As the new year begins, it is natural to wonder what the future holds. While we don’t know exactly what each day will bring, we have a “hope that burns within our hearts, hope in the coming of the Lord.”1
And as we look for the Lord’s soon return, it is important that we each take up our God-given responsibilities in leading others to Christ, and especially in training young people to become strong leaders for the Lord.
Jesus tells us, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As branches, we are to be grafted into the main Vine, Jesus Christ. What is contained in the personal treasure of our hearts is fundamental before we can share the truth with anyone else. It is not possible to share what you don’t have.
Leading and training young people is one of our most important responsibilities. Whether parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, youth leaders, or some other capacity, I encourage you to work with young people to instill in them their identity in Christ, helping them to be fully involved in the service and mission of the church.
Young people need to be challenged to read and live God’s Word. They do not need to be entertained. Feed them from God’s Word and put them to work in service for God and others. They are one of the most vital parts of the final proclamation of the three angels’ messages, with Christ and His righteousness at the very core of those three messages. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, they are to turn people back to the true, biblical worship of God.
Good or Evil?
Jesus tells us, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. . . . A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth the good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:43-45).
Clearly, out of our heart comes good or evil; it all depends upon what we are focusing. What consumes our thoughts and activities? Whom are we, as sons and daughters of God, constantly leaning on for our personal lives and direction? Do we look to ourselves? to “experts”? social media? others? Or do we lean on Jesus Christ, His Word, and His Spirit of Prophecy? What are the words coming from the abundance of our hearts?
Our professed connection with Christ does not necessarily bear fruit—we need to be truly grounded in Him. What a privilege to spend time with Him every day in His Word, in the Spirit of Prophecy, and in prayer, earnestly seeking that strong connection and asking for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. What a privilege to be in Christ and then, through His power, produce “much fruit” (John 15:5)!
The fruit we produce will be seen by our young people as we share with them the goodness of God and Christ’s justifying and sanctifying righteousness, covering us with His robe of righteousness, and dwelling in us to help us to become more and more like Him.
As you share the life-changing principles of the Bible with young people, Christ’s righteousness and His plan of salvation must reign supreme—young people will recognize that Christ is our All in All. As God’s last generation of people— and who would not want to be part of God’s last generation and see His coming without seeing death, all through Christ’s righteousness?— we are to exemplify His justifying and sanctifying righteousness in our living and witnessing, all through His power.
Connected With Christ
Christ’s righteousness unfolded in the sanctuary service is one of the most powerful ways to help young people understand Christ’s work for them and how to be connected with Him. That marvelous cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary began in 1844, as prophesied in Daniel 8:14, and is ongoing now. Share this amazing doctrine of the sanctuary and how you can be grafted into the life of the Humble Lamb, the High Priest, and the Judge—all of whom are Jesus Christ, the life-giving vine and producer of “good fruit” in us.
Every doctrine we have has Christ at the very center. The distinctiveness of the Seventh-day Adventist message as it is found in Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed with Holy Spirit power since it is the embodiment of the three angels of Revelation 14 and the fourth angel of Revelation 18. As leaders and mentors of future leaders, we are to make plain the full Bible truth as it is in Jesus so no one will be deceived by the great deceiver, Satan.
In The Desire of Ages we read, “Abiding in Christ means a constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His service. The channel of communication must be open continually between man and his God. As the vine branch constantly draws the sap from the living vine, so are we to cling to Jesus, and receive from Him by faith the strength and perfection of His own character.”2
Transformation happens when the Word of God is presented, when Christian love is shown, and when the Holy Spirit has a chance to change a person into a new creature in Christ. This is our mandate for helping young people and older ones, in finding Christ and His power to save.
As we focus on mentoring young people to be faithful leaders for the Lord, let us realize that much depends on our own relationship with Christ, focusing upon heavenly truth and not being distracted by the world’s allurements. God tells us in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
We can help our young people find this true maturity in Christ as we ourselves reflect Christ in our personal spiritual connection, in our study of God’s Holy Word, in our personal prayer life, in our service and mission outreach, in our personal lifestyle matching God’s ideal for our lives, in our choice of music, entertainment, and free-time activities, in our relationship with our spouses and families, in our personal stewardship, in our healthful approach to what we eat and drink, in our love for that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, praiseworthy, and of a good report—all through the righteousness of Christ working in us to will and do of God’s good pleasure.
Through the power of God, let’s lift up the standard of Christian living for young people and let them rise to the height of God’s ideal through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and in them!
1 Wayne Hooper, “We Have This Hope,” The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, no. 214.
2 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898, 1940), p. 676.
President of the Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church •
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.