By Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson
Never has there been a more important time to work together as God’s remnant people than in these closing days of earth’s history. As we see the signs of Christ’s coming intensifying, the need for unity among God’s remnant people becomes increasingly evident. The true measure of the church’s success is found in its unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ and its unfaltering commitment to our God-given mission and message found in Revelation 14.
We must not turn back from walking with Christ, for the Bible shows that turning from 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.
Paul counsels us in Philippians 3:13, 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.”
This was the walk of faith experienced by Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. “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” (Heb. 11:13).
This single-minded commitment to God and a straightforward understanding of His Word was the Lord’s intent for His chosen people. “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” (Deut. 5:33).
As long as they were unwavering in their devotion to the Lord and His Word, success was guaranteed, yet repeatedly the Lord’s people exchanged moving ahead in faith with turning back in fear.
In Numbers 14:3, 4 they 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.'”
Sound Doctrine or Own Desires?
Centuries later, Paul instructed 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; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
It is important to note that in both ancient Israel and the Christian church, God’s people had no problem submitting to leadership 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 they had been delivered. But this cannot be. We must never deviate from the direction the Lord leads us according to His Word.
As the stream of modern culture rushes headlong toward destruction, standing firm on the solid rock of Scripture will make it appear as though we are removing ourselves from society; nevertheless, seeking the approval of God must always be top priority.
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 rely wholly on the Spirit of God to work in our hearts, until we reach “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
The One calling us individually is the same 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 must be accomplished in an organized manner with the cooperation of church workers and dedicated lay members. “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” (Gospel Workers, p. 352).
Time to Work
Through the Holy Spirit’s power, we must 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.
“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” (Christian Service, p. 10).
Breathe life into your local Sabbath School 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. Minister to the underprivileged by volunteering at a community services center. Carry and distribute evangelistic literature 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.
If the Seventh-day Adventist Church is going to meet the Lord’s ideal of being His end-time remnant, not just “we” as a denomination, but you and I, individually must work for Christ in service to others.
When we each allow the Holy Spirit to change us into the likeness of Jesus, we will automatically begin doing the work He has asked of us. In this way the character of Christ will be seen in what we do, not merely in what we don’t do. Ellen White describes the result:
“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” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69).
The latter rain will soon fall, empowering God’s people as they submit completely to Him. Christ is coming soon! He is calling each of us to move forward in faith, and to submit our lives to Christ’s power to make us more like Him. God is calling us individually to make the personal sacrifice required to be the mission-driven church we were meant to be.
Ted N.C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.
This article was first published in the February 2019 issue of Adventist World, https://www.adventistworld.org/keep-pressing-on/