THIS editorial is being written as the last of the three Bible conferences is drawing to a close. Sitting here in the large church auditorium at Pacific Union College, I am led to reflect on what these Bible conferences have accomplished and the possible impact they might well have on the work of the church.
These assemblies of so many of our church leaders could prove to be one of the most significant meetings in the history of the denomination. We are reminded of the Sabbath Conference of 1848, where our pioneer leaders gathered to pray and study. Out of those small gatherings grew the great fundamentals of the faith upon which this church was established.
Rather than a small group gathering in private homes, these conferences convened on the campuses of three of our educational institutions, Southern Missionary College, Andrews University, and Pacific Union College. Some 1,700 pastors, teachers, administrators, editors, departmental leaders, and other workers met to reaffirm those same pillars of faith and to study how to rightly communicate the distinctive messages of our day to the modern world.
Now that the conferences are over, what could happen to high light their significance?
1. New Wave of Bible Preaching. One of the greatest impacts of the conferences could be a veritable wave of sound Biblical preaching. Seventeen hundred ministers, inspired with a new appreciation of the Bible and a new sense of the importance of the message it contains, proclaiming its truths with new power and confidence from Sabbath to Sabbath, can make a tremendous impact upon our congregations and upon others we seek to reach.
2. New Faith in the Spirit of Prophecy. Those attending the conferences left with a renewed assurance that within the Seventh-day Adventist Church resides the gift of prophecy, accepted as inspired of God, and destined to fulfill an increasingly effective role in the closing work. There was no beating around the bush, or straddling the fence on this issue. This church is fully committed to an acceptance of this gift as the voice of God, given to help guide us through the closing crises of history. It is evident that the finishing of our task is vitally linked to our faithfully following the counsels given us.
3. Confidence in Our Leadership. Among the expressions often heard coming from pastors and others at the conferences was their great appreciation for those who led out in the conferences and presented the various subjects. There was no doubt but that our Seminary scholars, college Bible teachers, editors, and others who made the presentations were men of God, thoroughly committed to the Adventist faith and its proclamation in positive terms in accord with sound hermeneutical principles. If there ever had been any suspicions as to the attitude of the church toward the authority of Scripture or the Spirit of Prophecy or the fundamentals of our faith, the very last vestiges of such doubts were most emphatically removed.
4. Renewed Emphasis on Role of Holy Spirit. Like a thread running through all presentations was the basic importance of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the giving of the Word, in the presentation of the Word, and in its study and proclamation. More than this, one of the most vital presentations of the conferences was devoted specifically to this subject. With the participating ministers reminding themselves again and again of the importance of this gift and determining anew to give added hours to the study of the Word and its proclamation, what changes might indeed be wrought and what an added impetus might be given to our work!
These are but a few of the thoughts that press upon my heart. If we seriously apply the principles enunciated, heed the wise counsels given, recognize our need as sinners, and claim the promises given, what new power will be seen in our ministry!
But it is easy to forget. Live coals of fire can soon turn to ashes. This being so, it would be well to review the large doses of material again and again. The presentations are also available on tape for convenient listening. This will allow for more study and digestion of the material, and should help not only to keep the inspiration alive but to make the presentations increasingly more meaningful.
To Those Who Missed It
Those not privileged to attend the historic conferences will be especially eager to avail them selves of these materials in either printed or tape form (or both). As you, through this means of communication, unite with us in this meaningful study, our prayer is that the same sense of unity and commitment may be yours. Let us be known more fully than ever before as both students of the Word and proclaimers of the Word. As our people come to hear us preach, may they have the confident assurance that they will hear a message from the Lord a message that is certain; a message that will help "make ready a people prepared for the Lord."