Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Current and Future Challenges

by Bill Brace

It is election season and time for Armageddon rumors to abound within the Seventh-day Adventist community of faith. A long-time friend of mine who is serving the Lord in a distant land sent me, via email (isn’t the Internet wonderful?), a couple of “whoppers” in the past month or two. With all due respect to the original, sincere source of the rumors, if one were to take them seriously, he or she might be tempted to commit hari-kari or head for the hills and attempt to hide from the infrared capabilities of sinister government officials.

While I do not want to belittle our great heritage of prophetic interpretation, a minority among us have become almost as preposterous in their projections as some of our dispensationalist friends. The question is: how do these things happen?

Couple the above concern with another one that comes to me via the Adventist Internet grapevine. Currently, there is a hot social topic that has threatened to divide several denominations, including ones which for generations and centuries stood steadfast upon the sanctity and authority of scripture. Such commitment to the Word of God, unfortunately, has now eroded within their ranks, and that explains why they find themselves in such a compromising position, both in a theological and practical sense.

Given time, such matters eventually make their way to the doorstep of Seventh-day Adventism. Without a doubt our beloved Church will not be divinely protected from the confrontation of all that is, at one time or other, an issue in the religious world. (To have it not thus so would be a vindication of the charges pronounced by Satan in the controversy between God and himself.)

As I read with sadness the rationale utilized for the possible acceptance of this practice within our ranks, I note that, once again at bottom line, it has been founded upon a depreciation of the authority of God’s word. One sympathetic correspondent, for example, suggested that writers in Old Testament times did not have the knowledge that we, the sophisticatedly educated ones, possess today on the matter. Hard to believe that someone could conclude that modern man is a higher authority than those who were inspired by the Holy Spirit! May God, ever so gently, humble us of our self-absorbing conceit!

These prophetic and social issues, mentioned above, along with others we know not of at the moment, will be sure to increase as we near the conclusion of the conflict between the two heavyweights of the supernatural realm. We have been warned that “every wind of doctrine” will be presented to us. What we see now is a partial fulfillment of that inspired prediction. In light of these monumental questions and issues are we, as pastors, prepared “to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15)? Be assured, it will not become easier. The problems of our pastoral forefathers will seem “minor league” compared to what lies ahead.

I am intrigued and sobered by the statements of Ellen White as they relate to her counsel regarding the coming “biggie”—the Omega of apostasy. As you well know, there has been speculation for generations as to what constitutes the Omega. Space does not allow me to add my voice to what possibly it could be; and, in all fairness, my convictions at this time would be speculative as well. Suffice to say, the servant of the Lord was deeply concerned for the last generation’s confrontation with the seductive and enticing wiles of the devil. Here are a few of her words as a reminder: “The omega will be of a most startling nature.”[i] “I knew that the omega would follow . . . and I trembled for our people.”[ii] Sobering words, indeed!

It is my humble conviction that we pastors have a deep need to ask God to give us a hunger and a thirst for righteousness so that we, in turn, will be able to guide the footsteps of our parishioners in the righteous pathway at this crucial time. So let’s beg our willing Lord for fresh bread every day. Last week’s bread, even yesterday’s bread, becomes stale in a hurry. The times, an era of increasing confusion, compel us to seek that daily, divine manna.

[i] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 1(Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1958), 197.

[ii] Ibid., 203.

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