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Sunday: Revelation: God’s Last-Day Mission — 16 Comments

  1. Last week I visited a small country town to have a rest from all the activities that we had been involved in. Carmel particularly needed a rest because she had been chief organiser of the end-of-year concert put on by the U3A. So, we ended up in a little town with very little to do. It was an old town (by Australian standards) and had a number of century-old stone and timber churches. They were heritage-listed, and you could see why. The mellow sandstone blended nicely with the dry lawns and green peppercorn trees that are so typical of inland towns. Nobody attends these churches apart from the occasional wedding or funeral service. They are kept in good condition because they are examples of early Australian architecture.

    That same story is repeated for most of the country towns in Australia, and indeed many city ones as well. The architecture is worth keeping but the religion they enshrined is discarded.

    And amid this general disinterest in religion, Seventh-day Adventists proclaim an apocalyptic end of the world very soon. It is no surprise that people ignore this message. Shouting the message louder doesn't work. They cannot hear it. They are not ignoring it, It's just meaningless to them.

    The question we should consider this week is how can we get the Gospel message across without appearing to be crying, "Wolf! Wolf!" again

    • I want to share a passage from a work by George MacDonald (Scottish minister and author of the 1800's whose work influenced C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien). I believe that this speaks to your comment of today and previous comments. In this story a certain minister has a very strict, condemning, and legalistic picture of God which is driving his son (Charley) away from God and making him doubt God's existence. Charley's friend, Wilfrid, sees Charley's questioning at least in part as a search for the true God. Charley has a habit of presenting his doubts in an argumentative fashion which is hurting his (Charley's) sister who is still very attached to their father and his view of God. Wilfrid is trying to convince him to change his approach.

      "You always seem to shut your eyes to the mental condition of those that differ from you. Instead of trying to understand them first, which gives you the sole possible chance of your ever making them understand what you mean, you care only to present your opinions; and that you do in such a fashion that they must appear to them false. You even make yourself seem to hold these for the very love of their untruth; and thus make it all but impossible for them to shake off their fetters: every truth in advance of what they have already learned, will henceforth come to them associated with your presumed backsliding and impenitence."

      This passage does not really address someone trying to convince a nonbeliever of the truth of God, but I think that it does point out a flaw in simply shouting one's beliefs. Without first understanding others and truly caring about them, we might actually do more damage than good.

    • For personalities who are very sensitive and empathetic in communication style, speaking spiritual truth to those who are resistant or hostile to Christianity is a challenge, I agree and usually feel similarly, brother Maurice. And it is uncomfortable to see brothers and sisters in faith who "shout", which can mean literally arguing, or just instructing in a way that is tone-deaf to whether the other person is receptive to listening. I also like brother Joe's comment about checking in with the other's mental condition, and trying to understand them before presenting your opinions. And I think it is important to remember that opinions are different from truth. We are not asked to share our opinions, but Jesus did ask us to share the truth about Him.

      Something I believe the Holy Spirit keeps challenging me with is that the biggest obstacle to my witness is my own strongholds of unbelief. Any places in me that still doubt or shrink back or feel uncomfortable with the grandeur and unbelievableness of the gospel story, that wishy-washyness comes out in my conversation and my retelling of who Jesus is and what He means to me. I know there are still parts of me that are more swayed by the responses I'm getting back and my eagerness to adapt truth to the cultural realities around me, than rooted in the bedrock of 1000% unshakable faith in Jesus as my own Savior.

      Another way the Holy Spirit is growing my faith is contrasting always what a non-believer's life is like vs. what my believing life is like. It's a challenge because the non-believer may at any moment seem more kind, more generous, more relaxed, more happy, more easygoing than me. Sometimes I remember my former life as a passive believer (which is an unbeliever) and recall how much easier it was than engaging in spiritual warfare. But was it easier? Underneath the stresses of letting the light given to me shine in darkness, I do know my inner peace is growing in proportion to my faith. And I do see that what a non-believer - even if a generous humanitarian - builds their outlook and action on is as temporary as shifting sand. I tried that and I remember before I firmly chose Jesus. Sweet personalities without Jesus end. Kind actions without Jesus become selfish. Life with Jesus, right now, is so much better.

      So what we are sharing is not only the end-of-the-world prophecy that can sound fearful, but we tell how our eternal life starts the minute we receive Jesus and how much better it is....right now. No need to cry "Wolf" because our focus is not on the fear of the Wolf (devil) anyway, but on the Good Shepherd who is always with us, leading us through the shifting shadows of death and into green valleys, even now. We Jesus Christ-followers do have all the news to be the most generous, joyous, peaceful, loving, hopeful people on Earth. I know that when we fully trust Him, when nothing about the gospel is meaning-less TO US, He will be able to finish His mission through us and return to take us home.

    • The gospel message is about the power of God to transform us from sinners into law abiding citizens of Heaven while here on Earth before He returns and makes an end of all lawlessness.

      That's the message the people need to hear, whether they choose to believe or not, the matter is out of our hands.; But we ought to find a way to make their problems our problems (so long as it doesn't encourage sin), and to make their grief our grief so that by identifying each other as family they can be more open to hearing and believing that God changes the life for the better no matter how bleak life on this rock is.

    • Having been in Australia for nearly twenty years, I beg to differ that Adventists in Australia proclaim an apocalyptic end of the world. In an effort to attract people to church, our message is so diluted, in fact we sound just like our pentecostal brothers and sisters in everything. If we as Seventh-day Adventists in Australia could sit back and look where the train came off the rails, one will notice that it all started with discarding what we traditionally espoused in favour of a soft gospel and harder stuff was labeled as being judgemental. A look at countries that have maintained strict Adventist theology will show the church growing in leaps and bounds while shrinking in Australia. Last census I heard a couple of years ago shows our total membership being about 64000 in a country of 20 something million people. The book Gospel Workers which a lot of us do not want to use gives direction in what we as a church should and should not do

  2. Following is commentary on Revelation 1, “A Year-End Look at Jesus Christ”, by John Piper, pastor and author …. It seems perfect for our last lesson of this quarter and last lesson of this year…

    “Jesus was so real and so precious to John that he would rather be exiled to a barren island than not to talk about Christ. John had gazed at Jesus long enough to become like Him in this way: obedient fellowship was more important than the comforts of life.

    But now on the island God gives John another remarkable chance to gaze at Jesus. He gives him a vision. And He does this not just for John but for the seven churches of Asia and for us. …

    John gets the vision. We get the book.

    But this is not because Christ wants to be distant and impersonal with His churches. It is because He wants to come to us in and through His Word. He wants us to seek Him in His Word, and know Him by His Word, and gaze upon Him steadily through His Word. And when we do, the Lord stands forth from His Word in ways beyond the merely rational and intellectual possibilities of reading.

    The primary way of gazing on Christ today is through His Word….

    So the vision of Jesus that John gets is Him among the churches. Christ is standing among the churches. He is not merely over the churches. He is not distant from the churches. He is in the middle of them.

    He is among the churches. He is not far away in time or space. He moves among his lampstands, trimming the wicks and carving wax, breathing life back into flickering flames.

    The One who stands among the churches and trims our wicks and fans our flames is the One who received from the Ancient of Days dominion and glory and kingdom over all rule and power and authority in heaven and on earth. We need to see this today, just like the seven churches needed to hear it in John's day. It is "the Son of Man" who walks among the lampstands. And that means One with everlasting dominion whose kingdom cannot be destroyed. We must renew this eternal focus and assurance again and again in the midst of the adversities and the allurements of life.

    What we see then is hair as white as snow and eyes like fire—wisdom and maturity like the Ancient of Days together with the energy and vitality and zeal of youth—like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber with strength and hope, and yet with the depth and ripening of many, many years of life and marriage.

    When you gaze upon Jesus at the end of (2023), remember He is not tired or careworn or burned out or fatigued. Instead His eyes are aflame with the flashing fire of inexhaustible energy and hope. When Jesus thinks about His plans for you and for (fill in your town, your church) and for (fill in your country) and for all the nations of the world in (2024), He is not hesitant or wearied or bored. His eyes are a flame of fire with utter exhilaration and passion and relish for the work He intends to do as another year's pieces are put in place for the consummation of history.”

    • Thank you for this amazing words that the Jesus gave to you. Very inspirational and thank you for taking the time to write them.

  3. We are closing the quarter with a wonderful lesson focusing on a very important book that tells us how God's kingdom will be established after putting sin to its logical conclusion.

  4. I need to be saved first to help others to be saved. And I won't be efficient in this mission if God's Love does not impregnate me. Thus, the preaching is a consequence, not a tactic. The Gospel is about self-acceptance and appreciation of God's Love for me.

  5. Maurice, your discussion resonates with me, and I believe it will with those of us who live in western developed countries. In general, people in these countries are becoming more and more disinterested in Christianity. The same cannot be said for eastern developed countries such as The UAD or Singapore for example, where Islam and other religions are dominant.

    So how should we as Seventh-day Adventist approach this issue? Is the mission field now North America, Europe, Australia, etc. Should we change the way we evangelize people in these countries? How should we respond to changing social issues such as lgbtq, materalism, and jewelry, that are issues now present in our church and in the society that we are called to evangelize?

    • Melvin

      Thank you for drilling to the point with your questions. I've been studying this for decades now and will share my thinking based on studying the loving character and nature of God/Christ/The Holy Spirit.

      You ask three important questions. I will answer briefly after each one as I am impressed to do.

      How should we as Seventh-day Adventist approach this issue? (First develop a trusting relationship with them the way you have a trusting relationship with God. You can’t have a saving relationship with God if you don’t trust Him so how would you expect others to trust you? Faith in God is built on trust and love. Let them get to know you and God before you start feeding them a full course meal of dos and don’ts.)
      Is the mission field now North America, Europe, Australia, etc. Should we change the way we evangelise people in these countries? (From my answer above I believe yes.)
      How should we respond to changing social issues such as lgbtq, materialism, and jewelry, that are issues now present in our church and in the society that we are called to evangelise? (Love and a lot of patience. If God an be patient and long suffering, shouldn’t we have that same character being that we are made in His image? Many times, with good intensions, our sharp tongues drive people away. The idiom, “You can catch more flies with sugar than you can with vinegar” applies here.)

      When looking at the character and patience of God I am reminded of the acronym WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). In as much as He is the example, I believe we should emulate Him, observing how He reached out to other. His is a character quality for the Christian believer to emulate when reaching out to non-believers or spiritually infant new believers.

      Recalling His ministry to the unsaved, how did Jesus approach them? Did He approach them with scorn, ridicule and condemnation, like the Pharisees and Priests in Jerusalem, or did he approach them with compassion, love and respect? Ask your self while recalling the Gentile Woman at the Well or the Jewess about to be stoned for adultery. Did he approach them by condemning them and accusing them of their sins? Or did He approach them out of love and compassion without condemnation on the sins they has committed? Or did he forgive them without condemnation with a message to go and sin no more?

      With the exception of the incident with the money changers I cannot recall Him responding to anyone out of anger or condemnation and even then is was mainly directed at the Priest that were desperately looking for a reason to eliminate Him and he provided them a reason for them to seek a reason to murder Him. Did He chastice or castigate Judas who betrayed Him?

      All to often I see well intentioned church members that tend to point out the sins of others, many who are un-churched but approachable to God's calling, in an accusatory and condemning spirit as opposed to Christ's method of evangelism and drawing people to Him instead of driving them away.

      We in the US have a sad history that occurred in much of Christendom here in the US that occurred very close to the great disappointment of 1844 in a method of evangelism that became known as Hell and Brimstone preaching. The technique used fear, as in to be afraid of, instead of respect and love of God. This well intentioned but incorrect method was intended to drive people towards God in fear, rather than wooing them with the love and respect/fear we should have for our creator. You may be able to intimidate your dog into following your wishes but will your dog love you? The same is true with people.

      Question: Can you really love and come to God if you’re terrified of Him? Do you love and respect and follow him because you love Him or are you attempting and failing to follow Him because you are afraid of Him?

      It seems to me that we do have the correct message of salvation for a hungry world looking for relief but the way we attempt to deliver that message of love is incorrect and instead of attracting people to our loving God we dive them away instead.

      God has given us instructions on how to evangelise for Him, perhaps we should follow it and do it His way rather than ours.

      Patently God is in the business of salvation and not in the business of making His creation afraid of Him. If he were in the business of making us afraid of Him it’s doubtful anyone would be desirous of dwelling with Him for all of eternity. God and Christ are all about love and it’s impossible to attract love to yourself by making people afraid of you.

      Your thoughts?

  6. The End of God’s Mission

    God's mission my mission is time bound message in john 9:4 Jesus said "i must work the work of Him who sent Me while it is still day; the night is coming when no one can work" two things are certain whether we work or not, prepared or unprepared Christ/death is coming, and both comes; unexpectedly, with urgency, stops us from continue working and determines our final destination therefore let us use our best time and chance given to us and remember time is God given we do not create time so is His mission.

  7. The position of priest that we attain by faith when each one of us believes in and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and King, is very key to His kingdom -- and to the mission of the kingdom.

    "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come"--Matthew 24:14.

    We are not passive priests of the kingdom. We are active missionaries, priests at work, always on mission, a mission that is linked to the timetable of the kingdom--the coming of the King, Jesus Christ.

  8. Rev.1:1-3 –
    ”The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place.
    And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.
    Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

    To me, the Book of Revelations is for the edification of those who already believe, as well as those who seek after righteousnes; believing that there is a God who sent His Son to teach us His Truth about mankind and the meaning of man’s life here on earth. Those not accepting this premise will not understand its implications.

    1 Peter 2:9 speaks to me about all the persecuted by society as receiving God’s encouragement, as He reminds them who they really are and mean to Him!
    When Peter spoke these words, he addressed his Jewish brethren first, encouraging them that no matter their persecution by those who hate them, they will always remain ‘God’s chosen generation’, a holy priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of dankness into His marvelous light.’

    Yes, the people of Isreal were the first ones called out of the 'darkness into His marvelous Light', and we are the branch grafted into the vine. Because of the new Covenant of Faith replacing the old Covenant based on the Law, the status of every believer in Israel's God is being clarified - in Christ, we are all God's children.

    All believers are now brethren of the same faith, though we ought not to be satisfied by having become aware of this. We need to acknowledge this by banding together in our heart as brothers and sisters in Christ, and know that we all have our life in Him. For this purpose we have been saved - to express our love for the Father, His Son and our fellow man.


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