Annual Council Diary III: Faith, Love and Satan

(system) #1

Traditional Sabbath worship services are held in the General Conference Chapel during Annual Council. Sabbath School began with Carol Barron, an enthusiastic chorister, leading the audience in clapping and saying hallelujah as they sang “If you’re happy and you know it.”

Perhaps the most memorable part of the Sabbath School service was Bonita Shields’ interactive introduction to the lesson study on the book of James, which is often characterized as emphasizing works over faith. Shields wanted to know whether the audience thought works or faith was more important. On a continuum of importance with faith being a 1 and works being a 5, she asked the audience to vote with their feet. Those who were at 1 in thinking faith was most important were asked to stand. A majority of the audience rose. A few stood for 2. About 20 people were in the middle at 3. No one stood for 4, and one person stood for 5. Then Shields asked for comments. One of those for number 1 said that without faith it is impossible to please him. From the middle, the comment was that if you are in a boat and you only use one paddle, you are going nowhere fast. The one person who stood for number 5 said that faith without works is dead.

Faith was further illuminated by a panel made up of Clinton Wahlen, the principal contributor to the lessons for this quarter, freelance writer Gina Wahlen, and General Conference Associate Youth Director Jiwan Moon. It was Moon who said that faith is an expression of love, adding that he would hate to say to someone that he loved them but was not willing to do anything for them.

During the church service, special prayer was offered for West Africa as it deals with ebola. The president of the West African Union Conference decided not to attend Annual Council because of the health crisis, General Conference President Ted Wilson told the audience. Wilson then interviewed Pastor James Golay via telecommunication. Inter America Division President Israel Leito offered a moving pastoral prayer for the people of Western Africa.

Another inspirational moment came when soprano Karla Rivera Bucklew sang “Not I, But Christ” just before the sermon.

“God’s Prophetic Movement, Message, and Mission and Their Attempted Neutralization by the Devil” was the title for President Wilson’s morning address. In this version of the sermon that he frequently preaches based on Ellen White's The Great Controversy, Elder Wilson said it was important for Christ’s followers to understand Satan. “As we pray for the converting power of the Holy Spirit and for a revival and reformation of genuine godliness, the devil opposes every one of us every step of the way.”

Wilson told the audience Satan’s methods to neutralize our efforts include:

“secular diversions such as competitive sports, the Internet, social media, television, entertainment and so many other distracting activities. He seeks to absorb people in financial deals and materialistic matters. He uses poor health habits and lack of respect for God’s natural laws to enfeeble the mind and benumb the senses. He uses skepticism about the veracity of the scriptural record of the origin of life and early history. He tries to bring in controversy and discord over Bible doctrine to sidetrack our evangelistic witness by getting us to distrust and fight each other.”

Warning that time on earth is short, Elder Wilson reminded the audience that probation is closing soon. “Preparation to see God face to face by repentance and forsaking of sin needs to be done now. The Great Controversy, page 425, explains that: ‘Those who are living upon the Earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort, they must be conquerors in the battle with evil.’” He immediately clarified the quote saying, “do not think for a minute that you do not need Christ and that by your own works you will gain salvation. Seventh-day Adventists believe that only through the grace and righteousness of Christ do we have eternal life.”

Then he turned to the experience of his own family to illustrate how Satan tries to neutralize God’s people. He told of the health challenges of two of his young grandsons and how one of his daughters recently miscarried a child. “In the last year or so, the devil has attempted to neutralize every one of our three precious daughters, their families and us as parents. But he will not succeed. God is in control. He will be victorious. The faith of my daughters and their families and all of us is strong in the Lord!” Wilson then warned that Satan is trying to neutralize the church even at Annual Council. He said he was thankful for the beautiful spirit that had been seen during the pre-meetings, and then read the appeal that was voted:

“We, General Conference and division officers, appeal to all Annual Council attendees to accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of some differences of opinion that may be evident on certain subjects. We ask for Christ-likeness and humble respect for each other in our words and activities during this Annual Council and beyond. Our humble demeanor and attitudes, through God’s power, will speak volumes to those who are watching. We earnestly appeal that we do all in our power to strengthen the church and this precious Advent movement. We lean completely on Christ for the unifying spirit that we need in proclaiming the three angels’ messages in these last days of Earth’s history.”

You can read the complete 70-minute sermon here:‘god’s-prophetic-movement,-message,-and-mission-and-their-attempted-neutralization-by-the-devil’

As Wilson closed, Karla Rivera Bucklew returned to the microphone to lead the congregation with her glorious voice in the closing hymn “My Hope is Built”.


Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum Magazine

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Steve Mga) #2

Satan is always the “scary” word to frighten everyone into In-Action. TW also wants to make the SDA church even more Reclusive, Exclusive by forbidding any friendship with ANY Sunday Keeping groups — pastors and members. BUT, on the other hand be active in the community of the Local Church. I dont see how this can be both ways.
In OT times God told the heathen nations YOU ARE MINE. He was for enlarging the borders of Israel to include the World. But Israel did not understand this. Is God saying the same thing today to SDAs, embrace the World, make the circle larger. TW wants to make God’s circle much smaller.

(Kevin Paulson) #3

Like Winston Churchill during the Battle of Britain, and President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Elder Wilson has again articulated—in terms both candid and hopeful—the grave peril confronting the Advent movement and the means whereby victory is assured.

Among the most poignant features of his message, as in so many of his addresses since 2010, was his fleshing out of the Bible/Spirit of Prophecy truth regarding righteousness by faith. Rather than teaching the unscriptural doctrine of salvation by justification alone, mistakenly embraced by so many, Wilson made clear that the saints’ preparation for the time when mediation will cease includes both justifying and sanctifying righteousness—that both of these represent the spotless righteousness of Jesus and the answer to legalism.

His quotes from GC 425 and 623, regarding victory over sin prior to probation’s close, were especially powerful.

The wrath of the dragon against our General Conference president is clear—one finds it hard to dismiss as coincidence the physical harm that has befallen children in each of his three daughters’ families. The great controversy truly grows more intense with the passage of time, and whether certain ones choose to deny it or not, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is its principal focus (Rev. 12:17).

May the Lord bless Elder Wilson, his lovely family, and his fellow leaders as Annual Council considers its agenda in the coming days.

(George Tichy) #4

Utilizing strong and vehement emotional arguments it appears obvious that TW is trying to dissuade people from the conversation about the main controversial issues currently in course. It’s almost like, “Let’s stop the conversation completely because it’s the Devil’s interference that is generating this dialogue.”

Is he trying to “shut the door” to the dialogue and examination of the current controversial issues? It looks like! A big surprise, in this sense, appears to be heading to the discussion on Tuesday. Just stay tuned everybody.

His mention of health issues in his own family is a clear attempt to demonstrate that he is under direct, personal attack from Satan, therefore he must have been doing the right thing for God, thus being the right guy to CONTINUE in his position. Smart argument, may be effective for re-election.

And lastly, Is there now a crusade to demonize everyone who dares to disagree with the radical conservatives, the fundamentalists? It appears so, and it is really dangerous!

(George Tichy) #5

“Satanizing” those who ‘dare’ to disagree with him is a tactic that may work pretty good for him. It sure makes it more difficult campaigning against him for the Prez position. Many people feel good believing that they are under direct attack from Satan, thus being glad that they have a Prez (also under attack) that is shutting the door to all/any dialogue of issues that are being brought up by Satan in person.

Is the complete shut down of the discussions in course the final goal of this man? It looks like. And this Tuesday it all can have “grave consequences!”

(Ron Corson) #6

One in 4 times a pregnancy ends in miscarriage. Here are what are thought to be the main reasons.
“The main causes of miscarriage are thought to be:
•Genetic: In about half of all early miscarriages, the baby does not develop normally right from the start and cannot survive.
•Hormonal: Women with very irregular periods may find it harder to conceive and when they do, are more likely to miscarry.
•Immunological/ blood-clotting: Problems in the blood vessels which supply the placenta can lead to miscarriage, especially if the blood clots more than it should.
•Infection: Minor infections like coughs and colds are not harmful, but a very high temperature and some illnesses or infections, such as German measles, may cause miscarriage.
•Anatomical: There are three main anatomical causes of miscarriage:
•If the cervix (the bottom of the uterus) is weak, it may start to open as the uterus becomes heavier in later pregnancy and this may lead to miscarriage.
•If your uterus has an irregular shape, there may not be enough room for the baby to grow.
•Large fibroids (harmless growths in the uterus) may cause miscarriage in later pregnancy.”

Thus we can now determine through the science of Wilson that genetics, anatomy, immunology and blood and infections from around us are indeed direct actions of Satan against us to neutralize God’s people. So I guess the research we really need to find out is how much higher the miscarriage rate is for Adventists since they must be God’s people… Or maybe Wilson is scientific and theologically inept.

(George Tichy) #7

Very well said indeed!

(Yoyo7th) #8


Is Ted thus accusing other SDA’s of blasphemy since he is identifying those of other opinions as Satanizing?

(Yoyo7th) #9

I took note of this…

"Perhaps the most memorable part of the Sabbath School service was Bonita Shields’ interactive introduction to the lesson study on the book of James, which is often characterized as emphasizing works over faith. "

Characterized by who? I claim MISCHARACTERIZED
James is not emphasizing works over faith. He is countering religious deception and depravity by targeting intellectual assent, lip service- religious lifestyle, and carnal/worldly attitudes and behavior.

I led the SS lesson yesterday and brought out how the lesson author warped/corrupted truth in Lesson #2 introduction page regarding God’s vs the believer role in works.

"Likewise, as Christians, we need not get all worked up over whether or not our characters will be good enough in the end. That is God’s work. Our role is to “fight the good fight of faith” (NO WORK INVOLVED IN FIGHTING?)(1 Tim. 6:12) by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,(WHICH MEANS WHAT?) “the author and perfecter of our faith.” Such faith in Christ enables Him to work in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13) ) ( NOTICE THE VERSE IMMEDIATELY PRECEEDING THIS ONE ) and to finish the good work He has begun (Phil. 1:6). (SO NOW WE HAVE TO WORK TO FINISH?) Without faith, it is possible to feel defeated even before we begin because we focus on ourselves rather than on Him.

As Jesus says, “ ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’ ” (John 6:29, NKJV). James, as we will see, helps us to understand this important spiritual truth. " I WOULD SAY THAT HARDLY ANY SDA, WHO EVEN TAKES TIME TO READS THE LESSON, WILL CHECK OUT THE CONTEXT OF JOHN 6 TO SEE WHAT IS MEANT BY JESUS HERE.

This is a misinterpreted. convoluted, ambiguous collection of cut and paste theology.

To any that have the SDA bible commentary Vol 7 look at James section p 505 on the verse Jas 1:4

I would be interested in getting the opinions of a dozen top SDA scholars on the SS lesson intro.

This INTRO smacks of modern passive “churchianity” doctrine.

Is Clifford Goldstein busy on other tasks?

(Thomas J Zwemer) #10

Clif Goldstein, in my opinion has been told, keep off the Web. It does the Church no good to actively debate the controversies with in the Church, in an open forum. Tom Z

(Yoyo7th) #11


I know you get flak here from your doctrinal positions. I want you to know that I was trained outside SDA circles by a preacher who is regarded in contemporary Christianity as one of the most influential (top 10) in the last 50 years.
I came to the SDA church and learned of the victory doctrine that you embrace and refer to in Wilson’s message. I see it as biblical and also VERY unpopular in SDA circles and even Christianity as a whole. 40 years ago the victory theme was crucial in the attempt to launch revival and reformation. For the most part it failed. The atmosphere is even worse today. Wilson’s message will only be heard by a remnant of the remnant because most members have a very superficial relationship with Jesus. It is very evident as I have visited 50 SDA churches over 40+ years.

What is basically sabotaging the SDA denomination is its seminary professors and pastors. Jerry Page has his work cut out for him . I am not sure he is , at this time , prepared for the task.

Where I usually worship, we have a few new converts from SUNday churches who are not spring chickens and I feel uncomfortable constantly bringing out how warped the theology has gotten as presented in the SS quarterly. I did a quick hit yesterday as posted on this thread. God bless. There must be more than 7000 in 2014 who have not bowed the knee to BAAL.

(Yoyo7th) #12


I can understand this. What I am referring to is …what is his involvement in the editing /review action of the SS lessons before they are released. Does he just do a cursory glance of them ?

I would suggest that he pay special attention to the weekly intros at least.

(Jim) #13

I read the summary of Ted Wilson’s sermon yesterday on the Review website. This blog had a reasonably similar summary. I was left feeling discouraged. A few points stuck out to me.

  1. Elder Wilson makes a statement seemingly in regard to women’s ordination along the lines of “we need to read the bible literally and simply, it should not require deep theological interpretation to understand an issue and decide how to answer it”. (Please note, that’s a very loose paraphrase). How can the leader of a denomination that interprets Daniel and Revelation so specifically make that claim? Does that line of thinking only apply to convenient topics like women’s ordination and age of the earth? What about the mark of the beast, or 7 churches? Those are not easy and simple ideas when I read them.
  2. The statements on ecumenical interactions left me so disheartened. I hope the church I grew up in does not truly agree with that. It flies in the face of Jesus’ teachings. Paul rights specifically writes on this in Romans. There is not amendment that says these writing are for one denomination. Paul calls for unity as far as possible. Look at the early churches he writes to. They are all doing things differently, and have different beliefs, but Paul calls on them to be one body. He did not call them to have 1 specific belief. Hence, the verses on eating or not eating meat sacrificed to idols. HIs point was unity, not exclusion based on details
  3. Lastly, scare tactics are extremely effective. This sermon was steeped in them. Satan conspiracy, 2nd coming is imminent, get scared straight to a list of works so you can be saved from our version of Hell. When Peter was walking on the water, while he was focused on the saving power and love of Christ he was able to walk and do fine. When he looked around at the scary things and made them his focus he sank. Jesus does not call us to look for the devil and his conspiracy. The Bible does not deal with that. The focus is Loving God, and Loving your neighbors (really loving them, no just being nice on the surface while having the equivalent of spiritual decontamination suit on to protect you from them). When we are looking down at what Satan may or may not be doing we loose sight of the real mission. If we are looking up and focused on God, His will is done. That’s all that matters. If God needs something done or taken care of he will handle it. When the End times come God will care for us just as the sparrows and flowers. Also the fear of second coming being tomorrow is unfortunate. If your focus is on God, the second coming will take care of itself. My Grandfather was born in 1914 and became and SDA in the 1930’s, He passed away at 99, the second coming was right along the corner his whole life. It will be right around the corner my whole life. If my focus is on loving God and My Neighbor it won’t matter if it comes today, tomorrow or a 1000 years from now.

Summary, I’m sad that it seems like our church is gaining momentum in a scare tactic laden, guilt driven, anglo centric direction. I hope clearer heads prevail. Our message of health, redemption and a Loving God who does not want to scare or torture us for ever and ever is so beautiful. Lets not paint it with the ugly camouflage of fear and lack of compassion

(Yoyo7th) #14

Satan can sit back and just laugh for a season, because most Christians are in jeopardy due to their own personal/fleshly desires. Lust, appetite, world interests do more damage anyway. If one overcomes this then they have to contend with doctrinal dope/Babylon booze from inept-false teachers.
Wilson mentions the SOP, “fortified with the truths of scripture passage”…yet so many members don’t read or understand the bible and so many pastors really neglect presenting bible from pulpit except tidbits for topical sermons.

(Winona Winkler Wendth) #15

This is very clever. However, we must be cautious when we use figurative analogies to find useful insight for an issue as serious as this. This holds for vines and grapes, fruits, sheep and goats, and any other illustrative devices that can provide poetics to an argument. But they are poetics and are too easily overwrought; conceits of this sort inevitably crumble under their own weight. But yes: this is clever. And yes, the Denomination is, in many ways, like a living organism with its fight for survival and modes of hysteria. Still . . .

(Yoyo7th) #16

I challenge your item #2.
Wilson’s input is valid.
I still visit churches of other denominations and have attended 25 denominations. I came from a Calvinst bent non denom mega church and know what is out there. I have talked to others of several denominations for 15+ years on the internet.
Their Gospel, grace and salvation concepts are warped and I see it heavily influencing SDA thought leaders and pastors.

It is bad enough what many SDA pastors are teaching. Letting the other faiths in is just more mudding of the waters.

(Kevin Paulson) #17

The “flak” you say I get on these threads for my doctrinal positions matters little. What matters is the Word of God and its supreme authority. Our General Conference President is upholding that authority, regarding all controversies among us just now. Including the issue of salvation and victory over sin.

(Andreas Bochmann) #18

A new trend in prominent preaching from Laurel Damsteegt to Ted Wilson - preaching with lots of “inside knowledge” about Satan. … Is this the “everlasting gospel” Adventists stand for?
In the concentration camp Flossenbürg - at the place where Bonhoeffer and others were executed just before the end of the Nazi regime there is a simple cross. In that cross you can read: 2. Tim. 1:7 (Perhaps you dare to read it aloud to yourself).

(2nd Opinion) #19

“What is basically sabotaging the SDA denomination is its seminary professors and pastors” (yoyo7th). I would normally dismiss such tripe, except it echoes the suspicious sentiments that Wilson has been expressing, in one way or another, over the last four years. The church cannot afford five more years of this. I, again, implore those in positions of influence to find a more moderate leader in 2015 who can become a healing influence in this denomination.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #20

recently a judge released a woman from prison who was serving a life sentence for murder, The judge reviews the trial transcript and found she did not have competent counsel and one of the witnesses had lied against her being set free she was justified. Now how she lives past those 17 years will tell if she is grateful or vindictive. if grateful one should equate that with the process of growth or sanctification. they are linked but not fused. Tom Z