September 30 Esight, 2007

In the next few weeks I will be conducting once again our Life Unlimited series which is a gospel centered evangelistic series offered by RHM. I would like to share with you this week some thoughts that are currently on my heart. I am convinced that our evangelism needs to—first and foremost—introduce people to God and His love for them. Through answering their questions and meeting their needs, we need to not only show them His love, but also lead them into deeper and more personal experiences with that love. This is what changes lives. Our Adventist message was never intended to simply spread intellectual, doctrinal facts. This may produce members that are convinced, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are converted. Conversion happens as we encounter God’s love for us, as we “perceive with [our] hearts.”(John 12:40) Then the miracle of the new birth takes place, through which we “no longer live for ourselves, but for Him”(2 Corinthians 5:15) who loved us and gave His life for us. Our message is to be centered in helping others “see” what God is truly like; and nothing in my life has contributed more to my understanding of God’s love than the truths of the Adventist message. It’s powerful! It’s heart-awakening! It’s life-changing!

Our understanding of the Sabbath teaches us how to “rest” in God’s love. (Hebrews 4:9)

Our understanding of the nature of man teaches not only what happens when we die, but more importantly what happened when Christ “tasted death for us all.” (Hebrews 2:9)

Our understanding of mortality and immortality, points back to the Gospel, through which life and immortality have been brought to light. (2 Timothy 1:10, NLT) For as “in Adam all die, in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Our understanding of the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), reveals that God did not send Jesus to save us from Himself, but rather to “save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Our understanding of the fate of the lost reconciles the Bible’s teachings on hell with God’s claims to be a God of love.

Our understanding of free will, the Great Controversy, and the cross continues to balance how God could love us so passionately, and yet still cannot guarantee that we will never suffer pain.

All of these truths piece together like a giant puzzle where a picture of a God whose chief attribute is love mysteriously emerges, overwhelming our hearts, answering the questions that prevented our hearts from trusting in His love, and setting us free run in the expanse of His goodness and mercy, to love Him the way He is in love with us. (This may not be the context that introduced you to the Adventist message, but this is the intended purpose of our teachings.)

A wise author wrote, “The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption,—the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.” (Gospel Workers, pg. 315) “Of all professing Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. The proclamation of the third angel’s message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath truth. This truth, with others included in the message, is to be proclaimed; but the great center of attraction, Christ Jesus, must not be left out . . . The sinner must be led to look to Calvary . . . believing in His mercy.” (Gospel Workers, pg. 156)

Thirty years ago a woman had a child out of wedlock. She was told by her pastor that both she and her bastard son were destined to burn in hell with no hope of eternal salvation. This woman came to me after the seventh meeting of my series in Clarksburg. That night’s topic had been God’s prevenient forgiveness for us. She told me, with tears streaming down her face, how she (for the first time in those thirty long years) truly felt God’s forgiveness and she now believed that both she and her son could go to heaven. We prayed right there and changed that “could” into a “would.”

Dear fellow Adventist, this is what we are to be about! Not just changing people’s minds, but changing their hearts! “Those who wait for the Bridegroom’s coming are to say to the people, ‘Behold your God.’ The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love.” (Christ Object Lessons, pg. 415)