‘Blessed Is That Teacher’
The following is a transcript of
the Sabbath sermon that Adventist Church Vice President Michael L. Ryan gave at
a 10-day International Conference on the Bible and Science in St. George, Utah,
on Aug. 23, 2014. Read the news report about the sermon here.
Who then is a faithful and wise teacher, whom his Lord hath made ruler over His classroom, to give them faith in due season? Blessed is that teacher whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
Now I am going to ask that the theologians don’t break out with hives, and to grant me a little hermeneutical leeway.
Why are we here? We are gathered here as Seventh-day Adventist academics from around the world. Why do we meet? In the big picture, we meet for one reason and only one reason — we meet to pray, to discuss and plan how to better advance the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
There is a responsibility larger than we can ever imagine in this room. Turn around and look at each other. You are the watchmen, the guides in the storm, those who have been called of God to train a generation of closers. By His power, they are going to finish it. Do you believe that? They are!
We are a church that has been called to proclaim a saving message of hope and warning to people who live on the Earth right before Jesus comes. That effort will not fail and it will be marked by an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit, unprecedented growth, a harvest such as we have never seen, and all of this will take place in a world engulfed in the deceptions of the devil, a world that is sprinting down the great wide path.
Gathered in this room are those who have committed their lives to training a generation that will proclaim the distinctive message that marks and defines this church. Eternity is at stake. God has placed it all on the table. Everything. He is in this for eternity. Will He find faith on the Earth? Will he find those who have been trained and polished to faithfully take up the work in the closing scenes of Earth’s history? And yes, He is going to ask us to be accountable.
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men — men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for right though the heavens fall” (Ellen G. White’s Education, page 57).
Who here does not have that memorized? But I pray it will again shake your world today.
What I was asked to preach on was: Why is the doctrine of creation important to mission?
Oh yes, that’s more territory than we could explore if we stayed for a semester, and I have 25 minutes.
Defining Creation Theology
We do not come to the subject of creation in neutral. Some may think that we have come to define, adjust and re-shape our creation theology. No. We have a very well-defined and understood theology on creation.
So what is it that we understand? Just so there is no one thinking in the fog here, I’d like to try to make that clear. The definition of our creation theology comes from the Bible.
We believe in creation because God is the one who said how it happened. We accept it by faith. What did I say? We accept it by faith.
We believe in a short chronology.
We believe that God is the creator of all things.
We believe that the world was created in six literal contiguous days.
We believe our biblical doctrine of biblical creation is foundational and inseparably linked to the church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs.
We believe that the Sabbath, the miracles of the Bible, the death and resurrection of Jesus our Savior, the first and second resurrection, the recreation of the new Earth, and a host of other biblical stories, beliefs and claims are made foolish by denying the first 11 chapters of Genesis. How much sense does it make to say, “Now, God, you can do this, and we accept it by faith, but where’s the evidence you did that, and we can’t accept that by faith?”
Thank God that this church believes in the complete biblical record and the inter-related harmony of its teachings — a miraculous spiritual resource from which to feed our souls. We believe that it is beyond reason, a position of weakness, unacceptably irresponsible to start throwing out portions of the Bible and then expect that God’s beautiful searching children — who are seeking by faith, hope, forgiveness, happiness, a first resurrection, eternal life, a world made new — will understand how they are to accept these things by faith. Yet this kind of faith is not big enough, it’s not powerful enough, it’s not wide enough, it’s not inclusive enough to have God create the world in six literal days.
We believe that the denial of the literal reality of Genesis 1-11 leaves this church with a compromised message and a mission house that is built on sand.
Now, I probably should have spoken clearly so you’d know how I really feel.
Mission, Creation and Faith
While I could spend a great deal of time covering this ground with Bible texts and Ellen White quotations from which there is ample and solid support, I want to assure you that I have not forgotten who is in this room, and I have no intention of insulting your intelligence by covering what you already know, what you already understand, and what you have referenced many times in this conference. Rather I choose to let what I just said stand and appeal to you from a little different side of the ivory tower.
I want to spend a moment commenting on three terms: Mission, Creation and Faith.
Mission. Some may say the church is organized only for the purpose of fellowship. That’s popular. Others will say it is organized to coordinate resources, to organize and provide structure, and while all of this may have a certain ring of truth, the church is organized for one reason and only one reason. The church is organized for the purpose of mission: to draw all people to the foot of the cross, an invitation to meet Jesus face to face.
I will not exercise what you already know by trotting you though the data of the 10/40 Window. I will not give you the 10-cent demography tour of the great cities of the world. Rather, I will simply say there has never been a time in the history of world where we have seen such unprecedented population growth. The percentages of need are out of control. When has there ever been so many hungry, homeless, sick, war-torn, lonely, orphans, widows, prisoners and, yes, people without even a glimmer of hope? Did you see the television pictures of those children on top of mountain being butchered and left to suffer the indignities of a world gone mad? The challenge of mission looms before this church.
The term Creation. We do not come to the subject of creation for the first time. From the beginning of time, man has endeavored to discover his origin and the devil has been desperate to eliminate God from the answer or paint him as a distant disinterested deity who would use death, sin, predation and greed to evolve a world into existence. Today, when I use the word “creation” I am specifically referencing that which is understood and taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Now, Faith. Yes, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. The Seventh-day Adventist Church accepts the Bible record of creation by faith. It is exactly the same faith that claims Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins. It is exactly the same faith that causes me to praise God that there is a resurrected Jesus standing in the heavenly sanctuary. It is exactly the same faith that fills me with hope of a world made new and a life eternal with Jesus. It’s the same faith!
The testimony of God’s Olympic champions of faith is recorded in Hebrews 11. Without compromise, in the face of beliefs and values invented by man, nevertheless, God’s great champions faithfully held and proclaimed the word of the almighty God by faith. The secular winds of error and deception blew around them like a gale force, but nevertheless through the ages of Earth’s history, they have stood by faith.
Those in this room are not the first to be charged with God’s mission. From the beginning men and women have been part of God’s proclamation plan. We are not the first to be surrounded by a secular world that does not believe in God. We are not the first to believe and practice what others like to portray as fairy tales.
I’d like to briefly look at the lives of three Bible characters who spanned more than 1500 years and stood as pillars of faith in a world deceived by the devil.
Influential, Informed Job
Now we don’t know exactly when Job lived on the Earth. Scholars speculate that he likely lived somewhere between 2200 BC and 1700 BC. Many believe Job lived between the time of the Flood and the birth of Abraham. Skeptics of the Bible say Job never existed — a fairy tale — a figment of Moses’ imagination. Of course, hard-core skeptics don’t even believe Moses ever lived on the Earth, let alone wrote the book of Job. However, serious scholars of faith, including Seventh-day Adventists, accept the existence of Job and recognize that he lived in a world that had forgotten God.
The narrative of Job leads us to believe that Job was influential, informed, well-spoken and educated. He was the kind of guy who had a posh penthouse office on Fifth Avenue, and from a position of care, honesty and compassion he managed his massive empire of lands and cattle. People recognized him as a man of standing and sought him out for counsel.
There is little question but what the Uz International Herald had several times named him person of the year, even providing a close-up photo of his installment into the Euphrates chapter of “Who’s Who.” He was well-heeled, and it was very likely his pedigree included three PhDs from Andrews University and a Nobel Peace Prize.
Things just went well for Job — an intellect to be reckoned with. I am sure the neighborhood gossip had Job keeping his nose clean, and his fraternity buddies probably felt it a little unfair that abundance seemed to be so closely linked to clean living.
From this cozy picture of bliss, one could conclude that Job was surrounded by God-fearing neighbors, all of whom could repeat the 28 Fundamental Beliefs backward. On Sabbath morning, his kids ate Weet-Bix for breakfast, were never late to Sabbath School, had their shoes polished and always, always knew their memory verse. I don’t think so. No, I’m sorry, it just wasn’t that perfect. It just wasn’t so.
Job lived in a world that had forgotten its creator. Historical records inform us of a different world for Job. We can speculate that learned scholars from Uz University — scientists—observed, researched, wrote papers and roamed the earth trying to figure out the 4.2 kiloyear event. They laid the foundation for the study and research of the Bond event and the cause and effect of petrologic tracers. The old kingdom of Egypt collapsed and the Akkadian Empire allowed independent states for the first time. Change was everywhere and everyone had the truth.
Job no doubt listened as the origins of man were explained through the mystical tales of Hinduism and Egyptian mythology. I do not question but what he was presented with empirical, absolute, never to be debated evidence proving the rising of the Ben Ben and how Ra stood on the Ben Ben and created the gods, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, and a host of others and through a mystical deistic tangle of love affairs, hate, murder, incest and resurrection, the sun, earth, water, and lunar gods evolved life, they evolved a world, and they evolved a civilization. That was Job’s world!
Was he swayed? Did he recast his spiritual anchor? What did he say?
Let’s not kid ourselves. The pressure was on. Let’s not be fooled. Job stood as a pillar of faith amid an onslaught of accusations naming him as a flaming rightwing fanatic encrusted with all the trimmings of an old-fashioned idiot that still believed in Adam’s fairy tales. But what did he say? Did he lose his courage? Did he jump into the cesspool with a collection of riff-raff mythical gods? When the heat was on, when life couldn’t get any worse, when he was at the bottom of the bottom, gasping with pain and hanging onto life, what did he say? Listen to this:
“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee, and the fowls of the air and they shall tell thee. Or speak to the earth and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this. In whose hand is the soul of every living thing and the breath of all mankind? … Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 12:7-10, 13:15).
Blessed is that teacher, whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing.
You know that little term “shall find so doing” — that’s an interesting phrase.
It’s just not possible to have one foot on the platform and still catch the train.
You’ve met them. They say they will work in the vineyard but they never show up. Worse yet, they want to plant weeds in the vineyard and call it “so doing.” Do you think that’s what the master will call it? They want to have it both ways. They want to be big shots in the vineyard but they don’t believe in the vineyard.
It’s like the little boy whose behavior had become such that the teacher had to ask him, “Johnny, what’s the definition of a lie?” Johnny shifting his feet and clearing his throat said, “Well, teacher, a lie is an abomination unto the Lord and a very present help in time of trouble.”
Moses and Grandpa Pharaoh
The life of Moses stands as a testimony to many things. But foremost, head and shoulders above all, it is a testimony to a God-fearing mother and family who sensed the gravity of the times. They recognized the moment, rose to the occasion, and in the face of the most debilitating circumstances installed the faith of the great living God of eternity in the life of a child who God gave them as a responsibility. And then Moses left home to go live with Grandpa Pharaoh.
Don’t be confused, teachers. Your students will be leaving to go live with Grandpa Pharaoh.
Grandpa’s house. Wow. Now here was a change. I’m fairly confident that Moses was not welcomed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the “Hallelujah” chorus. Bedtime prayers were offered in the looming statued shadows of sacred African animals. Day by day Moses hobnobbed with the rich, the bright and the famous. Egypt was a herculean superpower. It bristled with the might of a military giant. Brilliant minds commanded empires of wealth — Egypt dominated the S&P 500. Harvard and Yale preppies staggered the watching world with wonders of architecture, astronomy, chemistry, mathematics and the mysterious power of the underworld.
Let me ask you: Do you suppose Moses might ever have had his nose rubbed in the empirical evidence provided by the scientific elites of the great Egyptian court?
Oh, let’s not be confused. Let’s not rush to paint them as body-pierced, tattooed, and pink-haired. They had plenty to say and, it was beyond reproach. In 1500 BC Egyptians were among the world’s leading scientists. They reeked with the .05 level of significance. These people were creditable, respected — masters of the impossible. This was Moses’ world.
Historian Paul James Griffiths describes the scene. There was little question but what the ancient Egyptians believed in long age chronology. Griffiths writes, “Boastful notions of their own antiquity have put forth a sort of account of it by the hand of their astrologers in cycles and myriads.” Well, a myriad was 10,000 years. There were many, many myriads and many, many cycles.
The evidence was there. Moses’ statements of faith were like shooting spit wads at a battleship. He was no doubt known as the academic nitwit of Nile University — a fringe lunatic. And I can hear it: “Moses, Moses, Moses, I am sorry, six literal contiguous days? Really! Moses, it’s myriads, cycles, an evolved world! Look at the evidence. Are you kidding? Again, you have been passed over for tenure, and your papyrus scrolls have been denied and rejected for publication.”
Moses wasn’t opposed to scientific study and truth. But the book of Hebrews tells us that when he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, that was a statement of faith. It was a statement of faith in God’s conclusions from truth and a denial of man’s conclusions from truth.
Adventist Schools Must Lead
Seventh-day Adventist schools need to lead the world in research, scientific study and the invention of technology. Do I need to repeat that again? Seventh-day Adventist schools need to lead the world in research, scientific study and the invention of technology. Positioning our schools as giants of science does not conflict with faith. Testing hypotheses, discussing and debating scientific findings, examining and exploring the wonders of science does not make faith invalid. However, God’s Word, the Bible, the sacred Scriptures, are irreplaceable as the guide and anchor to all our endeavors and all our conclusions.
Why? Here’s why.
We are a community of faith, and to allow a little drop of human conjecture in an ocean of God’s great-unknown scientific absolutes, to place faith in the spotlight of higher criticism, is the height of human arrogance. The truths of science can often be temporary, but God’s statements of faith, they are eternal.
Let’s be honest. There was probably little question that Moses was awestruck, dazzled by the wonder of it all. Mathematical formulas, the calculations, distances and truths of astronomy, the advance of chemical discovery — he had to be wowed. Here he was in one of the most powerful, wealthy, progressive, scientific countries in the world. It would be easy to speculate that he was drowning in evidence, well-polished rationales, science that worked, and the powerful mystical display of the occult.
But what did Moses write? What did he write? He wrote what God wrote. Do I need to read it to you? “And in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). And though he was surrounded by a blizzard of academic swagger and buried in Ivy League pomp and arrogance, Moses wrote faith. He did not write human conjecture.
Blessed is that teacher, whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing.
‘Shall Find So Doing’
Now here’s a question to ponder. The “so doing,” is it because I have to be “so doing,” or is it because soul conviction compels me to be “so doing”?
I heard the story of man who got separated from his hiking companions and became lost in the mountains of Colorado. The story took place about 120 years ago. It was wintertime and he knew if he did not keep walking all night, he would freeze to death. So, all night he walked.
Early, early in the morning, just as there was a hint of light, he stumbled across a railroad track. Immediately he knew where he was, because he just happened that he was president of the railroad. He knew that if he walked down the railroad track just a short distance, he would come to the little mountain station of Estes Park.
Half-frozen, he walked into the railroad station, and immediately noticed that the great big wood stove had no fire. So, he went over the little corner office of the telegraph agent and he tapped on the glass window.
The telegraph agent opened the window just a crack, to keep the warm air in and the cold air out, and said, “What can I do for you?”
The man said, “Could you come and build a fire in the stove? I am cold.”
With a certain air of importance, the telegraph agent immediately said, “Sir, can’t you see that I am too busy sending telegrams to build fires?” And he slammed the window shut.
The man again tapped on the window. The window came open just a crack, and the agent asked, “What do you want now?”
The man said, “Well in that case, I would like to send a telegram.”
Out came the pencil, out came the paper, and down went the window.
The man wrote, to the district manager in Denver, Colorado: “Fire the telegraph agent at Estes Park upon receiving this telegram. Signed, J.P. Morgan.” And then he turned to sit and wait an hour and 10 minutes for the next train.
Well, in just a few seconds, the station door blew open and in came the telegraph agent with a huge armful of wood. J.P. Morgan sat and watched the Olympic record broken for building a fire. And as the smoke began to rise and the fire began to crackle, J.P. Morgan said, “Young man, did you send that telegram I ask you to send?”
Without stopping his work the young man said in a loud voice, “Sir, can you not see that I am too busy building fires to send telegrams?”
Teachers, oh how important is the spirit of “so doing.”
Daniel, From Rags to Lamborghini
Daniel entered in blisters and rags, but he went out with a Lamborghini parked in his garage. A divine miracle. From rags to riches, from a despicable slave to the most influential man in the world. Babylon, the wonder of the world. History tells us that it had no equal for splendor. The head of gold.
I can imagine the intrigue. The magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, the Chaldeans, all smugly armed with their Syriac language, watched as Daniel timidly walked into the great hall of the god of Babylon. He had no academic regalia. He had no cap with a short fat tassel. There he stood with a Big Frank under one arm and three pounds of broccoli under the other. I can hear them thinking. “What? Are you kidding? This was never approved by the faculty senate. We have placed our lives in hands of an unknown, unlettered, unseasoned slave.”
Little did they know that Daniel stood in the assembly of the most powerful nation on Earth armed with the power and faith and a testimony from the great God of eternity, the Creator of the world. Surrounded by the intelligentsia, the upper crust of Oxford, the blue ribbon committee of Babylon’s academic snoots, he turned their world upside down.
When Daniel was divinely armed with the answer, what did he say? What did he say? Listen to this:
“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever. For wisdom and might are his. And he changeth the times and the seasons, he removeth kings and setteth up kings, he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding. He revealeth the deep and secret things, he knoweth what is in the darkness and the light dwelleth with him” (Daniel 2:20-22).
We find no record of him running down to Arioch and saying, “Yep, I got it all figured out. I’m ready to talk to the king. But just before I go in, ah, what’s the honorarium paying these days?”
The genius of Babylon dazzled the world — unequaled in mathematics, astronomy, architecture, law, and administration. Without mercy, its military muscle sucked up the wealth of the world and paraded its kings and lords like disposable commodities.
Daniel walked the hallways with the power brokers of knowledge, empirical evidence and military might. Let’s not be fooled. Neo-Babylon stood as a colossal giant of science and technology. They rocked the world with credibility.
In 2013, one science historian put it this way: “Most if not all endeavors in the exact sciences depended on Babylonian astronomy in decisive and fundamental ways” — the forerunner of scientific method.
Daniel had to be stunned. The magnificence and grandeur of an 11-mile wall and an inner wall, the top of which one could drive two chariots abreast. The hanging gardens, the magnificence of the glazed bricks and architecture of Ishtar Gate, the long shadow cast by 300-foot Etemenanki – the tower of Babylon and ziggurats whose terraces looked like garden waterfalls.
Oh, I am sure his tender conscience was troubled when he hurriedly tiptoed past the sounds of the supernatural as they emerged from the great temple Esagila. Babylon’s bright, rich, famous and powerful turned the truths of astronomy into the world of astrology. With conviction they shaped the worldview of Marduk University, plastering it with two-way analysis of variance, z scores, canonical correlations and logarithms. It was final, absolute, undebatable, empirically qualified.At last, the truth: Marduk was the god of creation — the bull calf of the sun god Ute — the deity of Babylon.
There is little question but what Daniel endured these theological orgies that found their roots from the Hammurabi period documented in the Epic of Gilgamesh and expressed in a compilation of Sumerian tales. While these tales did include a version of a worldwide flood, we do not need to think Daniel escaped being identified as an old-fashioned airhead who naïvely believed in the wild tales of Noah.
When Daniel delivered the atomic bomb of dream interpretation and by the appointment of Nebuchadnezzar flattened the sails of Babylon’s political windbags, peace and bliss therefore followed him forever. I don’t think so.
From his youth until he died, Daniel walked on the edge of the lions’ den. There he was, faithfully “so doing,” crediting the great God of creation when laying out to Nebuchadnezzar the prophetic history of nations. Faithfully “so doing” when he served as an evangelist, bringing the great Nebuchadnezzar from the pasture of insanity to a knowledge and recognition of the all-powerful God of the creation. Faithfully “so doing” when the assembled pomp and arrogance of the secular court gathered with glee and watched Mister Prayer Man heaved into the lions’ den. Faithfully “so doing” as he stood in the banqueted drunken orgy and told the human god of Babylon that his kingdom had been weighed in the balances and it was over. It was over because the creator of the world said it was over.
Why No Faith in Genesis?
Why? Why do we have some who struggle with faith to believe the narrative of Genesis 1-11. Is it because we think that by exercising faith the truths of science become evil? Do we believe that taking a faith position makes research and the sifting and discussion of scientific hypothesis, the exchange and testing of ideas, the enemy of faith? Do we not know that science was and is important to God, and from the beginning of all things was commissioned and initiated by God? Even the planet was designed to encourage scientific study of the natural world.
I want to thank all of you who are doing faith-based research. Thank you.
Is it we have become dazzled with the glazed brick, the 11-mile wall, and infallibility of astronomical formulas?
Jeremiah makes it clear. He calls it what it is. Listen to these sobering words from chapter 10, starting with verse 1: “Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of the heaven, for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain.”
Come down to verse 10: “But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God and an everlasting king. At his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. This shall ye say unto them. The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens and he causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He maketh lightnings with rain and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.”
Now I want you to pay special attention to verse 14: “Every man is brutish in his knowledge. Every founder is confounded by the graven image, for his molten image is falsehood, there is no breath in them. They are vanity, and work of errors. In the time of their visitation they shall perish.” Wow.
Brutish. Brutish. Interesting word. Some of my friends at the Biblical Research Institute have told me the word “brutish” is a rare find in the Scripture. If you literally want to know what Jeremiah is saying, he is saying that those who deny the creative power of God and take up the molten image of falsehood are like the beasts of the field. There is even a rare implication in the language that suggests that the brutish are brutish because they once knew and accepted by faith the truth, but now have turned from it and replaced their faith with the molten image of falsehood.
They say they will work in the vineyard, but they never show up.
Weed-Planting Liberals and Conservatives
You may find it hard to believe, but I attend a lot of meetings and committees. And sometimes I will have somebody slip up to me and they begin their version of work in the vineyard — their idea of “so doing.”
It often goes like this. They’ll say: “Are you Mike Ryan? I just wanted to talk to you about a concern I have.” Concern is always the operative word.
Let me tell you, extreme liberals and extreme conservatives have exactly the same characteristics. No. 1: They are undyingly critical of the church. No. 2: They want to be the judge of who is going to be in the kingdom. And No. 3: They only want to accept the portions of Scripture and Ellen White that fit the conclusions of their higher criticism.
I had a friend, and I will say to you that he is still my friend, who decided his particular version of the nature of man required that he become perfect, capable of standing with holy flesh and without a mediator. His judgmental, acid criticism of the church and its leaders and his selective reading of the Bible and Ellen White were legendary.
Rest assured, the liberals have their version. They will say, “Please, please, be cautious. There are certain old-school theologians who are advancing the fairy tales of the Bible, and really, they don’t know what they are talking about. Oh, and those Bible-pounding geologists — childish fairy tales. If they were not so closed-minded—better informed and not so painfully naïve—they might better prepare our young people to live in the real world.”
Friends, I want to assure you these are weed planters. They said they were going to work in the vineyard but they never showed up. Their self worth and standing requires a cluster of smug companions who envision themselves as mavericks, liberated thinkers, enlightened beyond faith and the Word.
Criticism is an essential talent if they are to be credible, card-carrying members of the Weed Planters Union. Oh how thrilled I am that there are none attending this conference. But they have been known to attend Bible and Science conferences.
God created the world in six literal contiguous days because He said He did.
And from Ellen White’s Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, which I believe would apply to most everybody in this room, and Ted [Wilson, president of the Adventist Church], I realize you used this quote in your keynote address, but it’s just too clear to pass over only once. She says: “When the Lord declares that He made the world in six days, and rested on the seventh day, He means the day of 24 hours, which He has marked off by the rising and setting of the sun.”
Those that like to plant weeds in the vineyard and call it “so doing” will be quick to tell you that Ellen White was a charlatan who paraded herself as a divinely inspired writer but really had little credibility beyond what one would expect from someone with a third grade education.
Of course, these weed planters will quickly tell you they never read Ellen White, and as a matter of fact are now applying their superior intelligence to rendering a qualified opinion on whether God really knew what He was talking about in the Scriptures.
Do you think saying this in a sermon gives me any joy? I am weeping inside. Colleagues, eternity is at stake. Time is short. There is a world that is desperately in need of a Savior. This church needs trained members who can give a reason for their faith and whose actions are marked by an uncompromising faith in God’s Word, a life of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. On behalf of the world church, I want to thank those attending this conference for your faithful service to God’s mission. Thank you for being giants of faith. Thank you for teaching in classrooms around the world and standing though the heavens fall.
Seventy percent of the world’s population is compacted across the vast expanse of the 10/40 Window. Billions live in the huge mega-cities of the Earth. They are filled with desperate people — millions of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Communists, animists and atheists. This church is organized for the purpose of mission, and God calls every worker to the faithful service of the kingdom.
Do we really think that Job, Moses, Daniel, and I would have liked to have added Paul, stood alone in the storm? Do we really think that amid the whirlwinds of cleverly devised human theories these great men of faith failed to see God’s hand of power?
We are a church with a message. We are a church with a mission. And we are a church with a promise — Jesus is coming again. It all stands before us today.
A Mexican Boy With a Bible
An old retired pastor in northern Mexico decided that he could not die until he planted a church in the little city of his birth. He wrote and asked for a little assistance from the General Conference. We sent him a little help, and about a year and a half later, the Union wrote and ask if I would come down to see the new church. While driving over to the Sabbath meeting, I learned that the old pastor did not plant one church, but he planted 12 churches.And today they were having a camp meeting for all 12 churches. When we walked into the auditorium, I found about 1,200 people gathered. Well, I learned they were going to have a baptism that day and 47 people were going to be baptized. I learned that it is the practice in Mexico that every baptismal candidate will stand before the people and give a testimony of how they became a Seventh-day Adventist. Now, you need to realize that the clock in Mexico does not tick very fast, so I settled into a comfortable chair on the front row for the duration.
The second person to give their testimony was a great big man. He was taller than I was and quite a bit wider. When he stepped up to the microphone, I could hear a murmur and a few chuckles spread over the audience. He smiled and said with a little laugh, “Yes, you’re a little surprised to see me today. I know I have a certain reputation throughout this territory.And what am I doing here to be baptized? Let me tell you how it happened.
“I was seated in my house one afternoon drinking beer, when I heard a knock at the door. I got up, opened the door and there stood a little boy about this high. He had a Bible under his arm bigger than he was. He looked up at me. He did not say, ‘Hello.’ He did not say, ‘How are you?’ He did not greet me in anyway. The first words out of his mouth were, “Mister, do you want to study the Bible with me?”
Well, what harm could there be studying the Bible with a little boy? He marched into the house, we sat down, and then, he informed me that I would close my eyes for prayer. We studied the Bible for about 45 minutes, and then he informed me that Bible Study 2 would begin the next evening at 7 p.m., and I would not be drinking beer. Well, Bible Study 2, became Bible 3 and 4, and 5 and on and on. And today I stand here to become a baptized Seventh-day Adventist because Jesus changed my life. I want to recognize that little boy. Stand up.”
Well, I turned to look and sure enough, on the second row, right in the middle was a little boy about this tall and he had a Bible under his arm and a smile that was almost bigger than he was.
To my shock and utter amazement, seven of the 47 baptismal candidates gave the same testimony about the same little boy.
It is the custom in Mexico, that after a baptism, a pastor will stand and make an appeal to the audience, “Is there anyone here today that has committed their life to Jesus Christ and would like to come forward signaling they want to prepare for baptism?”
Well, I turned around to see if in this great big crowd anyone would come forward. I looked. And to my shock and great surprise the first person out of their chair, walking quickly to the front, was a little boy about this tall who had been seated on the second row. And then I learned that in Mexico children are not baptized until they are 12 years old and this little boy was 11 years old.
I looked and there stood that old retired pastor in the baptismal. There stood the transformed drunkard and pugilist. And there, kneeling before the great God of creation, was a little boy committing his life to faithfulness. Oh how it fed my soul that day. Oh how it shriveled my own puffed-up opinion of my faith.
We are never too old, never too bad, and never too young to be called to faithfulness.
We’ve come to a wonderful conference. But coming here has to mean more than just the reading of papers and visiting the geological column. I want to ask you to make a commitment to faithfulness. When He comes, will He find faith on the Earth?
“Who then is a faithful and wise teacher, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his classroom, to give them faith in due season? Blessed is that teacher whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”
If God is calling you to this, I want to invite you to stand, right now.
When Jesus is held up, we have clear evidence that there is joy in heaven. I think this commitment is serious. I praise God for this group that is standing. Elder Wilson I would like to ask you to offer a prayer of dedication.