What is the Mission of the Church?

That the Seventh-day Adventist Church is passing through difficult times due to several issues demanding resolution does not need to be demonstrated because anyone only tangentially aware of what is being said in the various Adventist media outlets already knows it. On the surface, the issue is the ordination of women to the ministry of the church. As a spinoff from it, the function of the policies directing all aspects of the conduct of the church's business has taken a prominent role. Policies necessitate someone with the power to enforce them. Thus, it has become important to determine who has the authority to evaluate whether an action taken by a church body is in compliance with policy and to determine the consequences of non-compliance. Of course, the arguments presented in the debates carried on around these issues appeal to biblical sources for support. As a result, at the bottom of all these discussions is the question of how the Bible is to be used in support of any of the aspects of the current debates.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2018/07/27/what-mission-church
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You explained it well. A final perfect generation is impossible… Christ will return ready or not. Fortunately the church in its many subsets does a good work in neighborness. But that seems to be a deminishing portion. Interesting that the area of origin seems to be waning the most. The closer one gets to the GC the weaker the response. Is there such a thing as burnout.?


Luke is the only biblical author who is a hermeneutist. His principle focus in Luke-Acts is the art of understanding, and he sets forth a philosophical hermeneutics. Luke realizes that testimony does not declare its own meaning and that facts do not declare their own meaning. This realization is not shared by any of the other biblical authors.

Luke as a student of Homer likens Jesus to Hermes, whose liminality overcomes manifestations of distance that impede understanding. Luke meticulously marshals evidence of Jesus’ divine/human parentage in light of Hermes being the offspring of the divine Zeus and the mortal Maia. The strange story of the boy Jesus at the temple is obviously an imitation of the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, which relates the story of the baby Hermes’ theft of Apollo’s cattle, the subsequent charge of wrongdoing, the trial, Hermes’ defense and acquittal. The significance given to Jesus’ staff and sandals alludes to Hermes’ attire and what that attire signifies. The funeral procession outside the city gate on the road and the encounter with Jesus reminds readers of Hermes, the god of the perimeters and roads and the god who escorts the dead to Hades. But Jesus instead resurrects the dead, which illustrates that Luke’s modeling of Jesus to Hermes throughout the Gospel contains emulation, in which Jesus is not only likened to Hermes but shown to be superior to Hermes, and transvaluation, in which a Greek ideal is transformed into and replaced by a Christian ideal. Then of course, the Road to Emmaus story, in which the disciples encounter a mysterious god of the road who interprets Scripture, is an obvious allusion to Hermes. Luke’s thief in the night reference no doubt charmed readers as they noticed Jesus’ comparison of Himself to Hermes, the god of the thieves, particularly since Jesus as a thief in the night brings blessings of eternal salvation, whereas Hermes does what a typical thief does. There are many other likenesses between Jesus and Hermes in Luke’s Gospel we could discuss.

Moving along, we notice that the ascension stories in the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles are different. Why is this so? There are about five theories set forth in the literature. And they are all wrong. What we find is that Luke realizes that Jesus whom he has likened to Hermes in his Gospel can no longer function as Hermes because He is leaving the scene. That Jesus no longer functions as Hermes is dramatically illustrated by Jesus’ non-answer of the disciples’ question. The disciples do not understand, because there is no Hermes, no messenger of the gods, to instill within them understanding. This story is bookended with Paul’s oration at the end of the book in which he laments that people do not understand. Between the bookends, Luke deals extensively with hermeneutics, the art of understanding. And as part of his philosophical hermeneutics, he offers that the Holy Spirit and every Christian functions as a Hermes, a hermeneutist.

For Luke, the mission of the church is to identify and overcome manifestations of distance that impede our understanding of God.


I am preaching this morning for my small congregation in the Phoenix East Valley, and several weeks ago I thought to speak from Acts 6 and 7, what is the focus, this week, of the Sabbath School lesson. I am still working on what I am going to say.

What strikes me is the focus on the Holy Spirit, whose mention in chapter 1 precisely undergirds the task of witness. The Spirit empowers witnesses–more precisely, witnesses for Jesus. These witnesses, as Stephen’s own appointment to service makes clear, meet human need. As Stephen’s own witness demonstrates, they also speak. And in retelling the story of Jesus’ own people, Stephen shows that true witnesses not only serve human need and speak challenging words, they also set about on daring, world-changing, adventures.

But as true witnesses push beyond custom and convention, “false witnesses” take offense. They are “stiff-necked” and oppose the Holy Spirit. False witnesses, it seems, yearn for a less demanding life; they yearn for normalcy, for what they are used to. Once in Israel’s life this was even a yearning for return to the culture and worship of Egypt. Now it is desire to resist the Jesus revolution and to maintain the satisfactions of temple-focused piety.

Prophets get in trouble because people don’t want to change their lives. In Stephen’s case, the stiff-necked finally turned on him with rocks, and their target, ever the witness for Jesus, prayed for the forgiveness of his enemies, just what Jesus had done at Golgatha.

A man named Saul was complicit in Stephen’s murder and became himself a persecutor of Christ’s witnesses.
Later he himself became a Christian, and not one shred of evidence suggests that people he had once mistreated ever tried to get even with him.


Thanks, Herold. You got me think this early Sabbath morning, and I hope I’m not too far off the mark. Witnesses both speak and practice the story of Jesus. As you suggest, it is deeply misleading to define the church’s mission without attending to all that the book of Acts is teaching us.




Instead, what we have is, just as you said in passing, but what needs to be emphasized - the current church administration makes it up as it goes and looks for “how the Bible is to be used in support of any of the aspects of the current debates”, not what the Bible actually says.

While the NT speaks about a “church,” it is not the composite entity of the “church” that was given the mandate to be a witness. The “church” witnessed nothing. It was the individuals who make up the church that are witnesses, and are asked “to go tell” - it makes a difference. If it were the “church” then its leaders and their corporate decisions must speak as one; but if the witnesses are individuals, with personal stories to tell, the corporate church must bow to them. If any should wonder how “the church” can possibly satisfy a number of people - all with separate stories - the answer is that all the stories are about the same experience, and end the same way - because they are dictated by the Holy Spirit. Jesus could not have left his story to be told by corporate entities, fashioned after secular interests. Human nature is “too much with us” to be trusted, as a group, to carry on this very personal experience of redemption.


While enrolled at the University of Il in Chicago. I I was a member of the West Side Adventist Church. One fall the church held an evangelistic series. A mother and grown daughter were baptized. They became quite active including loud amens throughout the pastors sermon. Following one Sabbath I was riding on the bus right behind the two. I heard the mother say, let us give them two more weeks, if they don’t Join us, we are leaving. And they did.

It wasn’t until decades later that I found that church not only frowned upon An amen corner but upon any independent thoughts about theInvestigative Judgement. As they peeled off pastors, I also left, giving them not two weeks but not until the purge hit Southern with an iron fist. Now years later I find not only a purge mentality but a negative labeling of any non conformity. With three years to go, I think it will be the final phase of a organization built upon a great disappointment. A very apt label for an organization that doesn’t like the likes of Stephan.


i think it’s generally true that we can’t be witnesses of what lies in the future…but by the same token, can we really be witnesses of what lies in the deep past…the disciples of christ were to be witnesses of his death and resurrection…but is it a meaningless coincidence that these events happened in their lifetime…can our commission as witnesses for christ really be to be witnesses of events that not only didn’t happen in our lifetime, but are thousands of yrs removed from the lifetime of anyone we personally know…

noah was a witness for an impending worldwide flood that he hadn’t personally experienced, but had been warned about through a vision, or a dream, or some other form of communication with god…he didn’t preach to the crowds about the death and burial of christ…presumably he is part of the true church of christ…

the disciples were commissioned to be witnesses of christ’s death and resurrection because these were events that they had personally seen…while eschatology was a theme for them, as was noah’s flood, their message wasn’t about 1844, or the seventh-day sabbath and the mark of the beast, or the time of trouble…their message also wasn’t about noah’s flood…

i think an argument can be made that rather than preach the message that our spiritual ancestors preached, that was based on what they had personally seen, our commission to be witnesses should focus on events that are unfolding in our lifetime, and that we are personally witnessing…these current events could include little known facts, such as christ’s high priestly ministry in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary since 1844, and what is predicted to happen when that high priestly ministry ends…we are witnesses of climate change, and the fact that the papacy has called for a sunday family day to help manage that climate change…we are also witnesses of the prediction that the seventh-day sabbath will eventually become a worldwide test that will determine who is saved, and who is lost, and the fact that science has steadily eroded the underpinnings of that prediction, which is a six-day fiat creation…another thing we are witnessing is ecumenicism and a virtual return of protestantism to the catholic fold, along with the increasing political ascendancy of the papacy…what we are not witnessing is any movement or development that takes us further away from adventist eschatology…

in short, in order to duplicate the witness commission of previous editions of the true church, i think the remnant church should be focussed on preaching its present truth…retreating into the deep past in order to reiterate what most people have already heard isn’t what previous editions of the true church have ever done…maybe it would have been more exciting to be witnesses of jesus’ miracles, and the biggest miracle of all, his resurrection…or maybe witnessing a worldwide flood and the destruction of all terrestrial life from the safety of an ark would have been a more enviable experience…but we can’t exactly enter a time machine and travel backwards…i think we need to be true to our commission in the here and now in the same way previous editions of the church were to theirs’…

In clinical terms a change of character is what is warranted. The Holy Spirit can only change behaviors. One can debate the various factors involved in problem resolution but until we have a leader with personality traits conducive to being a leader, chaos will continue to reign. Those with character traits resembling paranoia, narcissism, schizophrenia, obsession, compulsion, needy and with unstable sense of self are not fit for leadership, no matter how mature they look like. Until our GC leaders have a change of heart and able to exercise empathy, the prognosis of our church is deem and guarded.

It is the mental health that matters most. For this reason, part of vetting church leaders should include mental health screening.


The Apostle Paul had ONLY 3 Messages.

  1. Christ has died.
  2. Christ is risen.
  3. Christ is coming again to raise, awaken, the dead with a new body, to live
    with Him and the Father forever.

We in the 19th, 20th, 21st Centuries have added so much to those, that we
DO NOT have time to promote the 1st Three.


The laying on of hands is to be preceded by vetting,mental stability and rational behavior should be included beyond academic record, but gender seems to be up there with heritage. Arther White was less than the golly green giant but he along with F. D. Nichols set the markers for today’s purge mentality in high places.

I must add, that the 1919 Bible Conference attempted to even the keel but the next GC, Spicer ran on a pro White ticket and won. he set the stage for all aspirants for high office since. Then next was the lost of againing the presidency by Neal Wilson’s Father. Neal was to make sure it never happened again. Now the grandson runs the GC as a Family business. Glacier View is the model, and don’t anyone forget it— or dire consequences are in the offing.


A chorus of amens to this article!!

To share the gospel that Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord is king, is the present and only message that has been entrusted to the church. It is not some message relegated to the deep past. It is the royal summons to all to come join Jesus and his people in God’s kingdom project. It calls each of us to come die and rise to new life, and to bear witness of this experience, in whatever ways the Spirit gifts and empowers us, individually and in community as the body of Christ.

It has been the same message, carrying the same power for the past 2000 years. No amount of apocalyptic speculation and expectation is used by the Spirit to generate new life, community, faith, hope, and love as this. In fact, such a focus on apocalyptic sign fulfillment muddies the gospel, blunts its power, and the power of our witness as followers of Jesus.

The idea of present truth, as if the gospel of Jesus is just one part of a historical mosaic, is an advertisement that one doesn’t know the gospel, it’s priority, and its power. It is the climatic message of the entire scriptural narrative, and the only message of value to share, albeit in different cultural and relational settings and mediums.

Today is the day of salvation. If this is in place, we don’t have to worry about any other time.




If one can existentially be a witness to being raised to life by the spirit that raised Christ from the dead, why can not one existentially hold to any number of apocalyptical concepts with equal authority since the authority is really only the person’s unique self determining choice of what they believe.

a philosophical attitude associated especially with Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcel, and Sartre, and opposed to rationalism and empiricism, that stresses the individual’s unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices.

I don’t think your argument works.

I see in Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 a list of things of “first importance”-
(they should be our primary mission message to start all mission effort out right.
seven things. #1 Messiah (most SDA’s and other Christians have no
concept of Messiah and what it meant–Paul is not taking the title for granted
but is making a claim) #2 “died for our sins” ( something happened because of His
death and it does something about our main problem How many
even know what the word atonement means? #3 " was buried"–A passing comment to set up the next thing on the list? (resurrection) or was there a meaning we haven’t explored?
Messiah/ Son of God? Dead-buried? Heavy concept. Does God really die? (yes)
#4 Resurrection–lost on those that have favored Greek dualism over
resurrection. Something the Adventist church should be able to
share and help with but you don’t hear much if anything about it. Usually skipped over for
Second Coming related messages. # 5 The risen Messiah was seen alive.
Witnesses became the new body of Messiah. The Church.
#6 All of this foretold in scripture. A wider birth of prophecy, for us to share.
Not just Daniel 2,7,8 &9. Finally #7 Paul’s personal encounter. I think
the most important thing on the list or an addendum to the list.
If it is not personal for us like it was for Paul, the rest of the list
is meaningless. Proclaim that from the pulpit ( I do) and yawn, yawn,
"give us signs of the times and or conspiracy theories that point
to “the end” and "we will listen all day long.
Paul’ list, seems to not garnish much interest today.

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While being very supportive of Mr. Weiss’s piece for the most part. There are a couple of issues I would take.

First is that of Biblical interpretation. I have a book in my library that is over an inch thick that exists simply to point out the contradictions in scripture. It gives you text to text comparisons. Most of these are of little consequence. It speaks of the number of people killed in a battle which varies from one biblical author to another. But if you want to check for yourself, it becomes relatively easy. Just look at the four gospel accounts of Jesus dying words on the cross. They differ, then go to the next chapter and look who appears at the tomb the next morning, they all differ. Does any of this really change your belief? But there are a few glaring contradictions that will set you to scratching your head. I, therefore have reservations as to how you use the bible to determine Women’s Ordination. It is a can of worms which was canned 2000 years ago in a different society with different rules and it simply can’t be opened with a can opener now and expected to be fresh and relevant.

The concept of church unity is important but it should not be the final arbitrator of this discussion either. To settle for unity at the expense of finishing the work with a full contingent of people, both men and women, doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The suggestion that we allow the ecclesiastical authorities to resolve this issues leaves me to question, who are these authorities and who appointed them and why are they any more cognizant of the heavenly facts than anyone else. We don’t have a prophet and we don’t have an earthly high priest with a breastplate that will light up with the answers.

Where I found the peace leaving the rails a bit is when Mr. Weiss, talking about the investigative judgment and how the sealed will live sinless until the second coming. I think that those that are sealed are the ones Jesus feels are his and have accepted his righteousness. They will still be sinful beings but the decision that they be saved will be decided. Not sinless, simply saved by Jesus. A for the advancement of Christ’ coming, I know I am going to get a lot of blow back from this, but God is going to send His Son when He is ready. Nothing anyone in the universe is going to do to change that by a single nanosecond.

Now to the fundamental premise of piece as I see it. What is our commission? I totally agree with the author. We get involved with proving our 28 beliefs and totally loose site of the gospel. The Gospel is that Jesus died and paid the price for our sins, so if we confess our sins and accept His righteousness, we will be saved. Nothing more, nothing less. It was witnessed and preached by the early church, and for us it should be witnessed in our lives and that witness of His saving grace is the gospel and that is what we should preach. The early church didn’t hold evangelistic meetings and they didn’t have 28 beliefs to prove. Once they grab hold of Jesus righteousness, the Holy Spirit will encourage the believer to seek what God wants them further to understand. When we stop trying to convince people that our 28 beliefs are right, as is done in ever evangelistic series, and simply preach the Gospel, we will finish the work. And that will take all of us both men women, and God says even children.


Nice intellectual exercise. Perhaps Paul speaks to me; I do not understand.

Seriously, the mission of the church is as Dr. Weiss tells it. Urging all who will hear and listen that the ‘Strong’ Son of God who died on a cross for their sins, was buried, and rose after three days in the grave, is ascended into heaven where He sits at God’s right hand. If they believe this (foolishness to some) they will have their sins forgiven and be reconciled to God and through this Grace receive salvation/heaven.

The SDA church - its top ecclesiastical leadership - should strive to find the unity (they wish to manufacture by doubtful means) by empowering men AND women (for Paul clearly states that there is NO difference between male and female where the gospel is concerned) to preach this Gospel of the Kingdom in all the world. Their time would be better spent teaching those who do not understand this basic teaching to understand and accept it to bring about unity in executing the mission of the church.


This is a powerful expression of the Gospel and it’s message! Amen to that!!

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What about the idea, Ron, of “blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe?” I can link Dr. Weiss’ reference to existential experience of the gospel to these words of Jesus to Thomas.



Jesus – the sinless man, wholly dependent on God. Lived by every word that
proceeded out the mouth of God. Went where He was told, met who He was
alerted to meet. Feeding the 15,000 [5000 men] - it said Jesus KNEW what He
was going to do prior to asking the disciples to “feed them.”
His whole life, controlled at the request of His Father.
Jesus the Man was killed by the humans He loved.Dying the death promised to
Adam and Eve.
Christ was the one raised from the dead. The human body transformed. God in
human flesh. No longer hidden.
A mystery. One that we can barely try to understand. Even Paul had difficulty
trying to explain it.

Paul had only ONE Doctrine outside of Christ.
James had one message – Love. Was the 1st Apostle recorded to quote Jesus.
2:8 " You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
John in his letters had one message – Love.
Jesus had one message – Love. and that is WHY Jesus HAD to be killed, both
by the Religious and by the Romans.

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To teach doctrines of any kind has nothing to do with Christian witnessing. If one has not experienced the transformation from life according to the flesh to life according to the Spirit (even while still living in the flesh), and baptism as participation in the death, burial and raising of Christ, so that one lives by the power of the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, then one has nothing Christian to witness about. I know that baptism is taken to be a rite of initiation that makes one a member of the church, but that is not what Paul understood it to be.
To experience something existentially is not to understand the experience according to existential philosophy. It has nothing to do with existential philosophy, which is a very discrete, and rigorously defined, way to understand things. It is to understand that the experience made a significant, transformative, historic impact in one’s life. Christian baptism is participation in the death and burial of Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s raising of Christ. This means that if the death, burial and raising of Christ is just another fact of the past, one has nothing to be a witness about. A transmitter of traditions is not a witness.


That does not help his line of argument as both are still existential beliefs. Remember Existentialist is in opposition to empirical and rational. So your link works the same if you connect it to a belief in having a new life or any apocalyptic belief. They would both be blessed because they believe. Personally, I think if my witness about God is Existential at all then it is too weak to be much of a witness. It is probably why I don’t rush out and join the Pentecostals as they speak in tongues to prove the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In short Existential evidence is not evidence at all and the point of a witness is to give evidence.