(Adventist World, November 13, 2010, pages 6 to 8)
By Ted N. C. Wilson
As we move into the next five years of witness and evangelistic activity for the Lord-as we confront the challenges and difficulties all around us-we must keep uppermost in our minds that Jesus is coming soon. What a privilege to be part of God's great Advent movement at the end of earth's history! Jesus' soon return is the wonderful news that should inspire and shape all our plans and actions.
In whatever roles God has assigned us, it's time to humbly accept the opportunities and challenges entrusted to us, realizing that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that any of our activities can be effective. Our calling is to work as good servants do (Matt. 20:26-28), confessing that we are dependent on wisdom from the Lord (James 1:5), on instruction from the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), and on insight from a multitude of counselors (Prov. 11:14).
The Holy Spirit is urging us to join together as young and old, women and men, in a united church under His leading, humbling ourselves before Him and pleading for revival and reformation in our personal lives and as a corporate church. We read in 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." This wonderful promise from the Lord calls for a committed response from His people. We ought to be daily asking the Lord to fulfill the promises of Joel 2 and Acts 2 so that the latter rain of the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon His church.
Across the face of Adventism we must seek a renewing of our minds and hearts as we anticipate the Holy Spirit's power in the falling of the latter rain, for it is through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit that God's final work of proclaiming the three angels' messages will be accomplished. Ellen White reminds us that "a revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. Our heavenly Father is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer."*
I'm inviting Seventh-day Adventists all around the world to join me in praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at this vital moment in salvation history. Let's specifically pray that the Holy Spirit will remove from our hearts the pride and self-seeking that could impede the work of revival and reformation that Jesus so much wants to accomplish among His end-time people.
And let's take the opportunity to pray with each other in the days ahead. We ought to initiate prayer sessions in our churches, institutions, and organizations so that we can lift our voices with other believers in claiming God's promise that He will water our dry souls with new understanding and new fervor. At each level of church organization, there ought to be a deliberate program of praying for revival, and a conscious effort to foster what Ellen White calls the "primitive godliness" of lives surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit. General Conference, union conference, conference, mission, and local church leaders are working even now to assemble and provide special materials that focus our minds on our great need for "the times of refreshing."
This movement is unique among world faiths, for we identify ourselves as God's remnant people, the prophetically called Seventh-day Adventist Church. That places a special responsibility on us to lift up Christ in all our preaching and ministry, pointing people to Jesus as our all in all. The saving truths of the gospel-that we are made right with God through Jesus' life for us, His death for us on Calvary, and through His ministry as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary-provide our assurance of eternal life. In God's grace, our redemption through Jesus doesn't depend on our ability to either fully understand or articulate every aspect of how He saves us. As one of our senior church statesmen, George W. Brown, noted in a devotional message during the 2005 General Conference session: "When we get to heaven through Christ's power we will have been justified, sanctified, glorified-and we will be satisfied!"
Scripture also reminds us that the revival and reformation for which we are pleading will be opposed by forces intent on keeping the church in its Laodicean state. The devil is certainly trying his best to persuade Seventh-day Adventists to settle for something less than the life-changing power promised in the gospel and historically taught by this people. In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, he is seeking to distance us from the Bible and a plain understanding of what God has said is true. The apostle Paul's words are as relevant today as when he first wrote to the believers in Rome nearly 2,000 years ago: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2). The Phillips translation puts the image boldly: "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould."†
This is a moment when we must resist the devil's blandishments and refuse to allow the world to squeeze us into its mold. This is also a time for clarity and courage: Remain firmly committed to the landmark beliefs of this church, which have been established on the unchanging Word of God. We dare not risk inattention or lack of focus, for Jesus is speaking to us in the same urgent tone with which He addressed the church at Philadelphia: "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Rev. 3:11).
Brothers and sisters, join me in holding fast to the Word of God as it reads. The power promised in its pages will only be poured out on a people who covenant to read it, live it, teach it, and preach it without fear or favor, and who let their individual lives and their life together be shaped by its clear and compelling truths.
Let's hold fast to the Bible truths by which God raised up this end-time movement, including the biblical teaching about the gift of prophecy. Of God's many gifts to His remnant, this is one of His greatest. The Spirit of Prophecy offers counsel for almost every aspect of Christian life, and is as relevant today as when it was written decades ago. These are truly messages from heaven. Read the Spirit of Prophecy daily alongside your Bible. Believe it. Promote it. Use it. Teach it. Support it-and you will discover a new power in your spiritual life that helps you to rise and walk in newness of life.
Let's hold fast as well to the three angels' messages; to the imminent second coming of Christ; to righteousness by faith in Christ; to the seventh-day Sabbath; to the Genesis account of the creation of this world in six literal, consecutive, 24-hour days of recent origin; to the sanctuary message; and to the Bible's teaching about the state of the dead.
Let's remind ourselves that the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy call us to righteous living through the Holy Spirit's power, to a healthy lifestyle outlined in Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy, and to music and worship styles that uplift Christ, not ourselves. Let's pay special attention to what we have been taught about the conditions under which the Holy Spirit will be poured out to those earnestly seeking revival and committed to a message of reformation.
My invitation is simple and clear: Join me in bowing before our Lord to humbly ask for new grace and new power in the days ahead. Pray for the revival that Jesus longs for His church to experience, and pray for your heart's readiness to practice what the Spirit will bring to your mind and conscience.
A humbled and surrendered church will very soon also be a revived and reformed church. And a revived and reformed church will very soon be a church looking up into the eastern sky with joy and expectation as Jesus returns to claim His own.
* Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 121.
† Bible texts credited to Phillips are from J. B. Phillips: The New Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition. J. B. Phillips 1958, 1960, 1972. Used by permission of Macmillan Publishing Co.
Ted N. C. Wilson is the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.
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