“In Christ, we have our unity, identity, and mission. The General Conference was organized in 1863 and has been fulfilling its mission for 160 years. By God’s grace, we will not celebrate many more anniversaries on this earth.”
These inspiring words from Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, were a welcome reminder to Executive Committee members and Sabbath service attendees at Annual Council 2023, held in Silver Spring, Maryland. Presenting a sermon entitled “Chosen for Mission,” Wilson reminded global church leaders and members in attendance at the World Church headquarters, as well as those watching remotely through social media, who we are as Adventists and what we’re called to do.
Threats to the Call “Chosen for Mission”
Wilson opened his sermon on Sabbath morning with scriptural and Spirit of Prophecy support of our position and identity as God’s remnant church, emphasizing the importance of mission to our Adventist identity. Referencing John Nevins Andrews, the first missionary sent on behalf of the Adventist church, Wilson states, “Since that time, the church has globally grown exponentially with missionaries going from everywhere to everywhere.” Alluding to the global membership of the Church, he continued, “God’s global work is flourishing because we are Chosen for Mission. Nothing can stop God’s mission.”
The Sabbath sermon adopted the same sobering tone as Dr. David Trim’s, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, report on Friday morning, revealing some cavernous misunderstandings of Adventist identity and doctrinal understandings. Wilson referenced these misunderstandings and more, outlining 16 specific “confusing interruptions” of the devil to thwart God’s mission on Earth.
- Lack of understanding of the Bible, how to interpret it, and antagonism against the World of God
- Confusion and Misinformation about the Godhead/Trinity
- Misunderstanding about Human Sexuality
- Confusion on the Sanctuary Service and Righteousness by Faith
- Misconceptions about Biblical Creation
- False Doctrines Circulating
- Loss of the Sense of Urgency in the Advent Movement
- Loss of Identity as God’s Remnant Church
- False Accusations about the Church’s Relationship to Ecumenism
- Challenges to the Authority of the Church
- Misunderstandings about the Role of the Spirit of Prophecy as given by God through the Writings of Ellen G White
- Lack of Understanding the True Meaning of the Seventh-day Sabbath as God’s Sign of His Creatorship and Redemptive Power in Our Lives
- Confusion regarding the State of the Dead
- Derision regarding the Well-accepted Seventh-day Adventist Understanding of the Last-day Prophetic Events Outlined in Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation and the book, The Great Controversy
- Lack of Enthusiasm for Direct Personal and Public Evangelistic Outreach
- Neutralization of Personal Christian Lifestyle and Church Comportment through Worldly Influences
The President’s Call to Action
Echoing many of the aspects of the mission and its challenges discussed during the LEAD Conference on Thursday and the Annual Council business session on Friday morning, the General Conference president took the opportunity to share how best to address these issues as God’s Church. Wilson challenged the church to return to the altar of personal study and personal and public outreach, advocating for religious liberty and freedom of conscience, uplifting the sanctity and sacredness of the seventh-day Sabbath, and proclaiming the powerful messages of salvation and prophecy, as well as embracing the identity and mission of God’s Remnant body, living with the sense of urgency that will allow the Holy Spirit to work through us all.
“Regardless of the confusing interruptions to mission, God is in complete control of the destiny of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the proclamation of the Advent message. God chose us to be part of His final cry to the world,” stated Wilson.
Inspiring the World Church: Annual Council Divine Service
The Sabbath message at Executive Committee and General Conference events is, at times, the only opportunity for Adventist leadership to speak directly to the Church leaders and membership worldwide. Wilson used it as an opportunity to share the challenges faced by the World Church while seeking to also inspire Adventists worldwide to embrace their identity as missionaries, no matter where they are or what they’re doing.
To further demonstrate the theme of “Chosen for Mission,” it was announced that the General Conference, together with the Inter-European Division, would be sending a missionary back to Switzerland in honor of the 150th anniversary of John Nevins Andrews being sent to Switzerland as the first official missionary of the Adventist Church. The family came to the stage and were prayed over by leaders, and encouraged by leaders as they go forward to this new call to plant a church in the same country Andrews once went too.
Wilson closed the Sabbath service with a reminder that “God will see His remnant church through to His second coming. Regardless of the slippage of biblical beliefs and practice by some, regardless of the shaking and sifting, God is directing His final mission, which will not fail despite the attacks from within and without.”
Wilson plans to address many of the issues facing the church in the column “Global View” to be found in upcoming issues of Adventist World.
To learn more about embracing the identity as “Chosen for Mission” and view resources and presentations from Thursday’s LEAD Conference, visit the new website, adventistdisciples.org