Should We Hide Who We Are?
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And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known. Mark 3:11-12

Many people, even in our own ranks, accuse Seventh-day Adventists of being dishonest, when we cover up our church sign when holding evangelistic meetings. Often we drape a makeshift sign over the name “Seventh-day Adventist” with the speaker’s name, or the theme of the meetings. Maybe we start the meetings in a neutral meeting hall and announce later, after a few meetings, that we are Seventh-day Adventists. Why be so secretive? I have heard people say, “I am not ashamed to be an Adventist so why do I need to hide it?”

Well Jesus was not ashamed to be the Son of God, but He still told the demons to be quiet when they announced it to the world. You see, for four thousand years, Satan had been telling humanity all kinds of lies about God and His character. Satan had even worked through un-Godlike priests and teachers to make God look stern, unforgiving and tyrant like. Jesus came with humanity draped over His divinity, to give people a chance to get to know Him first, before He revealed Himself to humanity as the Son of God. Thanks to Satan, there was too much prejudice against Him to just come right and say He was God, from the very beginning. People would have never given Him a chance with all their preconceived ideas about God. With humanity draped over His divinity, like a makeshift sign draped over a church sign, Jesus let the people find out how warm, caring and compassionate He was, and then once He had their confidence, He could let them know He was God.

Satan also told many lies about God’s remnant church. Many think we are a cult, or legalistic, so while being careful not to lie, some evangelists like to reveal that they are Adventists, after being given time to show that the Adventist church is a Bible based, Christian, compassionate church. It has nothing to do with being ashamed or deceptive. It is the same principle Jesus used when telling the demons not to tell who He was.

Of course as we spend more effort reaching out to unchurched people, we find less prejudice. After all, it was mostly “religious” people who were prejudiced against Jesus. It is often other denominations that are prejudice against Adventists, but not so much the unchurched community. I understand the principles of evangelists, who do not like to announce upfront that they are Adventists. However, if asked directly what denomination I represent, I do not stutter or stammer. I say confidently that I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I then assure them that we are Christian Bible-based believers. I tell them, we believe Jesus is our only hope of salvation and our only example, therefore we go to church on the Bible Sabbath just like Jesus. Just like the woman at the well was receptive, when Jesus revealed Himself to her, I find many unchurched people receptive when I reveal our Bible based and Jesus centered beliefs.

While Jesus told the demons not to announce to the whole world who He was, He used wisdom in deciding when and to whom to reveal Himself. I do not always know who is prejudiced and who is not, so I pray for God to give me wisdom and the right words to say to each individual.

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Should We Hide Who We Are? — 32 Comments

  1. Hello William, as always I thoroughly enjoy your postings. It makes me reflect over seeing the Mormons as they walk through our communities evangelising their message and the door knocking of the Jehovah's Witness. They come as they are seemingly confident about being in their 'skin'. In part your message speaks of the underlying power of prayer and faith seeking the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, counsel and protect us while we do God's work; in whatever way He leads us and in each of our respective talent and strengths. But always, confidently going forward in our 'skin' as an Adventist.

    It reminds me of a recent experience attending a non-demoninational cell group in Shanghai, going around the group, one by one, each attendee introduced ourselves. I told them who I was and that I was a Seventh-day Adventist. When we broke up into smaller groups, one of the attendees asked why it was I introduced myself as an Adventist. To cut a long story short, I explained a little of our beliefs, e.g. 7th Day Sabbath keepers and the 2nd Coming of Jesus. It was an opportunity to share Jesus as I know Him but importantly, I believe the leading of the Holy Spirit to witness for Him.

    We ought not under-estimate the power of the Holy Spirit who resides within us, and for us to fully have faith that it is His power that we call upon, not ours, to do His work, and He NEVER, leaves us on our own, to do His work if we are faithful and grounded in His Love.

    God's Blessing with your work William.

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  2. AND, William, sometimes we are our own worst enemy by presenting ourselves in ways that make people wonder if we aren't a cult. For instance, not long ago we were hung up over jewelry to the point of fanaticism and sometimes the first thing out of our mouths is diet as though it is the thing that saves us rather than Jesus. Theologically, not too long ago, we also looked more like legalists than those who are saved by grace through faith because we had a tendency to lean toward perfectionism rather than righteousness through justification as a gift. I even knew a woman that used to use the word "Lord" so much that literally every third word out of her mouth was . . .

    That turns people off - I mean really off!

    I think we need to be like Jesus and reach people where they are, be good friends to them and then gently lift them up on a higher plateau. And that doesn't mean loading them up on all the negatives either - we need to be positive happy Christians. We need to treat people the way we would like to be treated and use a little common sense in reaching them.

    Much more could be said such as our all too often rather arrogant, snobbish attitude toward those outside the church as though we will be the only ones saved. Nor have I mentioned the sometimes very un-Christian like behavior we sometimes manifest toward proper law and authority that I have seen. . . Well perhaps I should stop right there - I think I have said enough and I believe everyone can get my point.

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  3. I kind of agree with Tylor, for instance I grew up in a pentecostal church, I would see people who are 'saved' living like they are in heaven, sin was a disgrace and somehow I would see their purity by their own works, that made me think there was no hope for me because I know I'm a sinner. I came to the SDA church where I learned justification by faith through grace, I now know that I didn't choose Jesus but He chose me, and I am proud to say I'm a Seventh day adventist, for what God has done for me and where I was when He showed me the light, I say let us lift up the torch and share the light with the world.

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  4. Thanks to all of you, you've all stressed good points about how one should call her/himself a Christian. What did Jesus say, "By their fruits ye shall know them if ye are truly mine or ye are of the world." We can't deceive no one other than ourselves if we call ourselves the Remnants but live and act differently.

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  5. Amen... I have been reading all the comments above, they are inspiring. I wish our church would return to the logo of the 3 angels message. It was unique and when people asked why, it gave an opportunity to express God's love, who we are , and our beliefs, a peculiar message. But now it is a logo that looks similar to the rest of the world, our identity is now just neutral...

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    • Has anyone ever asked you about the old logo and its meaning?

      I would like to think that our witness was so strong that our happiness drew questions, not our strangeness, so to speak.

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  6. Shout it from the house tops, I am a Seventh Day Adventist and I honour and obey what God made Holy at the start of HIS plan of redemption. I have an eternal message that I refuse to water down and dilute. The majority does not rule when it comes to my God, my testimony is to be lived more than preached. Praise God for the oppurtunity to be HIS Seventh Day Adventist!

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    • Beloved. You can't be Adventist by just believing & fold your hands doing nothing, you must share to people what you believe & why you are a Seventh-day Adventist.

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      • True, but no one will care about what you have to say if they do not sense that you really care for them.

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  7. The very word/words "Adventists/Seventh-day Adventists" drives people away from us. Do not want to hear anything from us. Some people have branded us as Law keepers. The other denominational pastors have also taught their congregation to be beware of Seventh-day Adventists and their teachings.

    In a way we should blame ourselves for this. We in those days we first stressed the Sabbath, Commandment not abolished, Jewelry, healthful living etc. Sinners saved by grace of the Sabbath of the Lord is the first truth to be presented and all the others are just the result of believing this Graceful Lord. I think we have failed in the way of presenting the truth.

    So let us ask God to give us wisdom to present the truth in a way God wants us to present it. "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2.

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    • I see what you are trying to get at. I think more than anything else, we might have dropped the ball on the message about God's character.

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  8. We should stand up as Seventh-day adventists standing up for God because members of other religions do it. So we should stand up for ours and we also ought to tell others about Christ.

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    • While not losing the intent of your comment I would cautions anyone against doing something simply because it is what others do. In one regard what we are is irrelevant because we are not introducing people to a religion or a sect or even ourselves, we are introducing people to Christ. The truths that we follow will be revealed to the people once they come to know Christ and read and study for themselves. Prior to that relationship with Christ, the Sabbath, our SDA lifestyle, and even the commandments themselves don't have much meaning.

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  9. While Satan was telling lies about God, and Jesus had to remove the prejudice against God before He could reveal Himself to certain people, at least everything bad said about God was indeed a lie. Sadly that is not always true in our case. Not everything bad said about us is a lie. Unlike God, we err and make mistakes. Our message is perfect but we are not. Like Peter in his zeal, chopping off the soilders ear, we too have misdirected our enthusiasm, and hurt people. Thank God Jesus healed the soilders ear and forgave Peter. I pray that God forgives us, and heals the people we have hurt with our legalism that we mistook enthusiasm.

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    • William, it seems to me that the Old Testament is filled with statements from God on His desire to do what you pray for. I think the real question is will we let Him do what He wants to do for His church.

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    • I do not mean that the name Adventist/Seventh-day Adventist is bad. I like it and I love to be happy to be a member of the Adventist/Seventh-day Adventist world wide church. I am proud to be called by this too. What I really mean is that because of wrong method of presenting the truth and the wrong information given by the other preachers about our church have made the people offensive of the name. They refuse to listen to even gospel music produced by our church, when they see our name there. They refuse to read the books printed by us when they see the name there. I am talking about the situation here in this part of the world where I live.

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  10. Rajaratnam the name Seventh-day Adventist was chosen not by man but by God, to be a rebuke to the Sunday keeping churches. However, many times we have shortened the name and left off "seventh-day" and just call ourselves "Adventists" and therefore we are not standing apart as God had designed. Our human nature wants to be like the other churches, just like the human nature of Israel, in wanting a king so they could be real cool like all the other nations. Our human nature wants to blend in at a time when we really need to be standing apart and lifting up a standard for the people. I pray God helps me crucify my nature that wants to blend in and not stand apart.

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    • Just a note on Sabbath, sometimes people can talk more about the sabbath..."Happy Sabbath"...What are you doing Sabbath.... I keep the Sabbath.... Where did Jesus go?...Sometimes it can appear that we are being saved by the Sabbath instead of Jesus. We should first and foremost identify ourselves as disciples of Jesus. I will not identify myself when going around the circle as a denomination (division). I am a christian who choses to believe in the foundational values identified in the foudational beliefs of seventh-day adventism. I believe we are a movement with a message to God's church.

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      • Penny, I like your comment above. Yes our biggest undoing is that we stress the Sabbath at the expense of being Christians (Christlike or belonging to Christ).We should be first Christians and by being true christians, we will keep the Sabbath and other commandment. We like saying 'happy Sabbath!' but the question is are we truly happy? Sometimes I feel it is just a common greeting but the majority are struggling to truly be happy on God's Holy Day.

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  11. A great and solemn work is before us—to reach the people where they are. Do not feel it your bounden duty the first thing to tell the people, “We are Seventh-day Adventists; we believe the seventh day is the Sabbath; we believe in the nonimmortality of the soul,” and thus erect most formidable barriers between you and those you wish to reach. But speak to them, as you may have opportunity, upon points of doctrine wherein you can agree, and dwell on practical godliness. Give them evidence that you are a Christian, desiring peace, and that you love their souls. Let them see that you are conscientious. Thus you will gain their confidence, and then there will be time enough for the doctrines. Let the hard iron heart be subdued, the soil prepared, and then lead them along cautiously, presenting in love the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.—Letter 12, 1887, p. 6. (“Broader Views of the Work Necessary,” Letter to Elder Boyd, June 25, 1887.) – {4MR 117.1}
    [MODERATOR NOTE: Normally a comment like this would probably not be published because it really is not a comment by the one who posted it with his/her own ideas. Our comment rules state, “'Comments' that consist merely of Ellen White quotations may be rejected. Please express your thoughts in your own words, even when you reference some Ellen White quotes." I have chosen to allow it simply because it backs up some of the points already made. It also expresses Ellen White's understanding that we should do as Jesus did and He was very tactful in his presentations.]

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  12. Before they know that we are Seventh Day Adventist they must see that we are Christians who love Jesus and a genuine love for our fellow man.

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  13. I agree with William Earnhardt. If we 'thump' people on the head with the Sabbath truth, state of the dead, mark of the beast, or Biblical evidence of Anti Christ as our initial and prominent message, we fail to draw them to the Loving, Living, Forgiving Saviour, Jesus Christ.

    Sometimes the most powerful witnessing we can do is to simply and quietly, BE like Jesus. Jesus said "If I be lifted up I draw all men to Me". Not if the 27 doctrines and proof texts are lifted up...JESUS.

    The predjudices about SDAs are numerous as we all know.

    As someone married to a non-SDA I can give personal testimony to the relentless, boundless criticisms of Adventists because of some of our beliefs. Those negative impressions can create major divides, leaving us the most solid witnessing option (and often the only one) being our behavior.

    Having said that however, I am not at all in support of our churches changing their 'visible' name to 'Adventist', leaving off the Seventh-Day. Covering a sign for the purposes of initially drawing people to meetings is far less deceptive (and cowardly) than removing from the church name, one of the key identifiers of our observance of the creation Sabbath. To me, that seems a dangerous trade to be accepted by the world.

    First you hate, then you tolerate, then you embrace. It concerns me that we are beginning to tolerate...nudging up against embracing the distancing of ourselves from being associated with the seventh-day Sabbath.

    The hurting, lost souls of this world need connection to Jesus and His love. THAT is the message we must individually and corporately give.

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  14. Just tonight I was going door to door, distributing the tract, "Does God Care That I Am Hurting?" With my Tampa 1st SDA Church, before our game night. I met a lady down the street from our church who had just moved in to help her uncle who had a stroke. She asked me point blank what church I was with. Now remember, the whole point of my post was explaining why many evangelists like to reveal the character of the church before they reveal the name of the church. Still, when asked point blank I tell people. I told her I was with the Seventh-day Adventist church on the corner. I asked her if she was familair with Adventist and she said no. (Of course a lot of people will say yes, thinking we are mormons or JWs.) I told her we believe in Jesus as our only hope of salvation, which is why we worship on the same day He did. I told her the Adventist part means we are excited about His return. She seemd sincerly interested in visiting with us soon!

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  15. Hi Bro Earnhardt, I just wanted to thank you for your message here on ssnet, dated 6/13/12, "Should we hide who we are?" I had the pleasure of recently visiting your church in April and have not stopped talking about my visit to my friends. I met a couple from Antigua and a mother of three beautiful young people. The mom who knew my cousin. What a small world we both commented. We fellowshipped together at the same round table during Sabbath lunch April 14th. I pray that we remain strong in the Lord and go on God's errands, that we as Adventist hold God's banner high and that we be wise and humble servants of the Lord.

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  16. Brother Carr, thank you so much for visitting my our church in Tampa, and I am so glad you enjoyed your visit. Thank you also for the kind words for me to share with my church family. Please join us anytime you are in the area.

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    • William, without causing you to get a swollen head I would like to say that I wish that many of the churches I have been in had people like you in leadership roles to guide the flock.

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  17. Thank you for your kind words Tyler. I have been blessed by being able to work with many remarkable leaders that I have learned from. I am also blessed to have a church family that has a passion for soul winning.

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  18. I think that the commenter is correct in observing that Jesus was working towards building trust however the best application of this principle is to go to a neutral location rather than to cover up the church sign. Going to a neutral location shows that you are trying to meet people where they are while covering the church sign might send a message that you are trying to hide something.

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  19. Top comment by William says: "Bible based compassionate church." However I have known of a boy who was excommunicated from the church for smoking in public when a elder had seen the boy and was asked to leave the church.
    THIS IS NOT BEING COMPASSIONATE!!!!

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    • There will always be weeds in the church and sometimes the entire church gets off on a tangent. That is normal in a sinful world. Besides none of us are perfect, if we were we would have no need of a savior.

      I think William was thinking in terms of the ideal church and saying that in a prejudiced environment it is best to present our beliefs first before disclosing which church holds those beliefs. I, like him, feel there is nothing wrong in doing that but I also feel that like Jesus, if confronted with a direct question concerning who we are we should not hedge around it but tactfully answer the question. We need to be honest but not stupid in our presentation of things (Mat 10:16).

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