One Message One Mission One Movement

One Message, One Mission, One Movement

FOR MANY years we have been busily engaged in our unique mission of giving the three angels' messages and their coordinate parts to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. We have done this as a richly blessed, united movement, especially designed by the Lord to meet the true needs of the world today. Our efforts have not been without success. . .

-secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association at the time this article was written

FOR MANY years we have been busily engaged in our unique mission of giving the three angels' messages and their coordinate parts to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. We have done this as a richly blessed, united movement, especially designed by the Lord to meet the true needs of the world today. Our efforts have not been without success.

There are now more than 2.5 million Seventh-day Adventists and we are at work in nearly all the populated areas of the world. We have medical, educational, and publishing units in many places all of which are vital parts of our great missionary endeavor.

Yet today, more than 130 years after the great Disappointment, we are still here. This is God's great dis appointment. We should have long since been at home with our blessed Lord, but at the present rate we still have many more years to go. We face new and perplexing problems, opposition from many sources, dangers on every hand, and challenges and opportunities the like of which the Christian church has never before seen.

We have a message--a wonderful message especially conceived to meet the needs of everyone everywhere, and millions desperately want it. Their prayers, tears, and inquiries go up to God for light, for truth, and for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom--waiting.

We are called to give a demonstration of primitive godliness such as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. Our special mission is to present a new, clear revelation of what the Holy Spirit is able to do with men and women who love God supremely, hate sin, and have a deep, loving concern for lost souls. God wants us here in this very first meeting of our council to gladly give ourselves over to Him without any reservations of any kind. He wants us to leave Vienna with only one ambition to reveal the likeness of Christ's character and labor for the enlargement of His kingdom.

In view of this I should like to study with you a most inspiring, promising, and challenging passage of Scripture. Its special significance and application to our day is clearly established by inspiration. The text is Isaiah 60:1-5:

"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather them selves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee."

Baby-sitting

Some months ago a little magazine put out by an active evangelical group was placed on my desk. I do not know who put it there, but I have been mightily challenged by its headline message ever since. The headline was "Baby-sitting a Sleeping Church."

The question that immediately came to my mind was: Is this what I have been doing for the past forty years? Is this at all descriptive of what my fel low ministers are doing today? Are we spending our time, talent, energies, and resources baby-sitting?

A few days later I was shocked by a report that was given at the North American Lay Advisory Council. We now have more than 500,000 members in North America, yet in one full year, during all of 1974, we gave only a little more than 540,000 Bible studies. That would have been a great achievement for the church in 1874, but it is disastrous in 1974. Just a little more than one per person per year. "Baby-sitting a sleeping church."

In a world population of nearly 4 billion, for whom we are held accountable, we baptized, as a world church, 225,000 people last year. Not more than 10 to 15 per cent of our members have any record of soul-winning activity. Our ministers throughout the world field average less than twenty souls baptized per minister per year. If we were to include the 58,000 other supportive workers in our institutions and conferences it would mean that we are winning to this truth on an average of three persons per fully employed worker. If you include 2.5 million church members who combined their efforts with those of the ministers and church officers, you will discover that it takes more than eleven church members to baptize one soul per year.

This is pretty conclusive evidence that we are "baby-sitting a sleeping church." We are not really getting our job done. We are simply devoting most of our time and money maintaining what we already have. This, while the world is madly rushing on to destruction! This fact must become our number one concern as a church today.

The term "baby-sitting" suggests some interesting concepts. To me it pictures an old grandmother or a young girl doing everything possible to keep the baby quiet and asleep. That is her concern. She gently rocks back and forth with the baby in her arms, ready at the slightest sound or movement to put a pacifier in its mouth or sing some soft, sweet lullaby anything, every thing must be done to keep the baby asleep. "Please do not disturb." "Quiet, please. Baby sleeping."

This is good baby-sitting procedure, but this is not the business of the church and its ministry in these last hours of earth's history. No such sign should ever be placed on our doors. No efforts should be made by our ministers to keep the church asleep. Tame, lifeless discourses that lull people to sleep should have no place in the Adventist pulpit.

God has always been dissatisfied with a sleeping church, yet so much of the time this is what He has had to work with. His urgent call has echoed down the corridors of time with in creasing intensity until today it shouts at us, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Eph. 5:14).

Ringing Appeal to Awake

The Lord speaks with great meaning; to us today in another ringing appeal: "Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for hence forth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money" (Isa. 52:1-3).

This text suggests that we are lacking in two essential elements strength and righteousness. Notice the words, "put on thy strength." Evidently the Lord is fully aware of our weakness and impotency. Not only aware of it but distressed by it. The words "put on thy beautiful garments" speak to us of the righteousness of Christ. An important lesson to be remembered is that God does not tell us to put on some thing that we already have on, so we can safely assume that we are lacking not only in strength but also the essential covering that will display the righteousness of Christ to all about us.

What are the bands that our text tells us bind us and hold us captive? What is it that robs us of our strength and glory?

Our Unbelief. The spirit of doubting the promises and providences of God is a constant source of our weakness. We know the promises. We at times recognize the opening providences but we are so slow and weak in taking advantage of them.

Worldliness. We face the constant danger of conforming to the world. Our spirituality and its resulting vitality are being eaten out by our worship of fashion and worldly customs. Love of display, pride, and selfishness have a prominent place in our lives and we are rendered weak and incapable of breaking our captivity because of it.

Unconsecration and Insubordination. These, too, have revealed them selves among us to rob us of our strength and glory. We sadly neglect the study of God's Word as found in all the inspired writings, and then adamantly refuse to follow the clear revelation of His will for our lives pointed out in Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy.

Strife and Contention. Self-seeking, manifested in so many ways, drives us to seek for credit for work done, for advantage over our brother, for position, promotion, and recognition, and all the time we are made captives because of this weakness. We seem powerless to break the bands that bind us, and this in spite of the power of our Lord who came to proclaim glorious liberty to the captives.

"Minor matters occupy the attention, and the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in its infinite plenitude." --Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 21.

Dear fellow workers, we must be willing to renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways. We must turn our backs upon the world with its fashions and customs. We must come in repentance and bow low before the great Deliverer and look full in His wonderful face until His glory shall be seen upon us.

Let us no longer be content to be so much occupied with maintaining our selves and our institutions. Let us re member the great purpose the Lord had in mind in bringing this movement into existence. God wants a church that clearly answers the description of our text in Isaiah 60. "Arise, shine, for thy light is come."

The Church Under the Latter Rain

Here is a picture of our church under the latter rain. It is a picture of a church with the true second Pentecost experi ence. This is not some light that we have invented. It is not something that we have conceived and developed by our own brilliance. Our light comes from the Lord and His Holy Word. It is the light of the three angels' messages and the other angel who comes to give power to the loud cry. This is the light especially adapted to meet the needs of a world in darkness. It is the glory of the Lord that is to be seen upon us.

Paul spoke of a judgment to come. He predicted that a time would come when Christ would give us light. An Old Testament prophet predicted that a time would come when the "earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14). We can speak with great assurance and deep conviction of a judgment that has al ready begun. Can we say with equal conviction that our "light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon" us? This is what the church must have, for this is what the world desperately needs. Why?

Darkness Covers the Earth

"Darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people" (Isa. 60:2). Could any more fitting description be given of the days in which we live? Darkness covers the earth, gross darkness the people. The darkness of secularism, materialism, paganism, humanism, futurism, skepticism, intellectualism, spiritism, existentialism, nationalism, ecumenism, legalism, and the greatest tragedy of all---Laodiceanism.

We could go on almost endlessly describing the political, economic, moral, and theological darkness of this degenerate age. But the Scriptures sum it all up in a simple statement, "Darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people."

These are the conditions that we face in today's world. Does this almost overwhelm us? It need not! There is a way whereby this darkness can be dispelled. It is found in our text: "But the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee" (verse 2). Light always dispels darkness. Dear fellow workers, whatever it takes to bring this about, whatever the surrender, whatever the consecration, whatever the commitment, we must willingly and eagerly make it. Let nothing keep us from fully fitting into this glorious description of His soon to triumph church.

Solution to Our Problem

The solution to our problem of Laodiceanism is clearly pointed out in the Review and Herald of February 25, 1902:

"God rebukes His people for their sins, that He may humble them, and lead them to seek His face. As they re form, and His love revives in their hearts, His loving answers will come to their requests. He will strengthen them in reformatory action, lifting up for them a standard against the enemy. His rich blessing will rest upon them, and in bright rays they will reflect the light of heaven. Then a multitude not of our faith, seeing that God is with His people, will unite with them in serving the Redeemer."

Notice how this thrilling picture is supported by the words of our text: "Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Isa. 60:3). Just as people in darkness grope for light, just as they turn toward it when they see it, so the Lord promised that this shall be the result when the glory of the Lord is risen upon us. "Thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee" (verses 4, 5).

No need to worry any more about high-powered advertising schemes. No brainstorming sessions are needed in an attempt to come up with some new gadget, concept, or program. In response to our Lord's great commission we have gone, and are going, to about every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. But when our text is fulfilled our going will be pretty well over. The results will begin to come in. As our light shines and the glory of the Lord is risen upon us, the promise is that the Gentiles "shall come unto thee."

I see them coming, first one here, a few there, then by tens, then hundreds, and then by the thousands. The scenes of Pentecost are repeated and with greater demonstrations of power. Whole cities turn to the Lord. "Gentiles come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." The work goes like fire in the stubble. The church beholds converts flocking to her from all directions. The world is filled with the glory of God like the waters cover the sea. Are we beginning to see this happening in Zaire where nearly 300,000 have come to us asking to join with us?

"Arise" then, brethren, "shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Let it be the great purpose of this council and the session that follows to seek the Lord for this added power and glory. Let us be in prayer continually that God will visit us with the latter rain of His Holy Spirit. With His enabling power and this glory revealed in holy lives let us go forth as one movement, with one message, to fulfill one great mission quickly so that Jesus can come soon.


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-secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association at the time this article was written

October 1975

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