God’s Everlasting Gospel: A Personal Journey


(Spectrumbot) #1

Throughout my ministry, I have been really concerned about a strange dichotomy I keep bumping up against. It’s the apparent division between the gospel and the eschatological messages of Daniel and Revelation. To oversimplify the situation, on one side are those who want to emphasise the transformational gospel of grace preached by Jesus and Paul. On the other side, there are those who want to be loyal to what they believe are the warning messages of the Adventist pioneers as emphasised by the three angels' messages of Revelation 14.

This difference in emphasis has often become exaggerated as our cultures have secularised. When our Adventist pioneers preached, certain assumptions could be made about what their audiences knew and understood. But a lot has changed in our Western cultures since 1863. Young people are actually growing up in the secular West without ever hearing the name of Jesus except as a swear word. And this has brought a dilemma, or perhaps I should say, a crisis, into our pews. What are we supposed to be proclaiming to the world, or more specifically, what is present truth today? Could it be possible that the three angels' messages are no longer present truth?

In this environment, those who emphasise the judgemental aspect of Revelation are often viewed by the other side as irrelevant dinosaurs, while those emphasising the transformational gospel of grace are accused of having sold out on their Adventist heritage. So why do Seventh-day Adventist’s exist? In the culture in which I live, what is the message God wants me to proclaim in order to be faithful, and relevant, to Jesus?

When I came out of college, Daniel and Revelation seminars were still in vogue. Being excited about Adventist eschatology, I even wrote my own archaeologically-based Daniel seminar. If ever I was going to study more in the future, I wanted to do a doctorate in Adventist eschatology.

But then a strange thing happened to me. One day I began reading the three angels' messages again and came to Revelation 14:6, “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim...” As soon as I read the word, “gospel” I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit speak to me, “you have got to understand the gospel first.” I was really stunned. What was it about the gospel that I had yet to know? The whole experience was confusing because God seemed to suggest that there was something about the gospel that I did not understand, and without this understanding, I would not be able to faithfully present our prophetic purpose.

So for the last twenty or so years, I have been wondering about the gospel and our eschatological purpose. It’s been an interesting time. I have seen how closely the little horn’s activities of Daniel 8:11 demands a renewed commitment to devoted discipleship. I have seen how the call to come out of Babylon in Revelation 18 is founded on a call to invite people into communities of spiritual transformation that are devoted to restoring people in the image of God.

One thought that has emerged from my reflections is that the gospel is not one or the other. It’s not about grace or judgement. It’s about both. Together. I cannot disconnect the teaching of grace and leave people ignorant of the consequences of rejecting it nor the biblical reality of the soon return of Jesus.

I realise this may not sound revolutionary at first, but I think there are greater consequences than may first be apparent. We are all familiar with Paul’s illustration of the body in 1 Corinthians 12, where there are different parts that all need each other, and that we must avoid the temptation to think that we can stand separately from each other. But I also think this picture may apply to many of our theological viewpoints. It is easy for me as a church administrator to promote my own theological perspective and to consider those with a different view with suspicion and irritation. But if Paul’s imagery applies here also, we all need each other. The gospel is multifaceted. One facet alone will not enable the gospel to sparkle brightly as we prepare for the return of Jesus.

This seems to suggest that we need a synthesis of ideas that can bring a biblical harmony of viewpoints rather than simply sniping at each other from our own well-built towers. I have to see those with other views as collaborators rather than enemies or fools—that they also have something I need to be biblically balanced. And this work is going to be messy, uncomfortable, and challenging work, particularly if I believe I have `the truth’. It’s going to require a lot of guts and humility. But I think when the different sides of the church are able to synthesise their ideas together, we shall have something very special.

I realise I am writing in large brush strokes which is always a little dangerous. But I suppose what I would like to see—what I believe is being called for in Revelation 14—is unity. Such unity is derived from a fresh synthesis of views. I believe this calls us to renewed Bible study, to open-minded dialogue across the divide, and a sensitive ear for the Holy Spirit. Could it be that God has deliberately given each of us—and each group within the church—only one piece of the puzzle each, so that as we prepare for the second coming, the glory of the gospel can only become visible when have come and built something together?

Gavin Anthony is President of the Icelandic Conference.

Photo by PMRMaeyaert on Wikimedia Commons.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9460

(jeremy) #2

eschatology vs. soteriology aside, it’s difficult to see how WO supporters and headship advocates can both be holding pieces of the truth…it seems that one or the other of these views has got to go, and I can’t see it being WO, given the centrality of the ministry of egw in our church…

but in addition to the question of WO, i think our church needs a fresh start, starting with new individuals in GC leadership…so many bridges have now been burned between the GC and adventists generally…i can’t recall, in my entire life, seeing such disdain and misgivings over our GC leaders…and it isn’t going away…


(Sirje) #3

A couple of thoughts - We assume that the term “present truth” is sacrosanct. The Bible never speaks about PRESENT truth. It does talk about the EVERLASTING gospel. If there ever was a “present truth”, it was born in the 18 hundredths. Clearly, those “truths” are no longer present.

The everlasting gospel has not changed. All other discovered “truths” have to square with the gospel. If our focus is on 19th century religious and social definitions, we are shadow boxing and are out of touch, with no hope of reaching anybody currently living.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #4

Lucifer first had an argument that he as well as Christ should be the agents of creation. Now the argument is over the Creator’s sacrifice to redeem mankind. The contest comes down to worship The primary issue is Who alone is worthy of worship. A secondary issue is when. Here again creation may come into play.,Fo there is only one Who was our Creator and our Redeemer. The problem we face is that those who would place their evidence on the Sabbath add so much junk i is difficult to take them seriously.


#5

So you come out of college and the Spirit says this.

Do you think you understand the gospel now?
From your viewpoint…What is this multi-faceted gospel?
Many SDA and most churchgoers don’t know what the gospel is


#6

The gospel is the good news of grace which reveals that God had a conditional lifetime warranty restoration plan even before he created Earthlings. This plan takes care of guilt and depravity to those who cooperate by taking their character vehicle to the divine mechanic.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #7

Christ cried out on the Cross “It is Finished” what was Finished. The Everlasting Covenant between the Father and the Son That the Son would become the new federal man in place of fallen Adam. In so doing He would live a perfect life before man and the Father. then He would pay in full the debt owed by Adam and his issue., That is indeed Good News or the Gospel. Our response is to accept and honor the One Who paid in full our transgressions. The question until the end of tie is how and when shall we worship the source of our life now and forever more. The Jews made the Sabbath an abomination, Adventism is in course to do the same. It would seem that public worship should be with those to embrass the Gospel and private living honor the Sabbath day. Some day soon the issue will be made clear to fish or just cut bait.


#8

For this week’s SS lesson.

What is the attitude toward cops?

They enforce the law and are avoided, feared, hated.

….Until one needs them to deal with criminals.

Prophets were old testament cops.

JESUS was the SUPERCOP enforcing law against Pharisee LAW warping.

The Holy Spirit is a thought police.

SDA are examples of religious cops just by saying supporting moral law is valid vs the Satanic influenced pastors who invalidate or abrogate law/commandments with their sermons. They are neo Pharisee (MATT 5:19) who void law with their bible warping and/or tradition.

So many churchgoers stay in their unconsecrated, unsanctified God hating, LAW trashing mindset (ROM 8:7) and parrot…“we are not under the law but grace, Christ is the end of LAW, the law was just our temporary schoolmaster”

They need to look at GAL 5:18 so when they realize the many times they are NOT led by the Spirit…THEY ARE UNDER THE LAW.

Genuine SDA are and will hated by those who don’t love truth and are deceived.

2 Tim 3:12


#9

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal5:22.KJV)

Love, Joy & Peace - An internal sense of well-being with God

Longsuffering, Gentleness & Goodness - An expressive attitude toward others

Faith, Meekness & Temperance - The personal environment created by embracing the Spirit

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“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John3:16-19.KJV)

“And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” (Luke15:21-24.KJV)

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.(Matt20:25-28.KJV)

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The Gospel is that God Loves Us even when we reject Him. But we may return to relationship with Him when we come to our senses and realize that we have no life without Him. Jesus lived and died to present the True Image of God and to show what lurks in the ‘darkness of evil’.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts16:31)

By whatever means we attempt to present the Gospel, the fruits of the Spirit should surely be in our hearts, demonstrated by our actions & attitudes towards others and should create an environment that is consistent with The Image of God.

Too many, of every theological persuasion, promote their position with tenacious debate, attempting to dominate the positions of others, with little regard for the heart of the one being assaulted in such a way. The axiom, Your Actions Speak Louder Than Your Words, comes to mind. I wonder, sometimes, if this kind of ‘evangelism’ might fall into the category of ‘taking the name of the Lord in vain’?


#10

What % of SDA pastors ever reach out to SUNday pastors…Catholic or Protestant to share the 3 angels messages…yet harp on pew warmers to do the same in their sphere?