THE CHRISTIAN mission is the mission of Jesus Christ.
It is identified with our Lordís purpose in coming into the world:
There is one body and one Spirit, as there is also
one hope held out in Godís call to you; one Lord, one faith, one
baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and
in all (Eph. 4:4-6, N.E.B.).
Christí s mission was unique, incomparable to
anything seen or communicated in the world before or since. It involved
all members of the Godhead for the redemption of sinners. The honor of God
throughout the universe was at stake. The final eradication of sin and the
reign of righteousness depended upon the life and work of Jesus Christ.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that
which was lost (Luke 19: 10).
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever
believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my
words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the
world, but to save the world (John 12:46, 47).
The object of Godís redeeming love is the world (see
John 3:16). The whole world is ruined and lost by sin and death. This
problem has not been resolved by the golden ages of human greatness. The
saving power of the everlasting gospel transcends all human effort and
human organization. Christ is the supreme saving dynamic from God. The
gospel is not to be interpreted as social improvement, however important
that may appear to men. Godís supreme action in and through His Son.
Jesus Christ, does not permit us to shift the gospel emphasis to human
But Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, and
that is Godís own proof of his love towards us. And so, since we have
now been justified by Christís sacrificial death, we shall all the
more certainly be saved through him from final retribution. For if, when
we were Godís enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of
his Son, how much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by
his life. But that is not all: we also exult in God through our Lord
Jesus, through whom we have now been granted reconciliation (Rom.
The central feature of Christianity is the redemption
of man through the righteousness of Christ and His sacrificial death,
appropriated and received by faith. The most persistent and disturbing
truth regarding the natural man is that he stands hopelessly lost as a
condemned sinner before God, unless some message and some power from
beyond himself come to his rescue.
The Mission Assigned
Christ has commissioned His church with the message to
win men to Him, to acknowledge Him as the worldís Saviour and Lord.
After His resurrection and before His final departure from the world,
Christ commissioned His disciples to take the gospel to every nation,
kindred, tongue, and people.
Jesus then came up and spoke to them. He said:
"Full authority in heaven and on earth has been committed to me. Go
forth therefore and make all nations my disciples; baptize men
everywhere in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. And be assured,
I am with YOU always, to the end of time" (Matt. 28:18-20, N.E.B.).
The disciples clearly understood their divine mission
to the world. They were the chosen instruments to carry the message of
redemption to all men and to win the world for Christ. The Holy Spirit was
poured out upon them for the specific purpose of empowering them to take
the gospel to all the world. Nothing else was to claim their attention.
With this in mind Christ proclaimed His followers to be the "salt of
the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:13, 14). A
vast harvest of redeemed persons would result, bringing about the kingdom
Thus all Christians share in the obligation and the
power of Christís mission. The church is a living body through which
Christ lives and works. No other organized body of men can make this
claim. Any interpretation of the Christian faith that finds in social,
civil, and national improvement the fulfillment of Godís purpose does
injustice to the gospel and leaves man in a lost condition. Manís
salvation and recovery are bound up with the gospel. God does not make the
best efforts of men the instruments of His grace and love for man. The
gospel commission is Christ-centered, not man-centered. To enlist people
in social work is not necessarily to enlist them for Christ. It is
possible to do successful social and civic work and yet leave men
alienated from God.
What then is the relation of the gospel commission to
the problems of society and of mankind? Of all peoples, Christians should
have the greatest compassion for all men, manifested in works of unselfish
sacrifice, social and health service. No Christian can remain indifferent
to the injustice done to the peoples of the world. The churchís witness
to the saving power of the gospel is not incompatible with the removal of
the evils of society. The gospel is relevant to every human situation.
Christ died for the world. The church must not retreat from it. But the
church is not to be satisfied with temporal solutions. What is crucial is
the supernatural power to change individuals. The church must recognize
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat?
or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after
all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth
that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of
God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you
The social gospel has much to commend it to popular
favor. It affects a high degree of respectability. It possesses social and
moral influence. Wherever man rules with justice and compassion, great
benefits accrue to man. We accept with gratitude all the efforts of men to
rule the nations well. We have a deep appreciation for earnest people,
moved by compassion for the masses of suffering and oppressed humanity,
who devote their lives that men may be lifted to a better plane of living
on the earth.
But social salvation is a rather meaningless term, for
there is no real salvation by such means. Human improvement on any level
is but a side issue to the paramount one. It may answer for social growth,
but it has no adequate conception of the sinfulness of sin, the lost
condition of men, and what it takes to be saved. Human endeavor to
establish a millennium of peace and prosperity fails to understand and
deal with manís basic problem: his sin and consequent separation from
There is danger in thinking that the root of manís
problems is not in manís sinful nature, but in his poor environment;
that given a the application of the increased skill and wisdom of men, a
new world order may be established. The bearing of this question upon the
work of the church is crucial. The inevitable tendency of any theory and
practiceósocial, political, or internationalóthat places man at the
center of his world must end with the rejection of Christ.
To believe that sinful man will triumph over his
selfishness and reach a millennium of peace has no Bible support
whatsoever. The very facts of world conditions and trends are contrary to
that belief. The spirit of evil is becoming dominant throughout the world.
Christ compared our day to the days prior to the destruction of the world
by the Flood.
"Heaven and earth will pass away; my words will
never pass away. . . . As things were in Noahís days, so will they be
when the Son of Man comes. In the days before the flood they ate and
drank and married, until the day that Noah went into the ark, and they
knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how
it will be when the Son of Man comes (Matt. 24:35-39, N.E.B.).
Our Lord treated all earthly matters, public and
political, from a spiritual viewpoint. He was not entangled in them,
though He was aware of them. He came to bring and establish the kingdom of
God. The fundamental element in Christianity is the love of God for
individual sinners. This lies at the basis of all divine activity for man.
On this alone depends the good of society and of the individual. Christ
belongs to all time. Amid a world tottering to its ruin, His message
offers the one way of redemption and ultimate triumph. The church is not
interested in either white or black supremacy, but in Christ supremacy. We
seek the enthronement of Christ on earth and not the rule of man. Until
sin and self are uprooted and Christ placed at the center of life, there
is no way to make better men and women.
It is possible to join an organization for the
improvement of working and living conditions and still remain outside of
Christ. Within the organized groups of both social and civil efforts there
is a clear delusion as to the nature of the change taking place. Such
efforts cannot change man any more than "the Ethiopian [can] change
his skin or the leopard his spots" (Jer. 13:23). The social gospel
presents a false perspective. Group pressure interests men in social
adjustments rather than in heart righteousness, in outward conformity
rather than in an inner change, in temporal betterment rather than eternal
wellbeing. It is preoccupied with the benefits of this life and forgetful
of oneís eternal destiny. Its objectives are good, but it asserts the
autonomy of man, which is consequently followed by independence from God.
No basic changes can take place until the sinner returns home to his
The spiritual problems of men are of first consequence.
Each man needs above all personally to be reconciled to God. To condemn
the learned and devoted efforts of men to improve world conditions would
be wrong. We believe in the sincerity and concern of many who seek a
better world. The question is not to deny the temporal value of such
efforts, but to question the outcomeówhether they leave men in their
sins. The Bible declares that world civilization cannot be saved. Only
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and
travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves
also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan
within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of
our body (Rom. 8:22, 23).
The God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which
shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other
people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and
it shall stand for ever (Dan. 2:44).
The Mission Completed
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven,
having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth,
and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a
loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment
is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the
fountains of waters.... Here is the patience of the saints: here are they
that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14:6, 7,
The final gospel message to the world summons the
remnant church to a mighty spiritual conflict, but not to a doubtful one.
The time for the triumph of the everlasting gospel is near. The church of
God anticipates and proclaims the triumph of the coming Son of God. From
His priestly throne in the heavenly sanctuary Christ administers
redemption and judgment. He directs the affairs and movements of His
church to a final consummation, to certain and eternal victory.
Over against our High Priest and King there stands the
prince of darkness. He is called the prince of this world. He also has a
kingdom and agents through which he rules with demonic power over his
subjects. Scripture declares that the great enemy of Christ and of His
church is combining his forces for a last assault upon Godís truth and
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to
make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of
God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17).
In these last days God has not left Himself without a
witness. Two things are said of Godís remnant church: She keeps the
commandments of God and has the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Central to the divine mission of the remnant church are
the great truths of the Word of God. They include the following: the
personal Being and nature of God, the Creation of this world, the nature
of man, his Fall and depravity, the nature of Christ the God-man, the
Bible as the Word of God, the nature and work of the Holy Spirit,
righteousness by faith alone, the law of God and the obedience of faith,
the mortality of man, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
The remnant churchís view of the future of the world
in terms of the imminent return of Christ is of incalculable importance to
the way its members order their lives and the mission of the church
itself. What right has any church to assume that its mission is to
proclaim Godís last message to the world? The day of commitment to the
whole truth of Godís Word is here. With the spread of religious revivals
and claims of encounters with the supernatural, how are religious people
to know what is true and what is false?
The people of God are directed to the Scriptures as
their safeguard against the influence of false teachers and the delusive
power of spirits of darkness. Satan employs every possible device to
prevent men from obtaining a knowledge of the Bible; for its plain
utterances reveal his deceptions. At every revival of Godís work the
prince of evil is aroused to more intense activity; he is now putting
forth his utmost efforts for a final struggle against Christ and His
followers. The last great delusion is soon to open before us. . . . So
closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be
impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By
their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested. . . .
None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible
will stand through the last great conflict.óThe Great
Controversy, pp. 593, 594.
To get men to use the name of Jesus Christ without
obedience to the Word of God is reason for distrust. Confusion is greatest
where there is an "easy-believism" without a sound Biblical
content. The remnant church calls on men to go the whole way with Christ,
to welcome whatever God says in His Word and be obedient to it. The
spiritual solvent of religious revivals is not in the use of the name
"Jesus" apart from the claims of Godís Word. Let not the use
of the name "Jesus" outrun the claims of the Word of God.
At recurring periods in the history of the church there
have been religious revivals, all involving a return to Jesus Christ. The
question of belief in the Scriptures and commitment to the truth of God is
far more complicated today. For many, the gospel has become crystallized
in one simple response: "Believe in Jesus." Certainly we would
not wish to criticize this response as opposed to the gospel of Christ.
The first impulse is to approve and acclaim all manifestation of the
Spirit and appeals to the person of Jesus. But we are reminded of Christís
caution in Matthew 7: 21-23 that men may call on Jesus without being
obedient to His Word, that when men do this and are careless about
obedience to the faith once given to the saints Christ rejects their claim
When we consider modern religious revivals whose only
requisite is their claim to an encounter with the spirit world, we turn to
the Word of God as the only true test and safeguard.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the
spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone
out into the world (1 John 4:1).
The faith of the remnant church is in the guidance and
control of the Holy Spirit through an intelligent understanding of the
Word of God. We insist that Christians must be trained to think clearly on
the Word and on their responsibility to it before they join any church.
All who profess to follow Christ must be instructed in the revealed truth
of God in Scripture.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished
unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).
With the present emphasis by the remnant church upon
obeying the commandments, men may assert that we are moving from Christ as
the pivot of the faith. But this is not so. There is no incompatibility
between calling upon Jesus and obeying the Word of God. To follow Christ
all the way means to find no fault with any part of the Scriptures. There
is no disagreement between eternal salvation by faith in Christ and
obedience to His commandments. Men need to be on guard against the
superficial and faithless interpretations of what Godís Word requires.
There is sure guidance only by the Holy Spirit through the Word. We
commend to all men that which is attainable by the power of the Holy
Spirit, a life of righteousness and obedience to Christ and to His
commandments and dedication to the service of God.
The danger with much of modern religious revival is
that manís apostasy from the teachings and commandments of Godís Word
is hidden under this use of and appeal to Jesus. Christ is not experienced
in the life by just using His name. Faith is not an affair of
sentimentalism. Christ is not known by imagination and ecstasy. Religion
without a clear understanding of and obedience to the truth of the Bible
stands in peril of satanic delusion. To shout the name "Jesus"
without obedience to His teachings and His commandments is a denial of the
Francis A. Schaeffer, in his book Escape From
Reason, has put it this way:
I have come to the point where, when I hear the word
"Jesus"ówhich means so much to me because of the Person of
the historic Jesus and His workóI listen carefully because I have with
sorrow become more afraid of the word "Jesus" than almost any
other word in the modern world. The word is used as a contentless
banner, and our generation is invited to follow it. But there is no
rational, scriptural content by which to test it, and thus the word is
being used to teach the very opposite things from those which Jesus
taught. . .
We have come then to this fearsome place where the
word "Jesus" has become the enemy of the Person Jesus, and the
enemy of what Jesus taught. We must fear this contentless banner of the
word "Jesus," not because we do not love Jesus, but because we
do love Him. FRANCIS A. SCHAEFER, Escape From Reason (Downers
Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1971), p. 78.
We live in an age in which self-indulgence, reckless
extravagance, and dishonest principles pervade large communities and
organizations. Our world mission must continue in spite of economic
crises. Those living in darkness still need the light of the gospel of
Christ. The Christian mission is not a negative thing, our personal escape
from eternal damnation. The most important thing is not what we are saved
from but what we are redeemed for. Redemption in Christ is never an escape
from life. We are saved from sin in order to live for Christ.
In the matter of communication and financial ability we
appear to have outstripped our communication of Christ. Trained, promoted,
pressed, and urged in money-raising projects we have acquired a facility
for contacting people, which brings in large sums of money. Both the
church and the ministry are good at getting people to canvass for
financial contributions. We know how to ask for funds. Do we know equally
well how to press for souls?
Stewardship is a way of life, not for moneyís sake,
not by external compulsion, but by inward principle. The means to fulfill
our divinely given mission to the world must flow freely and more
generously. Stewardship is not a practice forced on the unwilling, but a
living faith and a way of life. Every Christian is a steward of God for
all he is and has. Stewardship takes in all of life.
For the which cause I also suffer these things:
nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am
persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him
against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast
heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing
which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in
us (2 Tim. 1:12-14).
"The Spirit of Prophecy"
The remnant of the seed of the church is said not only
to keep the commandments, but also to have "the testimony of
Jesus," which "testimony of Jesus is the spirit of
prophecy" (Rev. 12:17; 19:10). Both of these are part of our mission.
The testimony of Jesus is that which Jesus Himself
bore. It is also the truth that He taught and mediated through His
apostles and prophets. The apostle John was the divinely commissioned
prophet to whom God showed the visions of Revelation. In the presence of
God he heard in words clear and loud the command to write in a book that
which had been shown and spoken to him and to make all this known to the
seven designated churches in Asia Minor.
To the remnant church, Laodicea, Christ addressed
Himself as the "faithful and true witness" (chap. 3:14).
Consequently, any witness or testimony from Jesus through a prophet bears
great significance. The Laodicean church has such a testimony from Jesus
through Ellen G. White. The prophet or messenger is the agent who
communicates the message or the word of truth. This testimony is not the
witness of the messengerís own Christian experience, but what Christ
gives to the church through that messenger about Himself and His Word.
Hence this testimony is invariably and closely connected with what is
known as the Word of God.
The churchís responsibility is to adhere faithfully
to that testimony from Jesus Christ. The messenger is not at the focal
point at all. Christ and his message are of supreme importance. The
writings of Ellen White are for the disclosure of Godís will and purpose
to the remnant church. There can be no idolizing of man or woman. The Word
of God to the remnant church has divine authority. That fact gives the
Word certainty and power. And because the message given through Ellen G.
White is Christís own testimony, we accept it.
This is not an unreasonable or false claim. The Bible
writers were men chosen of God to mediate Godís messages and truths to
men. The writings of Ellen White call men back to the Bible and to the
will of God. Unfortunately, in our professedly enlightened age, men often
consider themselves too wise to turn from themselves to receive a message
from God. But one has to make a choice. Ellen Whiteís messages from God
were given for this last age of the world. These messages have
enlightening power, convicting power, and judging power.
The test of truth is her witness to the Word of God,
for it was not to some mystical inward experience. Invariably her appeal
is to the objective content of Bible truth and doctrine or a revealed
message from God Himself. Nowhere does Ellen White surrender the objective
Biblical authority in favor of spirit phenomena. Her messages from God are
communicated in a clear, intelligent, coherent voice. Spiritually, her
writings are not measured in terms of psychical phenomena. Her witness to
Christ and to the truth of the Bible is never swallowed up in a process of
mystical sounds and ecstasy.
She declares in clear tones the soon coming of the
Lord. We should not leave her messages unexplored. Her testimony centers
in the redemptive work of Christ and His righteousness. Her words are
possessed of remarkable rational and emotional maturity. The impact of her
own consecrated personality is felt by the reader who seeks to hear the
voice of God and to learn His will.
Ellen White presents the larger view of the issues in
the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Boldly and directly, yet
lovingly, she appeals to men and women to follow Christ and obey His
commandments. She proclaims the gospel to the present-day situation. She
has not shunned to declare all the counsel of God. This prophetic note no
one should doubt. She speaks and writes with the spiritual conviction that
the success of the mission and the message of the church is founded on the
truth of the Holy Scriptures. Thus she calls men back to God and to His
"The Hour of Godís Judgment Has Come"
(Rev. 14:7, N.E.B.).
Judgment is one of the keynotes of this final message
to the world. The remnant church does not believe that the kingdom of God
will come by the efforts and programs of men, but by a judgment from God
Himself that decides the destiny of all men. The urgency of the message
that brings all men to the judgment seat of God in our time is rarely
given its proper place in most of the preaching of the gospel. The time of
the end climaxes with a divine judgment in the heavenly sanctuary. The
setting of the three angelsí messages begins with the assembling of the
high court of heaven at a fixed period of time that ends with the return
of Christ. This judgment will lead to the triumph of the saints and the
reign of God.
Christ gave an explicit warning in His parable of the
ten virgins, five of whom were wise and five foolish (see Matt. 25:1-13).
This parable describes the judgment of the entire church. The lamps
symbolize those who profess the Christian faith and the churches to which
they belong. The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The flame in the lamps
points to the genuine Christian experience produced by the power of the
Holy Spirit. The central emphasis of the parable is the necessity for
having an adequate supply of the Holy Spirit in the life that will carry
us through to the judgment and the coming of Christ.
The five foolish virgins took oil in their lamps, but
only enough to last for a short time. The supply of oil failed at the
critical moment and prevented them from securing from Christ a judgment in
their favor and an entrance into the kingdom of God. No scripture speaks
to us more clearly as to the folly of believing once saved always saved,
with the false assurance that because one started out on the Christian
way, he can glide the rest of the way safely into the kingdom of heaven.
This parable applies to the age immediately preceding
the second coming of Christ. The five foolish virgins who ran out of oil
are in the same class as the man in Christís parable of the wedding
feast who accepted the kingís invitation to the banquet and went in
among the guests. Because this man did not have on the wedding garment
provided by the king, symbolizing the righteousness of Christ, he was cast
Two things are clearly set forth in these parables: the
absolute necessity of trusting in and experiencing Christís
righteousness and the necessity of being filled with the Holy Spirit. We
are being judged now. Every hour that passes bears witness before God to
what we are. We ourselves are putting in the evidence day after day. The
Judge is already sitting. It is this fact that gives solemnity and dignity
to life. Christ has made full provision and ministers continually the
power of an endless life.
This sinful world has almost run its course. Christ
will soon appear with catastrophic suddenness. The "elements shall
melt with fervent heat" (2 Peter 3:10-14). Conditions will get worse
and worse until the conflict of nations will threaten the world (see 2
The purpose of Godís final message goes far beyond
social and economic utopia. The only solution for the agonies of men is
the rule of Christ upon the earth. The only hope is that Christ will
quickly assert His sovereign rule by His personal, bodily return as King
of kings and Lord of lords. Ultimately Christ will build a new earth upon
the ruins of the old.
Let us discharge this divine commission with
heaven-born, Spirit-born passion. Then we may be assured that the remnant
church will, despite all opposition, march on from victory to victory. For
it is ever true: "In all these things we are more than conquerors
through him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37).