There is a story my dad shared with me once, perhaps I have written on it before but I am going to tell it again.
When my dad was a young adult he wanted to be a concert pianist. One night he had a dream. In this dream, he was in the middle of playing a piano concerto in a large auditorium full of people. While he was performing, the second coming began taking place. My father who had a personal relationship with Jesus was excited as the walls of the auditorium fell and he could see the Messiah returning. "It is finally happening!" He thought to himself. Yet his audience did not share his joy- they were terrified. My father quickly began to tell them not to worry. They all turned and looked at him, "You knew this was going to happen?" they demanded. He said he did.
"Why didn't you tell us?"
To make a long story short, my dad did not become a concert pianist. He became a pastor.
While you might not have a dramatic story like that to share, you still have a mission to accomplish- to share Jesus with the world. Yet it is important not to merely stop there. In this post, I want to challenge you to take it a step further. There are four primary truths that we hold dear that the world does not notice: The Sabbath, The State of the Dead, The Notion of Hell, & The Prophecy of Daniel & Revelation.
I recently read a post by an SDA memeber arguing why he felt our evangelistic meetings of the past were no longer effective. He highlighted that one of the key issues was that we lead with prophecy instead of love. This is a stance that is spreading like wildfire across the Adventist Community.
We are so worried that if we share prophecy or some of our other more unusual ideas (compared to other denominations) people will reject us and our efforts will be unsuccessful. If we tell someone their dead parents aren't in heaven yet, that isn't going to go over well. If we pull someone away from their beautiful, vibrant Sunday church we just know they will be bored with our tiny outdated setup on Saturday where the powerpoint doesn't even always work. No, it must be better to do things the way other people do it- entertainment, good feelings, love.
Let me be fully transparent, that was what I thought up until about a month ago. I rolled my eyes at our old methods and our Sabbath talk and all the usual Adventisty things we do. But the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the truth when we ask him, and I believe he has been doing some work on me in these last few days. Actually, I had a first-hand experience with someone that left a significant impact on my thoughts in regard to sharing what I believe.
I have a dear friend who I have gotten to know over the last few months. Somhow we originally got connected on social media. We struck up a conversation over our love for scripture and he explained to me some of the personal things he had been going through. He also happened to mention some of the issues he had with Christianity, especially in America. What really shocked me was when he started witnessing to ME about THE SABBATH. Imagine that!? That had never happened to me before! I didn't interupt him, practically assuming he must be an Adventst. He walked me through all the texts, the reasoning, it was honestly a better presentation than what some SDA pastors can pull off. Naturally, at the end of it, I asked him how long he had been an Adventist.
"What's an Adventist?" He asked. I was shocked.
As we talked some more over the months I realized how much work he had poured into studying and knowing the true meaning of scripture. It is rare for me to find someone as passionate about it as I can be at times, yet he nearly exceeded my own passion. He had gone as far as to look up the hebrew and greek and compare Bible translations. He was truly desperate to know the REAL God and the true meaning of scripture.
To make a long story short, just today I discovered he had never realized what the Bible says about the state of the dead. Despite his best effort, he still had gaps in his understanding. This was a transformational moment for me. It revealed in a new way the value of being able to discuss these unique things in scripture with other believers- not just internally in our comfy little churches where everyone already knows things- but with the world. People want to know.
The purpose of this my friends isn't to make Adventists- I want to be very clear on that. I see people throwing Adventist terminolgy all over social media about the beast this and Sunday Law that and it makes me sick to be honest. It does no good to threaten and demand people be Adventists due to the sabbath just like it does no good to threaten people with hell. Much like God doesn't see Gentile and Jew I don't REALLY think he sees Adventist and Baptist. I could be wrong, but I think God is more worried about people who want to know about him learning what he is really like. He wants to be known.This gentleman literally CAME to me out of the blue, and together we both learned so much. He was so happy. He said it gave him chills to discover what scripture was saying. He said that it all made sense in regard to the true state of the dead and even hell.
On both ends of the witnessing spectrum within the Adventist community, we naturally have extremes and I refuse to not directly address them:
On one extreme we have people trying to mesh and melt us into the big pot of United States Christianity- a shallow message that only takes people so far. To this group I say, we will never be like them. We are not supposed to be. I love those people and I enjoy frequently visiting Sunday services to learn from the things they are doing well. However, they lack sound doctrine. You cannot deny this. We are called to share the love of Jesus and then demostrate that love by allowing people to know the truth about what the Bible says. Stop watering it down. We were given this tool through both Ellen White and our own diligent studying and we better use it. We are here to help people understand what other pastors and theologians are baffled by or refuse to admit.
On the other extreme, we have people so focused on Adventism that they forget about Jesus. You will notice that when this man reached out to me I didn't start peppering him with joining OUR church, taking OUR Bible studies, or getting baptised into OUR congregation. Why not? Because if we want to be effective at ministry in this modern age we cannot lead with Adventism, we need to lead with scripture. Maybe you think this approaches are synonymous since the Adventist Church is built on Biblical truth, but to an outsider it does not look like this at all. Adventists are a lovely group of people and I value our organization more now than ever. However, people do not want to know about Adventism, they want to know about the Bible. Hold back your passion and desire to add another face to the church directory and instead give these people what they want: the answers to their questions. The rest will follow if God stirs their heart to take those next steps.
Maybe you are reading all of this and feeling pretty uncomfortable. All this time you were only talking about how Jesus is love and how to accept him. That is important and that is certainly the main point. It is easy to invite people to accept salvation but I hate to tell you this, the world has already offered them salvation. People know who Jesus is and now they want more. They want to know what all the other parts of the Bible mean. Guess who God has called to reveal that to them? The Adventists. So, really you have two choices. You can learn what you ACTUALLY believe in and develop a knowledge of texts that explain how we live for God... or you can jump ship to a denomination that doesn't take it that deep.
With all this in mind, I am asking again.. are you good at sharing?
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”