The Past with A Future: Looking Back to Move Forward

Articles December 1, 2018

By Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson

Note: The following is an excerpt from Elder Wilson’s sermon during Annual Council, Oct. 13, 2018.

What a privilege to be in Battle Creek, Michigan, as we focus on “The Past with A Future—–Looking Back to Move Forward Led by God.”

The Lord has been leading His people and is about to accomplish His final work through them, proclaiming the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, and the fourth angel of Revelation 18, calling people to come out of confusion and into full Bible truth. The three angels’ messages have at their core the righteousness of Jesus Christ and turning people back to the true worship of God in preparation for Christ’s soon coming.  

Contemporary society is full of influences that seek to derail and destabilize God’s church from its heaven-entrusted mission of proclaiming prophetic truth in anticipation of Christ’s return.

My message today is for every church member around the world, including each of us here in Battle Creek, since we are all local members somewhere.

In Hebrews 10:23 we read: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

Let us hold fast the confession of our faith as the pioneers did. They faced many obstacles and antagonism just as we do. But let us hold fast our belief in God’s Truth, His Word, and His love for His church. This church will not fail; it will not fall apart. Your church, God’s church, will go through to the end through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Stand Firm

I urge everyone to plead for the latter rain as we see the world around us disintegrating. God will pour out His Spirit on all who humble themselves and conform their lives to His will, revealed in His Holy Word and in the Spirit of Prophecy.

Stand firm for the biblical truth that the Godhead is constituted by three divine, equal persons from eternity. There are those who may proclaim some aberrant, confusing anti-trinitarian heresy. Our pioneers faced this and were led to a right understanding by the Scripture and the guidance of Ellen White’s writings. Hold fast and stand firm for God’s truth! He is with you.

There may be some who introduce and flaunt worldliness in personal dress, lifestyle, and conduct. Brothers and sisters, stand firm for God’s simple truth and lifestyle!

Some may overemphasize social issues while neglecting biblical truth and its relevance today. There are appropriate social issues we need to address, but always within the context of God’s last-day warning. Jesus exclaims in Revelation 3:11, “Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

You may face those who attempt to neutralize Sabbath-observance and biblical creation. Stand firm for God’s truth that this earth was created in six literal days recently, with the Sabbath as God’s creation memorial. Let us “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy!”

You may encounter those who show contempt for anyone living a simple, healthy plant-based lifestyle according to biblical and Spirit of Prophecy counsel. Kindly stand firm for God’s truth!

Hold Fast

Some in our church family may manifest a strange independence of spirit leading to disunity. But there are many in the church resisting these attempts, and the Lord will prevail! The pioneers faced similar situations, and the same God who guided them is still leading us today. In Revelation 2:25 Christ charges us to “hold fast . . . till I come.”

There are influences outside and within the church attempting to change God’s institution of biblical marriage between one man and one woman. Stand firm for God’s Word as it confirms biblical marriage, biblical human sexuality, and the biblical family as instituted by God Himself.

There may be those in your local church who show a lack of spiritual respect for church authority. My brothers and sisters, be of good courage and stand firm for God’s truth!

You may meet some who share disparaging remarks and a disinterest in the Spirit of Prophecy. Friends, the Spirit of Prophecy is one of God’s greatest gifts to His last-day remnant church. Continue to stand firm! 

Some may promote unscriptural methods of church growth, revealing a distrust for God’s Word and inspired counsel—keep resisting these attempts. Hold fast to God’s Word. I Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

Some discard the unique role of God’s Advent movement in favor of ecumenical influences. Avoid ecumenical compromises and stand firm for God’s truth! 

Others attempt to downplay, distort, or destroy Christ’s provision of righteousness by faith by denying His justifying and sanctifying power. But God’s instruction remains relevant: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13).  

A Daily Surrender

“Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church,” writes Ellen White. “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”1

Christ will reproduce in us His character as we daily surrender our will to Him. Stand firm for God’s truth and His righteousness!

There may be some who de-emphasize the distinctive Christ-centered doctrines of the Bible, criticizing God’s prophetic timetable including the pivotal ending of the 2300-day prophecy in 1844. There are many in the church, however, who are resisting these attempts—and you are not alone. In II Timothy 1:14 we read, “That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”

There may be those in your local church who introduce worldly music and unbiblical worship styles. There are, however, many in the church who are resisting these attempts. Hebrews 3:6  says, “. . .hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”

Some discourage widely circulating heaven-inspired books such as The Great Controversy. Ellen White, however, declared that The Great Controversy should be distributed more than any other book she produced. Stand firm for God’s truth!

The Last Generation

Church family, there are those in our ranks who disparage our hopeful expectation to be the last generation before Christ’s soon coming. I ask, “Who would not want to be part of the last generation and see Jesus come in their lifetime?” What a privilege to realize that Christ wants to come back as soon as possible and we can be ready and share this hope through complete dependence on Christ! United in our hope of Christ’s soon coming, stand firm for God’s truth!

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been called to a unique place in history.  God intends that His church move forward, led by Christ Himself. Difficult days lie ahead as the devil throws everything he can against the forward advance of God’s Advent movement. We know that the omega is coming which will test all to rely completely on God to avoid overwhelming deception. 

As long as God’s people—both individually and as a united body—keep their eyes fixed on Christ, they are safe. Let’s stop looking to each other or to so-called outside “experts,” to worldly influences or errant theological thinking. Let’s stop looking to humanly devised church growth methods and turn our eyes upon Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the True Leader of this church and He is the only One who can guide us safely to our heavenly home.

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 originally published in the December 2018 issue of Adventist World magazine, www.adventistworld.org/the-past-with-a-future/

  1. Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69.[]

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