Tuesday: Elements of Unity: Our Mission and Message

The unity experienced by the New Testament believers was based on far more than emotional warmth between members.

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Read Acts 1:84:335:429:31, and 28:28-31. What was the all-consuming passion of the New Testament church? How did this passion unite them?

The disciples were consumed with something much larger than themselves. Christ’s commission to take the gospel to the entire world swallowed up their personal ambitions. The church cannot reach the community with the gospel until it is united, but it will never be united until it is consumed with the preaching of the gospel.

Mission is a great unifying factor. The early believers rallied around mission. The life, death, resurrection, priestly ministry, and return of our Lord bound them together. New converts were anchored in the “apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:41-42, NKJV). The teachings of Jesus provided the foundation for their unity.

The apostle Peter uses the term “present truth” (2 Pet. 1:12). The message of “present truth” in Peter’s day united the church and propelled it forward with a prophetic impetus: Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. They were united with an urgent, present truth message regarding the fulfillment of prophecy.

Now, in the final days of earth’s history, God has given His people an urgent, present truth message, as well (Rev. 14:6-12). It is the message of “the everlasting gospel” in the context of judgment, of obedience, and of the Lord’s return. This is what unites Seventh-day Adventists as a worldwide family. If this message were watered down, given a secondary place, or treated as a relic of the past, the unity of the church would be fractured, and its mission would lose its urgency. If the church’s message is either misunderstood or distorted, its mission will be unclear. It is the proclamation of the prophetic message of the Three Angels that gives Seventh-day Adventists the reason for our existence.

How connected are you with our message and mission? Or, look at it this way: why are you a Seventh-day Adventist? Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.



Tuesday: Elements of Unity: Our Mission and Message — 15 Comments

  1. Couple of things that motivates me as a SDA.
    1. The preaching and teaching of the return of christ. coming a second time for those that keep his commandments , meaning, just as there are laws that we have to follow on our jobs, in the schools, traffic, laws of the land. when we do so, it shows a form of submission to the authorities, will reader isn't just our worship,but our TOTAL submission to God's law plays an important part in the love that we show towards him.

    2. The teaching of things that was, the things that are present, and the things that is to come. There are many believers that thinks being saved will free us from to tribulations that we will have to face in end of times (wrong). We will have to face tribulations and a great discomfort in our lives for his name sake, each and everyone of us. It gives me a great sense of joy knowing that christ already won the battle that we will face and all we have to do is to hold fast. Doesn't this put you in a comfortable place withGod ?

  2. Unity

    Yes the disciples were united in the Spirit , and they were one with God ,in that what was bonded on earth was bond in heaven. Peter spoke the word and the sick got up and walk, the husband and wife that tried to lie, at the word they fell dead, by the word and Spirit thousands were converted in one day,

    After the passing of that era there has been a falling away until every protestant movement after the death of the leaders had lower the standard until they all fell from grace under the second angel’s message Babylon is fallen; is fallen yet not completely

    The third angel message was to unit a people with the sanctuary truth , unbelief in the power of this same truth , we have become abhorrently united against this same truth that was to make us a royal priesthood, and we continue to unite as tares, goats , bad fish, with out the wedding garment, and not taking the extra oil and with hardly one in twenty is striving for unity in Christ.

    Unless there is a decided change we will all be united –( ly ) dead when he say’s I never knew you The church is not now the separate and peculiar people she was when the fires of persecution were kindled against her.

    We could be just professing the name of Christ, and not recognize by him.. Satan has assume a religious character and willing that the people should think they were Christians. He is anxious that we should believe in Jesus, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. Satan and his angels fully believe all this themselves, and tremble. But if this faith does not provoke to good works, and lead us who profess it to imitate the self-denying life of Christ, Satan is not disturbed; for we merely assume the Christian name, while our hearts are still carnal, and he can use us in his service even better than if we made no profession. Hiding our deformity under the name of Christian, we can pass along with our unsanctified natures, and our evil passions unsubdued. unbeliever reproach Christ with our imperfections, and causes those who do possess pure and undefiled religion to be brought into disrepute.

    The question is if no change , who are we united under?/????

    • The good news is Lennox, the church does repent and becomes unified. There is no church after Laodicia. There is nothing wrong with the church that can't be fixed by what is right with the church.

      • Absolutely, William, I hope as a church we still remember the promise contained in the vision of the dry bones (Eze 37:1-14) and the type of the latter rain (Hos 6:3; Joel 2 especially verse 23; James 5:7). Are these prophets and apostles speaking literal language or are they speaking in symbolism of a coming awakening? Are we unmindful of the parable of the ten virgins where the five wise women had extra oil for their lamps?

        Even though there are tares in the church and those that do not take pains to provide for themselves the extra oil that is needed at the end of time; the church, however one wishes to define it, will go through to the end in victory (1 Thess 4:15-17). In all of this I am constantly reminded of what God told Elijah when he complained that he was the only righteous person left, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18 NKJV).

    • Jesus said that people would know that we are His disciples if we have love for one another. A caring, sharing church is an inviting church. If we are continually criticizing one another and fault finding we will tear the fabric of unity. Jesus went out of his way to be inclusive. When he said to the woman taken in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you!" he was providing an example for us to follow. Unity in Christ results in us being encouraging to one another.

      There is another picture of God's view of unity where he talks about turning our hearts to one another. We also have a picture of the early Christian church where there was a strong emphasis on caring for one another. Once again I think that the emphasis is on a church that cares, shares.

  3. [Moderator's Note: Thank you for using full names when commenting. Thank you.]

    I seem to me that we all need to do soul searching and become united in our misson to bring about the completion of God`s work.

  4. I like this post. One thing that really sticks out to me is the fact that we must be united in our message. We have to make sure that the message we are focusing on and preaching matches the context of Revelation 14:6-12 and as demonstrated in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I think we forget about that message sometimes in our daily living. Our lives are not a witness to others because the everlasting gospel has not taken root in our lives through obedience and loving submission to the Holy Spirit. We need to have a living experience with the everlasting gospel of JEsus in our every day lives: on the job, at school, among our friends, amid our trials and difficulties. Then we can move to accomplishing our mission as His children.

  5. In a nutshell, I'm a Seventh-Day Adventist because this religion teaches the whole Bible truth, (what happens when a person dies, clean and unclean meats, marriage and family, the Sabbath message, and etc.

  6. I don't believe I am currently united under the Seventh-Day Adventist. I have been an Adventist for 8 years now. But over the years I come to realize that the pure religion that James 1.22-27 proclaims is not the one the organization strives for...

    Ministering to the widows, fatherless, and afflicted is not the main focus of our approach.

    We have studied the Word...good

    We have intepreted the Word...good

    But have we lived the Word?....The Word that is Jesus Christ?

    When I read the Bible I see the living Word giving life to the most vulnerable and encouraging the "strong, safe, and seemingly smart" individuals to do the same.

    It was these vulnerables that helped the spread the Gospel like wildfire based on the sermon on the mount description of those who are blessed.

    In my country, Jamaica...and worldwide, I don't appreciate that after people are won-over to Christ by the everlasting Gospel, the focus is then changed to fund raising, bake sales, concerts, events, argumentative board meetings where voting has the final say, and so on.

    Must I mention the millions of dollars that goes into church buildings but leaders hesitate and/or give the bear minimum when its own members are in need?

    Can I tell you how many Adventist churches are still under construction?!

    I thought Christ was around the corner. Are the church building going to heaven also?

    What happened to the simple -but not simplistic, structure of the home church that Christ so effectively used?

    Christ taught us that we are the temple: the followers of Christ are his living temple. So why do we invest so little in people?

    I thought we are to make disciples that make disciples? Matt.28.19-20

    And can we do that effectively by adding a barrage of other "Christian" activities to the already busy and complicated lives we lead?

    Simply put...I see the organization locally and worldwide has strayed from the great commission because they fail to invest in, equip, and engage every member to be church-planting-disciple-making follower of Christ.

    My heart is full and aching to see us make the moves that glorify Christ and not our organization, before men and women in this world.

    • Beautiful! In as much as we shouldn't allow so many secondary activities rob us of our experience, we cannot completely eliminate them but should tread cautiously and gear towards spiritual enrichment.

    • Leanne, you have a lot of legitimate concerns, to me some of them are more needed than others. First of all I wish to say that Jesus' ministry covered all bases meaning that He was not imbalanced in His attention. He attended to the needs of all people but because of the situation in Israel He spent most of His time uplifting the marginalized. Even with that, we really can't say that He ONLY cared for the poor, the widows, and the fatherless.

      Just look at the time He spend with Nicodemus or Simon the leper who had enough money to hold a feast for Jesus and his disciples, or "Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich" (Lk. 19:2 NKJV) to whom Jesus said, "today I must stay at your house" (Lk. 19:5 NKJV) or the many other times where He spent time attempting to win over the Pharisees and elders of Judaism. Concerning Simon the leper, when Mary anointed Jesus with a bottle of costly perfume He said to those who were criticizing her, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always" (Jn. 12:7-8 NKJV). What priority does this statement seem to indicate?

      The social condition at that time and place was more like it was twenty years ago in Afghanistan. I once met a woman who was an administrator over a small group within one of the larger relief organizations. What she told me was that one of the biggest problems in Afghanistan was the widows. As in all Muslim based countries women are at the lowest social strata and in Afghanistan at that time a woman was not allowed to leave her house without a male companion leading the way. For the widowed woman that meant that she simple starved to death in her own house because she could not go out to get food or to take care of the many other daily necessities.

      A similar but not so radical situation existed in Israel during the first century AD. Jewish economy depended largely upon the male labor force in particular the male head of the household. Unless a single woman was wealthy she was for all intents and purposes helpless. The same goes for the diseased who were considered cursed by God and therefore basically abandoned to begging for what little they could get to live on. In most countries today these conditions do not exist to the extent they did back then.

      Religion was a big thing in the first century AD even if it was corrupted and polluted. Today we live in a very materialistic society where religion is considered to be nonsense, a throwback to primitive culture. So our situation today is quite a bit different than it was back then and our ministry needs to adjust to that without losing focus on Christ's commission. That doesn't mean that we forget those in need but it does mean that we don't have to spend as much time with that issue. Yet the Seventh-day Adventist Church still preaches concern for the needy and we have ADRA that does quite a lot along the humanitarian line. Could we do better, of course, but it is not as though we have totally forgotten our responsibilities to our neighbor.

      • Hi Tyler Cluthe. I appreciate your response. And I apologize for omitting Christ other focus. With Nicodemus, Simon the Leper, Zacchaeus,Pharisees and not to mention the rich young ruler -some of the wealthy men of the day, Christ was encouraging them to turn the money and focus to help the needy (Luke 18:24-26). So when he says "We will always have to poor among us", I understand it as His saying that we will always have a significant, work to do -. (Mark 14:6-8) I see this approach as the Hall-mark of what Christianity should look on the outside.

        Jamaica is a developing country, so most of the affluence is concentrated to the cities -like most countries, but the country is predominantly rural with poor people who try hard. In my experience, I observe that some of the poor will see Christianity as a hindrance if we mainly structure a witnessing approach that fails to make giving back the trail mark of our presence.

        ...But I have been reminded that I should not get upset when others are not convicted about something that God has convicted me about.

        PS. Forgive me...I am trying not to be one-sided. The poor in this world are the "joyful burden" on my heart. (Matthew 11:28-30)

        • No need to apologize. I am just glad that the church has people in it like you that have compassion and sympathy for people that are struggling and hurting.

          I have had the opportunity to be associated with people on both sides of the isle, the poor and the wealthy. They both hurt only in different ways yet if a son or daughter dies the hurt is just as keen no matter how much money one has.

          Unfortunately, the world has shaped much of our thinking so that wealth and social status are worshipped and of course the have not's can't help but be envious and resentful of those in power. It is also true that in many cases the social elite have used their position to dominate the lower classes just as James 2:6 says. That, however, does not excuse the poor who sin just as much and if the tables were turned would do exactly the same things (Rom 2:1).

          I know what it is like to be in pinching want, I've been there but I also have listened to people with money testify to some cases of constant pressure from church officials to give more and more. To me they are justifiably tired and aggravated of the continual outstretched hands from the conferences and other sources. As it is in worship services constant appeals soon wear thin and people harden toward it but if Christ is preached as He should be hearts would be softened and the treasury would be full, the needy would be helped, and we would be fulfilling the purpose God has for us. Sometimes all it takes is one contagious spark to ignite a fire.

          One last thing, we can't afford to give the impression that the church is nothing more than a Santa Clause. That would open up abuse and degrade our mission. The poor need to be helped but not to form an addictive dependency where they stop seeking to provide for their own needs. As the ancient proverb goes, "If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime" so should be our long term goal concerning the poor.

    • Leannie, you are right at the point. There is nothing wrong with our message but the bearers of these messages may at times be the problem. I love my Church, but sometimes one can be frustrated by people and that is why Jesus said we should look upon him the author and finisher of our faith. If we look upon man, we are bound to fail, but God forbid.

    • Leanne, in this comment I would like to address two of the other issues you raise.

      Church activities: "I don't appreciate that after people are won-over to Christ by the everlasting Gospel, the focus is then changed to fund raising, bake sales, concerts, events, argumentative board meetings where voting has the final say, and so on." Most of these are done primarily to raise funds for some project. What bothers me most about these things is that apparently in many cases the only way any substantial funding can be raised is if people can get something in return for what they give. To me that is not benevolence - it is buying something! So I think you have a point here.

      As far as board meetings and voting is concerned what other way are decisions going to be made except by some democratic system. Of course I am assuming that what is done in the meetings has the blessing of the whole church and that the Holy Spirit is in the middle of the decision. If it is not then I think there is something wrong. As for argumentation please consider Acts 15:6-7 and ask yourself if such a thing is tolerable within a spirit filled church?

      Church buildings: You might be thinking of texts such as Acts 2:46; Acts 20:20; Acts 16:13). The fact is that in the early days of the Christian Church the services were usually held in homes because the church members simply didn't have the money to build churches for that purpose. We also need to understand that the majority of the early church were from Jewish congregations and it was the normal policy among Jews that whenever there were the required number of Jewish males in a community a synagogue would be built. Many of those buildings were not cheap little shacks but consisted of quarried cut stone. Like the temple in Jerusalem they considered a good building to be a significant honor to God and set it aside for the sanctified purpose of worship. To them it was a matter of separating the holy from the common. And so I feel that if they could they would have built churches and I think we should also. Besides God never condemned building churches, neither did Jesus, in fact more often than not He blessed them.

      For whatever it is worth the Christian church has always built churches and that is something that Ellen White also thought should be done for various reasons but she was against display and unnecessary expense. Churches should not be built to feed pride and that is where I draw the line which has been crossed too many times in too many churches where things were done all for the wrong reason.

      Here is just one quote from the many Ellen White made on the subject:
      Church buildings should be plain, neat, commodious, and of proper dimensions.--The influence of a house of worship is greatly needed, not only in Melbourne, but in our other churches. A plain, neat, commodious building, of proper dimensions, would fill their hearts with gratitude, and would give those not of our faith an opportunity to come into our assemblies, and hear the words of life. There need be no costly organ, nothing for mere display; what is wanted is a house that can be dedicated to God, to which the people can come as their home, where there would be extempore preaching and prayer, and singing in which all the congregation would join, and where the surroundings would be entirely in harmony with the faith we profess.--General Conference Daily Bulletin, Jan. 28, 1893. (Pastoral Ministry, p 243.1)


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