Reaching the world for Christ
In these distressing, chaotic, uncertain times, with a worldwide health crisis, racial tensions, human relations challenges, economic volatility, rejection of a biblical moral lifestyle, rampant natural disasters, and more, we are faced with an urgent question: What is the very important mission God has called us, His church, to carry out during these tumultuous end times?
Seventh-day Adventists have been called for a special work—to lift up Christ and His Word, His righteousness, His sanctuary message, His health message, His saving power in the gospel, His three angels’ messages, and His soon coming.
We are to assist in the work of the Holy Spirit, pointing people to the cross of Christ and His intercession for us in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. We are to do this as Jesus did, touching peoples’ lives directly in practical, spiritual ways.
JESUS’ MISSION STATEMENT
In the Gospel of Luke we see Jesus worshipping at the synagogue in Nazareth, as “His custom was” (Luke 4:16), on the Sabbath. He was asked to read from the Scriptures and was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Opening the scroll, He read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (verses18, 19).
In reading this passage, Christ clearly identified Himself as the “Anointed One,” the Messiah, and outlined His mission.
Reflecting on this passage, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary states: “The gospel of Jesus means relief for the poor, light for the ignorant, alleviation of distress for the suffering, and emancipation for the slaves of sin.”¹
A BALANCED MINISTRY
Christ’s ministry was a balanced ministry—alleviating temporary suffering, but always with eternal, spiritual results in mind. He came to release not political captives, but those who were captives of Satan. He offered spiritual release from sinful bondage.
Today there are so many captives to sin—immorality abounds; drugs, alcohol, and tobacco hold many in a slavish grasp. Pornography, envy, anger, hatred, bigotry bind people in sin and sorrow.
Jesus came to set people free from the heavy burden of sin; to open the eyes of not only those who were literally blind, but even more so those who were spiritually blind; and to set at liberty those oppressed or “bruised” in a spiritual sense—people who were discouraged (see Isa. 58:6; 42:4). God calls us to reach out to such individuals with hope and healing, pointing them to the Savior, who alone can heal, who alone can transform hearts.
Jesus showed compassion and love for those who were poor and did not view them as cursed of God, as was generally thought at the time. We, too, are to follow Christ’s example in ministering to the poor, relieving suffering—both temporal and spiritual—and helping spiritual captives find true freedom in Christ.
RESTORATION, NOT VENGEANCE
As He read from Isaiah that day in Nazareth, it is interesting that Jesus ended with the phrase, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” stopping short of the rest of the verse—“and the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:2).
That is significant, because this last phrase encapsulated what the Jews expected from the Messiah—a deliverer from Roman oppression and tyranny, bringing in social reforms and justice—as they viewed it. Christ was clear about His mission, stating that “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight” (John 18:36).
Ellen White gives further insight into Christ’s true mission: “The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses—extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet the Saviour attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart.”²
This was the focus of Christ’s mission. He knew that no political agenda, no social reforms, no earthly justice, could solve the real problem; only He could affect the heart change necessary to bring about the reform society so desperately needed. The same is true today.
Our mission is clearly identified through divine inspiration: “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.”³
These messages, centered on Jesus, provide what the world needs most—the everlasting gospel: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6).
This message is inclusive—no one, no race, no nationality, no country, is to be left out. It is an important message for all. And we are commissioned by God to give it.
These messages portray the substance of Jesus’ mission statement outlined in Luke 4: bringing the everlasting gospel to the poor; healing brokenhearted, contrite people; bringing liberty to captives of sin; restoring sight to those who are spiritually blind; and freedom for those oppressed by sin.
The three angels’ messages are filled with hope as they lead to the restoration of the image of God in human beings, having the righteousness of Christ at their very core—pointing us to true worship and right living, all through the power of Christ dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit.
The three angels’ messages are the embodiment of revival and reformation, reviving hope in our hearts and reformation in our lives. As we reach out to a hurting world, ministering to many needs today through Total Member Involvement, let us, as Jesus did, always keep the eternal in view, realizing that only He can regenerate hearts.
¹ The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn, 1978), vol. 5, p. 728.
² Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898, 1940), p. 509. (Italics supplied.)
³ Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 9, p. 19.