By Ted N. C. Wilson
What a privilege we have as members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to plead with the Lord for revival, reformation, and the latter rain of the Holy Spirit as we proclaim the three angels’ messages (Rev. 14:6-12) in anticipation of Christ’s soon second coming. We must go forward, united in our biblical message and heaven-borne mission, looking to Christ in all we do.
Ellen White wrote, “The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ. The reason for all division,
discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ. Christ is the center to which all should be attracted; for the nearer we approach the center, the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, in love, growing into the character and image of Jesus” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 259).
However, some groups or independent ministries in various parts of the world seem to claim for themselves a prophetic or corrective role that, at times, tends to generate controversies that divide congregations and members. As God’s last-day remnant church, it is important that we look to Christ for unity in the doctrinal and mission-driven commission given by God for His prophetic movement. “God has a church upon the earth who are His chosen people, who keep His commandments. He is leading, not stray offshoots, not one here and one there, but a people” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 61).
Righteousness that Saves
Some groups tend to focus on issues such as the nature of Christ, trying to define every aspect of that profound subject and tending to urge sinless perfectionism. Although Christ came to take humanity’s nature, we must remember that as the Son of God He was perfect. As finite human beings, we simply do not understand everything about Christ’s nature since He was fully divine and fully human.
However, through the gift of prophecy we are told, “In taking upon Himself man’s nature in its fallen condition, Christ did not in the least participate in its sin” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 256). We Seventh-day Adventists do not promote or endorse any sort of perfectionism that could imply that a person is saved by any work or merit apart from that of Jesus Christ.
Ellen White counsels that, “No one who claims holiness is really holy. Those who are registered as holy in the books of Heaven are not aware of the fact, and are the last ones to boast of their own goodness. None of the prophets and apostles ever professed holiness, not even Daniel, Paul, or John. The righteous never make such a claim. The more nearly they resemble Christ, the more they lament their unlikeness to Him; for their consciences are sensitive, and they regard sin more as God regards it. They have exalted views of God and of the great plan of salvation; and their hearts, humbled under a sense of their own unworthiness, are alive to the honor of being accounted members of the royal family, sons and daughters of the King Eternal” (True Revival, p. 62).
Similarly, we read: “When persons claim that they are sanctified, they give sufficient evidence that they are far from being holy. They fail to see their own weakness and destitution. They look upon themselves as reflecting the image of Christ, because they have no true knowledge of Him. The greater the distance between them and their Saviour, the more righteous they appear in their own eyes” (The Sanctified Life, p. 8).
Focus on God’s Mission
I appeal to all church members to focus on Christ and His righteousness alone. He provides justification and sanctification to all who submit to Him every day. I urge all to allow Christ to unify us in the evangelistic outreach of the church and avoid divisive activities. We do not support or endorse groups who criticize and undermine God’s remnant movement by bringing agitation and controversy into the local church. Clearly delineated church policies and procedures have been established to address whatever methodological or theological disagreements may arise within our church family.
It is important that God’s remnant church move ahead with its divinely appointed mission. We appeal to all not to seek a perfectionist, legalistic religion, but instead to depend wholly by faith upon the merits of Christ and His righteousness for our justification and sanctification.
By God’s grace and through His power we are to move ahead with the great proclamation of the three angels’ messages that has been entrusted to God’s people. We are told, “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 19).
As we rely solely upon Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, may we focus steadfastly on the mission with which we have been entrusted: proclaiming the three angels’ messages through the power of the Holy Spirit. n
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentary are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @PastorTedWilson.