Editor’s note: Below is a transcript of the sermon Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, gave during the 2020 Annual Council Session.
Hosea 2:21-23 “’It shall come to pass in that day that I will answer,’ says the Lord; ‘I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth. The earth shall answer with grain, with new wine, and with oil; they shall answer Jezreel. Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who are not My people, You are My people! And they shall say, You are my God!’”
Yes, at the end of time, God will have a people…..a people who will remain true to pure truth, to a full biblical message, to the mission entrusted to them by God Himself. They will lean on Christ for all their needs. They will be fully accepting of Christ’s righteousness and indwelling power in developing their characters through His leading as they hasten His second coming. Christ’s Object Lessons, page 69, indicates, “’When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.’ Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. 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 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 harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain.”
God’s people in the last days will give up selfish and human devising. His people will be a humble people who will be loyal to God and not exhibit a spirit of rebellion or self-centeredness but will submit to the love of Christ.
This people will plead for the falling of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. This people will lift up the Word of God and believe every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. This people will proclaim the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 and the fourth angel of Revelation 18 calling people out of confusion and back to the true worship of God recognizing that the seventh-day Sabbath is the special seal of God on His people in opposition to the mark of the beast which is the acceptance of Sunday, or any other day, as the day of worship advocated by the beast on which we will touch again later in this message.
This people will not be swayed by cultural deviations from biblical truth. They will not be deterred, deflected, or distracted by anything deemed politically-correct in the social, cultural, religious, economic, or political arenas. This people will be completely aligned with God’s biblical plans, His prophetic revelations, His saving power, His Holy Word, His Spirit of Prophecy instructions, His overriding love, His commandments, and His plans for His church.
God’s people will preach, live, and witness to others of His eternal love, His graciousness, His grace, His righteousness, His salvation, His three angels’ messages, and Christ’s soon coming.
God will have a people of whom He will say, ”You are My people” and they will respond to the Lord saying, “You are my God.”
God speaks to us through Peter in I Peter 2:9-12 saying, “…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; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
God will have a people who love Him so much that they connect with Him on a daily basis and their lives speak louder to those around them than any sermon could ever do. Regardless of what is thrown at God’s people, they are resilient and make the Lord their refuge and strength. They stand stalwart through the power of the Holy Spirit before the agencies and forces of evil who will never conquer them because God is on the side of His faithful people.
All through the ages, God has had His people. The magnificent 11th chapter of Hebrews outlines some of God’s amazingly faithful people in spite of their challenges. Hebrews 11 verses 30 through 40 shares a story of God’s people who overcame by faith in God which will also be reflected in His people to the end of time. Verse 32 shares the names of just a few of these valiant servants of God: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Verse 33 to 37 say that they “through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trials of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins being destitute, afflicted, tormented” These were God’s people, valiant people, faithful people, and God calls us to be the same through His power which is how those of old stood solidly for truth, only through reliance on the Almighty God. They were God’s people. In fact, the next verse tells how special they were. Verses 38-40 say, “of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” Those people of God in the past and God’s people of the last days will all inherit the kingdom of God at the same time at the second coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
God will have a people, a people in the final days who will allow nothing to absorb their attention from the final mission of sharing the powerful messages of the three angels’ of Revelation 14.
During the last eight months, this world and society have been thrown into confusion and disarray. It has been a tough time for so many people. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought physical destruction and great confusion to what had been our “normal” lifestyles. Many people have died. The world has been drastically affected by the economic downturn resulting in financial turmoil and loss of employment. Racial and human relations tensions have strained the fabric of society and challenged people to show Christian respect and dignity to sons and daughters of God regardless of where they come from or what their educational or socio-economic background is. Natural calamities have wreaked havoc on regions, countries, and communities. There seems to be societal upheaval with biblical foundations and Christian norms being thrown to the wind. The devil has attacked biblical marriage and the home as outlined in the Holy Scriptures and his attacks will become much stronger on the seventh-day Sabbath. Our religious liberty and freedom of conscience will be in jeopardy all over this globe. We are facing the very end of time. No, the pandemic is not the end of the world, but we are getting very close. This is now the world in which we live, a world in which God has a people who will point others to the only One who can provide stability, understanding, hope, and a complete change of heart so that our actions towards each other will be a heaven-directed witness that we are truly God’s people.
During this difficult pandemic when we have been separated and restricted, God has been working with His people to use innovative and creative ways of touching the lives of others to show them that God does have a people. The global outreach of God’s people during the pandemic has been phenomenal—all through the power of God. Watch this amazing short collection of Seventh-day Adventist social media outreach around the world produced by the GC Communication Department showing that God has a people.
“The department of communication at the General Conference produced and released a digital magazine with many links that show some of the ways the Seventh-day Adventists worked through the COVID-19 pandemic. Look at some portions of the regional president’s messages.
The languages are different. Sometimes it is difficult to understand, but the message and commitment are the same. They stand to support and inspire. They motivate pastors and members to act and care. Many messages were released by pastor Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference.
Inspired by the leaders that church stands and acts the Seventh-day Adventists made a difference in their communities. We will give you a glimpse of what has been done. The work is not finished, but you will see how deep and far our communicators went in sharing acts of heroism, dedication, empathy, and Christian law. In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Dear Coronavirus” project started as a series of video messages.
It began in the Inter-European and Trans-European regions. Before long the North American and inter American regions joined the production process. Now the series has been translated and shared in multiple languages, in more than 60 countries.
The stories and reports in this magazine show how members, pastors and administrators all welcomed the second, third, and fourth mile to help, pray and minimize the pain of people in need. This overview will give you a broad understanding of how we work in our communities, orientation on how to face the pandemic, how we serve the homeless, sick and people in deep need of food. We produced podcasts and interviews. We largely use twitter, news and articles. We also produced many worship services
We also distributed food and masks. Always sharing words of hope. We communicated through newsletters, eBooks, healthcare videos, and many other ways.
We disseminated the work in China and produced the material for children. Some of the music created during this pandemic was so inspired. And We also remembered to make a video for the deaf. Besides the work presented by the division communication directors, many other communication institutions are doing a great job.
Join us in this global effort to serve humanity. More than ever, we need to be like Jesus expressing His love and compassion for everyone. Let us continually share empathy and care. We hope this communication report motivates you to not only keep working until the end of the pandemic, but until Jesus comes again. Stay safe, and active. God bless.”
We face an increasingly uncertain future that we know will take place since we believe in the outline of prophetic development. The prophecies of Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation are unfolding right on time. My worldwide colleagues and leaders wherever you may be on the Annual Council Sabbath, prepare for the future by placing yourselves in God’s hands completely, by adhering to the plain reading of the Word of God as it reads, by reading and being instructed through the Spirit of Prophecy, by earnest prayer and supplication to God, and by letting the Holy Spirit guide your words and actions as we face the end of time. God will have a people and, by His grace, we can be part of that people!
As we look at how events are transpiring, we also see that faithful members in the church could be tempted to head in various directions dictated by society. There are those who could align themselves with skeptical approaches to the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and prefer to focus on philosophical, academic, and political correctness centered on humanistic ideas. There are some who are perhaps tempted to align themselves only with earthly structures thinking that they will solve the cultural, societal, economic, and educational problems of the world. There are those who wish to decentralize the church and focus only on the local congregation forgetting that this is a worldwide Advent movement. There are many directions that the devil tempts people to take. However, God will have a people, a people who recognize their great need of God’s transforming power in their lives, a people who fall on their knees and humble themselves before the Lord and His Word, a people who accept the last-day message of hope and warning that they are asked to proclaim, a people who show dignity and respect to all people groups around the world reflecting their love for the Master and His transforming work in their lives as they submit to revival and reformation, a people who are active in God’s work recognizing that all of us are to participate in the last prophetic proclamation in Total Member Involvement, a people who are sharing the third angel’s message in conjunction with the health message and comprehensive health ministry which is an integral part of restoring people to God’s original purpose for each of us, a people who are active in witnessing to others in the large cities of the world in Mission to the Cities, a people who are caring for their neighbors and those in need as Jesus did, a people who are willing to proclaim, through God’s power, the last warning message embodied in the three angels’ messages announcing the soon coming of Christ who will make all things new and bring eternal order to this earth…sin will never affect the universe again after the final destruction of the wicked and the establishment of the Holy City on a remade new earth. God calls for His people to proclaim those three angels’ messages of preparation for the culmination of earth’s history.
Let’s briefly look at those marvelous three angels’ messages in Revelation 14:6-12. Verse 6 talks of the first angel saying, “Then I saw another angel flying I the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth–to every nation tribe, tongue, and people saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea, and springs of water.’” This is a call to worship the Creator and not the created. It is signified by the sacred hours of the seventh-day Sabbath—the culmination of creation and the seal of God. The everlasting gospel is to be preached with Holy Spirit power to every corner of the globe with the righteousness of Christ at the very core of the three angels’ messages. His saving power through His justifying righteousness and His reforming power through His sanctifying righteousness.
The second angel in verse 8 proclaims that, “…Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Babylon represents the confusion and mixing of truth with error by papal and other religious authorities. The pure Word of God is not valued and preserved therefore Babylon falls far short of anything worthy of attention.
The third angel shares stark warnings in verses 9-12 and in verses 9 and 10 states that “…If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God…” God warns us not to bow to anything less than Him and the truth, the seventh-day Sabbath has been attacked by so many down through the ages but it persists because it is God’s truth, and God has a people who respect and love the Sabbath and keep it through the power of God. Those who are opposed to the Sabbath, install the papal substitute of Sunday or in other settings some other day. Nothing but God’s everlasting biblical instruction is to be honored. The seventh-day Sabbath is God’s seal and sign of those who love and obey Him. The worship on the first day of the week or any other day is the mark of the beast and will end in complete destruction because it takes people away from God’s authority as our Creator and Redeemer.
I want to urge all of you to be very careful about any scholar, pastor, teacher, or others who might tell you that the prophecies of Revelation are “conditional”–that we really don’t know what the mark of the beast may be. Please fully understand, leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we believe in the historicist understanding of biblical prophecy and we accept the historical-biblical approach to reading scripture. We also have the Spirit of Prophecy and specifically the book, The Great Controversy, which explains so much to us about the last-day setting. Do not fall for anything but the time-honored, God-blessed approaches to the Bible and to prophecy. You see, God will have a people on the face of the earth who accept the proclamation of the three angels’ messages. In fact, the final verse and capstone in the explanation of those messages is found in verse 12 saying, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” These are God’s people at the end of time. Revelation 12:17 reinforces this pattern by saying, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 19:10 tells us that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” God has blessed His last-day people with invaluable instruction in the Spirit of Prophecy as understood in the writings of Ellen G White. God will have a people!!
His people will proclaim the three angels’ messages and the fourth angel of Revelation 18:1-4 calling people out of Babylon and confusion where we read in verse 4, “…Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”
In Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, page 19, we read about God’s special people at the end of time, “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.” God’s last-day people will be singularly focused on their mission of lifting up Christ, His Word, His righteousness, His sanctuary service, His saving power in the great controversy, His three angels’ messages, His health message, His last-day mission to the world including the need to plead for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit, and Christ’s soon second coming.
During this pandemic, the human relations tension around the world, the natural disasters, the economic chaos, and so much more, God’s precious people have been proclaiming truth, love, righteousness, and hope. The Holy Spirit has motivated and directed God’s people internationally to use every means possible to proclaim His precious message. How thrilling to know that even during these difficult times, the three angels’ messages have been circling the globe.
In the beginning of this year there were seventeen evangelistic campaigns planned for Indianapolis. Beyond this, a mega health clinic was set to make history as we served the community of Indianapolis. We had connected with local authorities and conducted various kinds of research on the city and its people so we could really understand how to communicate the gospel effectively. Indeed, there were many projects ready to impact the city and bring an awareness of who we are and how we can help the people of Indianapolis.
Then, all of a sudden, all events were paralyzed and our plans destroyed, because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Many wondered whether this was the end for our evangelism efforts. Absolutely not. When windows are closed, God opens large gates for new opportunities. Let’s see what God is doing throughout the world, especially during this pandemic, as compiled by the General Conference Communications Department from the submissions from many world regions.
In North America, It Is Written, Breath of Life, Amazing Facts and La Voz de la Esperanza moved to digital evangelism as soon the pandemic was declared and face-to-face evangelism was no longer possible.
In New York the church distributed food and supplies to those in need. As people requested Bible Studies, many were led by the Holy Spirit to baptism.
Let’s go to the East-Central Africa Region. Everything was set for a large evangelism campaign where Pr Alan Coralie and his wife would preach in Kinshasa. The capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo has 14 million people and a very small Adventist presence. Due to the pandemic, they changed plans and Pr Coralie preached on national television in Kinshasa while a website carried the project to all other French speaking territories of the region. So far 3,200 precious souls have given their live to Jesus through baptism
In the Euro-Asia region during the pandemic they developed prayer marathons. It is so inspiring to see pastors, members, and administrators making fervent prayers to God. An example to all of us.
Inter-America was also active during the pandemic. “Let’s talk about Him” is a series of short videos in multiple languages. Twitter impacts were also organized. With a network of online witnesses they reached more than 30 million people with short messages. Evangelism metings were realized in many territories. Just the Interoceanic Mexican Union baptized over 4,000 precious souls.
In the Northern Asia region they have donated blood; produced and distributed masks and they shared food. They ministered to the needs of people and served their communities. Many have come to known God through acts of love and kindness.
In South America a police officer decided to use all his available time to connect with anyone on Facebook interested in prayer or Bible study. He encouraged people to study the Bible. As a result, more than 1500 precious souls were baptized.
There is a new platform that is growing faster than anyone imagined. It’s called Tik Tok. Even here there are Adventists sharing God’s message.
In the South Pacific Region our church has experienced integration through the program ‘We Are the Church’. The pacific islands and the big cities in Australia and New Zealand have been connected by the mission and the love of God.
In the Southern Asia-Pacific region, besides many evangelistic campaigns, they focused on the health and wellbeing of all families, especially children.
In the Southern Asia region Hope Channel India has done a wonderful job of recording and releasing sermons and wonderful music.
The Inter-European region partnered with the Trans-european region on a project that reached more than 60 countries. Dearcoronavirus has been embraced and disseminated through the Communication Departments of many Divisions. Also, they produced an impressive series: Uncertainty.
The Trans-European region had many initiatives in its territory. Let’s continue to pray for Pastor Patrick Boyle, Audrey Anderson’s father, who we saw just months earlier preaching the gospel on the streets.
In the West Africa region small groups and digital communication have made a profound impact during the pandemic. I want to express my gratitude to this region for their commitment to the Every Child, Everywhere, In School campaign. Over half of all the world’s signatures came from this region.
In the Middle East and North Africa region, after the explosion in Beirut, love was expressed in actions. They cleaned streets and homes and provided food and water for people in need. One gentleman, with tears in his eyes asked where our church was, so he could join us in worship. Evangelism takes on different forms.
The Southern Africa-indian Ocean Division was very active through radio, television and all digital platforms. ADRA stepped up in many countries in the territory to deliver aid in a very special and meaningful way.
In China they create short movies and disseminate through the internet. These productions inspire and attract people to Jesus.
Our Adventist World Radio decided to pursue an online evangelistic campaign entitled Unlocking Bible Prophecies. Cami Oetman preached 14 sermons on YouTube and the AWR team was ready with 12 people working full time to engage with visitors. However, within minutes of launching the website, it was clear they wouldn’t be able to cope with the volume of people interested in the Bible.
But how could AWR recruit thousands of digital missionaries in just a few days? The call was put out and our members responded. By the end of that week, over 10,000 digital missionaries signed up and said: “I will go.”
We are now in the second season of Unlocking Bible Prophecies and AWR has already crossed 100k registrations of precious souls who are searching for the truth.
The lockdowns have forced people to stay home, be 6-feet apart from others, use masks, and try to stay healthy. However, to be spiritually healthy, we need to connect with people that have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. We need to testify.
If we can’t meet face-to-face, let us move ahead boldly with the Digital Evangelism Initiative because the World needs to understand the Bible to find freedom, healing, and hope in Jesus.
Jesus is coming, Maranatha. Let us work united and integrated, using all possible ways to take people to Jesus; this is our life; this is our mission, this is our passion. The Digital world is not an enemy; it is the new possibility that God gave us to cover the globe with the message of salvation to every tribe, tongue, language, and people.
Digital evangelism is still personal evangelism. Even though nothing can substitute face-to-face evangelism, the combination of both can be the secret used by 21 million Seventh-day Adventists to reach billions of people in this generation. Thank God for this new mission frontier.
Praise be to God for His working in the lives of His church members around the world. God will have a people!
My fellow leaders in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, God’s people at the end of time, at this 2020 Annual Council amidst all kinds of challenges being faced, please focus your undivided attention on proclaiming the three angels’ messages and Christ’s soon coming. In Christian Service we read some powerful admonition for all of us—-on page 40, we read, “Satan is now working with all his insinuating, deceiving power to lead men away from the work of the third angel’s message which is to be proclaimed with might power.” On page 41, we are instructed, “Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the word of God, and striving to conform their lives to its precepts, God calls for a revival and a reformation.” On page 158, we read, “The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity, she will have to do in a terrible crisis, under the most discouraging, forbidding circumstances.” On page 136, we read, “There are stormy times before us, but let us not utter one word of unbelief or discouragement. Let us remember that we bear a message of healing to a world filled with sin-sick souls.” That is why we are instructed on page 68 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.” God will have a people! His people will be focused on their mission. His people will be a humble, obedient, and loving people. His people will work together in Total Member Involvement under the direction of the Holy Spirit. They will plead for the falling of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit to accomplish all that God intends to prepare those willing to listen for the great coming of the Lord.
The Lord is calling you and me to be part of His people, those in the final days regardless of what the devil will throw at us, pandemic, tensions, unrest, natural disasters, apostasy, wars and rumors of wars, persecution or whatever may come our way, that we will be God’s people who will stand for Him as we lean completely on Him.
I close with two powerful Spirit of Prophecy quotations: From Acts of the Apostles, page 590, we read, “In comparison with the millions of the world, God’s people will be, as they have ever been, a little flock; but if they stand for the truth as revealed in His word, God will be their refuge. They stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. God is always a majority. When the sound of the last trump shall penetrate the prison house of the dead, and the righteous shall come forth with triumph, exclaiming , ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ (I Corinthians 15:55)—standing then with God, with Christ, with the angels, and with the loyal and true of all the ages, the children of God will be far in the majority.” Yes, God will have a people, a small flock at the end, but part of God’s people down through the ages, a wonderful majority through God’s power. In Counsels for the Church, page 78, we read, “The purpose which God seeks to accomplish through His people today is the same that He desired to accomplish through Israel when He brought them forth out of Egypt. By beholding the goodness, the mercy, the justice, and the love of God revealed in the church, the world is to have a representation of His character. And when the law of God is thus exemplified in the life, even the world will recognize the superiority of those who love and fear and serve God above every other people on the earth. The Lord has His eye upon every one of His people; He has His plans concerning each. It is His purpose that those who practice His holy precepts shall be a distinguished people. To the people of God today as well as to ancient Israel belong the words written by Moses through the Spirit of Inspiration: ‘Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth’ (Deuteronomy 7:6).”
God is calling us to be part of His last-day people. In line with our new quinquennial strategic plan title that states, “Reach the World—-I Will Go,” are you willing to say to the Lord, “I want to be part of Your people, completely committed to proclaiming Your three angels’ messages as we present the nearness of Your second coming and…I WILL GO? If you are willing to go for the Lord and be part of His last-day people, would you join me in raising your hand in commitment right now?
Thank you for your commitment by raising your hand. Now let’s focus our commitment on the simple, melodic theme song, “I Will Go,” composed by Williams Costa, our General Conference Communication Director. He is wanting to record this song in many languages around the world and various instruments and even orchestras. He enlisted my help by using my clarinet.
Thanks to my wonderful mother, who is now resting in Jesus but will soon awaken at the trumpet call, not the clarinet, but the trumpet! Thanks to my mother’s insistence when I was young that I practice every day, I can still play today! Thank God for precious parents who watch over us and nurture our God-given talents. I encourage you to get out your instrument, if you play one, and make a joyful noise to the Lord in your setting. Now, join your voices in confirming your commitment to “I WILL GO” by singing our theme song.
This article originally appeared on Adventist News Network.