Good morning and happy Sabbath, GYC! I’m glad to be with you and am grateful to the GYC leadership for inviting me to speak to you today. What a blessing it is to worship with such a large group of committed Seventh-day Adventist youth! Hearing literally thousands of young people singing praises to God and seeing so many youthful faces radiant with a spirit of Christian unity is incredibly encouraging! However, as grateful as we should be for the continued numeric growth of GYC, we must always be mindful that its real success is not to be measured in numbers. The true measure of GYC’s success is nothing other than its unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ and by extension its unfaltering commitment to the mission and message of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
It’s a privilege to strongly endorse GYC as it champions faith in the Bible, heeds the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy, promotes service to others, and engages in evangelistic outreach. I wholeheartedly support any youth initiative, denominationally-organized or otherwise, that strives to maintain such wonderful ideals. What a privilege for the Columbia Union, the Alleghany East Conference and the Chesapeake Conference to have the GYC annual convention meet here in their territory in Baltimore and go out into this great city by the thousands this afternoon to witness for Christ and His precious Advent movement. My wife, Nancy, and I are going with you this afternoon. We went out witnessing with you last year at GYC in the freezing weather and we’re going out again this year. I know thousands of church members in these conferences, in this union, in this division and around the world will be praising God for your willingness to go door-to-door in Jesus’ name inviting people to study the Bible with church members of the local churches in Baltimore who are working with you on this great evangelistic outreach for God. May GYC serve as an example both to other supporting organizations and denominationally-organized church structures in showing cooperative involvement in the mission of the church——an example to Seventh-day Adventist believers of all ages.
As we reflect on cooperative mission involvement, we can ask the rhetorical question of posed in Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Let me tell you, the special relationship that the Seventh-day Adventist Church shares with supporting ministries like GYC is possible only by the commitment of each to Christ and the prophetic work with which He has entrusted us in these last days. There has never been a more important time to walk together AND work together as God’s remnant people than in these closing days of earth’s history. We must take seriously the instruction in Hebrews 10:24 and 25 to “……consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Just a few months ago at the 59th General Conference session, I shared with the world church my firm conviction that the Lord has established the Seventh-day Adventist Church in these last days to “Go Forward” in faith and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, finish the work of proclaiming the Three Angels’ Messages to world. Now, I believe it is providential that I am speaking to you under GYC’s corresponding theme of “No Turning Back.” There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord is bidding us as a people to “go forward” with “no turning back.”
No Turning Back
In your walk with Christ, turning—even the slightest bit— from absolute faithfulness to God and His Word can have disastrous consequences. When Eve turned just slightly from God’s Word, she left herself open to the serpent’s deceptions. When Lot’s wife turned her head just one time for a forbidden glance at her former home, she lost her life. When the children of Israel wanted to turn away from the Promised Land and turn back to Egypt, their bodies were left lying in the desert.
We must all live out the counsel of Paul who wrote in Philippians 3:13 and 14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” No turning back.
This was the walk of faith experienced by Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. Hebrews 11:13 declares, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Notice carefully that though they may have died never seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises, they nonetheless lived with their eyes of faith fastened to the promises of God’s Word. It goes on to tell us how they were able to maintain this level of commitment in verse 15. “And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.” These great men and women were heroes of faith because they never allowed the place from which they came out to occupy their minds. Once they left, they left with no turning back.
This single-minded commitment to God and a straightforward understanding of His Word was the Lord’s intent for His chosen people, Israel. Deuteronomy 5:32-33 says, “Therefore you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.” As long as they were unwavering in their devotion to the Lord and His Word success was guaranteed. Yet instead, repeatedly the Lord’s people exchanged moving ahead in faith with turning back in fear. In Numbers 14:3 and 4 we hear them exclaim, “Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt? So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.’” Many years later in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, the apostle Paul instructed his young protégé, Timothy, to preach the Word, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” It is important to note that in both ancient Israel and the Christian church, God’s people had no problem submitting to leadership just as long as the leaders capitulated to their desire to be led away from the Lord’s commandments and be turned back to the world from which the Lord had delivered them. But this cannot be. We must NEVER deviate from the direction the Lord leads us according to His Word.
Temptations to Turn from the Word to the World
The closer we come to the second coming it becomes more evident why Jesus declared Satan the ruler of this world. As the stream of modern culture rushes headlong toward destruction, standing firm on the solid rock of Scripture will make it appear as though you are removing yourself from society. Yet seeking the approval of God must always be the single objective of our lives with no turning back.
In our entertainment there must be no turning back:
Ever increasing technological advances are becoming commonplace in our society. For example, how many of you have sent or received a text message in the last 24 hours? I would be so bold as to say that a number of you have sent or received a text message since I began speaking! My point is that through modern technology we have unlimited access to literally an entire world of communication and media that, for all its evangelistic potential, is often more detrimental than beneficial to our Christian walk.
Though we live in the internet age and are almost continually subjected to the most powerful temptations through television, movies, music, and literature, we must always guard the avenues of the soul. Even in the 21st century, Philippians 4:8 is God’s formula for right thinking, charging us to think on only those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and virtuous. Young people, let these Biblical principles and the counsels of inspiration in the Spirit of Prophecy guide you in your entertainment choices.
In our personal relationships there must be no turning back:
While we should always be outgoing and friendly to everyone, we must be discerning and judicious about those in whom we place our personal confidence. Our closest relationships and most trusted companionships should be built on the solid foundation of a common faith in God and the truths of His Word. After the instruction of 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” the passage continues with the salient rhetorical questions, “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
Young people, choose godly associates who will encourage your walk with Christ. If you have any relationships, platonic or romantic, that are displeasing to the Lord, I implore you to muster the holy boldness to separate yourself for their salvation and your own.
In our behavior there must be no turning back:
Today much encouragement is given to behaviors that society deems acceptable—even laudable—BUT that the Lord abhors. Promiscuity, homosexuality, violence, vulgarity, overindulgence, greed, and pride are all seen as normal in current society while a godly lifestyle marked by purity and temperance is ridiculed and mocked. But do not let that discourage you! For those who would face the struggles of a godly life in an evil world, the words of Jesus are recorded in John 15:18, 19. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” What a blessing to know that the Lord never asks you to walk a path He has not trod Himself. What encouragement is ours when we read in Hebrews 4:15, 16 that, “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Brothers and sisters, the same Jesus who has been where you are and faced what you face has promised to give you the strength you need to walk with Him victoriously.
In our diligence at work and school there must be no turning back:
The Bible repeatedly declares that our God is a God of excellence. As His representatives who were originally made in and are being restored to His image, we should strive for excellence in all our undertakings as a witness for the glory of God. Complacency, apathy, and mediocrity at home or at school should never be seen in the life of a Christian.
I am reminded of the prophet Daniel whose excellence in all things won the favor of the king and the envy of his peers. In Daniel 6:4 we read, “So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.” I like the way the NASB words that last part, that “no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.” Not only was Daniel’s life free from corruption, it was also free of negligence. This combination of integrity and diligence was a witness for the glory of God. I pray that Daniel’s legacy of excellence is seen in the lives of each young person in the Seventh-day Adventist Church as we finish the work and hasten the coming of Christ.
In our pursuit of science there must be no turning back:
In recent years great concern has developed about the relationship of science to Scripture. The Lord desires us to consider all aspects of His creation from biology and geology to psychology and sociology. However, we must always keep in mind that for every truth God has established, Satan conjures a counterfeit in an effort to turn minds away from understanding the will and works of God. Nothing could improve upon what has already been written by heavenly inspiration in “The Faith I Live By,” p. 321, which is incredibly pertinent counsel for today:
“To many, scientific research has become a curse. God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in discoveries in science and art; but even the greatest minds, if not guided by the Word of God in their research, become bewildered in their attempts to investigate the relations of science and revelation.
God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation.”
I urge all those engaged in scientific pursuits either as students, educators, researchers, or practitioners to heed this counsel as you seek to explore the wonders of God’s creation.
In the way we dress there must be no turning back:
Jesus was highly-respected and deeply-loved while having what Isaiah 53:2 describes as, “no beauty that we should desire Him.” As in all matters of life, Christ is to be our ultimate example of Christian appearance.
Of course, we are aware that there are those who go to extremes on this issue. Some conform entirely to the pattern of this world while others seem to go out of their way to be so unnecessarily peculiar as to be purposefully unattractive! Neither one of these extremes is right. Listen carefully to the inspired balance on this issue found in Selected Messages, book 3 page 245, “We do not discourage taste and neatness in dress. Correct taste in dress is not to be despised or condemned.” It goes on to say on the same page that, “Self-denial in dress is a part of our Christian duty. To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith.” Young people, please use the principles of Scripture, the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy, and the example of Jesus as you choose what to wear that will best witness for the Creator God you serve.
In our stewardship there must be no turning back:
I hope that all of you have been taught how to manage your God-given resources correctly.
– Be good stewards of your money. Faithfully return the Lord’s tithe and your freewill offerings.
– Be good stewards of your body. Consistently care for yourself according to God’s practical and healthy eight natural remedies: a healthy vegetarian diet, consistent exercise, drinking enough water, adequate sunlight, abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs, enjoying fresh air, getting appropriate rest, and trust in divine power.
– Be good stewards of your time: Make sure that you set aside some special time each day for prayer and study. Furthermore, keep in mind that while you have been given “six days to labor and do all your work, the seventh-day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.” Too often we see Seventh-day Adventists remembering that the Sabbath exists but forgetting to keep it holy. Friends, the Sabbath is the seal of God’s authority, the memorial of God’s recent creative power capping six literal, consecutive, contiguous days of creating this earth with the marvelous seventh-day Sabbath. It demonstrates His redemptive power, a weekly invitation to draw close to Him. It is and will be the end-time sign of God’s faithful people. Resist the temptation to abuse the Sabbath as merely free time to do whatever you like. Keep it holy through God’s power by ceasing your normal activities, making necessary preparations beforehand, worshipping the Lord and fellowshipping with believers in church, ministering to the spiritual needs of others, and enjoying God’s marvelous handiwork in nature.
By these simple stewardship practices, you will continually find in the mercies of the Lord enough time, enough money, and enough strength not only for your daily needs but also for use in the cause of God.
In our spiritual revivals there must be no turning back:
On March 22, 1887 Ellen White wrote the following words in an article for the Review and Herald entitled “The Church’s Great Need:” “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.” Today I praise the Lord that so many Seventh-day Adventists are earnestly seeking the Lord’s blessing and praying for a genuine revival and reformation in their lives individually and in the church collectively. But we must remain alert because, as we have already mentioned, the devil has a counterfeit for every truth of God. We have been cautioned, both in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy, that in these last days Satan will unleash false revivals of his own in an effort to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Ellen White wrote pointedly to the very things we now see moving within our ranks.
In Selected Messages, vol 2, p. 23 we read, “We are in continual danger of getting above the simplicity of the gospel. There is an intense desire on the part of many to startle the world with something original, that shall lift the people into a state of spiritual ecstasy, and change the present order of experience. There is certainly great need of a change in the present order of experience; for the sacredness of present truth is not realized as it should be, but the change we need is a change of heart, and can only be obtained by seeking God individually for His blessing, by pleading with Him for His power, by fervently praying that His grace may come upon us, and that our characters may be transformed. This is the change we need today, and for the attainment of this experience we should exercise persevering energy and manifest heartfelt earnestness.”
I am so glad that your GYC leaders have placed on each of your seats a copy of “True Revival—The Church’s Greatest Need,” a compilation by Ellen White. I highly encourage each of you to read, underline, and follow the counsel of this wonderful Spirit of Prophecy book. Those of you who are watching on television and do not have a copy of this book, be sure to get a copy from your Adventist Book Center, your conference, or the Review and Herald. Over 150,000 copies of this important book have been sold. Let us blanket the world with multiple thousands more in many languages. Let us also distribute by the millions other Spirit of Prophecy books including Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, Christ’s Object Lessons, and the one book Ellen White wished distributed more than any other, The Great Controversy…..no turning back.
In our confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy there must be no turning back:
Among some of our church members there is a tendency to downplay or even dismiss the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy. We hear today that while the writings of Ellen White may have some devotional value we should not let her “limited 19th-century perspective” shape our 21st century understanding of Bible truth. But I believe, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church firmly and unashamedly upholds, that the Spirit of Prophecy is one of God’s greatest gifts to His end-time remnant people. Trust the Word of the Lord and follow the counsel of His humble messenger, Ellen White. Let no one……local church leader, pastor, teacher, administrator, or anyone, turn you from that complete trust in the Spirit of Prophecy which points to the Bible as God’s authoritative Word!
Today I echo Paul’s challenge in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, 20; “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies.” In Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 48 we read that, “There will be a hatred kindled against the testimonies which is satanic. The workings of Satan will be to unsettle the faith of the churches in them, for this reason: Satan cannot have so clear a track to bring in his deceptions and bind up souls in his delusions if the warnings and reproofs and counsels of the Spirit of God are heeded.” My friends, though some around you may fall away, for the safety of your soul I plead with you to stay faithful. Let neither the subtle doubts nor the open ridicule of friends and family or anyone else turn you away from the truth God has sent us through his chosen messenger, Ellen G. White. Just read the Spirit of Prophecy and you will see God’s guidance in what is written.
The Need of the Holy Spirit
Such consistent faithfulness to Christ and His Word is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. The level of spiritual vitality to which we are called is not something that can be achieved through human effort. We must, in all that we do, rely wholly on the Spirit of God to work in our hearts so that among God’s faithful remnant there will be no turning back, no turning aside, no turning left, no turning right, turning away, no returning to the world whatsoever. Friends, God is calling you to go forward in faith until we all reach what Ephesians 4:13 calls, “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
While society bombards you with the idea that youth is a time for reckless self-indulgence, God’s Word declares otherwise. Paul’s counsel to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 is my counsel for all Seventh-day Adventist young people whether here or around the world. “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” It is my prayer that the greatest examples of our faith and lifestyle shown to the world will be the youth of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Corporate Success Depends on Individual Effort
The same God that is calling you to go forward in faith with no turning back is the God who established the Seventh-day Adventist Church as His remnant people with a mandate to proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. This far-reaching and seemingly insurmountable goal cannot be attained haphazardly but must be accomplished in an organized manner with the full cooperation of both full-time church workers and dedicated lay members. We are told very clearly in Gospel Workers, p. 352 that, “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.”
This method of labor is not unique to our time as we can see that same expectation of cooperative effort in the history of both ancient Israel and the early Christian church. For instance, although there were clearly prescribed roles for the leaders of Israel’s spiritual economy, each citizen of that chosen nation was still expected to be individually faithful to the Lord. In Exodus 19:5-7 we read the Lord’s instructions to the children of Israel just prior to His giving of the Ten Commandments: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’” Similarly in the Christian church, the same requirement for every member to work individually for the cause of the movement remained. In his instruction to the New Testament body of believers, the apostle Peter echoed the book of Exodus when he declared in 1 Peter 2:9 that, “…….you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This counsel wasn’t addressed merely to his fellow apostles or other church leaders but was given to the entire body of Christ, every member included—-young and old. Every member of the church was entrusted with the sacred responsibility to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Generation of YOUth for Christ
I’m so glad that in addition to many young people, we also have a number of older people with us here at GYC. But for this next part, I’d like to speak primarily to those 35 years old or younger. By show of hands…
How many of you long to see Jesus come again?
How many of you believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is God’s end-time movement raised up to proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages to the world and hasten that soon coming?
How many of you believe that we are living in the very final days of earth’s history and by the grace of God want to be part of the 144,000 who will stand for the right though the heavens fall?
How many of you want to be part of that army of youth who are rightly trained and willing to finish the work in this generation?
Ok. Now, you don’t have to raise your hands, how many of you attended your last local church business meeting?
How many of you regularly attend prayer meeting at your local church?
how many of you volunteer at your local community services center?
How many of you regularly seek out non-believers to lead to Jesus through personal Bible study?
How many of you teach in your church’s cradle roll/beginners division? How about kindergarten, primary, juniors, or earliteens?
You’ve spent money and sacrificed part of your Christmas break to come to a serious Bible conference at GYC. But if we were to take a serious poll of some of these questions, we may find the responses are far too low. What would we discover if we surveyed the general population of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? My young friends, through the Holy Spirit’s power we must all bridge the gap between the grand ideals we long for and the practical duties we are faced with if we are to finish the work in this generation. We must come to the realization that the first step in finishing the work is actually going to work. As was God’s plan for Israel and the apostolic church, the lifeblood of the Seventh-day Adventist movement is the participation of each member in the mission of the local church. Today I am particularly appealing to the young people of this church worldwide in every setting of the church. In Christian Service p. 10 we read, “We should all be workers together with God. No idlers are acknowledged as His servants. The members of the church should individually feel that the life and prosperity of the church are affected by their course of action.”
Young people, roll up your sleeves and work for Christ. Breathe life into your local Sabbath School program by showing up on time having studied your Bible and Sabbath school lesson and being prepared to enthusiastically discuss what you’ve learned. Let the older members see young people in prayer meeting interceding for others before God’s throne of grace. Give the 85-year-olds a hand and meet some of the truly needy in your area by volunteering at your community services center. Carry and distribute evangelistic literature with you wherever you go. Request that for one year your local academy or college apply the time, energy, and money that would have been spent on varsity sports to instead be spent on evangelism training, programming, and direct outreach to your community. Have a voice in the direction of your church by attending church business meetings and accepting, when the nominating committee calls, positions of responsibility—no matter how large or small. And for that matter, be willing to serve on the nominating committee itself!
If the Seventh-day Adventist Church is ever going to meet the Lord’s ideal of being His end-time remnant, not just “we” as a denomination, not just “GYC” as a supporting organization, not just “the youth” as a particular demographic, but you as an individual must get to work for Christ in service for others. Again on page 10 of that wonderful little book, Christian Service, we are cautioned that, “Everywhere there is a tendency to substitute the work of organizations for individual effort. Human wisdom tends to consolidation, to centralization, to the building up of great churches and institutions. Multitudes leave to institutions and organizations the work of benevolence; they excuse themselves from contact with the world, and their hearts grow cold. They become self-absorbed and unimpressible. Love for God and man dies out of the soul. Christ commits to His followers an individual work,–a work that cannot be done by proxy. Ministry to the sick and the poor, the giving of the gospel to the lost, is not to be left to committees or organized charities. Individual responsibility, individual effort, personal sacrifice, is the requirement of the gospel.”
For far too long in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and even within the GYC movement, could it be that we have responded to God’s call for workers with a safe “here we are, send us” instead of the more daring “here I am, send me” as Isaiah proclaimed. The grand ideal of a Generation of Youth for Christ that will finish the work in this generation will become a reality only when we see manifested in the practical duties of our local churches a Generation of YOU for Christ that is willing to individually go to work wherever the need exists.
I recently heard a term coined for people who claim to be activists for a cause but don’t actually do anything active for the cause… “slacktivist.” Where an activist will make a serious, even painful, sacrifice of their time, energy, reputation, money, relationships, or anything else the cause requires, a “slacktivist” may wear some special symbol of support without actually helping in a tangible way. Slacktivists think they’re supporting a cause because they post a link or comment about it on their social network site, wear a t-shirt, or something else equally innocuous.
Young people, let me challenge you to go beyond the typical expectations of youth. Don’t leave here just excited enough about the Advent movement that you merely wear your GYC t-shirt or post a bold but fleeting comment about your faith somewhere online. Do better than that……… BE better than that! In your walk with Christ, genuinely focus on the singular goal of the glory of God. Don’t turn away from God’s Word and turn back to the allurements of the world. Spend serious time in daily prayer and Bible study asking the Lord for a special outpouring of His Holy Spirit. Humbly ask the Lord for a revival of spiritual fervor and a reformation of anything in your life that is not in harmony with the commands of Scripture and the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy.
And beyond just personal renewal, determine to play an active role in a genuine revival and reformation among God’s remnant church leading to the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. Commit yourself to personal effort, individual involvement that will help your church family finish the work that God has entrusted to it. As members of GYC, which is a member of that wonderful organization, ASI, a group of strongly supporting ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, continue to work closely with your local church, your local pastor, your local youth organization, church administrators, and your conference, union, and division youth department directors. Never allow anyone to accuse GYC of not working with the established church organization. Become so much a part of the outreach of this Advent movement that you are understood to be part and parcel of your local church and conference. Support and nurture other youth initiatives of your local church and conference that are Bible and Spirit of Prophecy-based. As you work together, your local church and conference will see your spiritual commitment to growing in Christ, your commitment to practical service, your evangelistic outreach and, by God’s grace, they will embrace you.
The challenge I leave with you today—the point of this message —is that the Lord is calling for more than merely a Generation of Youth for Christ. God wants to see a Generation of YOU for Christ. As great as it is that GYC exists and continues to host these wonderful annual conferences, what God really wants is an army of individuals who daily commit themselves to His working in their life and their working in His body, the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
When we each allow the Holy Spirit to change us into the likeness of Jesus we will automatically begin doing the work that Jesus has commanded of us. In this way the character of Christ will be seen in what we do, not merely in what we don’t do. Mrs. White describes the result of such a revival in Christ’s Object Lessons p. 69,
“When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ… Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain.”
Brothers and sisters, young and old, go forward in faith with no turning back. Be part of the generation that will allow the Holy Spirit to fully develop within us the character of Jesus. Lean completely on Him. Turn your back on self and look fully to Christ. As that wonderful book by Ellen White, “Faith and Works,” indicates on page 24, “Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. ‘Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.’” But when we place ourselves at the complete disposal of the Holy Spirit, He will do wonders and miracles through us. So I challenge you today to do more than attend the Generation of Youth for Christ conference. Determine, by God’s grace, to be the Generation of YOU for Christ that will hasten His soon return by finishing the work in this generation.
The Holy Spirit is working in so many incredible ways to attract young people into complete service for Christ. Recently, I was in Brazil and heard about Alex. By the age of 13 Alex was a very accomplished small bike trickster—–a real expert and show off. He developed tremendous skill and, of course, if you’re not careful, popularity will go to your head and turn you away from God. Unfortunately over time, Alex got into drugs and the crime scene and eventually ended up in prison. His sister, Daniela, had a real burden for Alex and one day a faithful literature evangelist came to her door. Young people, use the heaven-ordained power of the printed word and the electronic word in sharing the three angels’ messages. Many of you have had the opportunity to share the precious truth as door-to-door Gospel workers or student literature evangelists. Praise God for the magabook program, for the student literature program, and for fulltime literature evangelists. Well, a literature evangelist came to Daniela’s door and sold her a copy of The Great Controversy. I love that book! Heaven only knows the times the Holy Spirit has used that book to convict people of truth. Daniela bought the book and realized it was exactly what Alex needed in prison so she sent it to him. He began to read it along with his Bible and soon was taking Bible studies. As a result of his study he gave his heart to Christ, was baptized, and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today, I’m happy to report that Alex is out of prison and is working his way through college as a literature evangelist sharing with others the precious three angels’ messages that rescued him! For Alex there is no turning back. He is part of that generation of YOU for Christ………are you willing to be part of it? Are you willing to lay everything at Jesus’ feet and say, “Lord, use me completely in your service as I return home to my local church and school. Lord, I want to see you come quickly. I want the Holy Spirit to revive me and reform my life. I want to be prepared for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit to fall on me. I want to stand firm for the Word of God and trust the Spirit of Prophecy. I want to be a part of the great Advent movement through service to others and evangelistic outreach. Lord, use me today. I want to see you come in the clouds of glory.” If you wish to make that commitment to Christ today, young or old, would you stand to your feet right now?
I long for Jesus to come even more than I ever have. Two and half weeks ago, I lost my precious 90-year-old father. He went to sleep in Jesus awaiting His soon return. As a pastor and church leader, my father believed in the young people of this church…………….and so do I! This church was started by young people and, by God’s grace, young people will play a pivotal role in fulfilling its mission. God has called you as young people for this hour! We are living in the very end tips of the toes of the prophetic statue of Daniel 2. We are living in some of the last events predicted in the book of Revelation. The latter rain will soon fall to empower God’s people as they submit completely to Him. Christ is coming soon! God is calling for you to go forward in faith with no turning back. God is calling you to submit your life to Christ’s power to make you more and more like Him. God is calling you to make the personal sacrifice required to be the mission-driven generation of YOU for Christ.
I’m going to make a more specific appeal right now. I’m glad so many are willing to stand in the crowd, but how many young people are willing to come forward in commitment to something more concrete? The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church requires more than slacktivism. This is no time for half-hearted effort or mere good intentions. We need an army of young people who will individually determine to return to their home churches and take an active role in finishing the work. I’m talking to the young people right now, if you’re willing to personally commit to helping teach a children’s Sabbath School division, regularly attend prayer meeting, or accompany the elders as they visit the members of your church or those who are sick, please come out of those rows and find your way down front. If you are ready to demonstrate an interest in the administration of your local church by attending board meetings and business meetings, or in conjunction with your pastor and church board organize and implement an evangelistic training and outreach program, please come down front. If you are willing to regularly sacrifice a portion of your time to volunteering at your local community services center or go door-to-door inviting people to join you in Bible study, please come down front. Young friends, if you’re ready to carry evangelistic literature with you to distribute like the leaves of autumn to all those you meet, please come down front. If you’re willing to lead a Sabbath school lesson study group at your school in an effort to revitalize your Sabbath school class, please come down front.
If you are ready to covenant with the Lord to do more than stand in the crowd, more than just wear the t-shirt, but in some tangible, self-sacrificial way become active in the life and mission of your local church this year, please come down front.
Young people, here and everywhere in this world, join me and your church………..in making that complete commitment……….to our soon coming King, Jesus Christ………..as an army of young people……….a generation of YOU for Christ………who will NEVER…….….EVER………..TURN BACK!
I invite you now to pray together to seal this commitment. Join someone next to you for a short prayer and earnestly pray for the revival and reformation that we need to never turn back. When you are finished, I’ll close with prayer. After that prayer, I ask that you remain just where you for a few moments.