How do we make friends and influence people regarding who Seventh-day Adventists are and what they believe?
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a mandate from heaven to share God’s end-time message with the world, and this mandate has become even more important and pronounced as we now face what I believe is the very end of time.
As my wife, Nancy, and I travel around the world, we see many changes taking place—cultural changes, societal adjustments, political and economic changes, and ecumenical changes. In this article, let me affirm to you the role of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and what I fully believe in my own heart to be God’s truth about how Seventh-day Adventists are to be witnesses at the very end of time.
Sharing Our Faith
The Bible says in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” The Bible also shares in 1 Peter 3:15: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
The question is sometimes asked, “How can we share our faith with members and leaders of other faiths without compromising our faith or being involved in unbiblical alliances?”
First of all, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not and never will be engaged in ecumenical activities as defined as compromising our precious belief in Christ and His 28 fundamental beliefs as expressed by the church. We believe in and advocate complete religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all faiths, including Seventh-day Adventists.
A Strong Foundation
For Adventists, religious freedom has a strong biblical, historical, and theological foundation. It also has an important eschatological dimension. The first article on this topic was written by John N. Andrews in 1851, and he understood the importance of religious freedom in the context of the end-time. In the late 1880s the small Adventist Church made a difference in the United States by opposing Sunday laws and publishing and distributing 500,000 copies of the Sabbath Sentinel (later American Sentinel). Very active years led up to the 1889 launching of the National Religious Liberty Association. In 1893 this organization became the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), and in 1946 the IRLA opened its membership to those who were not Seventh-day Adventists, but who shared the vision of religious freedom. It also facilitated the organization of partner associations around the world, such as the International Association for the Defense of Religious Freedom in Europe.
The Department of Religious Liberty was organized in 1901 by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and in 1906 the department began publishing Liberty, a magazine of religious freedom. It became the only magazine on religious freedom in the Americas.
Today the church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) Department represents and introduces the Seventh-day Adventist Church to governments, public officials, and international organizations, endeavoring to maintain good relationships with all. PARL also continues to promote religious freedom around the world through diplomacy, events, and communication.
Never Compromise Beliefs
Over the years PARL has shared our Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and biblical perspectives with thousands of members and church leaders of other denominations. However, it never compromises our beliefs. During this time the church has associated with various organizations that help others to know what Seventh-day Adventists believe. While the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not hold membership in these various organizations, we participate to provide accurate information regarding our faith. Rather than participating in activities that diminish our faith, we are witnessing to God’s profound Bible truth.
World public forum organizations understand that Seventh-day Adventists are not involved in any attempts to integrate the Seventh-day Adventist Church into any other church organization or to compromise Seventh-day Adventist biblical beliefs in any way. Interfacing with some of these organizations provides opportunities to help others better understand who Seventh-day Adventists are and what we believe on our own terms. In many cases the contacts made have helped local Seventh-day Adventists to be better understood when they find themselves in difficult situations in particular countries.
The Bible very clearly urges us to be careful in how we relate, and it tells us that we will be brought before governors and kings to share our faith. God promises to provide us the answers: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. . . . You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But . . . do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt. 10:16-20).
Looking to the Future
In the future this will become even more prevalent as religious liberty is curtailed and attempts will be made to force us to believe and act differently from what the Word of God teaches. Freedom of conscience in relation to religious and biblical beliefs will be threatened. It is important to stay personally close to the Lord so the Holy Spirit will speak through us whenever we are found in a setting to defend the Lord’s truth as found in the Bible.
How important it is to place ourselves in various settings now where the voice of Seventh-day Adventists can be heard in clear biblical tones led by the Holy Spirit. Many times I am in a situation meeting with a head of state, a governor, a civic leader, a religious leader, a local government official, or others during which I have shared who Seventh-day Adventists are, what they believe, and what they do, all to God’s glory.
Misinformation and Misrepresentation
Unfortunately, there are those who use a photo or some piece of information to construct a completely different picture from what reality is. There are those who have made preposterous and completely erroneous claims about Seventh-day Adventist leaders being part of compromising ecumenical activities. There are those in various organizations who will attempt to take advantage of Seventh-day Adventist leaders by taking a picture of themselves with the Adventist leader and the picture is later misrepresented to be an affirmation that Seventh-day Adventists are connected with some type of compromising activities. In other words, any of us can be accused of guilt by association when in reality it is completely false. It’s important for church members to find out if such a photo is being misused and find out the actual truth. Generally speaking, you will find that the story someone concocted about a picture or some event is vastly different from reality.
Faithful to God’s Word
Let me categorically say that the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is not and never will be involved in any attempts to compromise our biblically based faith nor to be involved in ecumenical unity. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is faithful to the Word of God and will never compromise on religious liberty. In fact, as has already been stated, as a church we are actively involved throughout the world in protecting the religious rights of individuals, whether they are Seventh-day Adventist or not. Any attempts to destroy religious liberty for one is an attempt to destroy religious liberty for all.
If you see or hear something you consider unusual, call or write to the Seventh-day Adventist Church entity involved, asking for an explanation so rumors and slanderous accusations are not believed or accepted.
What a privilege to be part of God’s last-day Advent remnant movement as indicated in Revelation 12:17. God has called the Seventh-day Adventist movement for this time in earth’s history. We are told, “Seventh-day Adventists have been chosen by God as a peculiar people, separate from the world. By the great cleaver of truth He has cut them out from the quarry of the world and brought them into connection with Himself. He has made them His representatives and has called them to be ambassadors for Him in the last work of salvation. The greatest wealth of truth ever entrusted to mortals, the most solemn and fearful warnings ever sent by God to man, have been committed to them to be given to the world.”1
The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes, accepts, and promotes the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy. We believe in the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation. We believe in the Seventh-day Adventist historic prophetic interpretations of Daniel 7, 8, 11, and 12 and further revealed in Revelation 6-18. Seventh-day Adventists believe in the explanations and interpretations given by inspiration to Ellen White when she wrote the amazing book The Great Controversy. The explanations of the religious movements, persecutions, and trials that God’s people will go through are absolutely accurate, and our prophetic understanding of these events informs our activities today.
My fellow church members, what a privilege it is to be part of God’s last-day movement and to share His three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 and the fourth angel’s message of Revelation 18 with a world that is waiting to hear biblical truth from Seventh-day Adventists. This is our destiny and task. “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.”2
I encourage you to be part of Total Member Involvement in doing something for Jesus and sharing your faith in challenging and difficult settings, always lifting up Christ and His Holy Word. In the book Steps to Christ we read, “The church of Christ is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. Its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. And the obligation rests upon all Christians. Everyone, to the extent of his talent and opportunity, is to fulfill the Savior’s commission. The love of Christ, revealed to us, makes us debtors to all who know Him not. God has given us light, not for ourselves alone, but to shed upon them.”3
Let’s unite our voices4 through the power of God in these last days of earth’s history, not allowing division or disunity in our church but looking steadfastly unto Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He will see us through. He is our Leader and Savior. The Lord’s messenger tells us, “I am instructed to say to Seventh-day Adventists the world over, God has called us as a people to be a peculiar treasure unto Himself. He has appointed that His church on earth shall stand perfectly united in the Spirit and counsel of the Lord of hosts to the end of time.”5
Let’s unite in standing for religious liberty as we see the approach of the end of time and Jesus’ soon return. God will be victorious! And one day this will be eternal reality: “The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all flow life and light and gladness throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”6
What a privilege to be followers of God and members in the Seventh-day Adventist movement. May we all be faithful to God’s Word as we pray earnestly for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit and the second coming of Christ.
1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 7, p. 138.
2 Ibid., vol. 9, p. 19.
3 Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1956), p. 81.
4 See “What Does God Say About Unity?” https://adventistreview.org/news/what-does-god-say-about-unity/.
5 Ellen G. White, Selected Messages (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958, 1980), book 2, p. 397.
6 Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. 678.