant to those members who have already died, and to those members who will yet die, perhaps long before the end of the world. Perhaps even more importantly, that recharacterized mission would be much more relevant and beneficial to prospective members, whether they are already "churched" in some other Christian denomination, or are believers in other world religions, or are even pagans or atheists.

Many thanks for initiating this conversation, and at least provoking some thought and discussion as to what is our church's reason for existence, and what should be the focus of our efforts.

Kind regards,

Mark Buhler


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Preston says:

Brother Mark,

Thanks for your thoughtful input and challenges.

My approach to this subject assumes that we differentiate between the organization's mission as part of the larger body of Christ, and our role as individual Christians. In terms of defining our mission, I was speaking to the mission of the 7th Day Adventist denomination.

Within the body of Christ, I believe the Adventist denomination was put in place to cry out, as did Noah, "It's gonna rain." That is the "Adventist" part. Although Noah preached 120 years prior to the rain starting, many died in the interim before the flood and many mocked the relevance of his warnings while he continued to preach. Once the rain started and the door to the ark was locked, I'm sure Noah's warnings seemed both timely and relevant.

Like those who heard Noah's warnings of the flood and died prior to it, those who hear and understand and the authentic Word of God prior to their deaths and His Second Coming will face God and His judgment (indeed, we all will). I have no idea what that judgment will be though, it is not unreasonable to suspect some parallels. The fact that they died prior to either the flood or the Second Coming made the warnings they received no less relevant.

In terms of the relevance of the unique importance of the "7th Day" part of our message, I purposefully neglected to venture as to when the "very specific time" might be. This was to avoid the predictable — and appropriate backlash from those who reject the notion that we have some special knowledge as to when "the end of time" might be (can you say "1844?"). I believe (contrary to many) that the time of the prophetic importance of the 7th Day message has not yet come — but that time is fast approaching (Noah didn't know when the rain would start; he was told to build a boat and to recruit fellow travelers). In short, though it has been predicted that our message will be ridiculed as irrelevant, we are still obligated to preach it. In my view, the 3rd Angel's Message is the specific, present day parallel to Noah's antediluvian warning. When I said to Elaine, " . . . our role/mission as Adventists in the body of Christ is to ensure that we and our brothers and sisters are worshipping Christ and not a false version of Him," it was in that (3rd Angel's) context.

Like Noah, I believe our primary responsibility (as a DENOMINATION) is to warn our contemporaries that, "It's gonna rain." Perhaps, like many who helped Noah build the ark, but passed before the flood, our Adventist forefathers who are resting in Christ, will be rewarded for building the literal and metaphoric arks, respectively.

In the meantime, what is important on a personal level, is that we remember that "7th Day Adventist" describes a particular type of Christian. As individuals, it is the "Christian" part that is most important — both in terms of the way we relate to God and how we serve and influence those around us. No minor point: we will be saved or lost as individuals, not as members of a denomination. As individuals, we are to live and represent the love of Christ. Not coincidentally, that is what lends authenticity to our broader, prophetic testimony.

I do believe, however, that those of us who are part of this body of Christ have, like all parts of the body, a unique function. That is why I believe, as part of the body of Christ, this DENOMINATION, has a unique and narrowly focused mission. As an corporate veteran, I view this narrow focus not as a negative, but as an opportunity to maximize our collective effectiveness.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

The Flood analogy is very, very appropriate; at least according to…uhm, Jesus. Our role being similar to that of Noah is also right on point. The question is, does our”ark” represent a safe, reliable vessel.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger    https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Preston wrote:

Within the body of Christ, I believe the Adventist denomination was put in place to cry out, as did Noah, "It's gonna rain." That is the "Adventist" part. Although Noah preached 120 years prior to the rain starting, many died in the interim before the flood and many mocked the relevance of his warnings while he continued to preach. Once the rain started and the door to the ark was locked, I'm sure Noah's warnings seemed both timely and relevant.

Stephan found the flood analogy approps, but they are fiction. The flood story says nothing about Noah even mentioning it was going to rain let alone telling people about it for 120 years. The flood story says nothing of any one mocking his preaching…because it does not mention his preaching. By the way the NT where it says Noah was a preacher of righteousness does not necessarily indicate actual preaching it is used also of living a godly life. In any event what is being done here is creating myths and inserting them into the Bible and then using those myths to defend a very problematic line of reasoning.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"we will be saved or lost as individuals, not as members of a denomination. As individuals, we are to live and represent the love of Christ."

Why something so simple should have so many accretions is not conforming to that statement: Adventism requires that those who fit that description MUST be observing the seventh day as a sabbath, as well as adhering to many other prescriptions.

Does anyone seriously believe (yes, many possibly do), that SDA membership cards must be handed St Peter at those pearly gates? It would seem that the Adventist message is that those who do not accept and practice the sabbath will be cast into the lake of fire, having received the mark of the beast. This would send the majority of the world's population to hell, leaving on a tiny minority who are faithful Adventists to become inhabitants of heaven. Adventism has made sabbath obsrvance salvific: unless someone who has heard about the ultimate importance of the Fourth Commandment and cannot accept it, he not only will receive the mark of the beast, but surrender heaven for that "disobedience." This cannot be denied as its teaching.

How does that fit John's description of the "light of God was for the pagan nations to live by, and the kings of the earth will bring it their treasures"Something is wrong with these conflicting descriptions. Perhaps we have taken them far too literally.

Nowhere in Jesus' gospel commission did He ever refer to what is called the "Three Angels' Message." Matt. 25 describes the saved as those who fed the hungry, healed the sick, cared for orphans and widows and visited those in prison. Nothing about the Sabbath as being a final testing truth; in fact he defied the sabbath rules that the Jews had laid down, and it was never commanded of Christians; only the Jews were ever given a sabbath, in spite of Adventist contentions that it was given Christians, they have been unable to furnish a text supporting that. For all their "proof-text" efficiency, this comes up short.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 laffal says:

Elaine,

It may not be the great commission, but some 50+ years later Jesus did say / show something about the 3 Angels Messages. It's in the book of the Revelation.

This book is the record of the events that Jesus Christ revealed. God gave him this revelation in order to show to his servants what must happen very soon. Christ made these things known to his servant John by sending his angel to him, and John has told all that he has seen. This is his report concerning the message from God and the truth revealed by Jesus Christ. Happy is the one who reads this book, and happy are those who listen to the words of this prophetic message and obey what is written in this book! For the time is near when all these things will happen. (Revelation 1:1-3 GNB)


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Preston says:

My reference for the account of Noah's preaching prior to the flood is the book Patriarchs and Prophets (chapter 7), which I understand, some hold in question. But regarding the state of man prior to the coming of Christ and the parallel to the days of Noah, I submit, Luke 17: 26-27. You may quibble with the details, which is your right, but, according to Christ, the analogy holds.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

It is true, there is no Biblical record of Noah preaching, but there is record of his being clearly told by God that He would destroy His creation, and that the ark represented salvation from that destruction. Jesus Himself drew the analogy between The Flood and His return. Noah was given a prophetic "heads up"—directly by God—about impending destruction; and Adventist Christians have heeded a prophetic heads up as revealed to John by Jesus of a parallel event that He expressly connected.

Of course those who consider it all to be fiction must conclude things differently.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 David Hamstra says:

Peter calls Noah a "preacher of righteousness" while making an analogy between the flood and final judgment (2 Pet 2:5). Apparently, Peter, and not just Ellen White, understood Noah to have been giving messages of warning to the anti-deluvians regarding their sinful behavior.

David Hamstra


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Preston says:

Dear Elaine,

As a New Testament devotee, you must (at least for the sake of consistency), then accept the relevance of the last book of the New Testament: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John."

Revelation 13:4-8, describes a beast who blasphemes God and His Name, who makes war with the saints, and is given power over kindreds, tongues, and nations. In Revelation 13:12-18, an image of that beast is seen, who exercises all of the power of the first beast, and proceeds to deceive those who dwell on the earth by miracles, and causes those who refuse to worship the image of the beast to be killed.

According to Revelation 19:20, at the time of Chirst's Second Coming, the beast and the false prophet (the image of the beast) are cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. In Revelation 20:4, those who did not receive the mark of the beast are saved to reign with Christ. For those who believe the Bible, it would, then, be vital not to receive the mark. Clearly, at the end of time, this mark is the deciding factor between heaven and hell.

No where, in all of this, are 7th Day Adventists mentioned. The consequences and the rewards come from God and His Son, Jesus.

It would seem vital to understand what this mark is and what deceptions are related to it. Adventists believe that we understand this and that it is our assigned role, in the body of Christ, to communicate it to others. As I have said earlier, this is, I believe, why our denomination exists. For those who lived and died in ignorance of the truth, God provides pardon (Acts 17:30). God is the judge — and He has granted that role to Jesus. Adventists do not have salvation to grant — or a hell to condemn. That comes from Jesus. Our job, I believe, is, in the end of time, to minimize the number of people who are deceived by the image of the beast and point them to the authentic voice of Jesus.

Given the dire consequences related to receiving the mark, if anyone believes that they understand it, would it not be their urgent duty to share that information?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Preston says:

Thanks very much, David!


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Preston wrote:

My reference for the account of Noah's preaching prior to the flood is the book Patriarchs and Prophets (chapter 7), which I understand, some hold in question. But regarding the state of man prior to the coming of Christ and the parallel to the days of Noah, I submit, Luke 17: 26-27. You may quibble with the details, which is your right, but, according to Christ, the analogy holds.

You mean you NOW submit, that was not referenced at all in your comment on Noah. So that is clearly not something I am quibbling with. But I understand the continually moving target which is the method of TSDA's. Yet they are the ones that constantly tell us that we don't respect the Bible enough.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

I must agree: this is too often the tactic used: something is said with the inference it's from the Bible, then when questioned, "Oh, it's in EGW writings," indicating that they are equal as well as equivalent.

Again, this is the usual subtrefuge that makes some of us reluctant to take with a straight face such comments from TSDAs as to be expected. Either one accepts equality and authority with both the Bible and EGW are they do not. Don't pretend otherwise, it's an insult to people's intelligence.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Preston says:

Dear Elaine and Ron,

Let's not spin this — either way. I have tried to be up front and honest with you.

My initial post (today) regarding my take on the Adventist mission and the Noah analogy, made no specific Bible reference and all. I was merely using what I thought to be a commonly understood Bible story to make a larger point. When Ron called it a myth, I readily provided my EGW reference and stated that I realized that some considered that source as questionable. Then, to address the "myth" accusation, I provided a Biblical reference that validated the analogy. Ron and you cry "foul" because, as it turns out, the analogy, according to both Jesus and Peter (with thanks to David), is not a myth at all — at "least" according to the Bible.

My intention was never to use the EGW reference at all — since that is always a point of distraction separation. Nothing but the Bible is equal to the Bible. Ellen White is not the point. My point was — and is, that, like Noah, our job, as Adventists, is to share the prophetic information we have been given and, hopefully, try to save others.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

My point was that preaching to the souls outside the boat was never given Noah's responsibility. We know nothing about his "preaching" to them. For all we know, he was not interested in saving them if they had made fun of his building the ark. We cannot assume that God wanted those evil ones outside the ark to be saved to perpetuate their evil. If they were given a chance, it is unmentioned in the Bible.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 laffal says:

Elaine,

I beg to differ.

Who [God] wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth.
(1 Timothy 2:4 GNB)

The truth? The only place of safety was the ark. The only place of safety for modern man is in Christ.

Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
(Ezekiel 18:31-32 ESV)

The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins. (2 Peter 3:9 GNB)

The only reason anyone will be destroyed at the end of the day is because it was their choice, and He will have only given them what they have chosen.

Peace


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Preston wrote:

Ron and you cry "foul" because, as it turns out, the analogy, according to both Jesus and Peter (with thanks to David), is not a myth at all — at "least" according to the Bible.

That you can say that and believe it is incredible. where does Jesus use the analogy of preaching to the people in Noah's day. Preston thanks David for pointing out Peter when I mentioned that the usage of Noah as a preacher of righteousness does not necessarily indicate he really preached. True I did not give the Bible commentaries reference to that fact, because I did not think you would believe it anyway, but don't pretend I did not reference that text. If you could be a little honest with yourself and others it might be helpful.

From the Expositor's Bible Commentary

5 Peter's second example is the Flood. He has referred to it in his first letter (3:18-22) and will do so again in the next chapter of this one (3:5-6). Noah was the "eighth" (ogdoos) meaning there were seven others saved with him (wife, three sons, and daughters-in-law). They were guarded or protected by God during the Flood that wiped out the ungodly antediluvian civilization. Noah was a herald (keryx) of righteousness. This could refer to his preaching activity not recorded in the OT or to the fact that his lifestyle condemned sin and proclaimed righteousness to his contemporaries (Gen 6:9).

One can clearly see from the context that Peter is not at all trying to say that Noah was out there teaching people about the coming flood.

2PE 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,* putting them into gloomy dungeons* to be held for judgment;

2PE 2:5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

2PE 2:6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

In fact Peter's use is much more in line with that of the writer of Hebrews who said:

HEB 11:7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

But the problem is that people simply believe EGW and interpret the Bible by her so they don't even think of the problems with her teachings. And now we see how this ultimate position leads to a view that says the Adventist church fundamental purpose is to interpret Revelation according to Adventist traditions which are largely enshrined in Adventism by EGW.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 David Hamstra says:

From the IVP NT Background Commentary:

2:5. Noah stories, like fallen angel stories, were also popular in nonrabbinic Judaism. Judgment on the fallen angels was usually linked with judgment on Noah’s generation because Genesis 6 recounted both. Jewish traditions also portrayed Noah as a preacher of repentance (e.g., Sibylline Oracles and Jubilees). Jewish teachers liked to use the flood generation as an example of impending judgment to warn their own generation to repent, and they believed that the flood generation was particularly wicked and would not have a share in the world to come.

Note that the two options presented in the Expositors for understanding "kerux" are not mutually exclusive. But the historical evidence gives further weight to the interpretation that Peter meant Noah literally preached to the antedeluvians.

David Hamstra


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

If present truth doesn't emphasize the Truth (of Christ), I see it as irrelevent to the church's mission. Christ and Him crucified and risen is our basis for faith, –His victory over sin and death has assured our salvation. To spread that Good News should be the church's first mission. Unique Adventist beliefs are only the frame around the picture of Christ. If they do not make Christ more real to people (churched and unchurched), they are only information. In any case, we can't make them the picture.

Perhaps someone should ask if we are preaching the really Good News–do we have the whole Gospel? Did Christ only die for those who heard about Him? This severely limited Gospel turns away thinking people, especially the unchurched. They don't take it seriously, because it so unjust and unreasonable.

Christ died for ALL people, and if the world could understand that, many would love and believe in Him. Those who could not accept a God of love because of their pride and selfishness would reject Him and willingly be lost.

Perhaps millions, never having a correct understanding, have rejected a false god, but with the millions having never heard of the true God have lived according to the Spirit's leading, and have seen Him in nature's beauty, harmony and design. (and even its adaptation to sin)

Some posts imply that the church teaches that nonSDAs will not be saved. I have never met anyone who said that, and it's a distortion. I don't know what the Sabbath willl mean in the end times, but it will certianly carry more symbolism than just a day–it would have to signify some allegiance to Jesus and resting in His righteousness that covers our sins. Until we understand and teach these deeper truths, it's importance will be meaningless.

I would suggest we still have truths to learn from other faith groups. Actually I see Adventist beliefs and lifestyle being taught in many interesting places. and that gives us an opening for more dialogue (or a new chuch!). I think our "institutionalizing" of the Gospel actually impedes its progress in the western world.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 RonCorson says:

David wrote:

Note that the two options presented in the Expositors for understanding "kerux" are not mutually exclusive. But the historical evidence gives further weight to the interpretation that Peter meant Noah literally preached to the antedeluvians.

Because something is not mutually exclusive does not mean that they both occured. The context indicates that the judgment on the wicked is what is being compared not preaching to the wicked. Jewish tradition is filled with all kinds of things. If you want to go by Jewish tradition you are going by tradition…if you are going by tradition don't claim it is from the Bible. Is it that hard to understand.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 25th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

It would seem vital to understand what this mark is and what deceptions are related to it. Adventists believe that we understand this and that it is our assigned role, in the body of Christ, to communicate it to others. As I have said earlier, this is, I believe, why our denomination exists.

What I am trying to understand here is: If God is just and fair as the Bible indicates, why would he allow people to be deceived? The word "deceived" gives an impression that they had no other choice. People would need to have another choice–that is, the loving and true belief of the Gospel. Somehow this makes it sound like they have both the Gospel (since that is not presented as the church's mission) yet are deceived on other things. I find this impossible. For if people understand the true Gospel of Christ and his love, they can't be deceived concerning marks.

In other words, if we fail at spreading the true Gospel, we are certainly not going to communicate unique beliefs. I think the Gospel has to come first to convert the people, and then the unique beliefs that provide the frame with further truths of God's goodness.
No one who understands the Gospel, I believe, can be deceived.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 28th, 2011 Preston says:

Ella,

This is a great question. I can only speculate as to how God will judge.

Eve was deceived by the serpent and she talked to God face-to-face. Still, there were consequences. Eve bought into a "re-invention' (to borrow a term on another blog on this site) of what God said. Perhaps the same judgement will apply to those who are deceived the image of the beast.

God has given His people His Word, including The Revelation of the last days. It seems not to be unreasonable for Him to hold all who have had the opportunity to know — and act on that knowledge, responsible.

The majority of "churched" people (Christians, at least) are presently deceived as to what day God's Sabbath is. Many of the same people are deceived into thinking that their dead loved ones are presently alive and looking down on them from heaven. Even those who disagree with the point-of-view of this particular blog would likely posit that those who hold to so-called conservative (or traditional) Adventist eschatology are deceived. So, it's easy to see how those who have received the gospel can possibly be deceived.

I do not know how God will judge. Although it is a reasonable question, it is, for me (in terms of the mission) a distraction — and an enticement (not from you, Ella) to self-righteousness. No one can hear our message if it is framed as our judgement of their righteousness. We must remove all impediments to God's authentic Word and the Holy Spirit. Our job, I believe, is to love others, so they will be ready to receive the 3rd Angles message.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 28th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Ella,

I understand your line of reasoning. Allow me to suggest, however, that we consider that even Eve was deceived; and she certainly understood what God had to say. (I gather that she was indeed somehow outwitted by the serpent because when she gave this as the reason for her eating of the tree, God did not contradict her.)

If Eve, having superior intellectual capacity and having heard instruction directly from God, was deceived; certainly those of us, who claim an understanding of inspired truth, can be deceived if we are not totally committed to obeying God’s commands.

Stephen Foster

Adventist Today blogger   https://atoday.rapidhost.net/article.php?id=24


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On February 28th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"God has given His people His Word, including The Revelation of the last days."

Preston, could you please be more definitive on your description of "The Revelation of the Last Days"? Since the canon closed, and the NT was filled with the "Last Days' is there something more that now should be added to the NT which speaks so often of the Last Days and they seemed to believe that it would be any day. Did those NT disciples have insufficient information and now God's church needs new information for the last days?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Preston says:

Elaine,

My view is that the Bible is complete. For me, Revelation 13 points to events that are, in my view, occurring now.

As the Bible says (Jesus' testimony — the spirit of prophecy), no one knows the day or the hour — not even Jesus, but only The Father, Himself (Matthew 24:36). So we all, including the disciples, have insufficient information, so to speak. Jesus said that His Second Coming would surprise people (Matthew 24:44). Given Christ's prophecies regarding His Coming, the fact that it is currently doubted and that many have ceased looking for it makes it, in my mind, all the more likely that it will be soon.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Isn't it also true that the readers of Revelation in the first and early second centuries were convinced that it was referring to the persecution they now were experiencing? Isn't it also true that throughout the centuries, Christians have often believed they were experiencing the events described in John's Revelation?

Is it possible that it was written to encourage all Christians everywhere, that when persecution, trials, and tribulations were experienced, that God would eventually triumph? And that each Christian generation believed they were the last? Just as those today also believe they will be the last? How many "last generations" can there be?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Preston says:

Elaine,

I sincerely believe that Jesus is coming again, soon. That is why I'm an "Adventist." I cannot claim that we are the last generation. If Jesus, Himself, doesn't know when He's coming, how can we? I do know that, should He not come in my lifetime, the span of my natural life means that He's coming "soon" enough for me. So I must be about doing the tasks He's given to me. Thus, my focus on "mission."

And I take Christ at His word: just when you think He's not coming, He will. Be ready.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

For 80 years I've been hearing "Jesus is coming, get ready!" Yet, I've never heard what we are to do to "get ready." Is there somewhere a list, or instructions of how to be ready? It's an old SDA cliche, but practically, what exactly should someone looking for His coming do to "get ready"?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Preston says:

You seem to have a handle on this part as well as anyone on this space: live the golden rule. To that, I would add seek Him: read His Word, commune with Him in prayer, sacrifice your will to His, and do whatever it is you believe He's uniquely equipped you to do to advance His Kingdom. None of this will enable you to earn it, as it is a free gift that we must simply accept. But, I believe that the list I've recommended will help you to withstand the torrents of the last days before His Coming.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Live the Golden Rule." Isn't that the best, and most, and possible the hardest for any of us to do? If we truly lived by that rule, it seems impossible that God would not accept us, by His grace.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Preston says:

But Elaine, both God's commandments and Jesus' commandments begin with loving the Lord first and foremost. If we do THAT, all else will follow.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Well Elaine, you’re gonna hear it one more time from me: “Jesus is coming soon, get ready!” What’s wrong with been ready, even for 80 years? (You are so blessed to have reached such a wonderful age Elaine and may you see many more years – God bless you in this regard!)

The state or position of been ready is the response resulting from those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour and have been washed in the blood of the Lamb: that is the kind of ‘ready’ we speak of. Ready to live, serve and maybe even die for our faith; but ready indeed. Ready to face tomorrow no matter what may come our way and ready to meet our Maker.

I have an older brother fighting terminal cancer for the past year now, who is nearly half your age and who is preparing for whatever may come his way by God’s Grace and Mercy. His readiness at this cataclysmic time in his life is very prioritized and determined in dealing with the harsh reality of circumstances beyond his control. He too is a believer that Jesus is coming soon and this is the hope of the ages: when we shall see Jesus face to face. No more death, no more pain, no more cancer, no more sorrow, heartache, hurt and sin. Now that’s something worth getting ready for, isn’t it?

The bigger question than this Elaine is: “Am I, Are you?”

Matt 24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Matt 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

I have no worry whatsosever about meeting my Maker. I rest completely in His judgment. So, as for "being ready" whenever that time comes, I will go with assurance.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

When I was much younger I used to hear Pre-Seventh-day Adventists (Sunday Christians 😉 ) singing songs like “He’s coming back again, He’s coming back again, Glory Hallelujah! He’s coming back again” with so much enthusiasm and of course the usual up-beat tempo which I used to kind of enjoy, even today. I have observed though that over the last twenty years or so, they have virtually stopped singing songs of Jesus’ soon return and even stopped preaching this part of the Gospel. Here is where the “Jesus is Coming soon, are you ready?” comes in.
Matt 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Instead they seem to focus on “the Bridegroom delays His coming” so let’s just find some charismatic praise and worship to occupy our time because it may just be a long wait. They seem to have also fallen asleep in this regard (remember those with the extra oil also slept). The danger with this position is that in the story, half of those waiting weren’t ready for the bridegroom, and had to dash off to fetch some oil, but while they were away only those that were ready were taken in.

The assurance of salvation is always freely available as the story reminds us, but not all who ‘wait’ or claim to be part of this assurance are ‘ready’, hence the core mission of Seventh-day Adventists: to proclaim the soon return of the Bridegroom and prepare a people who are spiritually ready for this wonderful event. The SDA church as a mainline evangelical missionary movement, has been called to do just that.

I frequently go around with a team of evangelism enthusiasts giving out literature of some sort and chatting to those in the community where our church is located. We are almost always asked if we are JW's. When we explain that we aren't, the response is very favorable in that those we witness to are so glad to see Christians on the street even though we are of the SDA brand. Our mission becomes a breath of fresh air to them… (well almost all of them – mostly, sometimes?)

Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Ervin Taylor says:

The more that I read Elaine's responses on this and other threads both here and at the Spectrum website, the more I hope that I can be as mentally sharp, reasonable, and logical as she is when I reach her age–which will not be that long now.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Elaine

Just a quick one regarding your comment…

"So, as for "being ready" whenever that time comes, I will go with assurance."

When you say "I will go with assurance", what is this "assurance" that you refer to?

Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Erv, thank you for the very kind compliment. I hope I will be able to keep my wits as long as I can breathe. Reading and commenting on this and other sites enables me to do so.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Will not the God of all do what is right" -paraphrase of Job. Either one trusts God or one doesn't.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 BobRyan says:

Ron Corson said –

The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to make disciples of all people, communicating the everlasting gospel in the context of the three angels' messages of Revelation 14:6-12, leading them to accept Jesus as personal Savior and unite with His remnant Church, discipling them to serve Him as Lord and preparing them for His soon return. https://adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main-stat1.html

What is notable about this statement is that it includes a code. The average reader Christian or otherwise would not know what is meant by the context of the three angels messages of Revelation 14. So we have a mission statement that is cryptic. A statement that requires a kind of secret knowledge to even understand the Adventist mission.
================================

I have to wonder why Ron thinks Adventists are clueless about the Three Angels messages of Rev 14 and so would need someone to tell them the "secret code".

If Rev 14 is soooo unknown to some of our SDA brethren that they think of it as "secret code" then some quality time in Bible study is in order on that topic.

in Christ,

Bob


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 amed soliz says:

Mrs Foster great article, a really fresh air!

Many of us were were converted to christianity because of the special message of the second coming of our Lord. We were outcasted by our previous churches, friends and even families for the love of Christ and his special message of the end of time.

The sad reality is that in our church rarely we hear the message of the second coming. In the last 20 years probably less that five times! Looks like were are only "seven day christians" and forgot the adventism. I hear allot of the "social gospel" even the "prosperity gospel" but not the eternal gospel related to the second coming.

In the parts of the planet were our brothers preach the second coming and the sabbath, people are converted by the hundreds.

It will be interesting to know how many of our dears brothers and sisters that see this page actually witnessed (today, last week, last month or last year) to another person about the amazing grace of our lord, the joy that we have in Him and the our hope of His second coming.

"By their fruits ye shall know"


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 1st, 2011 BobRyan says:

Erv Tailor said —

The more that I read Elaine's responses on this and other threads both here and at the Spectrum website, the more I hope that I can be as mentally sharp, reasonable, and logical as she is when I reach her age–which will not be that long now.
========================

BobRyan replies –

I believe you both have a great deal in common as it is. I would not be a bit surprised to find that you end up following in Elaine's footsteps.

in Christ,

Bob


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 2nd, 2011 Preston says:

Dear Amed,

Thank you for the kind words.

I believe that, as a people, we sometimes under-estimate the value of being Christians, and as a denomination, we under-emphasize the "adventist" aspect of our beliefs.

God is calling us to do both: to reflect His way and His love, and to deliver His last day message to those around us. Indeed, by our fruits . . .

Thanks again. In Christ.


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 2nd, 2011 Trevor Hammond says:

Elaine

Yeah! Job is truly a "man for all seasons". What magnanimous faith…

Your assurance definition or description though is a rather simplistic one, which coming from you, is quite odd and very much a similar position that many traditionalists hold with regards to their simple faith and trust in God. I don’t say that your view is incorrect but for someone that usually ‘leaves no stone unturned’ very binary indeed. I have no objection to this position either. Trust in God is definitely a basic fundamental teaching of the Christian faith. With this been said, is there also a place for say, John 3:16, in this assurance you speak of? Is Jesus Christ the central theme of this assurance? Just asking…

God Bless
Trevor


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 2nd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

When Christians sing "Blessed Assurance" are they merely mouthing the words? Isn't that something all Christians should fully accept and believe?


Re: Have We Lost Sight of Our Mission?
On March 4th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

Ahmed:

You said: It will be interesting to know how many of our dears brothers and sisters that see this page actually witnessed (today, last week, last month or last year) to another person about the amazing grace of our lord, the joy that we have in Him and the our hope of His second coming.

Actually that happened to me today. (I am not saying this happens every day, but it did today.) The lady I talked to was Catholic and gives my husband and I massages every other week. She brought up the state of the world, and we discussed it. She mentioned the end of the world, and I said it will be the beginning, because Christ will be coming. She totally agreed with me and we talked about what that meant. You would be surprised at how many people already believe this when you talk to them about it. And, yes, my pastor does preach about it in his sermons as he seeks to lead us to a more spiritual life.