In his sermon for the 2021 Annual Council meeting, General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson made an unambiguous call for Seventh-day Adventist church leaders and members to live and witness according to what has been revealed in Scriptures.
“Accept and follow truth only according to God’s Word,” he emphasized in his October 9, 2021, message to the members of the General Conference Executive Committee. “My fellow leaders and church members, keep your focus on the Bible. Don’t allow strange voices to confuse what we believe.”
Wilson’s remarks were part of his annual pastoral address at the 2021 Annual Council of the denomination in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. Due to ongoing restrictions and budget considerations, most of the members and invitees are following the October 7-13 proceedings online.
Living according to God’s Word is even more meaningful as we consider our mission mandate, Wilson explained. “We have strong, biblical foundational truths given to us by God from the beginning of our Advent movement to be delivered to the world,” he said.
In his 86-minute message, Wilson repeatedly appealed to “give the trumpet a certain sound,” a biblical image referencing the mission of a watchman who alerted the people about impending danger in ancient Israel. According to him, in a contemporary context, it implies being unapologetic about Bible-based Adventist beliefs. “Our church members long to hear messages regarding conviction and affirmation for the biblical beliefs of our Advent movement,” Wilson said. “The theological pillars of God’s Seventh-day Adventist movement are solid and founded on God’s Word. His Word is sure and rock-solid.”
Wilson spent one section of his pastoral message listing some of what he called “theological aberrations” floating around before advancing what should be a biblically sound alternative.
He mentioned that many do not accept God’s Word as authoritative, with some calls even to question the reliability of the Bible canon. At the same time, others attempt to diminish the role of the Spirit of Prophecy. “The Spirit of Prophecy is absolutely reliable and is to be believed and accepted in its entirety,” he emphasized regarding the writings of Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White. “Make no apologies for using or promoting the spirit of prophecy and its heavenly counsel. It is a heaven-sent gift of God.”
Wilson also mentioned the denial of the urgency of the times (“Don’t pay attention to strange voices that may say … our current setting will continue”), ecumenism (“We are never to compromise and engage in religious ecumenical activity”), and congregationalism (“we are a worldwide family of believers who love and support each other”). He also referred, among others, to opposition to God’s commandments (“God’s law is eternal”), evolution (“God recently made this earth in six days and rested on the seventh day”), and rejection of health reform (“Lift up the banner of temperance against any form of mind-altering substance.”)
Among more than a dozen false theological teachings, Wilson referred to lifestyle behaviors that go against a biblical view of sexuality. “Sexual immorality in any form is to be changed through God’s power working in the life,” he emphasized. “God’s ideal is to be followed, again through His power, to put us in a right relationship with His moral and natural laws.”
While Wilson acknowledged this is a delicate subject, he said that we cannot be silent on what the Bible teaches as correct living and practice. “We are to show Christian respect to all people, but God calls us, through His strength, to follow His created plan for human sexuality.”
Lifting Up Christ and His Message
In the last section of his sermon, Wilson reminded church leaders and members “what our primary mission is,” which includes “lifting up Christ, His righteousness, His three angels’ messages, and His soon coming.” The three angels’ messages recorded in Revelation 14 are three special messages God’s people are called to share with the whole world.
Wilson emphasized that God is calling His people to proclaim these messages. The problem is, he acknowledged, that “many people do not understand them or have ignored them, and some are attempting to distort or even change the meaning of these messages.” He emphasized, “To proclaim these God-given messages to the world, we must understand and accept them ourselves.”
Accordingly, Wilson encouraged church leaders and members to study deeply and believe the three angels’ messages personally, allowing them to also transform their hearts. He also suggested allowing God’s Spirit to fill one with a deep, Christlike love for everyone as one shares these messages, and using biblically based methods to share every aspect of them.
It is time to “revitalize your work, your church, your organization through revival and reformation, pleading with the Holy Spirit to bring spiritual life,” Wilson said. He emphasized, “Don’t get sidetracked, preoccupied, or lose focus on why we are Seventh-day Adventists.” Near the closing of his message, Wilson repeated, “I urge our members and the world not to be deceived. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, His Holy Word, and that which He is calling us to proclaim.”