“He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes.” STC
In the last six years, God has generously provided opportunities for me to speak around the world about how Jesus has gained more real-estate in my life, calling me to surrender.
Recently I was humbled to speak before a retreat of young Adventist pastors. My opening question to them was; “Why are you a pastor?” followed by “Why are you an Adventist pastor?” and then, “What does it mean to you when someone tells you they’re an Adventist?”
Do you know what it means to me? Nothing! Why? Because we’ve lost our definition. We don’t know who we are anymore. Worse… we disagree amongst ourselves with who we are. Far too many have slipped into “cultural Adventsim.” A routine, rather than a relationship.
My heart is heavy for Adventists today. There’s a resident aching in me observing a drudgery and ineffectiveness reminiscent of God’s heaviness in dealing with the wandering Israelites. Sometimes I can’t believe my eyes, and my heart feels conflicted. I cry out asking God to shake and wake His followers so that they will not become the ashes of this earth. I pray that we don’t become self-absorbed with an infidel adaptation of God’s Word, catering only to seekers of good “feelings” and itchy ear messages. I’ve witnessed so much “justification,” self–justification and very little “sanctification.”
Are we entangled in a collective bitterness saturated by “Political correctness?” Can we even hear the tender, yet instructive voice of Jesus? Or are we maneuvering and manipulating like Israel did, insisting on doing things our way?
My dear brothers and sisters; “Please wake up!” God’s Word, nor His messenger has left us without clear answers and solutions for the dilemmas at hand. He is the same God that led Israel to Canaan. In this postmodern age we are still blessed with “special light.” We have no excuse to wonder or wander after the beast. We need Jesus like never before. Each day, I lift our denomination in prayer. I witness the world stealing away those who have grown tired of the Adventist message, because for so many it seems to be lacking personal application. Including those we consider to be bright lights as they switch from the gospel message to a flesh-appeasing message.
For a number of years during my youth, there were speakers using “clobber techniques.” That’s pretty ineffective and it isn’t how Jesus shared the precious, saving gospel.
I do hear a few speakers today exposing truth, and yet bathing it in God’s love, revealing hope & preparation for the soon coming of Jesus. I’m stunned when they get tagged by some who haven’t even heard them, as extremists, fundamentalists and legalists.
Taking to heart God’s “love in truth” messages don’t always “feel” good. They present us with challenge—decision making. They invite us to give up the things we’re hanging onto that don’t please God. How can we approve of things that God doesn’t, and still expect to walk through the gates of the Kingdom that He has prepared for us. This Kingdom does not include humans living in open rebellion (Proverbs 17:11; Jude 11).
What’s sad, is that so many of us have become so comfortable with an old sinful nature, we don’t even recognize it as rebellion...myself included.
I speak on Biblical clarity about “homosexuality” and the redemption God provides. As I begin to share the solutions, many come and say; “I’m not gay, but you were talking to me.” There are so many sitting in our midst with “secret sin.” They want freedom from the “trapped” feelings they have long become accustomed to. Students that manage to make it to these off-campus meetings, confirm the great need for God’s sin solutions to be introduced on our academy and university campuses. It’s sad that they have to leave campus to find what God freely offers all who seek Him. Some have confirmed how difficult it is to find Jesus on “Christian” campuses. They find comfortable messages to help people “feel” good. But they are hard-pressed to find messages that challenge the listener to surrender, trust… and obey.
God’s amazing grace and admonitions should be central to our Adventist faith. What are we doing to make sure that EVERY young person has access to His “love in truth” message that redeems and heals? In my seven year post-conversion experience, I’ve begged to speak on our college campuses, making the call for surrender, abiding, healing… being “redeemed.” But there seems to be a universal deafness.
Instead of bolding proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ that changes lives, are we busy making sure we don’t get accused of discrimination and being the focus of a lawsuit? Would the messages of Jesus, if He were walking the earth today be wrapped in “political correctness?”
Let’s say that you live to be a hundred years old. Even 100 is a short time span to make an indelible mark for Jesus on the planet—as it relates to six thousand years of earth’s history. I want to make my best effort to provide potential residents of Heaven with God’s love, truth and clarity as far as the dangers of sin and how it affects our lives.
During my lifetime we’ve teetered back and forth between various religious proclamations. We’re too strict, …and then we’re too lenient. Foundational, and then liberal. At times we have clobbered people over the head with the Spirit of Prophecy as well as the Bible. And at other times, we seem to have steered clear of broadcasting a call of obedience from the believer’s heart as a result of experiencing God’s love and developing intimacy with Him. Shouldn’t we be examining our errors? Can’t we see the balance of “love in truth” that God has commissioned us with as His disciples? Apologizing for not sensing the hurt and suffering of others and offering a complete message of both love and truth, goes a long way in securing God’s people.
My heart goes out to victims of those who feel they’ve been clobbered. It’s difficult to recover from such abuse. Abuse sometimes comes from unlikely sources. Yet even now, God has provided us with His amazing light, which when properly utilized, can help us develop a closer walk with God. This is God’s intention. This is God’s gift to us. This gift was intended to root us deeper in His Holy Word. I desperately want to witness a revival complete with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Across time, God has given humanity clear directions and yet often to no avail.
“The spiritual darkness which falls upon nations, upon churches and individuals, is due, not to an arbitrary withdrawal of the succors of divine grace on the part of God, but to neglect or rejection of divine light on the part of men. A striking illustration of this truth is presented in the history of the Jewish people in the time of Christ. By their devotion to the world and forgetfulness of God and His word, their understanding had become darkened, their hearts earthly and sensual. Thus they were in ignorance concerning Messiah’s advent, and in their pride and unbelief they rejected the Redeemer. … But those who rejected the truth lost all desire for the gift of Heaven. They had “put darkness for light, and light for darkness,” until the light which was in them became darkness; and how great was that darkness!” (GC pg 378).
Do I sound like an alarmist? Well, be alarmed! A study of just the last few years of earth’s history exemplify the fulfilling of that which has been foretold. How can we sit around making exceptions and developing alternative theories as it relates to salvation through Jesus Christ? Some seem to be stressing that we needn’t do anything but wait and that there is good in everyone. In addition, many adopt the idea that we’ll be sinning until Jesus comes.
1 Peter 1:16 tells us “Be holy, for I am holy.” Philippians 2:6 says “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. My humble study of God’s Word doesn’t substantiate me sitting around waiting for Jesus to come. James 4 talks about the fact that I have a part to follow as I live for Jesus. It will become evident in my behavior. 1 Timothy 4:7 says “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” This is sounding like I need to be prepared for Heaven, not saturated in Satan’s unruly deceptions.
James 1: 22-23 instructs me not to be deceived in thinking that I can just listen to the Word, but tells me I must be a doer of God’s Word to me as well.
Exceptions for immorality are being asserted and debated today in some of the most unlikely places. Regardless of who you are listening to, don’t live off of their words as though it were the gospel truth. Search God’s Word for yourselves to make sure what you are hearing is in agreement with God!
Ephesians 5:3 warns me against unclean thoughts and actions, covetousness and fornication. Personally, this is tough as the majority of my life was saturated with the sensuality of the world. I sometimes struggle here, but God is able (1 Cor. 10:13). Sensual acts outside of God’s perfect plan don’t bring Him honor or glory. They are self-serving.
On a beautiful, pristine day on the plains of Sodom, Lot’s sons-in-law thought Lot was joking when he told them to gather a few things and leave Sodom. The earth was fertile there. They lacked nothing. It was as though nothing could interfere with their wealth and luxury. Without the slightest further notice, fire and brimstone rained down and annihilated every living thing as though it had never been. Yet in God’s love and compassion for them, they had been first warned.
As you relate to God and how He has demonstrated His love to you, what’s the vital information one must have as it relates to securing an eternity with Jesus? What’s the sin solution? Can we afford to dabble and play with sin as though it won’t exercise all its power to effectively rob of us of God’s rich, life sustaining promises?
Are we choosing to forget God’s truth and admonishments? What kind of love are we sharing? Israel made demands on Moses. We must seek God’s guidance as it relates to what people are hungry for. If we appease the people, but fail God, what good has been accomplished? Temporary satisfaction can have eternal, fatal results. I want to challenge you to exemplify the “pure love” that only comes from a deeply rooted, intimate relationship with Jesus. A love that can endure discipline. A love that seeks to satisfy for eternity.
God’s Word, used improperly can have damaging effects on a listener. But when we properly uphold God’s Word which is for all time, supported by the Spirit of Prophecy, His truth, love, patience and discipline shape our characters for His kingdom. And it prepares us for the days ahead as a developed “peculiar people,” facing earth’s final challenges.
Numerous alternate theologies are being touted. In some of these camps, I have asked; “Why do you need a Redeemer?” Not surprisingly, I get a funny smile, with no audible response—almost as though I am asking some kind of trick question. It’s not. It’s a straight-up life versus death question. How is it that we can turn away from God’s Word and supply all kinds of self-supporting analogies that invalidate God’s Word? Where is our honor for God? All throughout the Bible, I’m called to surrender and abide in Him. To seek His will and choose to replace my sinful practices.
God’s sin solution is universal regardless of the sin or the sinner. Instead of accommodating my sin, Jesus has offered me His blood as payment for my sin and now asks me to leave my sin and follow Him. Isn’t this the beauty of my Savior?
If we’re fine just the way we are and we’ll be sinning until Jesus comes, what is He waiting for, and why hasn’t He come?
Many popular theories in our culture have sought to detour around today’s issues in hopes of accommodating them. Still… God’s “love in truth” message remains victorious in contrast with the deviations and pollution of this world.
"Now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when his law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few,—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader" (RH January 11, 1887 Par. 2).