It didn’t seem like much of a movement at the time. In fact, things seemed pretty bleak. The dark early-morning hours of October 23, 1844, were filled with choked sobs and bitter tears across the eastern portions of North America and beyond. Thousands of believers had eagerly anticipated seeing their Savior face to face; but He hadn’t come when they expected Him.
Questions swirled in their minds. Had they been misled? Was the Bible reliable? Was their faith misplaced? What were they going to do now?
Many turned their backs on the Bible, and all they had previously believed. Others ridiculed their former friends. Yet there was a remnant, a group who, though disappointed, did not give up on God. A remnant of dedicated believers—mostly young people—kept searching the Scriptures until strong, biblical answers for their questions were found. The prophecies had not failed.
Under God’s guidance, they learned the truth of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. They discovered that the seventh day was still God’s holy Sabbath day, and that when people die they remain in an unconscious state of “sleep” until the resurrection.
They built their faith upon God’s holy Word, the Bible, and they were not disappointed. They became part of a long line of faithful believers through the centuries who have stood for the truth (see John 14:6). God continued to guide this fledgling movement, unfolding truths and shining a light on the path they were to follow.
Thus began the Seventh-day Adventist movement: those who hold the faith of Jesus and proclaim the three angels’ messages (found in Revelation 14), who look forward with hope to the soon return of Jesus Christ.
The Church Is in God’s Hands
Today, however, some fear for the future of God’s church. They hear the age-old adage “Where is the promise of His coming?” Others wonder aloud if there is such a thing as a remnant church. Still others question the veracity of Scripture, questioning the truth of a literal, six-day creation, or dissecting the Bible in such a way as to remove its meaning.
But as dark as things may appear, we can rest assured that we do not need to fear, because this church is in God’s hands: He will see it through. Notice these wonderful promises: “Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted. He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition.”1
Praise God for these precious promises! We can exclaim with the apostle Peter, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:16, KJV).
Never Give Up
Never give up the precious truths God has given through His Word! In a world increasingly filled with chaos and catastrophe, what a tremendous blessing it is to know that we can rest with absolute confidence in the unchanging Word of God. Throughout the course of human history, and against relentless satanic attack, God has preserved His holy Word. The Bible contains an accurate account of our origins, a reliable record of our salvation, and a glorious glimpse at our soon-coming deliverance. As Seventh-day Adventists we accept the Bible as the foundation for all our beliefs and see in its pages our unique prophetic identity and mission.
With the power of His truth, God carved out of this chaotic world the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are to be God’s remnant people, to lift up Christ, His righteousness, His three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, and His soon coming. As God’s remnant people identified in Revelation 12:17 as those “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” we have a unique message of hope and a mandate to proclaim God’s grace to the world.
The Challenge of Distractions
It’s sometimes easy, however, to become distracted from the mission we have been given. At the Annual Council meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee in October, two young women living in the North American Division, Heidi Carpenter and Ranela Kaligithi, shared their hearts with the committee members during a morning worship service.
Focusing on mission, Kaligithi explained, “I want to be so filled with God’s love in my heart that the natural result is to reach out to a lost and dying world. That’s why we’re here. . . .
“[But] the issue we face as a church is distractions. We are so distracted that we lose out on God’s ideal for us. . . .
“Jesus was focused in spite of the chaos around Him,” she continued. “There are times when, like Jesus, we must be especially laser-beam focused . . . to fulfill the commission that God has given to us. It is a matter of life and death for some.”
Noting the effects of saving just one person, Kaligithi cited Ellen White: “The salvation of one soul is the salvation of many souls.”2
“This means,” Kaligithi continued, “that when just one shy church member decides to put it all on the line and gives themselves completely to God, winning just one soul, in effect they have won many souls. To fulfill the commission that Jesus has given to each one of us, we need as many people focused in on this mission
Where Is Your Focus?
Where is your focus today? Is it on winning others to Christ? Or are there so many distractions in your life that it’s hard to focus on anything? As we are on the doorstep of a new year, now is a good time to rethink priorities, to rethink what is most important, not just now, but for eternity.
And the good news is that we don’t have to do this alone. We are promised that when we, in all humility, lean completely on the everlasting arms of our Lord, He will work through us in a mighty way to give the final message of mercy to a dying world. Our success in finishing this work depends on our submissiveness to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. It depends on humbling ourselves before our Creator and denying self so that Jesus can control us and overcome our sin.
I invite you to “turn your eyes upon Jesus.”
Keeping our eyes on Jesus, and claiming His promises, let’s each lay all distractions aside and move forward in our God-given mission to save souls for Him! He is coming soon!
1 Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), pp. 11, 12.
2 In Review and Herald, July 10, 1888.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the General Conference
of Seventh-day Adventists. You may follow him on
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